Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lets talk about sects, baby

Religion has been at the very core of the world's most brutal and deep-seeded disputes. So it seems only fitting for it to also be a constant internal battle in my life.

I was raised a Catholic, if you can call it that. We were holiday church-goers, but my dad always went (and still does)....and I did occasionally take CCD classes, but mostly for the social aspect. In my younger years, I always fought to bring books or toys to church to occupy myself and my dad always adamantly refused to allow me to do so, leaving me no choice but to fake like I fell asleep so I didn't have to partake in the kneeling. Somewhere in my late teens, I became disenfranchised with Catholicism. Things hit a peak when the whole "no birth control, natural family planning" aspect took a prominent role. Slowly but surely, we are working through our beef, but I think we will both agree that we will never see eye to eye. I respect the tradition it entails (and can still participate in a service...and sing the songs....from memory), however, that tradition holds some of the things that bother me most....like sexism and elitism. It seems strangely poetic that my husband is currently being bombarded by literature and invitations from his Catholic friends....and he is really interested and excited about it.

I started attending the Nazarene Church in Dodge City when Rileigh started attending daycare there as a 2-year-old. Walking in to the service for the first time was as close to what I would call a spiritual moment as I have ever had in my life. I spent the first 30 minutes of the service with tears streaming down my cheeks, but I was really not sure why. The singing moved me to my core and it felt as though the pastor was speaking directly to me.

Even then, the internal battle of logic and faith raged inside. Any active involvement I took in a religious context seemed completely artificial to me. Once, Justin and I decided to attend a bible reading class through this church. It was incredibly uncomfortable for me. It was almost a feeling of "oh no, when are they going to find out I am a complete poser....and am not actually sure what I believe in." I quit going before they ever found out.

Since leaving Dodge, I have only dabbled in religion. I have yet to experience what I felt the very first day I walked through the doors of the Nazarene Church, and frankly, haven't felt it again even when I go back to that church. I have thought about it, pretended to encompass it, forced it, just about everything....but was completely numb to it. I suppose I would compare knowing Jesus to having an orgasm. If you've had one, you know. If you haven't, you act like you have and fake it until you do. I am a total faker. I can't even say 'God bless you' when someone sneezes because it feels so foreign to me. You know when you write in cards for people who have recently lost a loved one....common thing to write "You are in my prayers." Not this gal. I can't even write it. Its not that I haven't tried praying. I have tried it in all different forms. A scripted meal time prayer, a freeform meal time prayer--once I became so determined that I was going to learn to pray that I made myself shut off my music on my commute home from work and silently attempt to pray the whole way home. My mind wandered aimlessly. That felt ridiculous. So I tried to pray out loud. Even more ridiculous, so I quit.

It is not that I am religious-less. Its just that I think faith is so inherently personal that when we try to place it inside the box of organized religion, it loses that. I have certain things that I believe and others that I just can't get down with. I had a woman I worked with once that was incredibly religious and she believed that all people were inherently rotten to the core. I can't get down with that. I can't get down with a wrath-filled God. I can't get down with "an eye for an eye." I can't get down with Adam and Eve. What I can get down with is the notion that there is good in everyone, even if you have to strain your eyes to see it. I believe in forgiveness and sacrifice. I believe in open-minded thinking and wholehearted exceptance of all persons. I believe in free will and faith. I have yet to be able to wrap that all up in a nice bow and call it a church. However I won't stop looking.

I suggested to Justin that we search for where we fit....and try a new church, a new religion every Sunday and allow ourselves to really expand and evaluate our belief system. Rileigh, who happened to overhear, said she would like to as well, as long as she didn't have to be Jewish because she didn't want her dad to have to wear one of those weird hats.

1 comment:

  1. I came across your site via the "Meet the Gibsons" blogroll, and just wanted to thank you for writing something so honest. I hope you and your family are able to find something that you can all embrace full-heartedly.