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 oath taking.

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 haven’t 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 militant nonbelief.

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 student ‘tribe’.

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 wasn’t fair. He had received his share of his father’s 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 wasn’t fair! If that wasn’t fair then probably everything taught in the Bible wasn’t fair. I don’t 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.

I’ve no idea what my father believed but I know he would go in a fix organs for churches. He didn’t 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. We’ll 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 I’m truthful, that I don’t 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

Wavy Line