I'm sure that title will offend some, but that is not my intent. I was serious before when I said that being saved, being born again, felt like being high. I doubt many true-believers out there have smoked pot so take my word for it.
But I don't mention this to either cheapen the experience of worship or exalt pot-heads. I simply want to put things into proper context. What I experienced was not the result of a lifetime of religious schooling. You can go through all the religious schooling you want and you might never feel the experience of being "born again."
I have felt the effects of both legal and illegal substances on my brain and body and being born again goes right up there with the best of them. But it was not without side-effects, as I found later on. And like some drugs, I craved the feeling more when it started to go away.
I was friends with a girl from my college at the time who by all outward appearances seemed like her Prozac prescription needed to be reduced, but it was, as far as I could tell, just Jesus.
So what are the side-effects? The comedian in me would say salvation and rapture. But seriously, there was a bit of paranoia in me during that time. At first I worried that the feeling would go away, which it did. Then I worried that I had done something wrong to make it go away. I worried that I wasn't doing all the right things, that I would slip up and spend eternity in hell. But I didn't get the munchies, so at least it had that over smoking pot!
So, I think it is correct to say that religion is a powerful thing. It is mind altering. And in that respect I can understand why some people do good things under its influence and why some people do horrible things under its influence. But like I said before, it was an impulse buy. I had been shopping around for something and it seemed like a good deal. I'm sure I will hear from some that my heart just wasn't in it. That I wasn't REALLY saved. And those people will probably smile when they imagine me burning in hell. I think, perhaps, that I set my goals too high. I think I didn't read the packaging well enough before purchasing.
So I will end this post by saying with religion, like all other things, it's buyer beware.