Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve just been very busy with woodwork and social stuff. However, recently I’ve been thinking about the sad and dark stuff that happened in 2020 and how so much I wasn’t expecting just how low the year could get.
I’ve been feeling down lately (though I stress I wanna live more than anything). The news and all the horrifying stories about COVID-19 and the horrific crimes committed by police (the fact I now cannot trust them with my life given my mild Autism and hearing about police murdering Aspies [people with Asperger's] is both depressing and disturbing), the numerous deaths of beloved figures from disease, the recent financial recession in my country. Not to mention the natural disasters that occurred earlier in the year and so many events I were looking forward to getting cancelled.
I’ve also suffered a relapse in depression. There are nights where it’s been so overwhelmingly miserable, I just want to cry myself to sleep. I struggle to smile and find the situation so hopeless, I can’t stop frowning. I just wanna smile again and feel hope and light, not this looming despair and darkness that leaves me paranoid of a horrible disease. It’s so scary and uncertain.
I’ve been feeling lonely lately. Trying to get out of the house to help my mother out with shopping and seeing a friend is to try and cheer myself up. It’s hard to feel hopeful when the news is destroying my faith in humanity and the global pandemic is killing so many people. I’m just so overwhelmed.
I also felt a sense of guilt from what happened with Etika. I wanted to help him because I could empathise with him and wanted to help him but when I heard he was blocking people trying to help him, I didn’t do anything because I loved his stuff and I wanted to not bother him. I was scared when I heard about his disappearance and was devastated when I heard the news of his suicide. I’m crying typing this because I feel so guilty I didn’t do anything even if doing something kind meant being blocked for trying to be a good person.
Also, one massive thing that traumatised me and made me feel terrified was my Mum’s so-called friend (I’m just gonna call him “J” even though he has the same name as my brother which I find insulting). I noticed early on in 2019 when J was emotionally abusive to my mum, gaslighting her and making her feel as if he was the only one who truly loved her(my separated father is 10-times the better partner than that bastard). He was also screaming at her at times. I could hear them through the paper thin walls. He threw things and was cruel to her. First time that happened my brother and I (and my dog Jake though neither of us got our shoes on and I couldn’t get my phone or wallet from upstairs) ran out while my Mum called the cops (this is before my trust in them was destroyed this year) and her bloody bruised face still haunts me. Second time it happened at night after he “apologised” to her and threatened to kill himself if she left, I couldn’t take it anymore and screamed at him to get out and stay out! I never once trusted him and my mum screamed at me that I should be glad dad and mum are in separate relationships. I don’t appreciate abuse. I always had a gut feeling not to trust him but I was nice to him anyway before the second time because I wanted to give him a second chance. He even gave me chew lollies but I suspect it was a bribe to shut me up and it didn’t work. I now associate the packet of lollies with that asshole. I hate them.
Both times, he destroyed something in the house (the car park door on the 2nd time) and made my mum cry. I hate myself for being so scared. I hate that man for what he did and it took every bit of willpower not to attack him the second time he attacked my mum. He’s also taller than my mum and me so he’s intimidating. He’s a monster. A cruel, manipulative and evil sack of shit who I hope I NEVER see his face again.
By the way, I should clarify despite my sadness at my parents separating, they’re still good parents who care about me and my siblings.
The 2010s were honestly some of the darkest and lowest points in my life. I was seriously hoping 2020 would actually improve things but it just got worse. I really wanna hope 2021 is slightly better but I have no idea. I wanna be a parent before I’m 30 but I’m worried if I’ll be a good parent given that I remember a social class from primary school when we were given a younger student from another class to help as a “parent” and I wasn’t there for them so they were given to someone else and the kid told me to my face I wasn’t there for them and were disappointed in me. I know it was just a school Project but it haunted me ever since and makes me scared I’ll be a bad parent for real. After some horrible abuse I went through from that shithead, I realised how important my family mean to me. I really wanna be a good loving attentive father one day.
