Okay, this is going to be a long one. fortunately I'm on a long late night train journey (don't worry my laptop's screen is turned off and I'm using my screen reading speech synth softwareno headphones, so everything is private, and yes, this is one advantage of using a screne reader).

@phenix, i can't explain exactly what my religious experiences were. The best I could do is describe it as looking at a colour that was a whitish black, or into shining darkness. That I was aware of something that was utterly not physical but not myself, something nfinitelly connected with the world around me and something which was not me, but regarded me as belonging to it in a loving way. Something that was both a self and a consciousness that made me aware of itself, but also infinitely conected with creation, a sort of universal consciousness if you like. This is why i use the word that most people in western culture have for such a being "god" sinse I was aware that this was something I could contact and see in visible works around creation, in mountains, in water, in the face of the moon, even in contemplating the vast size of the galaxy.

For a long while I could find echoes of this experience by reading religious texts, by talking to truly holy people (not all were chriastia christian, one was a pagan, one a soofi muslim and a couple were Rabbis), or by preying or meditation.

This kept happening throughout my abuse, i never had trouble remembering where god was. indeed I always remember the statement by one surviver of the shoa (holocaust), who i heard speak at a meeting for the counsel for christians and jews. She was asked by a fellow surviver who was indeed very angry at god, where god was in the concentration camps, to which she replied she had no problem knowing where god was, the real question was "where was man"

So, that was my feeling for a good long while. as I said, I had several other religious experiences similar to the first sort, one indeed when doing a meditation exercise suggested by the philosopher plotinas, but not sinse I was 21, not sinse the bitterness, the lack of relationships and everything else got too much.

Frankly at the mariage service I got so irritated I could spit, sinse if god wants! this for people, well he she or it has a dam funny way of showing it to me.

@magellan, I totally agree, but my problem is if god only is available to the happy people what does this prove? If I love someone, what sort of scumbag would I be if I buggered off as soon as they felt down in the dumps? I don't hold God responsable for my abuse, or for my feelings of depression or fear or anything else, but why is God not there when i look? God was! there when i was 7 and had my hemmerage, indeed in some ways that was what brought me close to God, so where has god gone now? and if now that my life is going a bit better I did! find god, well what does that say about god?

@country, I'm glad you've found something that works for you, but I'm not sure that's my answer, sinse I just don't! feel god is there for all I tried all the old methods to show myself echoes of the presence of God.

Nltsafe, I'm glad you've found something that works for you, however for me, faith without experience is senseless. i might as well start believing that the marssian living in my wardrobe will make life better or that the fairies will come and take me away sinse both have as much weight as faith without the backup of experience.

I am not talking here about the tired old "it's not scientifically proven" arguement, sinse I've learnt too much about the fallibillity of human reason and the inherent flaws and inconsistancies in the scientific method to hope for ultimate truth that way, (the problem of induction of and of experimental regress are more than enough to shut up richard dorkins), but the relevance of personal experience in my life. If you have a friend you see once when you are 7 and almost never again, that friend has less relevance to your life the older you get. This is the case with my own conclusions and relationship with God.

I had that experience of God, therefore I always believed God was there. That experience told me what I thought of the nature of God, however that proves more false sinse when i am looking! for god god has buggered off.

It is not that I know more than God, it is that I am simply being a natural human and drawing a conclusion from what evidence I have in the living of my life and my relations to the world.

As to salvation, again that is a purely christian concept and one to which I do not subscribe personally. If people find the idea helpfull fair enough, but it does not hold relevance for me simply because though i know myself not to be perfect, the idea that I need to be "saved" from my wrong action is not correct, indeed in christian terms on salvation and sin I rather like the idea of orregan (sorry if I'm missspelling), that it is our own recognition of our imprfections and human failures which is the true punishment, not anything imposed externally.

I could sit and argue theology till the cows come home (i have just finished a doctorate in philosophy after all), however ultimately none of it particularly matters if god is simply not! bothered, which is indeed the case.

I suppose I could believe god is guiding events in my life in some way shape or form, but that leads to an even bigger vipers nest, sinse then I can directly blame god for the abuse, my lack of working eyeballs, my total lack of a intimate relationship, heck I could even blame god that the trolly on this train has no flavours of crisps I like sinse if God has! control over events then that must be god's fault too. This is exactly why I do not subscribe to that belief and prefer to think of God as a force or aspect apart from human action, albeit perhaps one that motivates some people, than some sort of cosmic chess player pushing peaces around a board.

So we come back to the question, where the hell is god? and more to the point, where the hell was! god when i needed God? (I could use any pronown here but I'm not going to).

I know others find comfort in faith, in believing that their lives are guided and have some purpose, but this answer just doesn't work for me, particularly because I know! at one time I had a close and direct relationship with God, indeed having that relationship was one of the things that got me through losing most of my vision and experiencing some of the most extreme pain I've ever felt when i was 7 and had my expulsive hemmerage.

this relationship was so close for a good long while I actually considdered becoming ordaned as a priest and going into the church of England, sinse I felt I wanted to help others and intorduce them to God.

However I'm now glad I didn't, sinse right now if anyone asked me about God I'd have to say something along the lines of "sorryour business is closed at the moment, if you leave a message we'll get back to you when you cheer up"

Luke.