Thanks for an enlightening discussion on religion. You have explained issues on faith and belief in a way that I have been thinking but unable to place into words. You express yourself so wonderfully.
A family member appears to have great pleasure in knocking my Christian beliefs. As I have mentioned previously, I am so aware of all the horrendous events and activities that have happened and still occur due to people and their religious beliefs. I am very willing to admit and acknowledge that Christians have perpetrated and participated in atrocities on fellow humans.
This family member does not allow me to have freedom of speech to express my own beliefs. According to him, he knows everything about religion and you would think that he has a personal connection with all the gods in the world to make an informed statement on if they really exist or not.
Occasionally I become extremely tired of his Christianity bashing, but as he is an elder, I listen patiently to what he is saying. On one occasion I stated "All I can say is that when we both die, one of us is in for a big surprise!"
I am very sorry to read that you had to endure suffering and abuse from both Nuns and other members of the clergy. I have heard a little of the abuse children have received from Nuns, but there doesn't seem to be as much acknowledgement of this side of the abuse.
While doing Children's studies we had a session on paedophiles. For some reason I had never thought of a female as being a paedophile. How naive was I ! I certainly understand that females can be just as brutal and can hurt people just as much as men can. I'm heading a little off track here.
Like you wrote, religion is a very personal thing. My siblings and I were brought up as Christians. I am now the only one in our family who still holds on to those Christian beliefs.
To me a belief in God is acknowledging their is a being that is greater than anything or anyone on this earth. It is like having a presence of love, peace, forgiveness, direction, guidance, hope, kindness and so much more with you all of the time. To me it does not mean that life is always going to be perfect! In the Bible it tells me there will be times of hardship and difficulties, but I can turn to God and He will comfort me.
My faith also provides me with the belief that there is existence after death, that heaven does exist, in a way that I myself on earth can never comprehend. Death is not the end for me.