I guess my questions are this: is there any hope for the future and how can I be a better person? Also, hope your leg’s okay, Papa Bear. I was rather worried when I heard the news from you. Stay safe, mate.
From a concerned and unhappy canine.
Sam the Dog
* * *
Wow, there is a lot going on in this letter. There are at least four questions here: 1) Given the current state of the world, how can I be optimistic and hopeful about the future? 2) How do I deal with my mom and her abusive boyfriend? 3) Should I be a parent soon? 4) How do I deal with my feelings of guilt regarding Etika? (Please note in future that you are only supposed to ask one question per letter, but I know that writing this down is a catharsis for you, so it's okay this one time.
Let's start with the second one first. Domestic abuse is a serious business. Your mother's boyfriend is emotionally abusive and, it sounds like, even physically so. There is not too much you can do until your mother recognizes this, and there are many psychological reasons too complicated to go into here as to why she might be so reticent to change her life. I'm not sure what Australian police are like, but if you do not trust them to help with domestic abuse problems, I would recommend you contact Lifeline Australia (https://www.lifeline.org.au/), which offers services concerning suicide, domestic abuse, and other crisis support services. Start with them.
Next: Etika. What happened to Etika is not your fault. Could you have done more? Sure, you could have tried to talk to him more or recommend help for him, but ultimately his choices were his own. You do not own other people's fates; you only own your own fate.
Should you try and be a parent before you are 30? Ideally, in my opinion, no one should try to be a parent until they have their shit together, but if I could somehow enforce that, Homo sapiens would become extinct in a couple of generations. Almost no one has their shit completely together, so the second option would be to have your shit mostly together, meaning you had enough income and could provide a stable environment to nurture a child into adulthood. Do not become a parent for your own selfish reasons (I cannot count how many times I have heard people say, "I want a baby so I have someone to love me" or "I want a baby so I have someone to take care of me in my old age" or "I want a baby so that I can have someone to carry on my legacy.") All of these reasons are wrong reasons for bringing a human being into the world. So, ask yourself: "WHY do I want to bring a child into this crazy world?"
Lastly, the BIG question: How can one be optimistic about the future in such a grim year? To get a grip on this, one must accept that life goes in cycles. There are good periods in history and bad ones; economic good times and depressions; periods of political stability and periods of unrest. I sympathize with your unease in this Time of Trump, which is simply horrible. I am very nervous that our American republic is being destroyed and we are regressing into a past when racism ran rampant and when destroying the environment was the status quo. Right now, it is about 50/50 as to which path we will follow in November, and it is truly disturbing how many Americans still support Trump and his evil reign of hatred and racism. Let us hope that voters will turn things around, but if not, and we get four years (or more) of Trump, even then there is still hope because, as noted, eventually evil is overthrown and things improve. The only question is whether that happens sooner or later. Of course, you are in Australia, which is a stable, fairly socialist country (compared to the US), so you should be okay, especially since Australia is doing better handling the COVID-19 pandemic than many countries (South Australia is considered one of the safest places on Earth regarding the coronavirus). I think you will be okay. Hang in there.
Looking worldwide rather than just in Australia, yes, there has been a definite swing toward right-wing regimes in recent years. Countries including the USA, Brazil, the UK, Hungary, Poland, and Austria have growing right-wing movements. This is the result of a couple of things, including reactionary movements against immigration and the success of liberal legislation giving rise to counter-legislation. Basically, white, conservative Christians fearing they are losing power to brown-skinned people who follow other faiths or who are liberal socialists. So, we get a political phenomenon based on changing world demographics. As with any active system, there is turbulence during a transition from one equilibrium to the next. Things will settle down eventually, but it could take decades.
You can't take on the world by yourself. But I do like the saying, "Think globally, act locally." If you wish to do something, get involved in local political, social, and environmental groups, and see if you can lend them a hand. That will ease your sense of being powerless because you will be doing something constructive.
Good Luck to You! Take Care! Bear Hugs!
