What I found utterly fascinating reading the comments on my post about religion was how many of us were in nearly identical religious loops: Very religious Grandparents, so so religious parents, and then us…adrift and unsure of where we fit in.
I wonder if this evolution of religious meh is connected to what I perceive to be an increase in tolerance in people in our age group. When I was younger I remember hearing in the sermons of southern churches that certain people wouldn’t be going to heaven. It was a long, long list. I went from accepting this as fact to being upset by it to questioning it to refusing to accept it. I remember being swept away by the notion of “witnessing”. It was something that was a gift I could give another person. I could save someone. I could make sure they went to heaven.
I went to a sleep away Bible camp when I was in the 7th grade. I was in between schools, long story, and it was decided that a weekend away with campfires and Amy Grant singalongs would help turn me into a little lady. At the camp kids my age talked about how badly they wanted to go to foreign countries. Not to see the sights or experience new cultures. No they wanted to go so that they could save souls. Because if they didn’t get their Christian ass on a plane and preach the word then an entire village would be doomed.
And there we all were, 10 kids and a chaperone sitting around the campfire, in our nearly identical Coca-Cola polo shirts, with our side swept bangs and freshly bleached keds sneakers. There was sobbing with deep, deep sincerity. And yet the moment that was happening to my peers totally jumped over me. I felt like a total freakazoid. I didn’t want to think about people needing me to pray for their souls. Because, logically, I knew it just wasn’t possible.
I also started thinking that the God I was believing in wasn’t the kind of God that would smite or damn someone for not having some chance encounter with an Alabama pre-teen to get saved. The more I thought about it, I wanted to believe that everyone got to go to heaven. I wondered if there really could be more than one God or if someone was getting it very, very wrong.
Heaven is how I know that I am not an atheist. I just need that dream. I need to believe that someday I will get to know things. The whys. The why nots. Or find the peace to stop asking. I also think it would be amazing to be reunited with important and special people in my life. Relatives, pets, neighbors, teachers…I want to believe that they are existing in a beyond. I want to have smaller feet and learn what cilantro really tastes like.
I knew I would get sidetracked once I started writing about heaven…
Honestly what I am realizing is that I haven’t found my church home. Which isn’t a surprise because I am so unstable with regular life right now. And all of these swirls of thought about religion are probably about something larger than myself. What I really need is a workshop in an old church basement. Something taught by a soon to be retiring priest. But a place where you can ask questions, real questions about faith and God, and where we all fit in within that.
A fireside chat with cocoa. That’s what I need.