Going deeper
















When I lived in Minneapolis, I had a friend who collected the antique trappings of Christianity.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father…

He didn’t go to church, and he wasn’t a Christian, yet he was captivated by statues, censers, crucifixes, and altar bells because he believed they were magical, and that their magic would fill him if he was surrounded by them.

We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory…

I too am a dilettante and idolater. I don’t care about the poor, the crucifixion, or the Trinity, but I get off on religion just as I used to get off on women and hallucinogens.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, receive our prayer...

It’s not the meaning but the music, antiquity, repetition, and imagery. They’re sensual just as the wine and the bread are sensual, just as a woman’s body is sensual. For decades, I thought it was women whose holy waters could protect me, and it was only the passing of many decades that enabled me to see that beauty can’t save its possessor much less me, this despite my years of work on ambulances and in funeral homes.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father.

I know that Jesus can’t heal me, or save me, or even find me a parking place because Jesus isn’t there; Jesus isn’t anywhere. But while other atheists feel bored or offended by the very mention of Jesus, I get high saying the ancient prayers .

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis…

I need them now just as I needed them during my childhood before I even knew they existed, going as I did to a church that believed them to be the idolatrous creation of Satan. Year in an year out, I heard preachers say that people who attend mass will burn in eternal hell, and when I got home, I would hide under my bed because I was afraid that the Lord would return to earth that very afternoon and send me to hell. I built my first altar when I was eleven, decorating it with rocks and wisteria. I didn’t even know it was an altar, just that it seemed more holy to me than the plainness of my real church.

Ritual makes me flower like water makes a plant flower, and I wither in the presence of dogma like a flower before a dry wind, but I am less than a “white-washed sepulcher.” Like my Minnesota friend, I really just want to get high on religion, and I do get high at times, only to, at other times, think that it is just all too stupid, that my feelings about it are too bizarre, and that I have no right to take part in anything related to it. 

32 comments:

Paula Kaye said...

I love ritual...that must be why I love going to church. I just don't go anymore...does that make sense

Stephen Hayes said...

You describe a great contradiction. Perhaps your true soul is contained and defined by that contradiction.

Elephant's Child said...

I appreciate (so much) that you don't hide any of the complexities and apparent contradictions which go into making you who you are. Thank you.

kylie said...

all of humanity finds value in ritual. it is unsurprising that the ritual of your choice is the one you absorbed from childhood.
and yes, it is sensual, i hadnt thought of it that way

Strayer said...

I like the spectacles of religion too. It's like being in a historical re enactment or ancient rites. I like going to Renaissance Fairs also, however, and even Pirate festivals. Same thing kind of.

Snowbrush said...

"I love going to church. I just don't go anymore...does that make sense?"

I have complete confidence that you have excellent reasons whether you've thought about them or not. Maybe when you get your legs back under you, so to speak, you'll start again. I never go but what I wonder how long I'll keep doing it. Before I started back to church, I had become--except for Peggy--a near recluse, and here I was on Saturday with a speaking part in the service. Needs change.

"You describe a great contradiction. Perhaps your true soul is contained and defined by that contradiction."

Maybe that's what some readers find hard to accept. I really don't know. I do know that I've avoided this road for a long, long time, and that no one is in a better position to criticize it than I.

"I appreciate (so much) that you don't hide any of the complexities and apparent contradictions which go into making you who you are."

I even seek them out because I know they're necessary for understanding.

"all of humanity finds value in ritual."

I suppose, but then why do so many people choose churches that have so little of it? The Episcopal Church is minuscule here, but other than the Roman and the Orthodox, it's one of the few churches at which one can find a significant degree of ritual.

"it is unsurprising that the ritual of your choice is the one you absorbed from childhood."

But the church of my childhood and the church of my adulthood are opposites, really. Aside from the fact that they're both churches (which might be what you meant), they share almost nothing. The former thinks ritual is of the Devil and is ultra-conservative, and the latter is just the opposite, being liturgical and one of the three most liberal (Here in America, I would put the Unitarian in first place and the United Church of Christ as pretty much tied with the Episcopal, although local congregations do differ a lot).