My parents have been fighting a lot lately, and I fear that they no longer love each other. Whenever I go to visit them, it seems they cannot get along with each other. My younger brother and sister ignore the fighting, but I know deep down that they are saddened by this and I do not know what to do. So I am writing to you for advice as to what to do about this.
Anonymous (age 21)
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Instead of speculating about what is going on between your parents, you should talk to them. Ask them what is going on. You and your siblings and your parents should have an honest family meeting and communicate with one another. You are 21 years old, so they can't pull the "you're too young to understand" excuse for not talking to you. Their relationship affects you and your siblings, so you have a right to know. Once you know what is going on, only then can you truly make a decision as to a course of action.
I've been thinking about whether or not I should fatten up any furry characters who aren't Christians. You see, most of my fat comics and skinny pictures have portrayed Christian birds and other animals, and I'd like to know this: Is it a good idea, or should I just stick to my Christianized characters?
(P.S. I believe that fattening up humans - which I've NEVER done - disgraces God's image since He created human beings in his likeness; however, I know that fattening up animals is perfectly fine since they're NOT created in His image. Isn't that cool?)
* * *
Well, I'm sorry to inform you that that is utter nonsense. "Created in God's image" has nothing to do with your body. What is meant by that is that human beings possess souls; God is Spirit, and this spirit imbues our essence. It has nothing to do with your body. God doesn't look like a Homo sapiens. God is beyond mere physicality. God does not have a gender or legs or eyes or a mouth or hands or anything like that. Christian portrayals of God as an old man on a throne are mere anthropomorphic interpretations of the Great Spirit. Therefore, in your art, portraying Christians or non-Christians as overweight is not an insult to God because it is completely unrelated to God.
I'm surprised you didn't know that. But there it is. I think if you talked to any modern priest or minister they would agree on this point. That said, I am not a Christian and have different ideas about the spiritual, but that is a longer letter....
Since I was about 7 years old, I've felt like I wasn't a girl. When I tried talking to my dad about it, he told me not to listen to how I feel. At first, I thought I wanted to be a boy, but 3 years ago I discovered the term non-binary and only came out about a month ago. I only told my mom and best friend, and while my best friend has been super supportive, my mom seems a bit uncomfortable. I told her she could continue to call me "she" and her "daughter" to make her more comfortable, but it doesn't feel right. I want her to call me "they," but I don't want her to feel weird. Me and her have always loved drag queens, and she has always told me if I ever turned out to be gay she would be supportive, so it confuses me a bit to know she's uncomfortable with me being non-binary. Do you have any idea why she might feel this way and what I could do to make her feel better?
Hijinkx the Cataroo (13)
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First of all, your father's advice to not listen to how you feel is absolutely THE WORST advice he could possibly give you. So, do not listen to him on this point. As for your mother, at least she is trying to be sympathetic to you. I think she is uncomfortable about the non-binary term because she doesn't really understand what that is. She can comprehend homosexuality, but, let's face it, lately, there has been a lot of research and terms being flung around by the scientific and LGBTQI+ community that can be very confusing to most people. This page https://www.healthline.com/health/different-types-of-sexuality lists 46 terms that describe sexuality, gender, and orientation, for example, and there are actually even more than that.
What's going on here is that science, in recognizing that human sexuality and gender are very complex, is attempting to define all the various possibilities. Many people find this helpful because there is a sense of relief when one feels that one's personal feelings have been validated scientifically. But for those who are just plain-old heterosexual, white bread, and socially "normal," it can muddle the issue more than it clarifies it. I mean, throw around terms like cisgender, skoliosexual, demisexual, etc., and you are gonna get a blank stare. So many definitions can give one a headache and make one just want to tune it all out.
But just as this terminology can take some time and study to comprehend, so is your own sexuality coming into definition. At 13, you are still undergoing many changes, and you are still figuring things out. You are making a lot of progress and you definitely have resolved the fact that you don't feel like a girl even though that is what you are genetically. But now you are working toward what exactly that means and what variations of that apply to you, as well as how are you going to deal with it. This is an extremely personal voyage that only you can travel, although it helps when you have support from family and friends, people who can hold your hand.
