The Middle Way by Scott Nicholson

Scott Nicholson
Haunted Computer Books
http://www.hauntedcomputer.com

In many ways, I’ve felt my writing was a journey or search for answers. 

If you look, you can find most of my flaws, both of the moral kind and the grammatical kind. I’ve always been the sort who claims them and owns them, though maybe I don’t always celebrate them. In both writing and my free-lance editing, I’ve uncovered major thematic issues that are affecting the writer, often without his or her knowledge. 

Sometimes it’s rather disturbing, unless you accept that the act of writing is a path of understanding, communicating, and maybe healing. I’m not one of these writers who say “I only write for myself,” because ultimately that is a little vain. But, heck, you might need it for your mental health, because it requires both concentration and a tapping into your subconscious self.. 

One obvious literary search for me is spiritual exploration. I’m too unconventional to merely pick an ideology and stick with it. It’s my nature to question everything and easy acceptance of a belief system is not very challenging. In other words, if you told me everything I simply must believe, I’d be forced to find reasons to disbelieve all of it. 

On the other hand, I believe in everything already. 

I was raised Southern Baptist, for the most part, though we never troubled over denominations. We were never made to attend church regularly, and we moved a lot, so we’d sometimes just go to whichever church was closest. I know we went to Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopalian churches along the way. Then I hit my teens and started questioning the inherent contradictions of Christian faith, as evidenced in Ronnie day’s struggles in The Red Church. I just couldn’t square the image of the smiling, merciful Jesus with the bearded old codger who’d roast me in the pits of hell for eternity if I didn’t shape up. 

One reviewer of The Red Church basically claimed that Baptists weren’t allowed to be in horror novels, that only Catholics could do horror right. Well, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby are decent testaments to that theory, but I think such a position is small-minded. 

In my later teens, I was more in “free range” mode, thinking that spirituality meant taking drugs and reading hippie books about space cadets taking drugs and having spiritual experiences. As you can imagine, such a road led to the conclusion that once you’ve taken all the drugs, what else is left? However, I did get my first exposure to Taoism during that period, reading Lao Tzu’s Tao-te-King. 

My first wife was a Catholic and my children were christened in the faith. I attended services irregularly and waffled between being annoyed by the Catholic Church’s opulence and accepting whatever peace and grace it offered. But the pervert priests and the lies and the political cover-ups killed whatever fondness I had developed, and my then-wife later left the church for the same reasons. 

As a seeker, I have rubbed elbows with many different types of believers. I’ve hung out with Scientologists and Hindus and Buddhists, participated in Wiccan and pagan solstice ceremonies, and researched Satanism for my novel The Skull Ring, though I’ve only met a couple of professed Satanists. I developed a workable relationship with a higher power nearly five years ago while emerging from a personal Dark Ages. I don’t claim membership in any particular church, though in the last few years I’ve been to Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Church of Christ, and Catholic services. 

My current and final wife claims to be a Catholic, though she was kicked out of Catholic school in the seventh grade and has dragged me to most of those above services. She understands the deep hooks that the Catholic church manages to get into people, especially those indoctrinated at an early age. But we also talk a lot of about spiritual matters and have a shared set of basic morals and principals. 

On our first date, she gave me a book called “365 Tao,” a book of daily readings of Tao philosophy. “I just knew,” she said. We read entries from that book back and forth over the next year, and still hit it once in a while, because though the words stay the same, we change, and the tao changes, even as the tao stays the same. 

Taoism is more properly a philosophy than a religion, which is fine with me because it allows me to indulge in any religion I want. It’s more of a path of balance, a middle way, accepting yet also acting. It’s the path of a warrior who hopes to avoid conflict. It’s a path of embracing the death in the beauty of life, the eternal stream and circle of things. It even works on a scientific level, since matter can neither be created nor destroyed. 

Tao can’t even exist in its true form, and it can’t even be properly named. Can you see why it works for me? It’s a self-contained perfect contradiction. 

We each have our own personal journeys and our own personal relationships with the gods or makers or sets of empirical evidence of our choice. I’ve come to a point where I don’t need to worry about yours or mine. I think I’m okay. I believe you are, too. 

