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dear miss bond,

you may or may not remember me. you taught me religion at my local church, we called it First Holy Communion but i always secretly thought it was brainwashing. you were so passionate about it, you seemed to make it palatable. it is only in later years, seeing what religion is, that i have recanted my faith. but you - when i think of you, i still feel my fingers twitching to bless the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost. i think of the lace squares that you would give us, your children; your flock, when we learnt a prayer. parrot this, child, and you shall be given pretty, clean edged doilies. white lace, it was rough on our fingertips. religion bought us and we shall have the steady thudding of Our Father in our minds from the rest of our lives. you made it a blessing to believe. the reality is; it is a curse. i hope you can never see that.

i have been thinking about the concept of sin. we are all born with original sin. i hear that purgatory is outdated, now? that's a shame, i always thought of that state in between life and the afterlife as the safest place i could ever find. i used to sit in your classes, sometimes, and ask you what different levels of sins are. every sunday, after we let the eucharist dissolve under our tongue, you would tell me that all sin we do not mean to commit is forgivable. all sin we commit with the intent of hurting another is not. i am now not in a position to ask for forgiveness, teacher. i would not ask God anyway. purgatory may take me for i shall not repent - heaven is not the right place for me. eternal happiness would become tedious - that is a flaw in His plan.

i do not know if it is fair to blame Him for our flaws. to ask him to absolve them. i do not believe, let me make that clear - but a concept trusted and adored by so many demands a sort of respect even from non-believers. i refer to Him in the manner which you see him, not in the way i reject Him. i would never tell you God does not exist. i would tell you God does not exist for me - He will not shoulder my shortcomings. i will not hide behind the featureless face of the man sat in the sky, bearded, majestic, kind. you told me the Bible was not to be taken literally. i will take you at your word - the Bible is not true. do i misunderstand?

forgive me, teacher, for i have sinned. you were my teacher. you taught me respect; love; passion for knowledge (you called it faith,) but - you cannot teach faith. some think that faith comes upon you; that you hear the word of the Lord - that you are called. " ' "I believe",' she said, but she said it only inside her head." - Barbara Trapido, Temples of Delight, 1990. faith is not a realisation, faith is [please do not take this the wrong way, please do not] a delusion - a sanctuary. a place where you are safe. it is not a truth. a truth is the way a word sounds when it is brought to life on the tongue of a stranger; a truth is the pure G chord on a guitar; the happiest note i know. a truth is also the E minor chord - there is no happiness without sorrow. it rings of melancholy sadness. a truth is the sound of my fingers writing this, tap-tap-tap. a truth is something you feel for yourself - it is not something that another places within you for you to worship. religion is not truth. religion is a last resort - this is why so many people hit rock bottom and then find God. everything is better, everything is good - and they thank God for it, hallelujah! hallelujah! it is not God that has helped. it is the diversion into a fantasy - you can change your life when you forget who you were. when God takes over.

i'm sorry, miss bond. i do not mean to insult your faith. i mean only to write this letter, a letter to be unread; never sent; forgotten - thrown away. i believed when you spoke of God, but i believed in your faith. i believed in you. i did not believe in your God, and i am sorry for that. i hope He is worth losing yourself for - did i ever hear you speak of books? of music? of art? of anything but faith? sparingly, perhaps. no. i do not think i did. the Bible is not a book - it is a rulebook, a piece of judgemental fiction. it carries truth but it is human truth - not truth from God. do not hurt others. forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. i will not trespass into a land of fancy. i have spent too long in one, and i shall not blame God for it. nor thank Him for my freedom. hymns are not truly music, they are beautiful, yes - but they deal with propaganda. i do not call the national anthem a song, miss bond. art is forbidden in our church. i have never heard you speak of it. i did see you doodle - you are not lost. you choose to be so.

thank you, miss bond for my lessons. thank you, miss bond for teaching me my own way - i understand my lack of faith moreso now i have lived in belief - my original sin is cleansed, holy water. my other sins i shall atone for myself.

an agnostic.
I was raised Catholic, I no longer believe. This is not meant to be offensive. I apologise if it is.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-02-21
~chesscakes explores her relationship with religion in an open letter to my first holy communion teacher.

