That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion

All my life I have felt conflicted about religion. It took a lot of maturity to finally express to my uber Catholic mother this Easter how much I truly question the institution that has been shoved down my throat since childhood. Sitting in a cold church at the horrid hour of 8 am this Easter Sunday, a rush of ideas, memories and questions came to my head. So many devout people, yet such a lack of real, beautiful energy within the confines of the church. Growing up a witness to the lives of many of those people, some are genuinely goodhearted folks whose efforts serve as glue to the framework of the church. Others though, wouldn’t think twice to talk about you the minute you turn your back and frankly I’ve always been a stab me in the front kinda gal, give me reality or give me death.

In Latin culture religion is inevitable and amongst Filipinos, a people who literally STILL nail someone to a cross and parade them around town in reverence, it is galvanized. When I was younger the church was such an integral part of my upbringing. Between singing in the choir and all the side work my mother put into it, there wasn’t a time where it wasn’t a part of my life. I can remember at an early age appreciating the positivity it brought to many people and the community it fostered. At times I’d even allow the superstition within me bubble up, giving into the concept of “putting my life in God’s hands.” In my teen years, this really fucked with me. I experienced so much devastation and depression much like other teens and I couldn’t help but think,”where is god now.” I aimlessly followed what was instilled in me not out of true alignment but out of fear of disrespecting my mother. My mothers love of god and religion is so impressive to me – the sacrifice, dedication and motivation, you can tell it is a REAL love. If the woman who made my life possible had so much love for it, how could I disrespect it with disbelief? Fast forward almost 7 years since I have broken out of my mother’s home and there is never a personal occasion that I am compelled to go to church on my own. In the process of sorting through my own mania I have come to terms with my inability to identify with religion. My god has become me, because to be honest no one on or off this earth can change anything but you. The concept of faith and spiritual well-being is important for progression in life, we need to believe in something but I can’t say that I have found any security in some mythical higher power. Every triumph against adversity I have experienced has been the by-product of solid faith in myself and a movement for something better. For those who can find this magical happiness and devout security in religion, congrats I can’t hate on you. I have spent a lifetime wishing that I could find that feeling but I just can’t commit to it above and beyond myself anymore. Maybe one day I will hit rock bottom and see Jesus in a dream or pizza slice, that day will probably warm my mother’s heart, but until then I stay firm with my belief in me.

A friend really got me thinking recently when she expressed that “for my parents, religion was all they had when they had nothing.” Is religion one of the only sources of solace for the literal and emotional broke? Was it birthed out of a byproduct of emotional illness needing repair before shrinks ever existed? It further solidified my belief in the religion of me, reforming and reshaping based on my personal state and striving to be the best me I can be. Maybe I am particularly jaded but investing whatever hope is left within me in something that is so intangible makes me nervous. The institution of the church behind religion is even more of a gamble because of his human input, inherently we are flawed and will make mistakes. Before we sing the praises of a theoretical god, we should look at how we treat others, ourselves and individual circumstances while carrying on virtuously. It’s a lifelong challenge for a heavy heart to avoid skepticism, maybe one day I’ll find that balance.

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3 thoughts on “That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion

  1. Every culture has had it’s own god, or set of gods, there’s something in human nature that gives us the need in believing a higher power. Whether it’s to explain what we comprehend, or to fall back on in tough times, it’s there in every civilization. In today’s age of information, the explanation of the unknown is not as necessary as it once was, which is why there appears to be a large increase in agnostics/atheists/nihilists.

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    Somewhat relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXTBtzgz9eo

  2. The problem is religion, mainly the one you and I both were brought up on has not evolved over the years, and has actually digressed in many aspects. A few years back I purchased (along with my wife) my grandparents old house. My grandmother passed away at the age of 100, and went to church everyday up until around 2003. She still watched mass everyday at home. She woke up everyday at 5AM to do various prayers with her rosary as she had been taught as a girl, and had done all of her life. I mention this because when we bought the house it was full all religious paraphernalia. Statues, books, calendars, crosses, holy water, etc. It made me realize how different growing up with vinyl, cassettes, cds, tv, videogames, computers, smartphones, tablets, etc was compared to how she grew up, or how my father grew up in the vary same house. Before there was radio or tv, there was religion. The soaps or shows, all came from the bible. Before there was social networking, people got together to pray, and then socialize after church. Before there were schools, or any type of rationalization of science, there was still religion. The main reason why science and religion started butting heads is no different from CBS and NBC fighting over viewers.

    The year the shit hit the fan for me was 1996, within a three week period my father’s cousin (who was also his best friend) died of cancer, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my grandmother had a stroke, which trapped her fully functional mind inside of a useless body until 2009. I was 23, and up until then I went to church on a very frequent basis. I questioned everything within religion, in a similar fashion to what you mention in your post. Shortly after I started going every Christmas, and Easter a few years later, more than anything just to make my folks happy.

    Shortly there after things started creeping up in the news, children being molested by priests, meeting a former priest that was 100% gay, and admitted that a lot of others were as well. How could God allow these things to happen, yet he was giving Grammys to R&B, Hip Hop and Country artists left and right. Something wasn’t right, was it God? The bible contains hardly any mention of women, why would there be only male apostles? Why would only men be allowed to be priests? Wait what do you mean that the bible was put together by people that were around Jesus, but not actually him? Wouldn’t this be similar to one person enjoying a song’s lyrics while someone else hearing an Ozzy song and thinking it is calling out to have them blow their brains out? Wait what do you mean there are different variations based on when and where the bible was printed? That sound more like a huge game of telephone to me. What about Marti Gras/Carnaval which was created to allow religious folk to go out and get friendly with people, and not be pointed out as everyone was under a mask? How about lent, you can’t eat meat…..well if you pay an indulgence you can. Etc, etc.

    I realized at that time that maybe the original message was good, but like usual man fucked it up! Why? Greed, power, gluttony, money, etc., you know things the bible tells you that you shouldn’t do. I realized that a lot of people in religion used a do as I do, not as I say get out of jail free card. I truly believe there are good people in religion, those that selflessly go to Africa, or Latin America, and dedicate their lives to helping others. But in the end, I feel that I am a spiritual person, that believes in a higher being, and prays on a nightly basis, but does not believe in the man made organizations that represent religion in this day and age. I also think people should worship how and what they believe in. I also think the bible thumpers are as annoying as the agnostics and atheist that sits there and lists over an over again why religion or God isn’t real. I get it, you don’t believe, and that’s cool, but if I want to believe, don’t piss on my parade. Life is too difficult and fucked up as it is to have someone telling you how or to what you should pray. I baptized my two sons because of tradition, for my folks, my grandmothers’ memories, and hell, just in case! Someday both of them can choose if they want to be religious, spiritual, or whatever, but until then I wanted to cover all bases, cause hey you never know.

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