—————–

For every book of mine that hits the Top 100 during the tour, I will throw in an extra Kindle 3 giveaway. Tell your friends. Amaze your neighbors. Shock your therapist. 

Scott Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including the thrillers Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, Forever Never Ends, The Skull Ring, As I Die Lying, Burial to Follow,and They Hunger. His revised novels for the U.K. Kindle are Creative Spirit, Troubled, and Solom. He’s also written four comic series, six screenplays, and more than 60 short stories.

His story collections include Ashes, The First, Murdermouth: Zombie Bits, and Flowers. 

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free e-books to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. Thanks for playing. Complete details at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com/blogtour.htm


Comments closed … Thanks Scott and everyone who took the time to enter ! Best of luck in the drawing !

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87 thoughts on “The Middle Way by Scott Nicholson

  1. I, myself was baptized Catholic, attended a Southern Baptist church as a young child, and was married the second time in a Protestant church. A “Jack” of all religions so to speak. Now, I rarely attend church and don’t belong to one right now. It doesn’t mean that I don ‘t believe in God, I just don’t believe in just what one particular religion follows. It is nice to know that there are others who feel the same. I am really enjoying your book tour!!

    kellysydow at yahoo dot com

  2. Nice post. I do not attend church regularly either. I resent people who feel I don’t have a connection with God because I’m not sitting in church three times a week. Trust me, I would not be alive today if I didn’t have a personal relationship with a higher power. I have been to Catholic church with my grandmother and was baptized at ten in a Baptist church. Religion is very personal to me and I respect that in others. I am a leader not a follower and I will not follow someone to their church merely because they are concerned for my soul. (Southerners will understand that last sentence.) I take care of my own soul by the way I lead my life thank-you-very-much. Thanks for letting me rant a bit.
    canadell@bellsouth.net

  3. I grew up Catholic but discarded it as soon as I was able. Dabbled a little in Wicca a few years back. Currently, I’m on some sort of fence but I’m not sure what’s on either side.
    teawench at gmail dot com

  4. “My current and final wife”
    Love it!

    I appreciated your religious journey. I personally have little patience for the blind-faith believers. I took a course in college taught by a Baptist minister; he instilled in us that unquestioned faith was meaningless and spent the entire semester pointing out the inconsistencies in the Bible. Made more of an impression on me than any of the Catholic priests of my youth.

    –Maria

  5. I grew up in a family with a very liberal attitude toward religion and the church. As far as I’m concerned, all religious texts (including the Bible) are written by human beings and, therefore, subject to error. All priests, clergymen, the pope, etc. are human and therefore flawed and fallable. There is no proof that God exists or doesn’t exist. Why we kill each other over such matters, is beyond me. I don’t mean to sound irreverent or jaded and I consider myself a spiritual person. However, I detest religious extremism and fanatism. If we all accepted the fact that faith, religion, spirituality are deeply personal things (which can be shared with others, but never to the extent of excluding other beliefs), then we would be much better off.
    Christa
    cpolkinhorn@msn.com

  6. Well, looking at your photo today, I am AMAZED to say that “you found Jesus”–LITERALLY! I had heard he was coming back—but he’s probably keeping a low profile until he gets back in shape (too much fast food, perhaps? Guess they don’t have McDonald’s in heaven??). Of course, there you are trying to get on his good / right side. And what is he doing? Pointing in a far-off direction and SENDING YOU AWAY (while barely containing his laughter)! And can you blame him? For someone as lost and goat-loving as you are, for someone so Scott Nicholson-y, how could he NOT cast you off!?

    Ignore me once again! I have my microbiology final in JUST OVER AN HOUR!!! Yikes! WHY am I bothering to leave comments on your blog tour NOW??? EEEK!

    Later, dude!

