Saturday, 13 July 2013

Give Me That Old Time Religion

It is dangerous to talk about religion and politics, no matter what your personal beliefs might be you run the risk of offending someone, merely by the fact you have an opinion. I suppose the alternative is that you care so little about either topic, that you ignore both and just carry on. But the prospect of leaving this earthly coil makes one think about the former as it is present under the surface of a lot of decisions you have to make.

I grew up a Catholic, went to Sunday school (which actually took place on a Tuesday night as I recall) and even stood among the chosen few who delivered readings at church. I was a fervent believer and fancied myself a future nun in the dramatic way kids do when they've seen the Sound of Music more than once. Having said that, I also decided after reading a book in grade four, that I needed to be Jewish, as I was sure it matched my sensibility - even though I didn't actually know anyone who followed that faith. But as time went on, things shifted as they so often do for teenagers. I had a friend in high school and her dad was a Baptist minister. She had a big, warm family and her parents were from Jamaica. I spent a lot of time in her home and even went with her to her Dad's church on a few occasions and couldn't help being struck at how different it seemed from the formal services I was accustomed to. Not passionate enough to convert, mind you, but just allowed me to observe how faith seemed to manifest itself in different ways.

Many years and much reading later and I remain firmly on the fence where religion is concerned.  While there are elements of my faith that still exist, the hypocrisy of so many religions where it comes to women and homosexuality (among other issues) are so off-putting that I could never define myself in one category or another. As the famous Woody Allen quote (from Hannah and Her Sisters) goes: "If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he'd never stop throwing up". I prefer to think being a good, giving, tolerant person is not something you are granted because you sit in a pew for an hour once a week - although I am not knocking people who take comfort in that. In fact, I applaud and in some ways, envy, people who feel that passion. It is just that for me - just me - spirituality has the flavour and influence of many beliefs all woven together - a giant tapestry where lessons can still be learned if one opens one's mind wide enough to accept them.


  1. Marg LeGuilloux16 July 2013 at 13:09

    Hey Michelle. As a "recovering Catholic" myself, I find your post bang on. There is much to be said in favor of and much comfort to be found in the community of the church, and all the good people that do good things for others... but so much of greater concern in some things people blindly follow, and the damage that does. I too am not comfortable with giving up on "religion" altogether, so I find your musings nicely thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing, and hugs to you...