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My Teenage Religious Education When I was a young teenager, I had four younger brothers, the youngest of whom was eight years younger than I and I was trusted to baby sit them for short spells during the daytime on the weekends, which gave my Mum a bit more time to get out of the house. Therefore, I suppose, there was no longer any requirement to take me and my next brother to church on Friday nights to give her a break. Whatever the explanation, my Dad stopped taking me to church with him when I was a young teenager. I did not miss it. However, I continued to wade through my mother's books on Buddhism (especially Tibetan) and my father's books on yoga. I say 'wade through', but I considered the ideas fascinating and 'so obviously true', although I hardly ever talked about them with my parents. The only discussions we had on a regular basis in those days were about dreams, but we had discussed dreams since I was about six. One of my earliest recollections, when I was about six, was going down to my parents after being sent to bed and complaining that I could not get to sleep because 'the Indians kept talking to me' - I (was talking about|meant} native Americans. My parents did not shout at me or tell me 'not to be silly'. Instead, Dad came up to my bedroom and spoke to the Indians, explaining that I needed my sleep. I could still see them, but they stopped talking to me. The next week-end, my wallpaper was changed for one with cowboys and Indians on it and I never had that 'problem' again. During my teens, one of my favourite times of the week was discussing my dreams with my mother over breakfast. One day I was telling her that my dream the previous night had been about her and me standing on a pier in Portugal, when a vehicle pulled up. She stopped me and said that she had had the same dream. She described the car, it's colour and what took place next. We had had the same experience and she referred me to a book on Astral Travelling. I had already read it, but it was fantastic to have had a personal, practical experience. There was no holding me from then on. I started getting up three hours before I needed to go to school to do yoga exercises both physical and breathing variations. I meditated for hours every week. My father's mother must have got to hear of this and she asked me to go down to see her. She praised my interest in what she called 'spiritualism' - she would not call it 'the supernatural', because she said it was as natural as sunshine. Anyway, the point of the summons was to warn me of the dangers of carrying out spiritual activities 'without permission'. Serious spiritualists, she said, asked permission to 'hold a seance' at least a week beore conducting one, which is why seances and services are held on a regular basis. The person holding the seance or service has to organize protection for those going to the session. This is easily done and almost always granted, but you still have to do it.

My grandmother explained that people do not change into angels simply because their body has died. There are decent dead people and mischievous dead people. Without permission, that is without a guard, these mischievous spirits can enter the living body through the base of the spine and make that person appear to be mad. She made me promise there and then never to 'do anything spiritual' without permission, but particularly never to use Ouija boards and never ever to 'try anything' if I was under the influence of any drugs that made me 'lower my guard'. At the age of 13-14 in South Wales in those days, I had no idea of drugs or alcohol, but I have never forgotten my promise, because I know that she hasn't either. Owen Jones, the author of this piece, writes on a variety of topics, but is now concerned with non-religious beliefs. If you would like to know more go to What is Religious Belief?

My Teenage Religious Education  

By the time I was a teenager, I had four younger brothers, the youngest of whom was eight years younger than I and I was trusted to baby sit...