"I like the spectacles of religion too. It's like being in a historical re enactment or ancient rites."

I'm surprised, but, yes. Every time we sing a song, I look at the date it was written. Some are nearly 2,000 years old, and many are from the 1600s or earlier. The prayers are the same way. I'm the last person who would want to modernize most of the liturgy with the obvious exception of the sexist language.

Linda said...

Hmmm, I grew up in a church without ritual, but I remember nothing about ritual being of the Devil. When I visited visited another church, Methodist, I did not like the reading and responses or any of the rituals involved, the standing and sitting. That was before we started attending the church I grew up in.

I thought it would be a nasty thing to tell you--that you went for the ritual, the feeling, and not for any desire to worship. But, now, you said it.

My friend who was Methodist of Baptist or something wanted to go to Mass at the Catholic church on New year's eve because she said the ritual made her feel more spiritual, happy, and in awe. I went with her but felt nothing remotely like awe or religion.

Another person I know of has no idea who is her father. Neither did her mother because she was promiscuous and never got names. Anyway, this woman decided she was Indian and started braiding her hair, bought a drum, put feathers on everything, hung dream catchers and loved the experience because she could feel her ancestors calling to her.

A close friend who was reared with no knowledge that she was Indian started going to drum circles and dancing Indian dances. She, too, felt her ancestors close to her.

That is how I view your affinity for ritual. I cannot reconcile it with any feelings I ever had for anything. But, it is your feeling, so I don't need to understand, just believe you.

All Consuming said...

I find great comfort in ritual as do many, and I have my own fascination with the buildings and chalices, the ceremonies involved, specifically in the Catholic church, which put down entirely to my almost complete and utter brain-washing as a child. I was taught to find comfort in it all, whilst they also made sure I was scared to death of...well death, in as much as going to hell. And frightened of many other possible sins that would send me there if I didn't behave as they wished. It was a time where fear ruled for me and I am completely against religion being taught in schools for this very reason. However the echoes of the mantras remain and link me with nostalgia. Nostalgia with being a child and living at home with my parents and being very happy when not in school or at church. So I do understand a little.

It should have been Depeche Mode singing Personal Jesus mind you, as its their song! Or Johnny Cash. I don't mind Marilyn's version, but it isn't as good in my not at all solicited opinion *laughs*. If you have never heard the song 'Hurt' by Johnny Cash, by the by, the video is worth a watch. I find it incredibly moving.

Snowbrush said...

"I have my own fascination with the buildings and chalices, the ceremonies involved, specifically in the Catholic church"

You and Strayer! I really had no idea that you ever gave a thought to things like that, and she outright hates religion. I was once a Catholic, as you might recall (it lasted about two weeks), but a high Episcopal Church is more Catholic than the Catholic in its rituals, and it does have the sexism, book bans, suppression of priests who are writers, pedophilia coverups, oppression around homosexuality and birth control, etc. I think it fair to say that I hate the Catholic Church because while it does a lot of good, it more than makes up for it with the evil it does.

"It was a time where fear ruled for me and I am completely against religion being taught in schools for this very reason."

I spent years thinking that I had committed the "unpardonable sin" (blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, whatever that means), so I know what the fear of God can do. I was in an atheist group one night, and the Holy Spirit sin came up, and a woman said, "Whatever it means, I here and now blaspheme against the Holy Spirit." Given my background, I was floored, and I imagined that a few others were too. That stuff never leaves one completely. For me, it's a little like when Peggy's mother said that she went through a time when she no longer believe in God but still believed in Satan.

"I don't mind Marilyn's version, but it isn't as good..."

No one does perversion like Marilyn Manson, and perversion and religion are pretty close to one another in my mind. Also, for me, the images of women went with the Personal Jesus theme because women have been my personal god. Thanks for the song references. I've listened to them all. You know much more about music than I, I think, unless it's the stuff from my early years, so I really appreciate your sharing.

Charles Gramlich said...

As an adult, starting when I was probably 17 or so, I have always tended to absolutely reject anything that smacks of ritual. A few times I've tried to establish adult writing rituals for myself and always gave it up within a week.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

I feel that the ritual is often what attracts people...to me, that is certainly the case with church weddings.

rhymeswithplague said...