What I am saying is this: Do not rush too quickly into defining yourself. You are only 13, and you are going to be developing physically, mentally, and emotionally for years to come still. And, just as you should not push yourself to the finish line too quickly (the finish line will just move farther ahead anyway), you should not push your parents too hard, either. Do not insist on them using the "they" pronoun yet. To them, you are their daughter, and that is a lot of responsibility in and of itself. Let them call you by whatever they are comfortable with. It is not an important issue right now. What is important is that you continue to explore your own feelings (and ignore parents who say ignore your feelings). This is not to say don't talk to your parents! TALK to them. But don't insist on anything. Just be honest about how you feel and don't put a label on it. Labels can be limiting anyway. If your mother can deal with this best by just thinking of you as being gay, then let her for now, even if she is not being accurate. If your father can't grasp your complex identity just yet, then let him just think of you as his daughter.
While this is all very much about you, it is also about your parents and their feelings. Try to be as sympathetic to what they are going through as you would like them to be about what you are going through. Do you understand? This is a process that will take many years. Do not expect instant results or instant sympathy and understanding. Take your time and be patient with them. And count yourself lucky that at least your parents are there for you, even though they are struggling to understand you.
And remember: we are more than just our sexuality and gender. We are complex beings of mind, spirit, and body. Your sexuality and gender are just one aspect of a complex human being--do not neglect the other aspects of yourself while you evolve as a person, and do not keep your parents from appreciating those other aspects as they strive to raise their child. Let them into your life without being insistent on what is just one part of you. Don't hide it, but don't bludgeon them with it, if you get my drift.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Big Bear Hugs,
Dear Papa Bear,
I'm writing to you because you've helped me out multiple times while I was a teenager, and it just felt nice to come to you for advice once more as an adult! So for that, let's start this off with a thank you.
So, the TLDR of my situation is that my parents divorced. Dad retired from the army, kicked me out. My mom helped me move to California, where I had a lot more job opportunities. Mom is moving back with her bf in January, and I'm planning on leaving California. They (half) joke about you needing to make $30/h or higher to live here on your own haha. It's just a bit too expensive for my taste.
So when January comes, I'm hoping to go to Kansas, but I'm unsure, actually. It'll be my first time on my own. I was always planning on moving out but so many things in life kept happening that my plans kept suddenly changing.
When it comes to that time, do you have any advice on moving out on your own? How much money should I have saved up? What things should I do to make sure it goes smoothly? Advice on getting an apartment for the first time?
Sorry that this is a big question. It's been weighing on my mind a lot lately.
* * *
Welcome back. It's weird, this column has been going on for about 8 years now and, yes, some original letter writers who were teens back then are now adults. How fast you grow up!
Depending where you live in California, you need to make more or less money. For example, it's much cheaper to live in the Central Valley than in a coastal city, but I get what you're saying.
Moving across the country is a really complicated and involved process, and I could write a book on just how to do that. Really, too much to say for this little column of mine. But I can give you a few pointers:
Hope this helps. Good luck!
Dear Papa Bear,
Ever since I started school, I always focused on the work more then anything. I always wanted to make my parents proud for all that they ever gave me. I didn’t even have that many good friends until high school, when I finally met a group. I was happy, but for college I decided to follow a full ride scholarship to a university states away. I thought it would be an easy adaptation and I would get many friends and good experiences here. But even without COVID-19, things have been rough.
With my experience here so far, I’ve struggled to make any friends in anything I thought I’d be remotely interested in, with me even joining a furry club. I haven’t felt a connection even close to the one I had with my friends back home, and at times even feel unwanted. While I can call my friends, I feel much more alienated to them the before, especially with me being the only one to go out of state for college. This feeling is starting to affect my drive for my grades, which is possibly a disaster, since I need to maintain a 3.5 to even keep my scholarship. Do you have any advice for not feeling so lonely when you’re having a really difficult time making connections?
