I recently read a book by Thomas plante called Being ethical in an unethical world and I thought it was really great in helping me clarify my views of what is right and wrong and why they are considered so. I too grew up catholic, had paranoia and even had what I think were Cotard delusions… The Cotard delusions were the worst. Over the years I have tried to educate myself more in science, psychology and ethics. I don’t go to mass as often but I do pray the rosary very frequently… I kind of hold two conflicting views of the world… One very bottom up low level and deterministic and the other top down high level and spiritual. I use the scientific viewpoint when I deal with a lot of health issues but tend towards more spiritual viewpoints when evaluating ethical problems. For a long time I thought this was a big problem but then I thought, what’s the big deal… The physicists can’t even yet get relativity to jibe with quantum mechanics so if those geniuses don’t have a consistent view of the world why should I?
I am not a priest, but the fact that you express such remorse makes me think you are actually a very good person. I think Mother Theresa said she entered a very dark period of her life when she felt a total absence of God. I have to admit I feel that absence too a lot but I figure I have to try my best to do the right thing whether or not at the time I feel any presence. I still pray the rosary a lot and my wife is a former nun. She has a lot more faith than I do and did amazing work as a chaplain treating aids patients… She got sick with sz like me. It could be the devil, god might not be as kind as we think… Who knows? It’s the ones that don’t suffer from guilt that I really got to wonder about… I don’t think they are going to a heaven and us to hell if those places even exist… I don’t know if Hindus have Cotard delusions so you gotta wonder how much of this stuff is just things we have learned.
Your Jerusalem experience is more common than you think… And you might want to google Paris syndrome. I was hospitalized in Loreto, Italy after a nasty bout of jet lag and feeling a bit out of my natural habitat.
Go out sometime on a clear night and look at the sky… There are at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone…, Our universe is more complicated than we imagine and if there is a multiverse it may beyond our comprehension entirely… That leaves a lot of room for God, gods, aliens or something or someone entirely different. Who knows maybe there’s room for them all Maybe when Jesus said my mansion has many rooms maybe he really wasn’t kidding. One even has to wonder if all this time while we thought we were on the inside looking out we were really on the outside looking in. (If that’s true I hope some topologist can explain it to me in a way I can understand.)
Sorry to wax poetic but my elder brother is a great writer and he says it’s very therapeutic for him so I figured I would start getting back into it.
Also sorry to be so agnostic but that’s the most honest approach I have found so far. Richard Feynmann the physicist said it didn’t bother him much that he didn’t know the answers… I guess it still bothers me a bit but I am just trying to be more like average people so in everyday life I usually don’t even have to think about it.