What a wonderful post, Snow. As you know, I identify more with the italicized parts than the non-italicized parts, but I appreciate them as well (even the parts with which I disagree vociferously). I love your transparency and utter honesty when you write -- would that more of us had that. I feel the same way about ritual as you, never having had much of it in my life but valuing it greatly now that a bit of it has re-entered my life.

I think you shouldn't protest so much or try to explain yourself so much. We get it. In the final analysis, what you are, it speaks so loud that the world can't hear what you say. And what you are is human, with all the complexities and contradictions that word embodies.

ellen abbott said...

ah, it's the ritual, something I have no use for. old ancient practices, you would think that it would make me feel connected to the deep past but it does not resonate in me. I think only that it is outdated and meaningless. I do have altars though, all over the place, only there are no religious items on mine, only bits and pieces of the natural world. well, I do have a small buddha. I suppose you could say that is a religious item. and an idol depicting the Navaho goddess SpiderWoman.

Snowbrush said...

"I thought it would be a nasty thing to tell you--that you went for the ritual, the feeling, and not for any desire to worship."

The ritual inspires the worship. It's not unusual for atheists to write about reverence (by whatever name), only a lot of them are scientists who direct their reverence at the universe. I do this too, but I also need an antique, human-related, musical, social, and language-oriented component to worship. What I'm trying to say is that, for me, very different things can inspire similar feelings of worship. Let's say I'm worshipping before one of the basalt intrusions that are common here (they soar hundreds of feet into the sky, are usually black and consist of tightly-packed and sharply angular columns). What is it that I'm worshipping--the columns, the natural process that made them, the fact that they're 40-million years old? Yes, but it's primarily their beauty, prehuman existence, and their ultimate mystery that exists no matter how much we learn about them. I find a different beauty and mystery in church, and as with my adoration of the columns, it ultimately lies within myself. Until a few months ago, I was unable to put aside the dogma and the church's brutal history enough to find the beauty and mystery, but now that I can, the experience blossoms for me. I'm simply allowing myself that which I've always needed and spent years trying to pretend I didn't.

"I went with her but felt nothing remotely like awe or religion."

I would feel the same way in a Catholic Church, because even though the Episcopal service contains many of the same elements, the Episcopal Church doesn't currently carry on the evils that characterize Catholicism. Because i can see Anglicanism as having a mostly benign if not a salutary, influence on society, I can put aside my negativity regarding religion, and take part in its rituals with nearly a whole heart. It is one of the very few churches in which I could do this because I can never forget the harm that comes to all of us everyday through religion.

"A close friend who was reared with no knowledge that she was Indian started going to drum circles and dancing Indian dances. She, too, felt her ancestors close to her."

I'm at least 3/16th Indian, so if I had been exposed to their worship, I could go that way instead of Christianity, and if I had, I might have even more problems with Christianity because of its treatment of the Indians. I couldn't be a Buddhist or a Hindu, though, because I need a cultural and ancestral link that these religions couldn't give me. I wonder if either of your friends have thought of sending away for a DNA test.

"But, it is your feeling, so I don't need to understand, just believe you."

I'm struck by your statement because it never occurred to me that anyone wouldn't believe me. It had most certainly occurred to me that they might think I'm a hypocrite or that I'm cracking-up, but not that they wouldn't believe me. Maybe some don't though, or at least they don't take me seriously, thinking that this is simply a phase, and I can't even say that it isn't. I don't trust much of anything that hasn't continued for years.

"A few times I've tried to establish adult writing rituals for myself and always gave it up within a week."

I've never even heard of a writing ritual. A writing habit or discipline, perhaps, but a ritual? Of what does one consist?

Snowbrush said...

"I feel that the ritual is often what attracts people...to me, that is certainly the case with church weddings."

Weddings are probably something that women enjoy a lot more than men. I know I don't care for them.

"I love your transparency and utter honesty when you write -- would that more of us had that."

The hard part isn't expressing what's true (for me) but knowing what's true for me.

"I think you shouldn't protest so much or try to explain yourself so much."

