By Arianna Sebo
I have never been particularly drawn to the study or practice of religion. But looking back on my past 20 years of existence, I recognize that religion has been a big part of my life and has shaped the way I see the world today.
My earliest memories of religion are when I lived across the street from the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Lethbridge, Alberta. Every Sunday the Mormon men, women and children would attend church in their Sunday attire. I would watch them from the comfort of my house, perched on the edge of our worn-out couch behind the big living room window. I always wondered what those pretty people did together in that big building. But I wasn’t curious enough to find out for myself.
I remember the Mormon missionaries knocking at our door every once in awhile looking to share their religion. My mother would always tell them we were Presbyterian. This wasn’t a complete lie; my mother is Presbyterian. But my sister and I were raised with no particular religion.
For the longest time my family believed my father was an atheist. A few years ago, when my grandmother came to visit from Hungary, she told us that my dad had been raised Catholic. I had never known my dad to do or say anything even remotely Catholic. The best advice my dad ever gave me is to respect people and to try and get along with everyone. You don’t have to be Catholic to give that advice.
I would say that the majority of the population of Lethbridge is Mormon. Growing up, I used to tell the Mormon kids at school that I was agnostic so they wouldn’t preach to me. This never worked because no one knew what an agnostic was. I told them an agnostic was someone who believes there can be no proof of the existence of God but does not deny the possibility that God exists. People just thought I was weird.
Fast-forward 10 years and I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend. Our on-again-off-again relationship needed to end, and I was the one to do the honours. I felt horrible. As a last resort I turned to the church.
The church I decided to attend was Calgary’s First Spiritualist Church. At church I wept, was healed, prayed and had a medium deliver messages from the other side for me. I discovered that generally, Spiritualists follow seven principles and adopt the teachings that they agree with, and discard the ones they don’t agree with. Some may think this is not a religion if one can pick and choose, but isn’t everything in life a choice? You have to make the right choices for you.
I know I made the right choice with my break-up. Now my ex and I are good friends and hang out together when I visit on the weekends.
I don’t think I’ve suffered from my lack of formal religious study. After all, I’m presently taking a university course on religion, I’m attending church and now I don’t have to be agnostic anymore. I can feel comfortable calling myself a Spiritualist.