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A Question of Faith (Or Why Are Aliens Less Believable than Religion?)

I watch The X-Files probably too much, but their sub-title “The Truth is Out There” for me fits the idea of faith perfectly.

What I don’t know is whether the truth is out there or someplace else, like inside of me right here?

I’m not trying to compare faith and aliens, really I’m not, but you have to admit, sometimes faith and aliens share the spotlight from both believers and non-believers.

Consider this

Let’s start at the beginning just for reference.

I was born to a Sicilian Mom and Irish Dad. Both devoted catholics which is how I was brought up.

Sunday Mass. Sunday school. Baptism and Holy Communion and then Confirmation just to round out my education in the Catholic Church.

Although there were no classes in economics or the handling of money, this should have been part of catholic education if you ask me.

Let’s get this question out of the way. Do I believe? Do I have faith? Let me say this: I have faith in me.

Now that isn’t my final answer, trust me. I will give you the detailed answer at the end. I figure I have to entice you to continue reading till the end.

Blinded by the light

Having faith was easy when I was younger.

Believing in a supreme being, namely God was easy also. I took everything for granted. Everything I heard and read in church or school, I absorbed and believed.

I mean, everything.

I watched all the religious movies and believed in Noah, Moses and all the other biblical figures. I went to church every Sunday and made confession and penance.

Usually a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys. Not to be confused with hail Mary passes.

My parents were strong believers and wanted what was best for me, or what they thought was best.

When I became an altar boy they were excited. They helped me learn Latin and also all of the duties of an altar boy.

Faith founded by blind belief is easier than faith that makes you question. #purebloggingClick To Tweet

Look, I know the duties aren’t or weren’t that involved, but the ringing of the bells was something I just couldn’t get the hang of.

One time the priest said it was easy, just ring them when I genuflect. Well, he genuflected so many times the Church sounded like there were bells going off for hours.

Later he told me he was afraid to genuflect.

The following Sunday my Mom said she would help with coughing every time I need to ring the bells. She coughed more than the priest genuflected due to someone’s perfume.

All of these led me to have faith in someone upstairs who looked out for me no matter what. I believed there was a God.

I survived polio and other childhood diseases due to God according to my parents and grandparents. Many others also.

Later I started to think about confession and wondered why I had to tell a priest my confessions, when I was told I could talk to God. So I decided to talk to God and the priest told my parents I was bad.

Boy did I get into it with my Mom that night.

In the end, I told her what do I need a middleman for? She understood my issue and agreed. She was in sales and knew about middlemen. Chalk up the priest and penance.

Next came the money the church collected – how come I had to pay to go to church?

Right at the entrance they had a bowl to pay to sit down. Then, once seated, they collected more money from you, three to four times during a mass. Some serious banking going on here.

Finally, I saw that when someone died, the priest would check his book to make sure you gave every week at mass before they would say mass and bury you.

The icing on the cake!

Seeing the light

So now I see what’s going on – this is a business. The business of God and religion.

I talked with my Uncle about what I felt and he agreed. He happened to be a mob boss at the time and he explained to me about his penance for his assorted sins.

He gave to the church an amount the priest agreed was good for God.

Amazing that the priest would know the number needed to be forgiven. I had to say Our Fathers and my Uncle made a donation to the Church.

It all came down to the amount and forgiveness.

This is about the time I started understanding the Catholic Church better and my faith started to waver.

My faith, or so-called faith, started to drift away and so did I. I drifted further and further away from church and religion. Any form of religion turned me off.

I felt good.

I enjoyed my Sundays of sleeping in and reading the New York Times at the coffee shop.

I was still invited to my Mom’s for Sunday dinner, a son never gets kicked from the table. I just had to listen to lectures about her visit to church that day. I could handle it.

It was a four hour drive home after dinner to forget the lecture.

Faith sneaks in

I had a brush with a few life and death situations where I would think about my faith and my status as a non-believer.

I would consider it for about 30 seconds, and then I would remember all of my lectures in college during logic class and use that to feel better.

Logic is an amazing thing. It can turn your life right side up or vice versa. In my case I will say it changed many things in life for me including faith.

I would think about faith and that’s about it. Think about it and do nothing more.

I didn’t feel guilty, but I did feel a loss. That was strange. In the end, though, the loss I felt was more about the people I missed seeing, not religion.

I missed the gatherings after the Sunday Mass back at my Moms or grandparents when they were alive.

So I decided to make it up by having Sunday morning breakfast with friends and family when I could.

I found the trick: enjoy people and listen to what they have to say.

I lived religion through their words from their own religions. I had breakfast with friends that were Muslim, Jewish, Baptists, Protestants, Jehovah Witnesses and more.

I listened to them all, and that filled my loss and also my desire not to have faith. I saw these people as having all of these needs and wants every week, and nothing would happen.

They claimed great things were coming, but they never came. I never saw one thing happen to make me believe.

As in The X-Files and believing in Aliens, religion didn’t support faith.

Here I was at an age to make a final decision about religion and aliens, and all I could say was I believed in aliens and not religion.

The Aliens

I wonder if aliens made the earth in seven days? Sorry I am not trying to start a war.

I really don’t know who made the earth or the planets in space. I probably will never find out, but maybe one day my grandkids or their grandkids will find out if the world is still here?

What if aliens did make the earth and fill it with life? What if they have everything to do with our existence as we know it?

What if?

And in the end (thanks for the Beatles)

I promised you an answer to the question about what I believe. I promised to explain my statement that I have faith in me.

Here it goes: I have faith in me to decide what is right and wrong for me to live peacefully.

I have faith in me to know right from wrong, and take the fork in the road I need to make my life a success. No one has more faith in me than I do, and because of that won’t fail.

