Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Inspiration and Religion... deep stuff

I want to warn you, this post has nothing to do with design or style in the least. It’s a little bit more about inspiration. Inspiration in the sense that many people turn to religion when they are feeling down, stuck in a rut, or even at their happiest moments. This post is about my struggle with religion.

I’m not religious in the traditional sense I was raised in. My parents were both Catholic, my father was raised Irish Catholic. For those of you who don’t know what that means it includes saying the rosary every night before bed. Hitting your knees to pray at both morning and night, and basically having religion be a near punishment, with loads of guilt as the cherry on the sundae.

Growing up I was baptized and made my first communion, but that was where the train stopped. As my sister and I took up dancing, and later gymnastics for me, our days were consumed with being at each studio at certain times. Weekends were when competitions occurred and there was no time for Sunday morning church.

Around this time our priest passed away. Father Maha had been the reason my parents went to church, the fact that I still remember his name all these years later tells you just how important he was to our church attendance.

Our life became consumed, like so many, by sports, hobbies, and well… life.

Sometime in Elementary school during catechism class I had a light bulb pop on and raised my hand to ask a question. Now before I share what my question was let me just tell you that this question has been my issue with religion since that time. As I look back at myself as a cute little girl with my hand up in the air patiently waiting, I almost wish that light bulb had remained off. So here I’m sitting on the edge of my seat with my hand raised as high as it could go, totally anxious…

“If God created everything, then who created God?”

I thought this was a brilliant question. How come no one before me had asked this, there were no answers to this in any of our handbooks, worksheets, or even the bible. My teacher’s response was this…

“God just exists, your faith in him is what allows you to believe this.”

Now I’m sure it was phrased exactly this way, and if it was guaranteed my hand shot up in the air again to figure out what exactly she meant. I get the gist of it now, but still struggle with the answer.

I’m a scientific kind of gal. I like the tangible, prove-able, and many a CSI episode (I own season 1 on DVD). So this answer definitely didn’t satisfy my curiosity. I wish I could tell you I was the kind of child who instantly sat down to researching, but really I just sat in the car on my way home and asked my Mom why the nice lady teacher didn’t answer my question. My Mom’s response was much the same as my teacher’s and still I wasn’t satisfied. This was big stuff, maybe one of the first times I ever doubted that my parents knew everything and were always right.

Now 15-20 years later I still struggle with this. As a big reader, my Mom encourages me at least once a year to sit down with a bible again and read it. Even if I decide I’m not truly invested in the religion, she claims it’s a great story. I read The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas as a Junior in high school, it was required reading through my home school program (Side-note I was home-schooled for only my Junior year so that I could do gymnastics twice a day instead of just once, right). My parents saw the book on the list, knew what it was about and inwardly said Uht oh. This was probably going to be my biggest challenge due to my resistance to religion. To their surprise I read the book in 2 days flat. I credit this book with being the only reason I still ponder religion. It is a fabulous book and the writing was the kind that made me feel like I was in the story following the main character around.

Currently throughout my family it is a long running joke that I’m allergic to church. At my cousin’s confirmation this past Spring my Aunt teased me before walking into the church saying she wanted to be at least 10 steps behind me in case I burst into flame. In my family this was meant to be funny and not in any way offensive. Please don’t take it wrong. Funny, it most certainly was. I walked into church without any harm.

My sister was also recently Confirmed by the Catholic church. She was asked to be a sponsor by a friend of the family and needed to go through her own confirmation before being able to hold that position. As a 26 year old she had a different experience than I can recall my high school friends going through. Still I had my reservations.

I’m drawn to country music and the feeling of peace the artists all describe when singing about God/religion. Yet I’m baffled why I’ve never felt any draw by religion. I found this blog post today and thought, yes, perfect. I could never re-phrase it in the way she has, so just go read it. I love the feeling of peace I get when I enter a church, but was always slightly baffled at the ornate-ness and pompous feeling I get from the building and the service. Clearly my ambiguousness with religion is an ongoing part of my life.

I believe there is a higher power out there. Life isn’t all science it’s a bit magic, a bit hope, and even a bit faith. But I still struggle with God and the Catholic beliefs. Maybe it’s time to put on my big girl pants and look into religion again. Read the bible, look into other religions that follow my beliefs a bit closer, and do some good old inflection.

This post was mainly due to the blog post I linked to above. It gave me such a torn feeling. In some ways it’s so perfect and yet at the end of it all I question the existence of God himself. I am surprised that I ended up where I am now, thinking more about religion than ever before, tempted to go pick up a bible, and interested in the other religious beliefs out there.

Thanks for coming along for that ride.

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