Thank you for respecting the author's choices in your comments. ( Suggested by tiganusi and Featured by neurotype )
MarioTwo Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
nine9nine9 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I too was raised Catholic and indoctrinated with the same kind of brainwashing. It took me many years to sift through it all, to separate the wheat from the shaft, so to speak. The only thing I know for sure is that praying to Jesus, making the right choice by imagining what he would do in my situation, even screaming at him in my greatest hours of despair -- "why oh why has this happened to me?" -- has made my life better. In times of intense mental anguish I have reached out to him, and, here's the key, just the act of reaching out has comforted me, made whatever I was going through better. You are young and perhaps life has been kind to you -- I don't know. What I do know is that there will be bumps in the road with many devastating sad things occurring along life's highway. I wish you luck in getting through these sad experiences without a higher power to seek comfort from. I wouldn't be surprised if you returned to some semblance of your faith in the future after life has kicked you around a bit. I did.
TheMexicanofWisdom Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I'm catholic too. But this really spoke to me I understand what ya mean, and that's how I feel most of the time about my religion as well.
Leeleechanlee Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
This is beautiful in it's own way. Sort of how I feel. You truly touched my heart and mind with your words. Thank you for sharing this.
ea2k13 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013   General Artist
i admire the respect with which you have addressed this touchy subject & don't see how it could reasonably be called offensive. xxx000
Avristed Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
Initially, I found the use of lowercases to be jarring. I kept reading despite that, though, and realised that it was a statement in itself — a sort of declaration of humility.

Fitting, really. You don't need to prim to be proper.
EllieZ Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student General Artist
I understand. This is why many return to the roots of the church, Orthoxy.
ColoringTheRain Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I feel the need to be redundant.
I'm Catholic and I found this to be beautiful and well deserving of a DD. :)
EdenAlicePoe Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This was definitely a thought-provoking piece. My dad was raised catholic, mom makes us try a new church every so often, Baptist, Lutheran, "Bible" whatever that meant. My sis goes on religious kicks from time to time, she's at that age, I suppose. But no matter what, my parents always said I'd have to find my own faith, though they really push for me being a christian.
I've given thought to atheism, but I feel the need to believe in something, some higher power beyond this life & this physical world that I see in front of me (I simply can't help but believe that there's *something* out there. Be it God, aliens, or nothing but the vast recesses of space & our lonely thoughts that float & take shape too far away for them to matter any more... Yeah, I have too much time to think & may be a little crazy, so what?). I'm considering all the different parts of the "umbrella of christianity" as a geography teacher once put it. I'm considering all the religions outside of christianity. This piece puts a lot into perspective & I'll definitely be thinking about it for some time as I find my own faith, or lack thereof.

On another note, love your writing style, something about it, I don't know. It's just kinda nice. Very well done overall, & very nice to share your thoughts this way, thank you for providing some perspective.
KimukoCat Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
As a nonbeliever still living with a Catholic family, this piece speaks volumes to me. Thank you very much for sharing. I mean it sincerely.
RavynneNevyrmore Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great piece and pretty aptly describes my experience with Catholicism and Catholic school as well. Except that I personally don't capitalize common pronouns that refer to God because it is not grammatically correct to do so. They taught us to subvert the rules of grammar because God is just that important, and since I don't personally believe in that importance then I won't personally subvert that rule. Honestly, grammar is more important to me than someone else's conviction in the divinity of a fictional being; If someone believed with all of their being that Mickey Mouse was a divine being, I still wouldn't hold myself to always capitalize "him" when referring to Mickey Mouse. I feel that to do so is to make a concession to the character's divinity. I also omit the "under God" line from the Pledge of Allegiance because I won't pledge allegiance to that idea.

