I must admit that I am at the second stage of search for what accounts for my faith. Seriously, much of what we think we know is "borrowed". Our environment very much determines our standpoint on things. We can hardly separate our identities from our spiritual faith. For those who claim to be "free", they too are bound by "values" or "purpose"; these drive home commitment and actions that proceed from thereon.
For the longest time, I wondered about Father. And the holy word. Do I believe because I am fearful or because I love and respect Him? What I know come from lessons learned and my own faith experiences. Fellow believers in the community,too, play a pivotal role in how I draw conclusions for what accounts as "the faith". Decisions are daily made based on teachings from the church we attend. Much is simply by faith. This purity of heart to follow everything to the tee requires a quiet and willing heart. This is a never-ending persuasion on how our sails ought to go with the winds flanked by church authority. Frankly, my educated soul disallows this to be.
Growing up in a family that hailed eastern deities as god was not unique to my family. In the early 1970s, Singapore was on the forefront of trade and prosperity. Many had been observed to be prayerful and religious. Some religious believe this to be the very reason why Singapore thrived. God as centre. My young self could never step inside a Chinese temple. I watched as Grandma raised her joss sticks to the heavens every morning at about half past 5. I recall asking her whom she was talking to and she replied, " Tee Gong! (or God of the Sky)" At five, that was powerful. She would then hasten me to pray with her. This image of my Grandma kneeling and praying is vividly etched in my memory. I love our house at 31 Kovan Road. That began my religious journey.
Then when Godpa, Daddy's younger brother, became the first Catholic Christian in this matriarchal family of ours, things began to change. The biggest turn was I decided to join Godpa and Godma in church. Now Godma was Methodist. We would toggle between the two faiths on Sundays. We often went to the church at Paya Lebar Road. I began Sunday school at 7. It was both exciting and scary for me as I had little or no background to begin with. Classes were often attended with trepidation because our teacher loved quizzes and I had no answers to offer. Ridden with fear, it was inevitable that I dropped out soon after, barely four months. Things got kind of lukewarm you can say from then on. I came to conclude that perhaps all were wrong about this god or gods of ours, whatever. Man's need for escapism had to be fulfilled in essence.
Before long, I started questioning once again. Right through school. I never left this path of inquiry. Then at the age of 19, I attended a Christian rally. The laying of hands did not slain me because I prayed for the gift of patience. I had gone to give thanks to God. Alas! I was more willing to pry deeper into the realm of faith. Besides, things were not going quite so well at school. The exams were driving me nuts. Pressure from a family of scholars was hardly something I prayed for. I could hardly thank Him for that! Dad was always at my heels hastening me to work HARDER. So there. Faith. Needed lots of it. Many permutations to the word I thought. Fortunately, or not, depending on one's stance, a couple of personal faith experiences propelled me to say a tiny yes to classes. After which, I got baptised at 20. The family was casual about it. Godpa had paved the way for me rather smoothly, I thought. Have not looked back since.
If there is such a thing as "backsliding", and so as the Christians put it, you can say I now have my reservations about why-I -do-what-I-do. I do believe in a higher being still. But with regard to details I do undoubtedly still ask the occasional "why" or "why-nots".
So back to the argument about faith being a borrowed thing, I have in the course of time developed religious scruples some "disbelieves" over certain teachings. I do get rather uncomfortable. I often wonder if coming of age as a Gen X citizen has anything to do with it. By sheer observation, the Baby Boomers have no issues with their faith. The Gen Y folks have doubts and do not subscribe to told-you-sos. Perhaps there will be no answers because it is time to take a stand. It gets lonelier as the days go on. The like-minded do all flock together no doubt, but at the heart of things, one's faith is a personal journey.
I do believe in the human spirit. I do believe in He who died for us. I do believe in good works and most certainly, in goodness. Everyone has a mission. As for what-is, and what's-not, I feel it better open than close. How nice to remain childlike in all things always, how nice...