The title of this is Soul Beliefs and it was brought about
by my taking a Course of the same name. online from Rutgers at Coursera.org.
The Course was asking What you were taught to believe.
That is not what you believe now, but what you were taught to believe.
I was taught to believe that there was a God. He was male. His son,
Jesus, came to earth to save sinners. There was a Holy Ghost but this
was not well understood. People could be filled by the Holy Spirit and
do exceptional things. The Communion service and transubstantiation
(belief that the Communion bread and wine were literally transformed
into the body and blood of Christ) were central tenets. There was holy
water in a font and this was used for Baptism.
First Communion was called Confirmation and the vows made by parents
and guardians at Baptism were repeated and expanded up in a form of
There were Saints. Churches were named after them and their Holy Days
were celebrated but they were not worshipped or prayed to. Mainly, they
were just honoured and, perhaps, emulated.
The imitation of Christ was important and the Golden Rule. There was
a Heaven and a Hell but they were not thought of much. In case you havent
guessed, I was Anglican (Episcopalian) which is sort of like Roman Catholic
but without the Pope and Rome.
Taking this course led me to re-examine the beliefs I was taught and
the beliefs I had adopted. While not completely shrugging off my taught
beliefs, I now believe in the transmigration of souls, the accumulation
of merits though kind deeds and the beneficial effects of meditation.
My daughter, who was raised as a Christian with all the trimmings, is
now a Buddhist nun.
Taking this Course led me to re-examine my beliefs, past and present.
I am bemused by the twists and turns of belief in the soul and its
destinations from Plato to Mohammed. I am hard put to define my tribe.
I guess I am an Anglican Buddhist, with deep ties to technology and
its practitioners but and shying away from any Richard Dawkins style
The most important part of the class for me was the students who came
forward to express their beliefs without the acts of war often seen
between faiths and sects. All the students were equally part of the
My mother, a long time Anglican church organist, was basically an agnostic.
The reason she gave for this was that, at some time in her youth, she
decided that the story of the Prodigal Son just wasnt fair. He
had received his share of his fathers estate early and went away
and spent it all, then came back all messy and bedraggled and poor and
his father took him in and served up a feast and all was forgiven. The
son, who had stayed with his father and worked hard and been frugal,
got no special treatment at all and that wasnt fair! If that wasnt
fair then probably everything taught in the Bible wasnt fair.
I dont know exactly how her logical thought processes worked but
the end result was that she was agnostic. Played the organ every Sunday
but lived in her own world of non-belief.
Ive no idea what my father believed but I know he would go in
a fix organs for churches. He didnt appear to have any essential
faith that I knew about. He had been a Mason at once but all that remained
of that was a book in a drawer. He caused some consternation when he
fixed an organ in a Chatham, Ontario church. Around a church there are
always people hanging about looking for something to gossip or make
a fuss about. Late one night he was fixing an organ at an Anglican church
on Victoria Ave in Chatham and he was testing the organ. Once he fixed
it he started playing Roll Out the Barrel. Well have a Barrel
of fun , which is a great organ tune. A parishioner who was lurking
around nearby heard it. She made a great fuss about a profane drinking
song being played on the church organ. This was a tempest in a very
small teapot. It was certainly remarked upon. What can I say?
We children went to church every Sunday but that was because my mother
was the church organist. So, there we were. We went through the whole
parade of Sunday School, then Confirmation. I was never quite so bored
in my life, it was even more boring than a math class. Church services
went on forever. They nattered on and on with kneeling down and getting
up and la-di-da and it was very boring and did not engage my full attention.
The final result of all this is, if Im truthful, that I dont
believe much of anything now, nor do I much care. The Soul Belief
course was very interesting but mainly because of the other students
and their beliefs