Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Maybe Again

I have an hour left at work and my supervisor has, as of last week,
returned the interblurbs to me. What to do, eh?

I'm just doing this through Gmail. I don't know how much this place of
employment tracks internet usage. I'm not afraid of them seeing that
I'm using my personal e-mail, but I'd rather they didn't know I was
using Blogger. I suppose that this level of computer paranoia isn't
normal at other work places, is it? I hope not.


A couple of weeks ago, NPR's Morning Edition did a series on early
thirty-somethings/late twenty-somethings and how that segment of
society is becoming less religious. Most of them still consider
themselves spiritual, but they aren't affiliated with any religious
sect. (They called the series "Losing Our Religion" because alluding
to R.E.M. is totally the way to nail this cross section of the US.)

The whole thing was fascinating. It seemed to me that the young-ish
people they spoke with were all once upon a time religious, but ended
up leaving it for various reasons and now they're all spiritually
adrift. Some were agnostic. I don't remember any atheists in the
group. Many of them, though, seemed to still believe in something
more, but didn't have a way to practice it. (I don't think I phrased
that correctly.)

The whole thing kept me thinking about my own religiousness. I wasn't
raised religious. My parents' had me and my brothers say an altered
version of the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep prayer each night, but it
was so different that I was shocked when I learned the real words. For
a while my parents took us to a Unity Church, but they stopped going
once the (pastor? preacher?) woman who led the service moved on to a
different community and the Sunday school wasn't about worship; I
mostly remember coloring pictures and walking around the duck pond. I
went with a friend to the Catholic Church a couple of times and one of
my brothers had some close friends who were Mormons, but we never
joined a religion.

For a long time, though, I never discounted joining a religion. I
found the idea of rebirth fascinating. Reincarnation was sort of scary
because you became something or someone other than who you were before
you died, but your essence went on living and learning from all the
experiences in the past and maybe, just maybe, there could come a
point when you become aware of all the yous that you have been and
embrace the greater universe. When I was little Heaven seemed like the
best choice. You were you forever in a place that was nice where
people were nice and everything was good. The thing that appealed most
to me was that I'd remain who I was. Which is funny because ultimately
it was a discussion about Heaven that turned me off from religion.

I was in my first year of college and had no friends except for the
one who had been my friend in high school. He was, and is, pretty
Christian. Not in your face about it, but he believes in Christ and
all that comes with that belief (except for a lot of the hate, his
belief in Christ encourages love and trust). I'd eat many meals with
him so I wasn't always alone, but on Fridays he had his prayer group.
15 or 20 people would go to dinner the head off to read and discuss
all the things they'd just read. To not be alone, I sat with all of

One day, before dinner, one of the guys, he lived in my building and
was a good person, asked me if I'd like to join their group. I said no
and we started talking. He questioned and I answered but didn't always
have an answer. I questioned and he answered and always had an answer.
Eventually, we started to discuss Heaven and he explained what it was
like and how I would always be happy in part because the bad people
would be left out. I asked how if someone I cared about was not in
Heaven for being a non-believer I could ever be happy there. He said
it wouldn't matter to me because I'd be so happy bathed in God's light
that I would never even notice people missing. And this appalled me. I
would be so happy that I wouldn't notice a loved one missing?

I asked him if Heaven was like a drug that created such bliss that
nothing except that feeling was all I craved.

He didn't have an answer. I told him that I wouldn't want to be in a
place where I would lose myself like that and didn't go to dinner with
my friend that night.

That was the moment that I knew I'd never be a "true" Christian and
started me on the path of not wanting to become religious.

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