Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Thoughts on Religion, part one

Why do I have such a hard time being honest about what I do and don't believe about religion / God / the numinous?

Mostly because I have a serious aversion to the brief expression of disapproval and discomfort that often flickers over the faces of friends with whom I tentatively share my changing views on the subject of religion.

I remember, for example, laughing aloud at the protagonist of Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates being described as so inept with tools that, "had he been assigned to build crosses in Jerusalem, Jesus would have died of old age." When I read that line aloud to the friend who wanted to know what was so funny, she did not laugh. "Oh," she said. "Well, it's a fine line between humor and blasphemy sometimes, isn't it."

To another friend I described, with incautious excitement, my first encounter with religious people openly embracing feminine aspects of the Divine. "I love it that they don't use gendered pronouns to refer to God," I said, "and it's really interesting to think about the holy in metaphors that are female."

She gave me the slight frown and said quickly, "I've never had any problem thinking about God as Father. I know some people have a problem with it, but I don't see what the big deal is."

Yet another friend told me she was very worried about my church being too "open and affirming," as their bulletins proudly state.

Remember how my friend and I joined a gym? The other night we were talking to another mutual acquaintance who raved about how much she loves yoga. "It's so great--you should really try it!" she gushed. "Plus, if you take it at the gym--" and here she leaned in a little and lowered her voice to a stage whisper-- "they won't have all that weird Eastern stuff with it."

(I decided that wouldn't be the best time to mention my interest in attending an hour-long meditation session at that gym.)

More later--in the spirit of Heavy Duty Power, I'd like to rise to these challenges occasionally, instead of always being so dumbfounded that I can't calmly express my disagreement lurking just under the surface.