  7. Great post, Scott. I, too, have a wide and varied religious background. Grew up going to a Pentecostal church, later floated around until I landed Southern Baptist, went to independent Baptist churches for a while, actually went to seminary for a couple of years to become a Southern Baptist minister, then joined ranks with the Catholic Church. The last couple of years I haven’t subscribed to any religious philosophy. Frankly, I got tired of it all. If I had to “label” myself, I’d say I’m now an agnostic.

    I love the picture of you with the sacred heart of Jesus. 😛 That’s great!

    -Neal

  8. Interesting post. What do you think of Mormons? I was one for a while but now I’m not. They are an interesting group to study to say the least.
    kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. I was also raised Southern Baptist and of course it was not lost on me when I recognized certain referrences in the Red Church. It brought back memories and feelings I had not concidered for a while. Some would claim that writting horror with a religious sub-text is blasmephous but if one reads the bible with tongue in cheek you will notice that there are many horror stories within. Ghosts and demons have a place in many of the stories as well as The Devil himself.

  10. I was raised in a very strict Lutheran church where listening to the radio, cutting our hair and wearing makeup was just a few things that were considered a sin. I never really fit in and once I was 17 and out of there I mostly stopped going. But once in awhile I feel that thing that I’m terrified that I’m wrong and the church is right… well, it’s basically what you said about Catholics. They get your hooks into you at a young age and your just afraid to say they are wrong. Because really, what if your wrong?
    I don’t think only one religion can possibly be the ONLY one that’s right.
    I think your doing great by experiencing all the different faiths and Taoism definitely sounds interesting, I’ll have to look for a book.
    candace_redinger at yahoo dot com

  11. Well, they say if you want to be liked, never talk about religion or politics and just trick people into buying your books. But I enjoy hearing about other people’s personal journeys. And life is more than just selling books (don’t tell the Writer’s Union I said that…)

    Kristie, I’ve known some Mormons that were good people–but I will never believe homosexuality is any more of a sin than all our other sins. That’s an issue I have with Ba’hais and, obviously, other systems as well. I do not accept “We accept ALL people except…” God accepts everyone. No exceptions.

    Scott Nicholson

  12. Religion isn’t one of my favorite topics so I’ll skip any comment here.
    A Kindle would make me pretty happy though. 😉

    LaQuiet(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. I was raised in the catholic faith and after years i am finally going back to church at a non denominational christian church. There are some deep rooted hooks though as my “Catholic” guilt kicks in often.

    i.pearson@comcast.net

  14. Hmmm, religion. Talk about opening up a powder keg discussion. Well, I was brought up Baptist but not devoutly. I never really bought into it and am still on my journey to find the right religion, faith, or do I dare say, truth. Although I am not denying anything, for I don’t have the proof to do so, I question what people put stock in and wish to find what is right for me. I basically classify myself as agnostic for the time being. Living in the bible belt and dealing with people who dare not question such a thing as where we came from, I have received quite a few interesting comments.

    For fear of my soul becoming damned to some dark hell that may or may not exist, some people have told me to attend church “just find one to go to”, as though I didn’t actually have to believe in it, just follow the minister’s preaching blindly and that would do the trick. A family member once said , “What will people think if they find out?” when she discovered that I didn’t attend church regularly. Probably the most interesting comment I’ve received when discussing my questionable faith was, “Then, you’re worse than the Devil, cause at least He believes in God.” I find this very aggravating and quite insulting because that person firmly believed in both the Devil and God.

    Others have told me that discovering the fundamental beliefs of a church and what it is founded on is not important. What you should really base your decision on is the feeling you have when you walk into a church and are around the rest of the congregation. Somehow, I find the ability to throw out logic and just rely on a feeling to be quite disturbing, especially when your soul is supposedly on the line. I am continuously astonished by what people will do out of fear.

    wakincade AT gmail DOT com

  15. I guess I’m going to be the first avowed atheist to comment. That’s atheist with a small “a”. Atheist with a big “A” is a religion unto itself, with its followers believing that their eyes may burn out or something if they happen to view a religious symbol.

