Originally Posted by Quath
My grandmother really wanted me to convert back to Christianity before she died. (Her health was declining pretty fast towards the end.) She would tell me that my lack of belief would have me spending eternity in hell. I know she truly believed all of this and was concerned, but it bugged me that she believed that her god was going to torture me for all of eternity because I never found proof of God. I told her that even if such a God existed, I would be hesitant to worhsip something who would do such a thing. (Removing me from existance would be nicer than torture.)
I had a similar experience with my very Catholic grandmother who was always upset that my parents weren't raising us in the church. She would always try to reeducate me to save me whenever I spent time with her. But she died when I was 9 so I never really hit the point where I could have a serious religious dialogue with her.
I definitely identify as a Humanist as well. I never would have ended up going to church were it not for a chance meeting with Kurt Vonnegut whereby he convinced me to give it a try. He gave a speech at my university and in the speech he mentioned a guy who had been in prison for 20 years and was about to be released. He wrote Vonnegut a letter asking him about the best way to reintegrate into society. Vonnegut told him to join a church. Churches function as a tribe or extended family.
By that time I was a working musician who had played many church services of various denominations (including regularly cantoring Catholic masses) and always found that these services would piss me off in one way or another. At the reception afterwards, I got to briefly chat with Vonnegut and mentioned that while I like the idea of a church community, I can't reconcile my beliefs with them. He said go to a Unitarian church. I'd probably like it.
A few years later I found myself having moved to a new part of the country with a new job and no friends so that's what I did. I love that in a UU church you'll find a service about Islamic mysticism one week, a service about Advent and the idea of ritualistic waiting in the darkest months another week, and a service about Richard Dawkins and the rationalists yet another week.
One thing I find fascinating is that the word religion has sort of become synonymous with belief in god. That's pretty reasonable considering almost all religions do believe in a god or gods. But the fascinating thing about the word "religion" is that it's root is the Latin word "ligare" which means to bind. It's the same root for the word "ligament" which is a thing that binds bones together.
So all religion really means is "that which binds together". I kind of like that.