Religion in the traditional, average, white middle class American sort of way has never worked for me. As a young child, I never went to church regularly. There may have been one or two random times when my brother and I were visiting our grandparents that we attended mass with them (both my grandparents are Catholic). My mother, raised as a Catholic but never confirmed, had both my brother and myself when she was very young. Time that she could have spent taking us to church was instead spent either at one of the three jobs she worked to support us as a single mother or at an outing to a park or duck pond so she could have a precious few hours with us before work started again.
As we got older, my mother got more involved with Christianity. When I was in middle school she forced us (“forced” in no uncertain terms) to attend church with her. Celebration United Methodist was a new, contemporary church that met in the cafeteria of a local middle school. The pastor was a vaguely pleasant, middle-aged man who lived in one of the more affluent (but not grossly so) areas of town. He would spend an hour preaching while I spent the hour scowling and wishing I were somewhere else. I resented the fact that I was suddenly expected to be enthusiastic about having someone else tell me where my spirituality should take me since, up to that point, I had seen nothing to make me believe in the power of the traditional Christian “GOD.” I was and still am extremely taciturn in nature, particularly regarding things so intimate as one’s faiths and beliefs, so this effort by my mother to force me into religion made me turn away from any idea of faith even more so than before we started going to church.
That was twelve years ago. While I will never ascribe to one of the major traditional religions, I must admit that my position as a staunch atheist has been wavering in recent years. When one examines the world around them, it is hard to believe that everything that has ever occurred and been created can be the result of a series of happy accidents. The intricacy of the human circulatory system, the waxing and waning of the moon and the effect on the tides, photosynthesis – all these beautiful things can be explained, to some degree, by science. What is science but the magic of how the earth exists? You can explain to me how my lungs can take in air in one form and breathe it out in another, you can explain to me how the oxygen from that air travels through my lungs and into my blood stream, and you can tell me how the blood can go to feed all the organs and cells that make up my physical body, but can you tell me why? There is something, a reason or a force or something, that causes my chest to rise and fall a million times a day every day. There is something that gives me dreams and causes my heart to give an abrupt tug and recognize the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the glide of a crane over verdant green rice paddies. There is something.
Am I looking for the meaning of life? No, not exactly. Maybe it is more accurate to say I am looking for meaning in life. Or perhaps I simply want to open my eyes and recognize the forces at work around me for what they really are: forces, and not just the random, loosely connected threads of chaos. Does that make sense?
Anyway, tonight is a new moon. It feels like a good time for a new beginning. I’ve created this blog to help me chronicle some aspects of this foray into… well, whatever it is I’m foraying into, and to potentially help communicate with other like-minded individuals.