Thursday, May 3, 2012

Just a few words on belief/religion

So, this will possibly shed a light on my ignorance/naivete/intolerance for ideas that didn't start in my brain, so please take it with a grain of salt*, **, ***.

I don't spend much time thinking about religion (other than on Sundays when our street is flooded with churchgoers - many of whom refuse to park courteously). I do spend a decent amount of time thinking about spirituality and beliefs.

I remember in seventh grade sitting in Mrs. Straubel's history class discussing something about religion and we went around the room and said what religion we were. My memory tells me that 95% of the kids said they were Christians. I said it too even though my family never discussed the issue, nor ever went to church. I vaguely knew that my father had been raised Catholic and my mother Protestant but that neither of them practiced anymore. We basically never talked about it at home. I think I really just didn't know what it meant to be any religion, and I assumed I was what everyone else was.

At other times in my life people have asked and even pressured me about religion. The best answer I could (and still can) give is that I believe that there is something that connects everyone and every thing that is alive. I don't believe in a god/God/architect/creator. I think things are frequently logical and sometimes miraculous. I'm perfectly happy to think that what binds us together is science and history rather than religion. That feels so much more right to me.

But that's all I got.

Creation stories, rules, sins, divine mandates, holy wars****? I don't really believe in any of that. I think lots of organized religion has good intentions (guide people to lead decent lives and take care of each other through community) but terrible results (control people's minds and bodies through fear and hate). Certainly not always. Some of the best people I know feel guided and comforted by their religions and I can't deny its force.
Yeah, it's just not for me.

For a long loooooooooong time I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't believe in any sort of god-figure. I kind of wanted to believe it. I hear people say things like "well, if that's what you choose to believe..." but I don't know that you can (or that I can) choose to believe. I either do or I don't. And I don't. If I chose it, or converted to it, it would seem wrong and contrived. I'd be lying. One time a girl in high school asked if I was religious and I said no. She then told me quite confidently that once something really bad happened to me, I'd seek comfort in god and religion. Um, no. That's never happened, and I've had some hard times.  But also, really? When stuff sucks then I'll believe? That seems kind of shitty to me. I don't know.

*I love salt. Did you know that Goldfish crackers now have crystallized salt bits right on them? It's rip-your-tongue-up good.
**I absolutely don't think that people who believe in religion-y things are stupid, or assholes, or sheep. This is just about me. It's all about me :)
***Funny story about how J is mean: One time I told her how even though our parents never baptized us, my Mom is certain that our very Catholic grandparents had my brother and me baptized on the sly. She then told me that in the eyes of the lord I'm Catholic. Then she pointed at me and shouted YOU'RE CATHOLIC!
****point of clarification: I do believe that holy wars exist. I do not think they're holy.


Unknown said...

If you ever feel like you'd like to check out a community of like-minded people, do try the Unitarian Universalists. We've been really happy with First Parish in Arlington because it gives us a spiritual home without trying to get us to believe in anything that doesn't feel true to us (like, um, love and justice and peace and stuff).


Leslie said...

I appreciate the suggestion. The UUs have always seemed like the least crazy option (if you'll forgive my use of the word crazy). Because I grew up without religion, I almost never think of joining any of them. That said, I do like the community stuff that happens within some of those organizations. Never say never, I guess :)

Sarah Berry said...

Agreed - I'm always a little jealous of the community aspect that can accompany certain churches. I always want the community aspect without the religious stuff.

The Perfect Space said...

Correction: in the eyes of the CHURCH, you're Catholic. I'm sorry, but I still think it's funny. I don't think God really cares whether you had water sprinkled on your head as an infant.

die Frau said...

Sarah, that's why T joined the Masons: He gets the community without specific religious dogma being spouted...although in order to join, one does need to believe in a higher power, so there's some aspect of religion in there.

J, you are hilarious.