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Feb. 17th, 2006

The funny thing about religion and spirituality is the feeling you have when you lose faith.

I think it would surprise a lot of people I know that for the first 13 years of my life, I attended church almost every Sunday. My mom likes to tell the story that when I was 6 weeks old, I had already been to church 3 times. There was one summer, when Sunday School was not in session, that I opted to go to church with my mother almost every week, even though some of my siblings were going to be doing fun things, like going to the Renaissance Faire. I was probably 9 or 10 years old at that time.

As a child, you don't really know what religion is, or why it matters, but for some reason, we take children anyway. There are studies, I've heard, that claim the importance of giving children some sort of basis in faith and the belief in something greater. I don't know how true this is, but it seems right, to a certain degree. Having the feeling that something bigger than yourself is there to protect you is comforting. And when I think of the loss I felt when I realized religion wasn't for me, I think that had I not hand anything in the first place, something would have felt empty.

Perhaps something still feels empty. But there are a lot of things missing from my life, and I don't think belief in a divine being is going to change that. I'm so critical and analytic when it comes to things like scripture, that I sit in church now and quietly scoff. But at the same time, I see how wonderful it would be to believe in something like that. Perhaps it's a little naive, innocent wide eyes of a child taking in everything told as the (*ahem*) gospel truth, but never questioning your faith would feel empowering, I think.

I console myself with the thought that I am like Eve, I took a bite of the fruit and I see the flaws in everything, including religion, church, the Bible, what-have-you. And I take solace in the fact that if there is a divine being, if there is a "god," he would love me despite my doubts and criticism. I just don't think I could ever go back to that sort of blind faith. It doesn't make sense.

These days, I think we set ourselves up for failure when it comes to faith. We tell children about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Boogie Man. And one-by-one, these ideas are crushed. It's only logical that a child would assume God to be another myth, something your parents made up so you would behave well; a scare tactic. So when you have no proof otherwise, why discern that Santa and the Tooth Fairy aren't real, but God is?


---

Enough about religion, let's talk dreams.

Last night I had a dream that I was Stage Managing. It's not the first time, though this case was a bit unique. It started, actually, as me sneaking into a dance performance with the lovelies Carly and Becca. But it evolved into me calling a show that took place in my old house. Chazz was the sound guy, and was bitching about not having an assistant to whom he could pass off all his work, and Goldy was the lighting guy who was in charge of keeping me from freaking out, as I fell into the job 10 minutes after the show started. It was crazy and mad, but I remember in the dream thinking, "Yeah, this is really fun. I love this."

I miss my old house...a lot. Perhaps more than I should, but I was emotionally invested to that house. It was my anchor. I still feel untethered, and I think I might always be a little unbalanced.

But that was only half of it. The stage management thing is still plaguing me. I keep telling myself that I had to leave Indiana, there was no possible way I could have stayed. And even if I wasn't that happy there, I had friends. A lot of them, actually. I had success in the theatre program, and I was well on my way to doing everything I loved. I was taking theatre, film, art history, and French classes. Because I could and because I wanted to. At UCF, I can't take classes outside my major, unless they are basic, entry-level courses. So I can't take French classes, and I can't take theatre classes. Two of my loves and my passions will never be part of my academic life again. And that's a little hard to cope with, especially when I know that I could have done very well in both.

This dream spoke of all the things I have loved and lost because my mother decided to move. I don't know if I will ever fully cope.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bravebunny
Feb. 17th, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC)
I think your dilemma with religion is kind of how people who happen to be Christians (or whatever) feel about creationism vs evolution. I mean, if you believe in God and you follow Christianity, then there're people who claim that you can't also believe in evolution; but you believe in evolution because it's proven, and right there. For me, religious texts are not meant to be understood literally. Man was made in God's image; woman, from man. So, who's to say that God didn't imagine Himself in an ape-like sort of shape, and so when he created Man they ended up a little hairy? And, I mean, he gave the care of the animals and plants and the earth to Adam and Eve, didn't he? So, he sat back and let it roll, and evolution rolled. I don't think God is sitting up in heaving going, Shit! How did I fuck this up? I didn't mean to give them natural selection, genetic variation, or the ability to have beneficial mututations based on environmental factors!! They aren't supposed to be able to adapt! So you should be able to reoncile them. I think that's how you should try to think about integrating the notion of faith with the rational idea that religion is just a crock. Faith is something that has nothing to do with the how and the why; it's the feeling, the deep-seated belief that there is a design, a reason, and that Something Big loves you and Knows, and will forgive you, even if you don't acknowledge Its existence. Religion is the manger and creation of the world in six days (ok, the Judeo-Christian religions...), and rules about everything from diet to social norms and so on. You can reject religion--reject the social construction that is the Catholic church--and still believe in God, or the Something. You can still inhale deeply and just KNOW that everything is connected. There's this worldview paradigm theory thing called Indra's Net that you might look up. I think it's paganish, fascinating and appealing.
gailmarie
Feb. 18th, 2006 05:05 am (UTC)
The post actually spawned from a news article that Lewis posted about Mormon teaching. In a nutshell, DNA testing has proved the basic theory (that the Mormon's were Hebrew) wrong. So there are people on both sides.

One side: "I'm willing to live in ambiguity. I don't get that bothered by things I can't resolve in a week."

On the other: "Some days I am angry, and some days I feel pity. I feel pity for my people who have become obsessed with something that is nothing but a hoax."

Both are extraordinarily powerful statements. Obviously, I don't take the Bible literally. We have art older than the the Bible claims the earth to be. I think there are certain teachings that are important (love, forgiveness, brotherhood, understanding) and those are the things children should be taught from an early age. But then there are people who exploit the stories and extract the worst meanings (I don't think I need to name those).

It's hard to take either side. Literal translation, or not-so-literal? Blind faith, or bitter refusal?

But how can you be in the middle? How can there be ambiguities? "Well, I'm going to ignore the part of the Bible where it says that homosexuality is an abomination, but I like the part where the sons come together to bury their father."

I can't find a balance for myself, even if I take the "guidelines" of hope, peace, love, etc. I don't think I necessarily need a religion. I would feel guilty all the time if I believed in something like that. It's so easy to scoff at something like Scientology, or even the Mormons. But neither of those is any better or any worse than the Judeo-Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist beliefs. It's even become easy to scoff at religion in general, because apparently in the enlightened world we now live in, religion is bullocks. And maybe it is. It was a tool, a crutch needed for the past 2000 years, but perhaps we're getting over it now. We need to move on to something new. But we can't base it on science, because no matter what we figure out now, we'll discover that we were dead wrong in another 500 years. Unless, of course, we discover that the Earth really is flat and laying on the back of a turtle. In which case, ancient civilizations were fucking geniuses.


I honestly don't really know where the entry was going in the first place, and this post isn't really responding to anything in particular. It's just that the article made me think.

Even Darwin was a creationist. He just thought that God created beings to evolve.
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