Thanks for listening.

By Mark-John Clifford

Husband, Dad, Papa. Californian from Boston. Love the ocean and everything that goes along with it. Sicilian and Irish, inside and out. Enjoy listening and partaking in great conversations.

Comments (11)
  1. Nancy Davis September 28, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Interesting. I grew up Atheist. My mom never believed in anything. It was easier for me to believe nothing existed than have faith in the unseen.

    I do not believe in aliens. Never have, never will. Faith for me is different. To me, it means belief in things unseen.

    I have no use for religion. If I want to talk to God, l refuse to use a middleman. I can do that myself, or not as I see fit. I am reminded of the phrase “Religion is for those who don’t want to go to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there.”

    • Mark-John Clifford September 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Nancy,

      I remember my Mom always telling me “there is a reason for everything.” what the heck did that mean. Especially when I was confused enough about religion at the ripe age of 14.

      I could see where growing up as an Atheist has benefits. As for growing up Catholic or religious I am not so sure anymore.

      Nancy as for aliens I believe my belief in them has to do with so many things I have seen or overheard over the years. That’s for another post coming soon.

      Thanks for jumping in the conversation.

      • Danny Brown September 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm

        I loathe the whole “there is a reason for everything” mindset. Really?

        There’s a reason for teenage suicide? There’s a reason for grown men raping three month old babies? There’s a reason for genocide? There’s a reason for so-called “honour killings”?

        Yeah, right….

        • Mark-John Clifford September 28, 2015 at 4:56 pm

          This is where my philosophy definitely differentiated from my Moms. I was on my Dad’s side on this one. Shit happens and that’s that! Deal with it!

  2. Danny Brown September 28, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Hi mate,

    This is such a thoughtful piece, and one that seems to polarize many, as opposed to discussing openly and with non-blinkered viewpoints.

    I grew up in a very religious setting. My grandmother was a very staunch Protestant, as was her husband and brothers. My mum wasn’t as religious, but her six sisters were. I was put into Sunday school, and mealtimes were an event based around thanking a heavenly body for what we had (even though it wasn’t a lot, which I always found ironic, even at a young age).

    I’m not sure when I started to question what I’d been told, or when I gave up on even trying to pretend I believed it any more. For the last 30+ years, I’ve been an atheist. That’s not to say I don’t respect the beliefs of others when it comes to religion (but I draw the line at using religion to excuse bigotry and hatred) – just that I don’t buy into this idea of one all-powerful being (regardless of what religion he/she belongs to) overseeing us all.

    It’s something I’ve come to push back on more as I get older. I’ve yet to see two atheists on opposite sides of the world start wars because they believed their atheism was more powerful and truthful than the other’s.

    As for aliens, I think it’s pretty arrogant for us to think that of all the stars and planets in the Universe, we’re the only living beings that exist.
    The announcement today of flowing rivers on Mars simply reinforces that view.

    Great stuff, mate, and thanks for making me think.

    • Mark-John Clifford September 28, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Danny,

      I knew this post would cause some feedback in many ways, but it still needed to be written. For too long people hide their beliefs due to criticism and mush more.

      Wars have been started over religion as you stated. It isn’t just people and borders or even oil. There is a much deeper meaning to wars that people still do not understand completely.

      I know how I felt when I realized that religion no matter what group is just a business. Look at the TV Ministers and the rest that abuse the trust that they have built. Some of the ministers are no better than a used car salesmen or worse.

      As for aliens I go along with the belief that there is an intelligent life out there other than us. Did I say we’re intelligent? Sorry just had to write that.

      There is so much proof that I have read and heard over the years. Whether it was a book or some lecture or in some cases some Government agency guy giving a lecture at a symposium on alien life.

      So as to the bib-title of The X Files, I believe when it comes to aliens “The Truth Is Out There” as for faith I still go with me.

  3. Liz Scherer September 28, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Truly provocative, thoughtful and kind. And I have to agree with just about all of your points.

    I too, believe that organized religion is a business. And it is distinctly as far away from spirituality as one can get. And never the twain shall meet, if you ask me.

    Being religious is not a prerequisite for possessing faith. The sooner that the world embraces that, the earlier most of us will find peace. We can congregate as one or as many ones.

    Think about it.

    • Mark-John Clifford September 28, 2015 at 5:30 pm

      HI Liz,

      Thanks for sounding out. I totally agree with the idea that faith isn’t about religion. My point of having faith in me as a person is just that. I know and have faith that I will make the right choices in life to help others and better my life.

      I wrote for years about diabetes after being diagnosed. My main gripes with the diabetic community were these. First off people with diabetes don’t want to be called diabetic. I have always used that term when describing me. The way I look at it is if I am a diabetic then I am leasing my body out to this disease called diabetes.

      The second gripe was with the arguments of which type is worse, Type 1 or 2. I always tried to get people to think as one. The more we fought with each other over who had the worse Type the less effective we were. I told everyone as a social group we are all “Type D” and medically we are different.

      That thinking of us being one got me in trouble, and I left the world of diabetes to the fighters. I didn’t need that. Faith in that case blew up in my face.

      Sorry for the long story to get to what you said. We just all need to believe in each other.

    • Danny Brown September 28, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Great point, Liz. People tell me I can’t have faith because I’m not religious. Um… I have “faith” in my convictions that there is no God, as much as religious folks have faith that their religion is the only one worth believing in.

      That faith is good enough for me, thanks.

  4. Mary L. Holden September 29, 2015 at 10:31 am

    There is a reason for the letter I in the word “faith.”
    There is a reason for the letter U in the word “trust.”
    There is a reason for the YOU and the I in the word “universe” and its two Es carry a lot of energy for you and I.

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