I see these things as being for my benefit. When others challenge me, I am inspired to challenge myself. It is in this way that I discover what's true for me. It would be a terrible mistake to assume that I write only those things which have already found a clear expression within myself. Rather, I become clear as I write.

"ah, it's the ritual, something I have no use for."

It's hard for me to understand how other people can be so different from I (maybe the same is true for all of us). So that you won't have to go looking for it, I'll copy and paste a part of LInda's response to this post, followed by my response to Linda about me not loving ritual for ritual's sake, but for what ritual elicits in me...No, I think you can easily and instantly find it--and you've probably already read it. It's in the first half of the very last thing I wrote.

"I think only that it is outdated and meaningless."

I think this is why a lot of people are Unitarians. They want what only church can give, but they need to be able to receive it with intellectual assent. If the Unitarian service was liturgical, I might very well go there instead of Resurrection, but it's like a secularized Baptist service to me, and I find that terribly boring.

"I do have altars though, all over the place, only there are no religious items on mine, only bits and pieces of the natural world."

Same here, and I don't even have a Buddha. I do own two crosses. One is a Celtic cross that I could wear around my neck, but I don't. Peggy bought it for me 40 or more years ago at the Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi. I also have a cross that I could hang on the wall. I bought it at a Catholic grotto in Portland, Oregon, but it's a lovely cross with a lily on it rather than a crucifix. I keep it put away as well. I don't have them out because I don't find them meaningful the way I do natural objects. I'm even conflicted about them. The one that Peggy bought reminds me of a happy and long ago period in our relationship, so if I wore it, it would represent that moreso than Jesus, but it would also represent a period during which I felt a connection to the props and liturgy of religion. In other words, a period superficially similar to this period, superficial because, back then, I was still at least trying to find literal truth in religion.

"I suppose you could say that is a religious item. and an idol depicting the Navaho goddess SpiderWoman."

But these images come from "old ancient practices," so is it fair to assume that they mean something different to you?

Linda said...

Snow,
I meant that the only that I cannot understand just believe, take your word for it. There are people who don't believe something, so deny it. I am not denying anything you speak or feel. I do not understand, so I am just taking your word for it without it making a bit of sense to me--believing you. No, I would never think you are lying. You have no need to lie.

kj said...

'But I get off on religion just as I used to get off on women and hallucinogens.'

Ah! So this I understand .

I am someone who hasn't believed you! I've wondered if this was a conscious or unconscious fascinating game of some kind for you. Maybe because it's seemed increasingly incongruent to come here expecting a dialogue with atheist beliefs and repeatedly the subject is religion. But now I think I do understand.

Also, I won't be surprised if 'a' or 'the ' Holy Spirit welcomes you into Christianity. Which l believe would be another side if the same coin. What matters is peace within

I love rituals. Even my catholic childhood rituals. I found my way to an ashram a while back and I too love the rituals there. I love the chants. I spend no time thinking about religion of any kind but I have no doubt I worship and revere

I 'm glad you're enjoying these days, snow

Love
kj

Snowbrush said...

"Ah! So this I understand."

I don't know that you do because there's no ONE reason. The reason in this post was my reason when I wrote the post, but I also love my class and my book group. Although they aren't church in the big C sense, they're church to me nonetheless, in that they represent stimulation and community centered around religion. Still, it was primarily mass that I writing about here, although I don't even go to mass for ONLY one reason, and my main reason when I do go isn't liturgy but worship. As I wrote up above: "Let's say I'm worshipping before one of the basalt intrusions that are common here (they soar hundreds of feet into the sky, are usually black and consist of tightly-packed and sharply angular columns). What is it that I'm worshipping--the columns, the natural process that made them, the fact that they're 40-million years old? Yes, but it's primarily their beauty, prehuman existence, and their ultimate mystery that exists no matter how much we learn about them. I find a different beauty and mystery in church, and as with my adoration of the columns, it ultimately lies within myself."

"I am someone who hasn't believed you! I've wondered if this was a conscious or unconscious fascinating game of some kind for you."

