Spin Cycle: Religion and Me (Or, Is There Anybody Out There?)
I have a very strange relationship to religion and here’s a little snapshot of the possible genesis (get it? Genesis? I’m killing myself here!) of that relationship. My mom’s family is Jewish but she was raised Episcopalian. My dad’s family are Christian Scientists. Add three kids and voila! Atheists!
Here’s a picture of me the first time I went to church when my parents were about 25 years old and still trying to do the 1960s church thing (Episcopalian Church, in case anyone is taking notes):
This event happened at my Grandmother’s Episcopalian Church. I’m pretty sure we never went back there. I’m also pretty sure that once all three of us kids had our baptismal insurance policies sealed up, my dad never went back to any church of any kind, ever.
You see, my dad worships at the altar of science. He is an aerospace engineer who believes that religion was invented to keep the rabble in line, to make foolish people do the right thing out of fear. He was noisy and scornful about his dislike of religion and his lack of belief in anything larger than what he could see with his own eyes. He thought his parents were crazy, weak and deluded. They were, by the way, incredibly awesome grandparents. Here’s a picture:
But I digress. We were talking about religion.
As far as my mom is concerned, I think she simply gave up on organized religion. Hauling three kids to church while my dad mowed the lawn, watched football and drank Coors must’ve sucked. For my part, I went to church here and there over the years, dipping my toe into the Christian, Methodist and Episcopalian ponds but nothing stuck. In the end, my dad’s voice was always louder than God’s.
Fast forward to today … thanks to a degree in English Lit (there’s a lot of bible in there, my friends), a little 12 stepping and the books of spiritual teachers like Pema Chodron, I actually do believe that there is something larger than me at play. In moments of calm, I might even call that thing God. Church still eludes me, though. Unfortunately, the judgmental misanthrope inside of me rears up and rebels every single time.
A few years ago, Liam had a babysitter who underwent a spiritual awakening if you will and her incessant yammering about Jesus and whatnot made him start asking about going to church. We tried out a couple (Science of Mind and Unitarians) but, frankly, we all decided that we like going to the beach or for a nice long hike on Sundays… and really, that is a church of sorts if you look at it from the right angle.
And p.s.: Now that my parents are in their 70s, my mom finally strapped on her “screw you” attitude and joined the Episcopalian church in their Texas town. She is in hog heaven, cross stitching name tags for new members, running bake sales and delivering meals to the homebound and whatnot. For his part, my dad has morphed but little: he is watching football, fishing and drinking Heineken.
And you know what? In the end, here’s what I can say I really learned from my dad about religion: To thine own self be true (and yes, I know that’s Shakespeare, but you get the idea…).