Drew (age 20; live in Lincoln, NE for school; San Antonio, TX and Atlanta, GA for family)
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Different states, cities, countries have different cultures. One might think there would not be a big difference, culturally between Texas and Nebraska, but it kinda depends on the part of Texas. Now, you are from San Antonio, which is a pretty happening city. You also mention Atlanta, Georgia, which is very different as well. Nebraska is very rural, for the most part. Now, if you were from the Texas panhandle, for example, you might have a closer cultural tie to Nebraska. Lincoln, Nebraska, is very much a "college town," which also has a different feel from, say, a big city like Atlanta.
So, a guess I have is that there is a bit of a cultural difference going on here that might be interfering a bit with your efforts to make friends. Also, just in general, it can be a challenge to make new friends in a new town compared to a place in which you grew up. One suggestion would be to see if you could find some fellow students who are from San Antonio or Georgia. Might be a bit easier to connect.
While having a healthy social life is important, the main reason you are in Lincoln is for school--and congrats on your scholarship, by the way. I'm also guessing that, once you complete your degree, you're not going to stay in Lincoln. I could be wrong, of course. But even if you do stay where you are now, your peers will change once you get a job. You will be switching from college buddies to coworkers, and by then (4 or more years from now) you may have adjusted more to being a Nebraskan.
Big adjustments such as the one you're making take time to acclimate to. I remember my first year of college being rather lonely, but it got better in my sophomore year. Now, you're 20, so have you been in college a couple years? Or did you get a late start? If the former, you can tough it out for another year or two and then you will likely move when you find a job; if the latter, give yourself some time. Such big changes take a while to settle into.
Dear Papa Bear,
How can I convince my mom to let me make a mini partial fursuit? I told my mom I was a furry through text (I have social anxiety so it was too hard to say it aloud) and I told her I really wanted to make a “furry costume”. She wouldn’t let me do it and she said I shouldn’t be looking up furry stuff. I know there is inappropriate stuff but I don’t look at it. She always complains that I’m lazy so she should be happy I want to put effort into something. I wanna explain to her that it’s not inappropriate but I don’t have enough confidence bc of social anxiety. Being able to make my own fursuit would make me the happiest.
* * *
The internet can be a wonderful thing, but when it comes to the fandom, it can prejudice parents against letting their kids explore the fandom. This is a shame, because not only is the fandom fun, it can have many benefits as well. Helping people like you who suffer from social anxiety is one of these benefits. If instead of going on the internet to look for furporn your mother searched on "social anxiety and furry fandom" she would find articles and videos about how many young people have treated their anxiety by being furry and enjoying its community. It also helps people suffering from various degrees of autism spectrum disorder.
Here are just a couple articles and videos you can show your mother:
I would also suggest your mother visit the Moms of Furries website at https://mofurries.com/. These two mothers were, like yours, nervous about their kids participating in the fandom, but they gave it a try and found it had a lot of benefits for helping them get out of their shells and socialize in healthy ways.
Being a furry has lots of benefits. Point these out to your mom and tell her she should avoid jumping to conclusions because of furporn. Porn is all over the web, not just furry sites, but that is not what you--indeed, most furries--are about.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
Dear Papa Bear,
For years, my FurAffinity account has been posting both normal art and art of extremely fat, but clean, versions of cartoon birds with big bellies and behinds . . . and I'm a Christian, so I put a lot of Biblical references in my art. Here's my question: How come only a few FA artists--like myself--endorse Christianity for fatties, but everyone else posts crude, secular art? I do have some great nonreligious friends, but I still wanna' know.
P.S. I do love furries, but I don't dress up like them because I don't have the money to do so.)
* * *
While there are Christian furries, the majority of furries are not Christians; while there are furries who are into fat furs, they are also in the minority. So, think of a Venn diagram with three circles: one contains Christian furries, one contains fat furries, and a third contains furries only into clean art. When you merge these options together, the ones who are Christian furries into clean, fat fur art are pretty small.
The reason there are not many like you in terms of what you enjoy is because you have a very specific taste that does not relate to a large subgroup.
Hope that answers your question.