Well, as I see it, for me to do such a thing would represent such an appalling lack of good faith and integrity that I should consider it only right for my readers to take me out and shoot me as a lying sack of shit who had unforgivably betrayed their trust. I had imagined that your questioning was intended to lovingly show me that I was on the wrong track because: you didn't ask specific questions, you didn't usually respond to my answers, and--I'm sorry to have to say--I associate arrogance with the counseling profession, which I regard as a very primitive profession at best. I had no thought that I was on the wrong track, or that you (or anyone else) would know it if I were, but I still used your continued questioning for my own benefit inasmuch as every time you said you didn't understand, I would go inside myself to see what else I could find. I really like being challenged to do this regardless of what I construe as the motive or perceptiveness of my challenger.

"Also, I won't be surprised if 'a' or 'the ' Holy Spirit welcomes you into Christianity."

I have no idea what's ahead, only that I consider my non-belief in the supernatural, to be impregnable. No one can convert an atheist who has well and long considered his or her position, because it wouldn't be a matter of answering one or two challenges but a hundred or a thousand challenges, first to supernaturalism, and then to Christian supernaturalism. Take questions pertaining to why an all-powerful and all-merciful God would allow suffering. There aren't that many "answers," and I know them all, so my position isn't subject to be overturned. The only thing that even might change my mind would be a mystical experience of God, but even then, I would anticipate questioning what the experience meant, and whether it came from within or from without. But let's say I was so overwhelmed by God's presence that I couldn't bring myself to question it; my experience would only make others think I had lost my mind, so there be would but little good in it.

kj said...

hi snow, for clarification, i didn't mean to imply that you may be playing games with your readers. but with yourself. i believe i do understand more and better through this post. for whatever the reasons you are drawn to mass and church and some parts of what that that may entail and it sounds comforting and good for you and that's what counts.

i'm surprised you hear my comments from a counseling perspective. or arrogance. i never think that when i respond to your posts. i don't respond a second time mostly because of time, and sometimes too i don't know what else to say. what questions would i ask you?

you are a gifted, complicated, and, to me, sometimes confusing guy. I've had reactions and opinions as far back as your posts and challenges with chronic pain and your use of narcotics. i may not see things as you do but i am not arrogant. at least i hope not.

fortunately, you and i have proved through longevity that we may rile and disagree but we remain friends. that says a lot.

i hope i don't have second thoughts about how i have written this or about sending it along. :^)

love
kj

Snowbrush said...

"i'm surprised you hear my comments from a counseling perspective. or arrogance."

I'm prejudiced. I've had such destructive experiences with a few counselors that it took me years to recover from them, and these experiences led me to resolve to never, ever, for any reason, go to another counselor. I've also had intimate relationships with a couple of women counselors, and a male counselor was my best friend for many years (and is still a very good friend). I actually came to feel sorry for anyone who went to these people for help because they themselves were doing such a bad job of running their own lives and handling their own relationships. As for arrogance, I meant that I see the profession as imagining itself qualified to stand in judgment over what is normal and abnormal, healthy and pathological, on track and in the ditch, and I see no justification for this confidence. The mental condition of anyone who is such a wreck that a counselor can say with authority that he or she is mentally ill would be sufficiently destructive for everybody and their dog to recognize that he or she was mentally ill. I try not to hold my mistrust against those like yourself who are (or were, as in your case now that you're retired) counselors as I'm well aware that some people go to them and find the experience beneficial. Even so, my dear friend, when I learn that someone is a counselor, sirens go off in my head, but I do recognize that this is at least partially due to prejudice.

"I've had reactions and opinions as far back as your posts and challenges with chronic pain and your use of narcotics."

I can understand that because strong, mild-altering drugs have been a way of life for me for years. I can never shake the fact that people rob pharmacies at gunpoint to feed their addiction for drugs that I take everyday.

"fortunately, you and i have proved through longevity that we may rile and disagree but we remain friends.'

The thing you've done that gave me the most respect for, and confidence in, you was your continued care for a dog whose life brought misery to himself and to you.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, statements like "No one can convert an atheist who has well and long considered his or her position" and "my position isn't subject to be overturned" seem, on the surface at least, to be fairly dripping with arrogance themselves, so maybe in describing counselors as you do the pot is calling the kettle black. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you are arrogant -- certainly not -- just that sometimes you can sound really arrogant, which puts me in mind of the old Bible verse, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." I know, out of context, but I'm just saying.

kj said...

