My sisters and I grew up in a small village in North Essex, where the church was an integral part of village life. We were all confirmed into the Anglican church. My mother would go to church semi-regularly and would be part of the church flower rota. We were given the choice of going into the choir or bell ringing. We chose the latter on the basis it wouldn't take up so much time, and on a Monday night after bell ringing practice we could be home in time to watch The Waltons.
I enjoyed the Christmas carol service and harvest festivals, but the repetitive nature of the weekly service left me cold. I just didn't like all the rituals and the praying to this superior being. To be honest, I never really believed, even as a child. At university I had a dalliance with religion and tried to get into it, because I could see that a lot of my friends got a huge amount from it. It didn't work, and to this day I remain an Agnostic. I say 'agnostic' because I believe atheism to be a form of religion too. I can't prove that God doesn't exist, and I can't prove he does, so what else could I be other than an agnostic?
I don't have a closed mind, but the logical part of my brain just cannot accept the existence of a higher power. Yes, I get it that the key word here is 'faith', but to me it has always been a crutch for people who generally can't really believe that everything ends in outright death. I'd love nothing more than to believe in an afterlife and to be reunited with all the people who have died in recent years who meant a lot to me. But it isn't going to happen. When I die, so does my spirit. That's what I believe. I wish I didn't. In many ways I envy people who have a faith. My problem is, I've never been able just to accept what I'm told. I always like to question. Which is why I've ended up doing what I do, I suppose.
For Christians all around the world, Easter is an important time of the year, and I totally respect that. If you believe in the afterlife, then why wouldn't you believe in the resurrection? I believe Jesus existed, but that's as far as it goes.
I also don't need the Church or any religion to give me moral guidance. I know right from wrong and I live by a fairly standard set of morals, many of them Christian in essence. And like everyone else, from time to time I stray from them. But I don't need a religion to make me feel guilty and telling me I need to repent any sins. I do that in my own way.
I remember once, on a rare occasion my Dad came to church with us all. As we made our way out of the church the vicar said to my Dad: "Nice to see you here for a change Garry..." My Dad instantly retorted: "I don't need to attend church every week to be a Christian." He was right. And quite how the vicar thought a sarcy remark like that would encourage him back, goes some way to explain why church congregations get ever smaller. Trying to make someone feel guilty is hardly likely to tempt them to go more regularly.
All this is not to say I don't value religion or the Church. I wish to have a church funeral. I have already booked my grave plot in the village churchyard. I would like to have married John in a church. You may think that entirely hypocritical, and you'd be right. But it's how you're brought up, isn't it? Every wedding I have ever attended (I think) has been in a church. I loathe crematoriums. In essence I like the traditions, even if I don't like some of the rituals.
Just thought I'd get all that off my chest!