Interview with an Agnostic- ‘ Mary’
IH: thank you for agreeing to speak to me, Firstly, may I ask, were you raised in a faith?
Mary: yes, I was raised in a Catholic home. I went to a Catholic school- I suppose you could say I am still officially Catholic.
IH: but that’s not the label you would give yourself?
Mary: No, not all… Well, not usually (laughs)
IH: That sounds like there might be a story there!
Mary: Well, I mainly class myself as an Agnostic- if asked. It’s the label I feel most comfortable with, but I will admit to classing myself as Catholic when my family are around! It just saves hassle…. Admitting that I don’t really believe would cause too many conversations and arguments- especially with my grandmother!
IH: I can understand that. So why is it, that if you were raised Catholic, you don’t follow that belief any more?
Mary: It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore. There is still a certain amount of comfort at times in the old rituals, and I still go to mass on family occasions – Christmas, Easter etc- but it’s more for the cultural aspect than the belief one. But for the main part what the Vatican teaches seems to have no relevance to the world I live in anymore.
IH: Was this moving away from Catholicism a gradual thing or did something happen to precipitate it?
Mary: partly it was gradual… I just started to feel like I was being a hypocrite for following something I didn’t believe. I started reading the bible, asking questions….
IH: so reading the bible was not part of your growing up? What kind of questions did you start to ask?
Mary: No, we didn’t read the bible at home- I just knew passages because the priests used them in the services. I started asking questions like, why is there suffering? Why do only certain people get to go to heaven and what happens to those who don’t? I didn’t like the idea of purgatory and asked lots of questions about that, Jesus, the contradictions in the bible that you can find on close examination, the role of women. (Laughing) I could go on but I won’t!
IH: who did you ask these questions of?
Mary: Initially the priest of the church I used to attend, but I soon stopped that as he mentioned it to my family and that caused arguments. Then I asked priests in other churches, other Catholics, and other people in general.
IH: and what was the result of your searching?
Mary: well, I found out that most priests don’t like being questioned for one! (Laughing ruefully)… I also found that the answers tended to change, depending on who answered them
IH: in what way?
Mary: some people were quite honest and open about things, others quite hostile- like by asking I was being blasphemous and aggressive. Quite a few times I heard things like “it is not your place to question God’s word”; “you are not spiritually aware enough- that will come with time” and even ‘”stop asking questions- just do as you are told!” To be honest, there was one incident where a priest was really obnoxious – and actually quite scary- about it- that more then anything made me opposed to Catholicism.
IH: in what way?
Mary: just that if they were that threatened by someone asking honest questions, someone seeking enlightenment in their own way, then how secure was their faith? How much did they really believe of what they were saying? They just seemed threatened and wanted me to go away.
IH: And now? You classify yourself as an Agnostic- do you have any beliefs? What is the main focus of how you view the world now?
Mary: I don’t know what is right and what isn’t – the more I question the more it seems no one faith or person has the edge on the truth… I am drawn to Buddhism in some ways and I still love images of Mother Mary. I like the way women are portrayed in Paganism…
I just think that if people are kind to one another, the rest will sort itself out. And if I’m wrong then I’ll find out when I die! (Laughing again)
IH: What would you say to those people who feel that religion of any form is a bad thing? Or those that say that their way is the only way? What kind of world would you like to see in relation to how people treat each other?
Mary: I think that I agree with, was it Gandhi? When he said “Religion causes wars and faith is what people have”?
I think if people respect each other, are kind to one another, and can believe what they want without hurting someone else or trying o convert them, then its fine. I think the idea of respect needs to be adopted…. Respect for people’s right to choose.
Like I said before, if people are kind to one another, then the rest will fall into place.