Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Better now?

After lunch this afternoon, I stopped into St. Matthews Cathedral for a little pondering time. I am not Catholic, but I like the ambiance of Catholic churches. There are usually candles lit, people praying or saying the rosary and almost always the sanctuary is beautiful.

As I sat there today thinking about stuff and listening to people pray, I started considering my own agnosticism. After growing up in a very religious Protestant home (my grandparents chartered my church), I found myself growing weary of organized religion at an early age.

I remember "fearing" God when I was a little girl. I have a vivid memory of telling my friend that she should not "swear" (as in "He really did that, I swear") and should pray for forgiveness. I also remember going to an exorcism at the same friend's church (hers was a little crazier than mine) and the people were literally rolling around on the floor and talking in tongues (which is a sort of gibberish sounding monologue that supposedly only God can understand). I went to church every Sunday for eighteen years.

I also wondered for people who do believe in hell, how can they not drop whatever they are doing and start converting others? If I seriously, seriously thought that my atheist or other religious believing friends were teetering into eternal damnation, well then holy shit I couldn't sleep at night! I would be calling my friends at all hours, yelling on the streets and traveling the world in the hope of keep one more soul from hell. I think it is sick and twisted for people who do believe in hell to be doing anything with their time other than trying to save souls. I mean eternal damnation. That's some serious shit, man.

There is also a lot to be said for the community of a church. In a sort of extended family way, I grew up (and in many ways continue to have) an extra layer of support in addition to my family and friends. One woman from my church who recently passed away would pray for me every morning. She has done this for 24 years.

I also look back fondly on when I was really religious. It was nice to be so certain that there was someone caring about every hair on my head. I used to pray about everything from a lost shoe to Billy having a crush on me to not having to pick the dog poop up in the backyard. Those days were a lot simpler and full of a lot more ignorance and bliss.

I guess it's better now.


Blogger Floyd said...

I don't know if it's necessarily supposed to be better. Many people make an assumption that people are supposed to be "happy", as if this is the only given in this crazy life. Seeing the horrid things that happen every day, oftentimes the only way to make sense of this requisite happiness is to believe there's a master plan that's been orchestrated by a higher being, and if we just go along with the plan, we'll be happy no matter what happens. And this is fine, for those people that this works for. But for many others, this makes about as much sense as innocent people getting blown up in the name of the same deity.
Realistically, religion is a pretty effective anti-depressant. It keeps hope alive, hope that there is something better than the crap we see here. Hope is as essential to life as breathing. Once you stop doing either, there's not much time left.

For those of us that religion doesn't do the trick, there's friends, family, careers, drugs, and dreams. Only by indulging in some or all of these can we keep the slow creep of reality at bay. So this drink's for you; Keep on keepin' on.

11:40 PM  
Blogger I-66 said...

There have been times that I've second-guessed my agnosticism, thinking that perhaps I should give religion a voluntary try (after some years of being forced to go every Sunday). I've concluded that I'm fairly entrenched in my beliefs and there's not much that a sermon can do to change that. Perhaps it might be a different story for me had I not been made to go as a child, but the foundation has been built and I will continue to live on it.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

V- I too went through the same sort of religious "transformation" after I took a college-level biology course. Although I know I'll never go back to my old ways, I'm often nostalgic for the little Catholic girl who is long gone.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Dating Hell Diarist said...

Ha! I never thought about how selfish all my religious relatives are being by not trying harder to convert me back to the faith. What's up with that?!

10:31 AM  
Blogger V said...

Floyd: You are quite right, and I seem to be running through the friends, family, careers, drugs, and dreams at rapid speed.

I-66: I hear that. Have you seen that older episode of the Simpson's where they come home from church and yell something like hooray, this is the best part of the week, it is the longest time until we have to go to church!
I felt like that a lot growing up.

Anon: Yeah, a Jesuit religious class really knocked my religious up bringing outta the park. Fucking love Jesuits.

DHD: I know. Those assholes, I mean do they want you to burn in hell or what! It's really weird.

12:17 PM  

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