Snow, when I left my clients last year, some I had sen for 5 years, I asked them to anonymously write what if anything had been most helpful . Almost every one--about 10 people-said 'you believed in me and it helped me believe in myself.'

I can think of no greater compliment. I 'm sorry you've had so many negative and bad experiences with counselor a because it can be magical, what happens in that relationship

Your last comment about my kindness to my dog made me laugh. Thank you. I hope I am equally kind to humans. :-)
Love
kj

Rob-bear said...

I thin I, too, as a lover of ritual.The process is so automatic, who can just sit there and not to have to think about the process very much. That said, I tend to be more involved in more cerebral rituals these days. I'm not as sure about my feelings toward that.

And it's not jut religious rituals. We all make rituals, for one thing or another. How we get up in the morning, how we make our meals. More functional than artistic, but rituals nonetheless.

Peace and joy, Snow.

Snowbrush said...

"We all make rituals, for one thing or another."

I don't know where habit ends and ritual begins, but I think that the word ritual implies that there's an intentionality behind its creation.

"Almost every one--about 10 people-said 'you believed in me and it helped me believe in myself.'"

I had rather thought you had lost that in me around my return to church, that you saw what I was doing as being in error, and that you were trying to call my attention to that error. If I had been vulnerable to other people's opinions, I might have taken that on. This is why one should be open to other people's thoughts without being vulnerable to them, because if you're vulnerable to them, you are prone to trust the thinking of other people over your own.

"Your last comment about my kindness to my dog made me laugh. Thank you. I hope I am equally kind to humans. :-)"

Some animal people aren't kind to other people, and some people people aren't kind to animals, but I think of you as being kind to both. I regard dogs as people too in the sense that they're deserving of help, love, compassion, and all the other things that we give one another. With most of the people in our lives, we know that if we do good for them, then they are likely to do good for us, so we're not entirely free of a profit motive. Your ailing rescue dog had nothing to give, and you didn't even have the years of intimacy with him that most people would require in order to be motivated to give to him the time, trouble, worry, and money that you gave. Most people would have cut their losses by having him euthanized and getting another dog. I haven't been in your situation, but I think it likely that that is what I would have done because the odds of him ever being a good pet were slim to nil. I was amazed by how hard you tried to restore him to having a healthy mind and body. It is rare that I see anyone doing something that leaves me in awe of their goodness, and you did.

"maybe in describing counselors as you do the pot is calling the kettle black"

If a Christian holds fast to belief, he's faithful, but if an atheist holds fast to nonbelief, he's arrogant? I would absolutely LOVE to believe that an all-good and all-powerful deity is watching over me, and that you and I will reminisce about all this in an eternal heaven someday, but there are simply no arguments to prove such a deity (and therefore such a heaven) that I didn't long ago reject. This is why I said my non-belief isn't likely to be overturned. By the same token, your belief isn't likely to be overturned. If there was ever even once a longterm and devout Christian who became an atheist in his seventies, I would be astounded. People do get issues worked out, and then they're not open to changing their minds about those issues unless new evidence comes along. For instance, if incontrovertible proof was found that Jesus never lived, maybe then you would abandon your religion. Likewise, if God started talking to us all in a loud voice from the heavens, I would have to give up my atheism. But do I have any thought that someone might offer a new argument that would change my mind? No, because I know there aren't any new arguments.

kj said...

thank you, snow. you've recognized a hell of a hard time we had with chase, and that you noticed how hard we tried means a lot. i am not above being a selfish person, but dogs and children straighten me right out. if there is a heaven of whatever kind, i think it will be because of dogs and children that i am allowed in.

i didn't think your involvement with brett and the church was an error and i don't think that. we find roots and wings in different ways and sometimes they find us.

love again
kj

Snowbrush said...

"If a Christian holds fast to belief, he's faithful, but if an atheist holds fast to nonbelief, he's arrogant?"

I had intended the above as witty and funny, but I later realized that it might more easily be interpreted as hostile and unkind, so I'm sorry I didn't express myself better.

rhymeswithplague said...