Hey Papa Bear,
I would like to hear your opinion on what you think about furry porn. …But that question alone is only worth maybe a “it’s good” or “it’s bad” answer, so… The true question is, what do you think of the whole scope about furry porn, and how it affects artists, members of the fandom, etc etc.
To give you more to work with, ever since I was a wee little chap watching TV with my lower lip quivering, and my eyes gleamed when I saw Flamedramon for the first time, I knew what I was in for. That said… The porn is good and all, but I’m always very sad to see how it affects the fandom. This mix of popularity and sexuality seem to entice many people, artists and commissioners alike, into very deplorable habits of flaunting for instant gratification, of filling their galleries to the brim with art of very varied levels of quality involving their sonas into every possible existing sexual scenario on this planet, just for the sake of… Attention, right? Well, money too, in case of the artists. Is that really worth it in the long-term?
It always bums me out that this sexy animal guy I’m jerking off to is almost surely a total douchebag if I met him in person, which… From my own experience, is very often true (But I admit that that’s on ME because I’m a very judgmental idiot and I also have impossibly high standards for everything. I’m sure someone out there could get to know one of those people and find their life-long partner, and that’s perfectly okay.) Still, there are also exceptions. I’ve seen some artists who draw porn but they don’t let their egos get mixed up in it (as much), and I respect those way more because they’re just more human to me. And I’m glad because otherwise that would’ve probably made me a total hypocrite, grabbing my dick with one hand and pointing and judging people with the other…
... Anyway, now that I made my point of view awfully, almost tangibly clear, I would like to hear yours. Hopefully it’s different from mine because I’d like to learn something new from this.
I await curiously for your reply.
* * *
Dear Uncle Tuper,
Sex and the fandom is a huge topic, and it is one I discuss in my book. It is difficult in a column to cover all the bases, but here's the gist of my take on furporn: Mundanes focus on this aspect on the fandom because they themselves do not have healthy attitudes about sex or they are incredibly inhibited about it (religious and other societal pressures cause this). They are uncomfortable with the idea of a fantasy-related fandom, and so, in seeking a way to reject it because it is "not normal," they zero in on what they feel is its unsavory aspect (furporn), and stereotype furries as sex addicts and zoophiles in order to reject and shame them.
Why, then, do furries get into the porn aspect? There are a lot of reasons, and none of them have to do with zoophilia. Furporn is just one form of many types of sexual fantasies that people have. You can go on the Internet and find all kinds of fantasy porn out there, some of it is much more strange than anthro sex. Okay, so, why specifically fantasies about anthros? Gosh, there is a laundry list. For one thing, various anatomical features of animals could turn people on, such as the soft fur of a feline or the genital girth of a horse or the fact that an elephant can play with you with its trunk. There are also fantasies such as vore, which has to do with the submission fantasy or even the fantasy of the return to the womb (very Freudian). There is, too, the animalistic nature of it all--wild and passionate sex without inhibition. Also, assuming a fursona in sexual roleplay is a form of self-defense against sexual shame ("It isn't ME doing this, it's my fursona.") Why so much furporn out there? Why do so many people commission artists to draw porn? Well, one reason might be that the fandom demographics skew toward the young range, and, let's face it, young people have "raging hormones" and tend to be horny. Hence, porn. If it weren't furporn, it would be something else X-rated (Star Wars porn, cartoon porn, whatev).
I have no problem with furporn (in fact, I'm a fan LOL). It is not inherently "bad" or "good." Sexual fantasies are only "bad" if they become addictions (i.e., you become so obsessed with porn that it interferes with your daily functions in the world) or if they become violent or hurtful to others in any way (i.e., acting out fantasies for any kind of non-consensual sex). Outside of these two conditions, furporn and sexual fantasies about furries can actually be a healthy and normal thing. Sexual fantasies can assist people in exploring their sexual identities, likes and dislikes, and add a bit of zing to a relationship you might already be in.
What mundanes need to get over is focusing on this one aspect of the fandom. The furry fandom offers a lot more than just some X-rated art. If you focus only on porn, you are missing out on a lot.
