Losing My Religion, Part III

question markLooks like this is going to be a week-long series, bitches!  Oh, sorry.  That’s how we greet each other over at Balloon Juice, and I quite like it.  

So, in college, religion was put on the backburner as I spent more and more time discovering, well, me.  And my boyfriend, D, but that’s not really the main part of this blog entry.

So, after we had sex and I wasn’t struck dead by lightning, I began to wonder what else I had been taught that was not strictly true.  You would think at this point that I would have went wild with the booze and the drugs, but my breeding still held.  It wasn’t just being raised Christian, though, it also had to do with being the daughter of immigrants who came from a more puritanical culture (at least on the outside).  I did start thinking about what I actually believed, rather than what I’d been told.

I believed in keeping abortions legal.  It was never something I discussed with my parents or with teachers in school.  I have always been pro-choice–even before I knew what the phrase meant.   Likewise, I have always been a Democrat.  I grew up, for the most part, under Reagan, and I never understood what people saw in him.  Every time I looked at him, I was always struck at how empty he was.  There was no there, there.  

I knew that people should be treated equally, and that just because someone was rich, powerful, beautiful, famous, whatever, s/he was not inherently superior to someone who was not any of those things.  I was always puzzled by the hierarchies of our society.  Incidentally, this is one reason I could never get into Catholicism (not to mention the difficulty I have with the inherent sexism and homophobia of the religion).  I just don’t truck with the idea that a position bestows upon a person a measure of worth.  Take W. for example.  People used to say that you had to respect W. because he was president.  No, I don’t.  I respect the position of presidency, which is why I loathe what W. did to drag down said position.

Ok.  Another reason I have difficulty with religion is because of the certainty.  Talk to a Christian, and she will tell you she just ‘knows’ there’s a heaven.  Every Christian has a slightly different take on what that heaven will look like, however, so how can they be certain that any of them are correct?  Well, we’re not smart enough to grasp the details.  See, there it is again–the dichotomy that is woven throughout Christianity (I speak of Christianity because it’s the religion I know best)–Christians take it as fact that God exists, but any jarring statements in the Bible are dismissed as irrelevant or unknowable.  Just the other day, my niece asked if I believed that Jesus was the son of God.  When I said I didn’t, she said, “But you’ll go to hell then.”  What confidence she has, and she’s only ten (almost eleven).  

I met D’s parents, and it was clear that they disapproved of me not being Sri Lankan.  I was so busy trying to impress them because they are a Very Important Family in Sri Lanka, I forgot that my family was pretty fucking important in its own right, and who the fuck were they to judge me?  They were Christians, and yet, there was nothing very Christianly about their behavior.  This is a theme I have noticed more and more, especially in the public discourse of religion.  If Christ was real and came back today, do you think the religious right would embrace Him?  Hell, no.  They would call him a damn socialist and accuse him of being an enemy of the country.  Remember, Jesus talked to the untouchables of the time.  He believed in taking care of others who were less fortunate than oneself.  He said it was easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than it was for a rich man to get into heaven.  He DID NOT say anything about gay marriage or abortions, two issues which are very near and dear to the heart of the current religious right.  

Back to D.  He dumped me three times and came back to me twice.  The first time he wanted to get back together, I was dating someone else and trying to move on with my life.  The second time was probably sex-driven to a certain extent.  When he broke up with me for a third time, I had every reason to believe that he would want to get back together.  He didn’t.  I was devastated.  I also questioned myself as to how I could have been so wrong.  I was also immature in that I thought if there was a God (with a capital G), then He didn’t really care much about me.

Then, I went abroad.  Bad things happened.   I became convinced that if there was a God (again with the capital G), then not only did He not give a shit about me, He fucking hated me.  I graduated with a burning anger at God, and that lasted for several years.  Unfortunately, my mother was in the process of defending her faith at this time, and she was quite vocal about it.  One time, in the car, she went on and on about God and wouldn’t shut up, so I told her I didn’t give a damn about her God.  She made me get out and walk home, which suited me just fine.  It was only a mile, anyway.

For several years, I was angry at God and hurt by God.  I started openly rebelling against Him.  I had done a bit of drinking while I was abroad in Asia, and I tried smoking for the first time.  Regular cigarettes, not marijuana.  Upon my return to the States, I also decided to explore my homoerotic nature.  I discovered my physical attraction to women while I was dating D, but I didn’t want to deal with it on top of grappling with racial issues and my burgeoning awareness of feminist issues.  It was only in my state of ‘anything goes’ along with what I affectionately refer to as my slut years that I finally announced my bisexuality.  

During this time, I slept around.  I got back into theatre, which I adore.  I started doing guerilla performances in which someone would call me up to tell me about a gig; I would create a performance, perfect it, and then perform it on the given day.  I smoked a cigarette a day.  Yes, one.  I drank more often.  I freed myself from my upbringing, but much of it was in direct opposition to God.  I was telling Him, “I don’t give a fuck if You hate me.  See how much I don’t give a fuck?”  

It’s much the same as a teenager rebelling against her parents–which I never did.  I claimed not to believe in Him, but oh, I did.  I fucking hated Him, and every mention of God, Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus sent me into a black rage.  I hated all the shit being done in His name, but I hated it even more that other people were loved by God when He only had disdain and contempt for me.  It didn’t seem fair that if He created me, He should hate me so much.  I felt very much like the abused child who acts out because she is impotent to get back at her parents in any other way.  

Fortunately, I did not do anything truly stupid during my rebellious phase.  There were no lasting scars from that period, and I learned a lot about myself and what I truly believed.  

I will share more in part four tomorrow.

4 Responses to Losing My Religion, Part III

  1. Thanks for sharing so much. I know there’s more to come, but I just wanted to say it now.

    I have heard people who call themselves Christian excuse themselves from following Christ’s example because (to paraphrase) “he already took care of all of that.” They seem to have turned a blind eye to the numerous times he’s quoted directing his disciples to follow his example. As the bumper sticker says, “Jesus, save me from your followers.”

  2. Choolie, seriously? I’ve never heard that excuse before. I had no idea when I started my first post that it would turn into the epic series. I just wanted to talk about religion from a personal and political view. Who knew I would spend so much time on the personal?

  3. Minna, can’t tell via the intranets if you’re being facetious, but I’ve actually heard that lame excuse. More than once.

    And sometimes the only way to speak the truth is through personal revelation. To give up something like one’s religious beliefs requires a huge amount of reflection and processing. So it’s no surprise to me.

  4. Choolie, I was being serious. I can’t imagine someone actually saying that.

    Personal revelation is fine. This is becoming an epic.