No problem. I wasn't offended.

Snowbrush said...

"I wasn't offended."

Good. I know you hate conflict, and the more I thought about what I had written, the more I worried that it might represent the kind of statement that discourages your from commenting when you disagree with something I've written. All that said, I have observed that there exists a double standard in how people in divergent groups are judged. I recall your own Julian Bond being on The Tonight Show at the same time the Grand Dragon of the Klan was on it. Johnny Carson asked the Dragon why, if blacks are so inferior, Julian Bond was so smart, and the fellow said that it was obviously due to his white blood. Well, maybe, but still the remark stuck with me because I took it to mean that no matter what virtues Julian Bond might have possessed, the Klansman would confidently explain them away. By the same token, what I wrote about the unlikelihood of my conversion could be taken as smugly arrogant or, just maybe, it could be taken as decisive, as a sign of strength of mind as opposed to eternal weakness and wavering. The latter is how many atheists view agnostics because agnostics remain indecisive despite, as atheists view the matter, a complete lack of evidence to support belief in a deity. I just know that, within myself, I don't feel arrogant. Instead, I remember all the years that I struggled and how necessary it was for me to come down on one side of the issue or the other. My only hold to belief was emotional, so I had to give it up in favor of what I saw as rationality. It's not the kind of decision about which a person can go back and forth without being pulled to pieces. Now, I make no effort to believe, yet I try to be about this matter as I try to be about all serious matters, which is to be open to correction if I'm wrong.

Snowbrush said...

I just heard on the BBC that the Church of England has authorized women to be made bishops. I'm happy for us all, but ashamed of the church that it took so long to do this because, after all, why SHOULDN'T women have the same rights as men? Other than some sexist passages in the supposed writings of Paul, what is the rationale for gender discrimination? My own childhood church was so sexist that women weren't even allowed to make announcements or teach Sunday school. They could talk to the person seated next to them, but that was all they were allowed to do.

Myrna R. said...

Follow your own heart without judgement, relax, enjoy what you enjoy. It's ok.

Snowbrush said...

"Follow your own heart without judgement"

I'm not sure what you meant here, Myrna, but my initial reaction to it is HORRORS. I think it's wrong, wrong, wrong to elevate feeling over reason. We have two sides to our brains out of necessity, and when one of them is lost due to stroke or accident, we're a mess. Still, my attendance at church is very much a matter of following my heart rather than my rationality, but at the core of this approach is that it seems to me the reasonable thing to do. Even so, reason is always there, always in the background, monitoring my behavior to be sure that the two sides of myself aren't in open conflict.

Linda said...

I have been thinking about ritual and my dislike of it in order to understand your liking ritual. You said weddings are ritual and women like that ritual...okay, that is what I remember without reading that comment again.

I do like the ritual of a wedding. However, once it gets too long, I am not so interested or fascinated. However, I can like a wedding that is not a ritual I recognize. So, I am not looking for something familiar in a ritual.

Rituals are like traditions in a way. Traditions are important because they provide comfort and alleviate anxiety and give us something to look forward to on certain occasions. Take Thanksgiving--most people know what their mother is going to have on the Thanksgiving table. The one thing beyond all the ordinary trappings that all of us children wanted and expected from childhood into our own parenthood was Jello salad in an apple-shaped clear bowl. There was black cherry and strawberry banana Jello--no deviance. Cans of fruit cocktail, sliced bananas, and diced Red Delicous apples were in the Jello.

We depended on that particular food item along with pumpkin pies, coconut cake with white 7 Minute frosting and coconut on the frosting.

All that is tradition and we knew what to expect. There was comfort in knowing these foods would be there in addition to the turkey and other foods. There was never any deviation--ever.

I know it is not exactly like ritual, but close.

Still, I do not understand your penchant for ritual in the church since it is the antitheses of your beliefs. When I said I only had to believe your choices, I meant accept your choices. I was not in any way thinking you were false. I do not understand how anyone could not like bananas, but I had to accept my daughter did not like bananas. Later, we found out she was allergic. I cannot understand your beliefs, so I just have to accept that you believe what you say, not question. Okay, I might question again...lol.