    Like everyone else, my beliefs have evolved since my traditional upbringing in a Catholic household, with Mass every Saturday or Sunday and catechism classes on Wednesdays. My parents both attended Catholic schools, my Dad’s family was of the Irish Catholic variety, several of his cousins are priests and their sister is a nun. As an aside, I know from my relationships with them that you can’t tar all priests with the pervert brush, it just isn’t true. Plus, there are many people in other professions that also commit sexual crimes – ministers, teachers, police, etc. I think we currently have one of each in the news.

    When I was in high school, I started to question my religion, peppering my mother with a bazillion questions. When I hit college, I joined Campus Crusades with a friend, which really started me on my path to atheism. I just couldn’t accept that a person, such as a native in the jungle, who had never heard of Jesus Christ, but none the less was a good man who cared for his family and his neighbors, would go to hell because he didn’t accept Jesus into his heart. When my husband and I were looking for a church to be married in, I wanted something other than my home parish because the church was decorated in early 70s style with orange shag carpeting and Jesus on a yellow blob on the wall. I wanted something more traditional. However, no other parish would marry us since they weren’t my home parish. We ended up getting married in a Methodist church where my in-laws neighbor was minister.

    Over the years since, I found that I just didn’t believe in a higher power of any kind, it just didn’t make sense, there were too many contradictions with how the world works.

    We do celebrate Christmas and Easter as family holidays, we go all out decorating our house, and we go on a drive each year to see the lights. I love Christmas carols and I’ve yet to have my eyes or ears burned out. I do believe in the Judeo/Christian basis of our country and the moral values it brings. I try to live by the Golden Rule.

    I told my children to make up their own minds about religion and we talk about it freely. I encouraged them to attend church and youth groups with their friends. They are in their late teens and 20s now and have mostly come to the same conclusion I have.

    I am the eldest of 5 and all of my siblings have also made the same decision. Even my parents, so heavily indoctrinated into the Catholic Church, no longer attend church and really don’t believe in a God any longer.

    I guess all that explains my lack of belief in the supernatural although I enjoy your books anyway;)

    lorraine_lanning[at]yahoo[dot]com

  16. I’m an atheist that is a member of a Unitarian Universalist church…I love that our church has people who believe all kinds of different things, or nothing at all, and all are accepted. It’s certainly a hot button topic, religion…not having grown up with a religion it’s kind of hard to believe in any of it as an adult. 🙂

    kt1969 at comcast dot net

  17. I was raised Presby ( and still attend @ the holidays with my family ) but I find more and more as I get older that deep down inside I ‘know’ that there really are those things that go bump in the night and that I’m just spiritual – that way my beliefs can be what I want them to be when I want them to be 🙂
    emily_erickson@yahoo.com

  18. I was raised Baptist although we didn’t attend church much, am now Christian, and have been a spiritual seeker. I visited or tried Scientology, New Age, Catholic, Penecostal, Episcopal, Methodist, etc. I took Comparative Religion in college, therefore can see the parallels in various religions. I think extremists of any kind, including extremist Christians, are dangerous. Some of the most vicious people I know call themselves Christian, while some of my best and most trustworthy friends are atheists, agnostic, and wiccan. I still seek to discover the spiritual unknowns and I don’t believe any human being who claims to have all the spiritual answers. varbonoff22 at cox dot net

  19. I’m a Christian who attends church regularly (Church of Christ). I’m also addicted to studying the Bible to find truth. I started out with rather conventional Christian beliefs, but my personal studies have led me away from some major mainline beliefs, which no longer even line up with the church I attend. Do not blindly believe what you hear from others, not even what you hear in the sermons at church. Open the Bible, read it, study it. Learn how to use Hebrew and Greek lexicons because, just as in the English language, words have a variety of meanings. The meanings chosen by translators are not necessarily the correct ones, they are merely correct insofar as their own beliefs are concerned.

