Moving forward without faith
A path less traveled
Throughout my life, I have been anchored to the concept of an afterlife, a divine intelligence looking out for me, and the idea that there are mysterious forces at work that are beyond human understanding. Now I’m comfortable saying that I’m not so sure about any of that. Honestly, my faith had been dying a slow death over decades and I chose to unplug the life support shortly after taking my last drink.
I’m a native of West Michigan and was raised Catholic, participating in Saturday Catechism, confessions, and communions that were vague at best. However, I did understand the message of obedience and the importance of never questioning God or his existence. Throughout my childhood, I noticed some unsettling things about the world. Violence, war, and nuclear weapons troubled me deeply, so trying to establish a link with a benevolent overseer made sense, because humans were unable to calm my concern. My mom pulled us out of the Catholic Church sometime in the early 70s, shortly before my folks got divorced. Conceivably, because of bad things that happened to her little sister in the church, (My favorite, musically talented Aunt that still suffers from mental illness due to the untreated trauma) she started veering off toward less conventional paths to spirituality. She became a very good amateur astrologist and member of the Rosicrucians. Her quest to find answers led her to a book called The Ultimate Frontier, written by a man named Richard Kieninger. I eventually read this book myself when I was 16 and it hooked me. The concepts of reincarnation, karma, different planes of existence, and evolving into a higher consciousness appealed to my young mind. Though my mom and I didn’t have the credentials to be granted membership to the community in Stelle, Illinois, created by the book’s author and founder of this cult, we moved to a town nearby when I was 18. It turned out to be nonsense. Though my mom was unable to fully process the fact that we got suckered, we moved back to Michigan after months of trying to survive on my wages as an 18-year-old. While this experience strengthened my bullshit meter regarding cults and conspiracy theories, my mom remained vulnerable to them until the day she died. The consequences to me were minimal; I got suckered by a cult and could rely on my dad to take me in. The consequences to my mom were…