Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Crisis of...Religion?

As many of my long time readers know, I have what I call "religion issues." I grew up in an Evangelical Christian setting (and yes I will write more about it someday). I joined a Neopagan group when I was 19 and practiced Wicca for a few years. I left. Went through an atheist thing, and then fell into the academic study of religion. I feel sometimes as I just can't escape and that maybe surrender is a better option.

At the end of my undergrad years, I was considering converting to Catholicism. There was a big gap though between my politics and those of the Catholic church. I struggled with reconciling these differences.  A friend accused me of being a hypocrite and that basically killed my desire to convert. When I meet H, the interest was awakened again as H's brand of Catholicism seemed up my alley. But it became clear as we dated that he was in his own crisis of religion and thus me converting because of him wasn't going to fly. Plus I felt that if I converted it should be because of my own desire.

Years have gone by and I still have no religion. Sometimes I feel comfortable in this place. The children have not been raised with any religion in particular. They know about religion because, well, that's what mama does for work. But we do not attend church. We don't pray as a family. No grace, no bed time prayers. We don't meditate. We don't cast spells. We do nothing. And sometimes that is really okay with me. But most of the time I feel like there is something missing. I don't know what it is, and i don't assume that all people feel this lack. But for me it is there.

For a while I played around with being a Neopagan again but that didn't cut it. I've thought about the UU but I just don't feel comfortable in the practice. Both things felt sort of disingenuous to me.  What I loved was the Catholic stuff that filtered through to us from H's mom. I loved that she lit candles for us and prayed to St. Jude to help us through our troubles. I love my images of the Virgin of Guadalupe that I have throughout the house. I love the idea of Mass, and using the Rosary to pray.

On the other side of all this, is a feeling that I there is something deficient about me for even wanting religion. Can't I just live without it? I feel silly when I talk to people about what I feel missing. The response among many of my friends is that religion is bull shit and unnecessary. And if I did do a religion it should be a nice liberal politically correct one like the UUs or Buddhism. I certainly shouldn't be trying to reconcile my radical liberal self with something like Catholicism.

Thus as Christmas approaches I find myself at an impasse in terms of religion. Do I move forward towards Catholicism which I feel drawn to and reconciled that my practice will be different from my politics? Do I just live with the lack and hope it goes away?


Sharon said...

I don't think wanting or needing religion is weak or bad. First, I don't think that we created ourselves, just as each of us didn't birth ourselves. Maybe, as a society, we are like teenagers trying to break free from our parents. Back before humans understood any kind of science, we needed a lot more defense against what we didn't understand. Just like children, we needed our parents to comfort us and protect us or explain away the bad things. Now, as a society, we scoff at needing our mom or our dad or whatever combination of adults raised us. That does mean that some deny the very existence of God and religion in pretty much any form.

I don't believe that we have to turn our backs on religion, though. I mean, using my analogy of parents and teenagers, I went through a phase where I wanted nothing more than to be apart from my parents, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to talk to them, or needing to talk to my mom when I'm not feeling well or maybe when I've had something really great happen and I want to share it with my folks. Well, maybe your pull toward religion is like that. As for wanting to turn to one particular faith, I do believe all paths are valid, and that as long as we're on one that works for us, how can it be wrong?

I don't have the answers to your dilemma, since I don't really have the answers to my own version of it. However, what you wrote really resonated with me, and maybe what I write back helps.

John B-R said...

I think many people experience there religion as one long perpetual crisis. After all, it's about something we can't **know**. If Horacio is cool with it, why don't you try it? See if it's what you're actually looking for. If it is, you can be one of those wild rebellious leftwing Catholics.

Does God figure in anywhere, or is it mainly the rituals, etc? My sister's pretty religious, but she never mentions JWH, only stuff like weaving a shawl for her daughter's bat mitzvah ...

Ginger As in Green Tea... said...

Sharon: I think you are spot on with the parent/guidance thing. I am not sure that this the only component to religion but it is a hugely important one. I think one of my attractions to the Catholic church is it's age which gives this feel of security for me.

John: We will be attending Christmas Mass so I"ll see how that feels. The kids are already bitching LOL.

As for God...I am not sure on this. I teach my LBST classes to look at religion as a set of practices as opposed to a set of beliefs. I am going to write on this either tonight or tomorrow so I'll be more nuanced in my answer to you.

P3 said...

You know, I wonder if you've ever seen the "Conversion Diary" blog before. It's by a now Catholic woman who converted from atheism. I don't know how it would factor in on your journey, but it might be interesting even from a religious studies perspective.

And you know I'm around if you want to talk. Now, I'm not a "liberal" Catholic and I do affirm even the parts of my faith that are difficult for me, but I'm here. But faith for me is relational, even though still intellectual and challenging and involving certain practices.

Good luck with whatever you discern!