I'm not saying that you have to do the same, of course, but sharing my own personal stance on it in case you find it interesting.

" religion is not truth. religion is a last resort - this is why so many people hit rock bottom and then find God. everything is better, everything is good - and they thank God for it, hallelujah! hallelujah! it is not God that has helped. it is the diversion into a fantasy - you can change your life when you forget who you were. when God takes over. "

This part in particular resonated with me. My mother is dying of cancer and has gotten very in touch with her religious side since her first diagnosis. I recently had a conversation with a fellow atheist friend who is decidedly less agnostic than I am. He said he could not see even abiding by someone else's belief as being a good thing to do, since it's just letting them lie to themselves and be brainwashed. I can see that viewpoint as well, and I used to feel that way, although I didn't (and I don't think he does) try to convince believers in the non-existance of God out of respect for the tolerance that I would like them to show for me and my beliefs in return. But secretly I felt I was doing them a disservice.

Then there's a situation like my mother's. She's dying and that sucks. I imagine it's horrifically scary. I have no way to console her, really, and if plunging herself into this delusion that God loves her and she's going to heaven is what can do that for her then far be it from me to argue with her that what she believes is a lie.

My friend could see the merit in that too, I think (the tone in his voice when he told me he did was a little ambiguous), but we both agreed that religion was ironically more "evil" than good and the world would be better off without it.

Incidentally, on the topic of grammar, "Miss" doesn't require a period after it because it's the full word. "Mrs." is an abbreviation for "Missus" and therefore requires a period because it's an abbreviation, as is "Mr." for "Mister." ("Ms." [pronounced "mizz"] is a third prefix for a woman that doesn't indicate her marital status and as far as I know is not actually an abbreviation of any full word because it was brought in after the abbreviations were already commonplace and just adopted that convention as well.)

I tell you this because you could probably increase clarity if you remove the periods. They're not correct anyhow and in a few places they could be mistaken for ending a sentence.
lifeuncommon Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
As someone who has at times been passionate about, and at others disenchanted by, a Christian faith journey, I congratulate you as the author for engaging with the topics intelligently and with respect.

Much of the writing is good in and of itself also, a good use of descriptive words and impact on the emotions.
Eventhorizon6 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
This is exactly how I feel when I try to talk to my mom or anyone else who still believes in stuff like this - and I'm not saying it's a bad thing to have your own beliefs, I just often feel like a pariah because of my lack of faith. This is so perfectly written because I was also raised a Catholic and no longer believe, thank you for putting my own thoughts into words, you are a wonderful writer and this is a beautiful piece of literature!
Nikolai-King Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
It's got some grammatical error here and there and could use some touching up. But first impressions aside this is a really beautiful piece of work that brings a lot of things into question. I enjoyed it thoroughly. :)
MistyDawnAmara Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks for writing this, really. it helped me put straight a few thoughts i had. hearing it from someone else helpled me clarify how i was thinking.

My parents tried to raise me catholic, for their parents, but gave up long ago. it made faith sort of confusing for me, but i never allowed my schooling to get in the way of my education so to speak.
TyrantKitty Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
This is beautifully written, and manages to put into words the exact feelings I felt when renouncing my Christianity.
vedisdragon Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I like how you managed to write this in a way that wouldn't be offensive to people of any religion or a lack of religion.
Aeltari Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I found no offense in this piece of work as a christian. I did find it hard to read with the odd punctuation. I am not sure why you chose to write it that way, but your heartfelt sentiment on the subject was very candid. :heart:
moon-tear Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
This must have been a strange and difficult realization to come to. Even harder to have to put into words to someone who had been such a large part of your young life. Congratulations on finding what you truly feel is right to believe in. <3
back-bones Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
this is not offensive. just because you don't believe in what others believe does NOT make what you write offensive. you're just as entitled to write why you're agnostic just as much as someone is allowed to write why they're catholic. don't let anyone else tell you otherwise, especially when you've communicated your beliefs so eloquently. congrats on the dd- well deserved.
Asepsis Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
I thought this was wonderful. I myself renounced my old religion and much prefer being agnostic.

