This week’s participant asked to remain anonymous. Instead of taking their picture, we asked them to provide a photo they had taken that best represented their beliefs. They asked us to take a picture of their ring.
I believe there’s a higher being. We’ve always had to have something to believe in. No matter who you are and where you come from. But I don’t believe in Jesus, Muhammad or any of those prefabricated beings.
My Dad gave me this book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. Some of the questions I’d had all my life we answered in that book. The book begins with this priest somewhere in the South of France at the beginning of the 20th century. He’s renovating his church and he finds what he thinks is basically Christ’s birth certificate.
That book impacted me more than anything I’ve read since. It suggests that Jesus was actually real, but that the stories about him were written 400 years after his supposed Crucifixion. Now you tell someone a story of what happened yesterday and you realise how it changes from one day to the next. And then you have these priests compiling a manuscript and deciding “well we’ll leave this in and we’ll take that out”. It just becomes a compilation of mythological stories. How can a story written 400 years after the fact be considered authentic?
Later I read another book my Dad gave me called In God’s Name, which basically argues that Pope John Paul I was murdered because of what he was going to uncover about the history of the Vatican. So all of this seems grounded on the ludicrous behaviour of the Vatican.
I still believe in something though. Whatever it is started off with humans and made a real mess of it. But it also created a lot of beauty. I’m fascinated by nature. By all the creatures, from the greatest to the smallest. A new chameleon was found a few years back that’s the size of a thumbnail. I just get thinking “how do they pack all those organs into that tiny little thing?”
My Dad was a Quaker. An amazing man. A pacifist. He gave up the best job he could have got at the time for his beliefs. He was jeered and all the rest of it. But when he was dying, I realized, to my horror, that he was actually frightened of dying. He was always looking for a different truth. He believed a lot in Buddhism.
We had to go to Quaker meetings every Sunday growing up. My Dad was a senior member. I met all these people and I found some very un-Quakerly behaviour going on. They were supposed to uphold the values of Christianity. But they were greedy. And that left me wondering. That’s when I started asking questions.
All of these religions, all of these different cultures. They’re all so bloody. Isn’t the word of God meant to be love your father and mother and sister and brother and whatever? That doesn’t happen. Like with Americans taking their guns to church. I just don’t get that. But then I dislike a lot of people. That goes against everything I believe in.
I don’t have a gun. That’s a good place to start. If I were to identify with any religion, it would be Buddhism. Certainly, I wouldn’t be Quaker. I was accused of being a traitor when I left South Africa.