Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On religion, and why it's good to be free

Just occurred to me while scanning through Sinead O'Connor links (she was right about the vatican covering up sexual abuse of children, turns out) that Jesus Christ on earth would have smirked at me, my questions, my reluctance to participate with the rest of the group, and would likely have patted me on the head saying, "I'm not really worried about you, kid."
I've heard this several times throughout my life.
A grandfather, two grandmothers, my mentor and my own father.  Unexpectedly, out of nowhere, each of them has said, "I've never really worried about you."

And this is how I've escaped the anguish of religion, despite being born a woman in a time when women are still stoned to death or torn from their homes by roving guerrilla monsters for things having little to do with them, and almost always to do with power.

I've managed to skirt by being myself, unpunished.  I was fortunate to be born in a country where I could decide my pastor had less of an understanding of true love than I did--and walk away from him, his congregation, my heritage.  When it's dead, let it rest.  If it requires anger to keep it alive, it's no longer real, but a zombified version of what was once beautiful and worth keeping. 

I have not abandoned my faith.  My doubt goes against men.  My doubt goes against inactive words used to quiet exploited people.  Goes against political speeches hidden behind scripture.

I don't doubt that I'm here and that how I got here is beyond me--will always be beyond me.   I am humble to this incomprehensible truth.  I don't doubt that goodness is sown, pain is unavoidable so long as we are creatures struggling to survive, and love makes it worth every step, light or heavy.  I even feel eyes checking in on me.  I feel warmth through stranger's smiles, lose tears (often spontaneously) and I can hurt for people I've never even met.  But I don't need to believe I'm being watched and protected by the highest authorities at all times.
If I'm really scared and no one's near, my grandmother finds me, whether it's her or how my mind learned to cope, doesn't matter.  That's all I require.

Arrogant, possibly.  But.  When I was in the fifth grade, a poster on the wall of my Lutheran school classroom read, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' and I accepted that like mathematics. 
Not always kept it, but felt guilty if I didn't, and the older I get, the easier it has become to avoid situations in which I could not treat someone the way I'd like to be treated.
I don't believe in being kind no matter what.  I'm too young for that, and our society doesn't respect it.

I have to learn to be that way, though, and get through this phase quickly, because children are always watching, and the saints of my life were the ones who kept their cool--always--and their hands available to be held.

People see their religious leaders as demi-gods for reasons I was born incapable of understanding. 
I have only seen men shuffling words around--something I've done a thousand times for English papers.  Some of these men were nicer than others, but none of them would have pulled me from a burning building.

I've seen angels among relatives, caregivers, friends, children looking out for other children, but no religious leader has ever reassured me that God puts only the best in the pulpit.

This is a corrupted and cynical age.  Has always been.  My entire life.  Maybe all lives.  I've believed in some, and lost that belief without much consternation.  Because I got it by age ten.  'You're lucky to have this life.  Be good.  Don't hurt others.'  They keep trying to make it more complicated.  It's not.

Then again, I've always been given one reprieve most people don't seem to possess.  One gift allowed me by the spirits who guide me through...'Walk away when it feels wrong.'

© Copyright 2005-2010 Angeline Larimer
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