To those who are offended, I politely add this- we choose what offends us. If you don't want to be offended, then don't be. It really is that simple.

I've never much understood those who get so angry at seeing someone question their faith. To me, if someone truly believes in something, then no amount of questioning or criticising should shake that faith, and if anything, it should make the faith stronger.

Anyway, like I said- wonderful writing. Congratulations on the DD. It was very much deserved.
SeaPlume Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student General Artist
This is beautifully written. I do not believe your reader needs to share your views to understand them because you explain everything you say so clearly without being redundant. I'm very glad that browsing Daily Deviations brought me to this piece. Congratulations!
greeneggs973 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
I understand it isn't meant to be so, but I do find this a bit offensive.
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
If you're concerned about the featuring of this work, please talk to me directly :) Your feedback is rather vague, so it's hard to tell what you find offensive, especially since a number of other commenters have mentioned they were not offended.
Screwed-In-The-Head Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
THIS. :iconclapplz:
LydiaRhianne Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
This is wonderful - you are certainly very eloquent! Congrats on a well-deserved DD! :iconclappingplz:
Angelles-LaVeau Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Congratulations on your DD. As a Catholic, I TOTALLY understand every word you have spoken to your teacher. Long ago I realized there would ALWAYS be flaw in religion, because religion is governed by man. Man can never keep anything good and pure because they themselves are not good and pure. And "we are made in the image of God" - my thought on that is: If we are capable of something, then so is God. How could we even think of something good or evil if it wasn't a part of God already? And so that is when I just said to myself, "I will take what is good and throw out what is bad or does not feel like MY truth." I've been good with that. Many "recovering Catholics" do the same. Only take with you what feels right and true for you. If NOTHING does, walk on. There is no right and wrong in that. How can there be right and wrong if no matter what we do, we are reflecting an image of Creator?

Again Congratulations!!! Well deserved and definitely something to give readers (myself included) something to think about. Thank you for that. :heart:
TyrantKitty Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Writer
This sounds remarkably similar to eclectic paganism--the religion I myself have chosen to follow. Eclectic pagans do something similar, only drawing what we find to be good and true from any number of religions; Christianity, Buddhism, ancient Egyptian and Greek religions, etc.

Just found that to be interesting.
Angelles-LaVeau Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Indeed! I've heard of it. My ancestor, Marie LaVeau (VooDoo Queen of New Orleans)and her daughter Marie II was Catholic by day and High Priestess of Vou Don at night. That has kind of ground its way thru the generations. We take our truth from many places because there are pieces of truth in all ways. I think its not so much what we call it, but more about what brings us peace and wisdom. Thank you for sharing! Its always nice to find a Kindred Spirit!
nine9nine9 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I don't know if you are aware of this or not but Dr. John wrote a great, haunting song about Marie LaVeau. Sends chills down my body every time I hear it.
Angelles-LaVeau Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Wow!!! I'll have to check that out definitely!! Thank you for the tip!! :highfive:
lmoonga Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student
I do not agree. That said, it's well written, your use of capitalization is artful, and I think your message is heartfelt. I used to feel some of the things you wrote. Nice work.
MoonlightVampire19 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I was raised Christian, but I renounced my faith in 9th Grade. I've lived several years as an Agnostic, and am proud of it. I believe in a Higher Power, and I believe Spirits exist with in the 4 elements, and in Nature itself.
La-Nina-Feliz Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student General Artist
I was going to comment something about the catholic religion (Im catholic myself) but the thrut is that more and more I read your the more I feel like catholic is different from where you are, that make sense? Im from Mexico, and lotsof thing that you says does not applifrom were Im.
I can´t relate with this letter but not for what I was expecting, I guess is something about culture, maybe the mexican culture is too much impreganted with the religion and makes that a lots of thing dosent feel weird or strange or wrong or like a lie.
The only other thing is that I really like the way you say that you believe in HER but not in her GOD, that is a very good point and from my point of view that the most tender thing a non believer can say to religious person. I thin the letter is a very cute gesture form you, It may not make a lot of sense for most people, but i can persive a little of purity and innocence on your words, You really didnt want to be offensive and that very apreciate.
One more thing, Careful with all those dots.
KyrieGlows89 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
Wow. I think it's really sad that this received a daily deviation. Sad.
xxbipolarxbearxx Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
May I ask why you feel that?
vedisdragon Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Way to embarrass yourself in front of 1,700+ viewers. Please, even if you do not completely understand or like the piece, be respectful about it. There are plenty of people on here who have expressed their disagreement in a respectful and mature way.
neurotype Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Concerns about the featuring of the art can go to me. The artist had nothing to do with this.

