Beyond Belief

For a couple of years now I have tried to take on some kind of interesting project each year. In the past it’s been relatively simple things like doing a 365 project where I take and post a photo every day, or take one second of video every day, or even a daily creative challenge where I tried to make something creative every day for a year. For someone who can get easily distracted, the act of developing enough discipline to do something every single day has been quite a challenge, but for most of these projects I managed to stick to it all the way to the end of the year. Regardless of what the project is for the year I usually I learn a lot about the world and about myself. And it’s been surprising that some of these daily projects have opened all kinds of interesting doors for me that I could have never foreseen.

The daily discipline has paid off in other ways too. I’m trying to learn a second language at the moment – Esperanto – using the Duolingo app, and I’ve surprised myself by sticking to it for 117 days straight. To be honest it’s been pretty easy to do, but I think I’ve developed that stickiness from doing these daily projects

Last year I had an idea for a different kind of project, but for some reason I never really got started on it. So this year I am giving it another go. I’m calling it the Beyond Belief Project. For the next 12 months I plan to explore a different religion every month. Don’t worry, I have no plans to “convert” to any of them, but just simply check them out, learn a little more about them, and see what they are about.

I should point out that I am a very happy atheist. I was raised Catholic but pretty quickly worked out that the whole God thing wasn’t really doing much for me (unless you count learning to feel guilty about everything a positive. When I had kids, my wife – also a Catholic, and a much better one than me – insisted that we raise the kids in a religion of some kind, Catholic being the obvious choice of course. I was pretty non-committal about the idea, but went along with it. Her reasoning, which I can kind of accept, was that if they want to rebel as they got older and reject religion, that’s fine, but at least they would have some basic idea about what they were rebelling against. That seemed almost logical, so I went along with it. I put up with the christenings and first holy communions and confession, and even got to the if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em stage and decided to get involved in our local church where I read at the Sunday masses, played music in the church band, and got involved in all sorts of church events. But it never felt like anything more than a social club to me, and not even a very good one. I met some nice people, but could never buy into all the religious palaver that went along with it all.

As I got older (and divorced from the aforementioned Catholic wife) I discovered that I was really happy with being a non-believer. I still meet the occasional crusty nutjob who like to point a finger and say “You’ll be sorry when you die!”, but I just shrug and go Meh.

I’m not really anti religion, I just personally don’t see a point in it. I can’t see any valid reason to not eat meat on a Friday any more than I can see why black cats might be unlucky. If people feel better believing there is a beardy man in the sky who will judge them at some point, good luck to them. I am just not even remotely interested.

So, from the standpoint of someone who had Catholicism thrust upon them, but is now not even vaguely interested in the idea of belonging to a religion, I think it would be interesting to go see how other lot live. I’ll visit their houses of worship, try to learn more about what they believe, and why, and try to understand why every religion thinks only their is the real deal. Should be interesting.

So, not really a 365 Project as such, more of a 12 Project I guess. But I plan to update this blog with some observations about a different religion each month, and I especially hope to try to check out some of the non-Christian ones that I know very little about. I’m not sure how it will go. But if you’re interested in learning along with me, keep your eye on this space.

Would love to get your thoughts, comments and suggestions below about my 2019 project idea!