    I’ve rambled enough. Here’s contact info for the Kindle contest:
    Write2Bev@gmail.com

  20. Sorry for the lack of a good reply to your long post Scott – the sleepies have taken control of my body and my bed is calling. 🙂

    calseeor (at) gmail (dot) come

  21. As a Catholic raised in a Catholic family, I study in a Catholic school which makes Religious Studies a compulsory subject. I am quite open to all religious beliefs. And so I am quite familiar with the topic of this guest post. I think that it’s good to be exposed to all kinds of different beliefs. The most important thing is that you maintain your own principles and really, be good. 🙂
    You can reach me at atta.girl@rocketmail.com

  22. Interesting post. I look forward to reading more during the blog tour.

    Thanks,
    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  23. very interesting, scott!

    i say, whatever encourages you to be a better person, go for it.

    hancoci_s at msn dot com

  24. I don’t think it matters where you pray or exercise your faith, just that you have something to believe in, something that gets you through the day – and the night. I call myself a Christian because it’s the one title I feel most comfortable with, this after years of trying to find my place in the spiritual world. No lie, when we were growing up, my older sister and I tried out every church in town (and there were about a dozen of them) to see which one we liked the best – we even did Midnight Mass at a Catholic Church one Christmas. And we always knew where the best functions and church fairs were being held!

    Margay1122(at)aol(dot)com

  25. Set against “organized religion” but was very ignorant of what was in the the Bible. After seeing a great change in close friend and vest man, was challenged to read the NIV study Bible and start with Matthew instead of Genesis. “Learn about Jesus and see for yourself,” and “man will always disappoint you, you can’t help disappointing yourself!” were a couple of statements that Gary made to get me to look at the issue openly. When I read what Jesus said in the “Sermon on the Mount” I saw easily my shortcomings and I was convinced of God’s love for me and realized that Belief in Jesus was not enough and that I had to do something about it! I am convinced that I am not my own but I have been bought by God with His ultimate sacrifice of His Son and that I can live the life outlined in the Sermon on the Mount ONLY by total dependence in the Spirit that God has provided, not on my own power and what I have is not blind following because God can take on any question I have for him, but I have confidence in His provision and love for me. I was 32 when I saw the truth of it and I am still learning and convinced daily of the love and concern that God has for me.

    I’ll talk to anyone about this change that has occurred to me and try to answer any questions you might have, just e-mail me and I’ll try to get back to you soon.

    Jeff White whitejw@ameritech.net

  26. I’m agnostic. If someone can come up with convincing proof that a higher power exists, I am willing to accept that, but I see no point in worshipping it.

  27. I was born and raised Catholic and loved the pomp and theatricality of the high mass. as I grew older, reconciling my sexuality (a gay boy that loved David Bowie and make-up) became a problem. As I grew up, I began to wonder if there was anything up there at all. As time when on it seemed that the explanation of what god was/is/is not was too rooted in humanity. I vacillate between think nothing is there or that the truth may be more sublime than we ever imagined. Yet, there is nothing more scary than the archetypal battle between good and evil. And sometimes we can find what is considered evil may be good and what is good may well be the Happy Face of Evil.

  28. I grew up in a Unitarian Universilist church. So I have run into pretty much all kinds of faiths and as far as religions go, either they are all right or they are all wrong. Can’t believe someone would think there was only one door to heaven if there is one. But that is my two cents. I too love the Tao way of thinking. And The Red Church as a fantastic story about life, religion and the power of good vs evil. Loved it 🙂

  29. Well there you go! You finally found Jesus and you want to play “Pull My Finger!”

    Another thing, I can overlook the dabbling in Wicca and Satanism, but Holy Cow Scott, Scientology?!?!? What the !%&#?! were you thinking? But at least it explains your “goat fetish.”

    Scott, too!

  30. During middle school and high school, I was “brain-washed” into Christianity because of a dorm supervisor at the residential school who was a pastor. Later in college, when I came to terms with my homosexuality, I renounced Christianity and became an agnostic. Still am one. Recently, I have been taking interest in the spirit world and re-exploring my spirituality.

    Scott, in the comments, you mentioned that you do not believe that homosexuality is any more a sin than all other sins. What exactly prompted you to say that as I can see you were only replying to a member about Mormon? Should I interpret that you view homosexuality is a sin?

    Thanks for sharing with us, Scott.