Alternately, FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
cellyangiechowski Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student General Artist
Are you seriously trying to tell me some Churches forbid ART? Holy shit. I never knew that. Could you tell me more? I went along similar lines as you -- my mother attempted to raise me as a Mormon, but it just never really stuck.
Ruler101 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
While I don't find this letter offensive, not really, I don't understand the idea that people lose themselves when they believe in something. While I'm totally unsure of my beliefs (I'm not even quite willing to say Agnostic yet) most of the religious people I know keep their faith to themselves or at church. It's not something people just do because they can't think for themselves.
CaptainJacksLuv Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I agree completely.
Ruler101 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013
Thank you.
jboweruk Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013
I find it hard to believe since it says in one breath God is merciful and forgiving, yet in another he's going to blow it all away and destroy utterly those who didn't believe without so much as a chance to change their mind.

I guess I'm too logical but can anyone explain how Noah was supposed to get thousands of animals on that little boat? And why nobody else thought of floating their little boats to save themselves?
PMeMe Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
I guess I could say I am sort of a a catholic. I have been christened in a roman-catholic church and attended the masses when I was younger. But then my daddy got ill and I think we all lost some faith. We no longer went to church as a family, although I had to go with my grandma when I stayed with her every summer.
When I went to visit my cousins I had to attend Church of England masses and Sunday School with them. I think it was there when I realized where the problem was - they were all saying that their God is the only true God...but one of the churches had to be wrong in that case!
So I just kind of made up my own religion and it has stuck with me over the years...I just talk to God whenever I feel like it but I take it as a venture into my soul more than believing that anything will actually change...I don't really know if I believe or not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't I guess.
THANK YOU for writing this, it has made me think about something I should have thought about long ago.
Yuuza Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
i am an agnostic too but i was raised an Orthodox, that's why i can relate to this letter :D
i really enjoyed reading it because i have similar views myself, and it's as if you spoke my mind :love:
rosebfischer Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm a Christian. I don't find this offensive. As a person who chose my faith later in life, after a lot of study and contemplation, I don't agree with a lot of what you say, and I'm sorry that you've had experiences that lead you to believe that having faith means losing yourself. I think that a mature faith can and should balance enjoyment of art, music, science, and any other means of exploring the world or expressing oneself. I mostly think that it's sad that there are a lot of people whose experiences are like yours. Your beliefs are none of anyone else's business, but I hope you'll have a chance to meet some people whose approach to faith is more balanced in the future.
mysteriouswhitewolf Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Couldn't have said it better myself.
rosebfischer Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
bohobella Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I'm an ex-Catholic agnostic. After spending the majority of my life Catholic and going to Catholic school, I have to say you couldn't sum up my emotions better. Pretty brilliantly written. 
ValiantShadow Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Student General Artist
As an agnostic myself, I am thrilled to see that I'm not the only one who feels like this. Thank you for sharing your letter with us.
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