So, when it comes to you, personally, I would suggest you explore a bit further what exactly you like about Flamedramon, and this can teach you a bit about yourself. As for online relationships, you should always be cautious about these and make sure you don't let in a predator or other jerk. Such people eventually make themselves known, so you will figure out whether "sexy animal guy" is a jerk or not. If he is, dump him and move on. There are lots of furries out there who are very cool people.
Don't beat yourself up for having sexual feelings or that these feelings range into the world of fantasy. There is nothing wrong with you. Just remember to be kind to other people and avoid trolls along the way.
Hope that eases your mind.
I like to keep things succinct. Do you believe in god? I'm not really sure what to assume, because I feel like a few of your views don't align with "traditional" church values.
Not that that's a bad thing. I like progressive. One of my mom's friends is a veteran of the gay right's movements from the 70's. He would take us out to these fancy dinners and tell stories with his partner about how absolutely dogshit they had it. Genuinely, just miserable.
So, I'm sure things in the current are better for those a little more fey, but god is still something I think about. I'm not really sure what I like. I haven't had much experience, but I think I'm open to the idea. God just sort of peeks his head in to break up my thoughts.
I'm not very religious in general, so it's actually not too big of an issue. I was just curious your thoughts. If you are religious, how do you reconcile your personal feelings with your spiritual beliefs? Are there religions that allow such things?
I could just use some guidance. Thanks in advance.
* * *
"Is there a God?" is the biggest philosophical question ever, isn't it? Do I personally believe in God? Depends on what you mean by "God." The idea of a guy in robes and a flowing, white beard sitting on a heavenly throne and surrounded by angels and cherubs etc. is definitely not something I subscribe to. Nor do I follow any of the Big Three religions: Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. Religions are human constructs designed to keep the masses in line and a small number of priestly class people in power. That is all. Religion is a horrible thing that has caused more death and destruction in human history than just about anything else. And I find that those who feel they must have a religion to follow often do so because they lack the imagination to seek their own truth about their place in the universe. It's easier to follow blindly than to think independently. (I might lose some readers with these statements, but anyone who follows my column already knows my views, and I would never pretend otherwise to get more subscribers). Most people follow a certain religion because they were raised with it, although there are some who convert to a religion that they find suits their personal philosophy better (I have respect for that because at least it shows they are thinking).
This said, I do believe there is more to the world than is dreamt of in our philosophy. The more science learns, the more amazing our universe becomes, and I do not believe that the universe just happened at random. It is far too complex and mind-boggling to have arisen by chance (a billion monkeys typing on a billion typewriters will never produce the works of Shakespeare). No, there is something going on behind the curtain of the perceivable universe that we do not comprehend. Bits of it are starting to peek out behind the veil as we explore the quantum world. More and more it becomes apparent that the matter and energy we sense around us is not the ultimate reality. Indeed, scientific experiments prove that our observations of the universe actually affect reality. It is my fondest hope that, after we die, we might be made party to what that reality truly is.
In the meantime, we are stuck fumbling about in this world, trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle made of a trillion pieces without a photo on the box. The angst of the human condition arises because we are cognizant of our mortality yet kept in the dark about whether or not we have an ultimate reason for existing. It can make you nuts if you think on it too long, which, honestly, is why many people turned to established religions. Kind of a vacation for the brain.
The ultimate truth is beyond our reach. However, you can rely on certain guiding principles in life that will give you comfort, give you purpose, and give you guidance.
Are there religions that allow you to explore these things, you ask? Well, one path you might try is Buddhism, which is a philosophy that people mistake for religion. You can also check into a Unitarian Universalist church. These people are very open to their members searching for personal truth while also exploring your spiritual side. Finally, you might consider Wicca or various "pagan" beliefs that are more Nature-oriented. Any of these could serve you well, or a combination of two or all of them.
Whether or not the above answers your questions, continue to seek your personal truth throughout your life. Keep yourself open to new ideas and possibilities. And remember what Kurt Vonnegut said:
Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies--"God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
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