    -Jesse
    conrad.jd (at) gmail (dot) com

  31. Hmm oh yeah I forgot all the times I’ve been to the Unitarian Church. Haven’t been to the Unification Church yet.
    Really, I see “religion” and “spirituality” as two different things, which is why I’d rather talk about spirituality!

    Scott

  32. I was raised a Free Baptist and baptised at 13 but after reaching 18, I’ve never really attended church much because I really couldn’t properly feed my soul with the mainstream christian doctrine. But, as I matured and became aware that there was so much more to learn and that it was ok to learn it, I’ve blossomed in my spirituality! I’ve studied many different religions teachings and have discovered that each one has a piece of the grand picture and that I must take from each what sings to my soul to put together the full picture. I have learned that God made me a free spirit and that my spiritual path is an unconventional one in that it encompasses parts of many religious beliefs but that when all is said and done in the end, it isn’t the path taken that matters, it’s the final destination that does! And mine takes me to Him! 🙂

  33. crap, i wrote a comment and my internet went down and i lost it, too sleepy to write it again…
    Gail in Florida
    cowgirl3000 AT gmail DOT com

  34. There is some of Every Church I believe in and some stuff in every one that I do not believe in never could find the right church for me I’m to Open minded for most churches.Thay all try to box god up and say what is right and what is wrong how do thay no what is right is what I ask and maybe thay should look outside the box every once in awhile.
    sasluvbooks(at)yahoo.com

  35. I was raised a Catholic – Catholic school and all from PreK to 12th. Those guys can be pretty scary. My child is now attending Catholic School also, mostly because the public school system in Orleans Parish is garbage so you have to pay someone to teach your child properly and the private schools are like 15K a year. It is probably why I’m always hemmed into the Catholic faith…but very reluctantly. This was a great post. I’ve been reading back through your other ones, they are so varied in topic. LOL. Must be an intense tour for you with all the writing.

  36. I don’t argue religion with others, but I’m always happy to discuss it with someone who is up for a conversation.

    Emily ebdye1(at)gmail(dot)com

  37. I’d have to disagree with the conclusion of this post, the idea being that “whatever we believe is okay.”

    Not really, because that would indicate you’re right, I’m right, she’s right, he’s right, even though the beliefs can be wildly contradictory. More so, are the beliefs even true? If there’s no truth to them and/or they don’t accurately represent reality, then why believe in them? And believing in a fantasy for personal comfort or even the comfort of others can’t work, because that would mean we’re dealing in lies or “untruth.”

    The question is: what is real?

    I know I’ve found the answer. And thank God it isn’t religion, as religion–of whatever kind–is utterly crippling and useless.

    Mine’s in Jesus, the Man, the God, the King of all things. It’s about a relationship with Him, not a set of systems or rigorous rules.

    Coscomentertainment [at] gmail [dot] com

    http://www.canisterx.com

    POSSESSION OF THE DEAD and ZOMBIE FIGHT NIGHT available for the Amazon Kindle. Grab your copies here!

  38. Scott,

    I always liked your handling of Ronnie. I never had his quandary about religion (my parents were Catholic but they only went to church for Midnight Mass at Christmas time) but I sure had similar problems understanding adults in other areas.

    My faith is very personal and private. I have a hard time talking about it. That said, I’m fascinated by other people’s explorations into faith . . . and out of it too.

    One thing I find interesting is how small a role religion seems to play in so many horror books. I found The Red Church refreshing in its use of religion — especially when I contrasted Archer’s message with the standard Christian message.

    Thanks for the chance to win,
    Greg “The Undead Rat” Fisher

    theundeadrat (@) gmail (.) com

  39. LOVE the pic of you and buddy christ, Scott! I’m a huge Dogma fan.

    With the religion thing, I guess to each their own. I have some friends that are mormon, and while they are wonderful people, I just can’t wrap my head around their doctrine. It’s not for me.

    Stefanie647@msn.com

  40. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, everyone, entries here capped at 86 for the giveaway. Thanks for hosting Barry, and I appreciate all the enlightening comments. Peace be with you.

    Scott Nicholson

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