I am not a religious person. I am not even sure I am a spiritual person. However, I have a sense of faith in a higher power. I am mostly familiar with the basic Christian tenants and philosophies. Having not been raised in a home with this sort of foundation, I am more than a little lost when people discuss faith and God and spirituality. Having being raised in this rudderless desert and being ignorant of the nuances of the common faiths of our times, I have dabbled with Mormons, Roman Catholics, protestants of various stripes, and even read through Scientology literature. Those scientologists are persistent – 35+ years after chatting with me and giving me a copy of “Dyanetics” to read (I was even more lost at 15 and was reading everything I could lay hands on in my quest to catch up with my peers in perceived wisdom and sophistication), they still send literature to me at my mom’s home. Now that it (her home) has been sold, perhaps they will finally remove me from their mailing list.
I feel certain very bad things happen to good people at least as much as bad people. One of my dearest friends is an atheist, and I find his lack of conviction in anything more disturbing that my own ostrich standing with head buried in sand and fingers in my ears for good measure. Mostly I try hard to do the right thing, that which agrees with my own moral compass of being kind and hoping for the best (while planning for the worst). Where I feel I fall into the spectrum of good people versus bad people depends upon the day and what else is happening around me. Mostly I am relatively certain I am falling on the good side of most problems and equations.
A new educational quest is calling me, though, in that I wish to learn more about faith and organized belief systems Maybe it is my recent ventures in to Crazy Town with my life long friend (a fairly active moderate Christian most of our lives), or M’s obsession with Islamic terrorists and his increasingly hardened conservative point of view. Fear is a truly crippling thing, and my lack of knowledge and understanding of anyone’s deeply held point of view is disturbing. I cannot relate to conservative Christians anymore than I can relate to radical muslims; zealotry in any form scares the crap out of me.
This is a point of contention with M and I, one of very few in our marriage. He tends to come from a fundamental, patriarchal Christian perspective, in that as the husband he is the spiritual leader. I call bullshit on that. We lived in sin for years before we married and we are most definitely not practicing his faith now. Perhaps if we were I might be more thoughtful and considerate of his belief system, but since we are not and I am wandering in more an intellectual discussion of Christian faith rather than a convicted belief system, I am embracing my opportunities to explore and become more educated in what I believe. I too may be atheist at the end of my journey.
Faith is a very personal journey, and I cannot believe or pretend to believe what my husband believes just because he tells me it is so. I respect his faith, I respect his beliefs, and it aggravates me to no end when he appears to not respect my own lack of conviction in anything. Again, I see this as fear for my immortal soul, yet its expression has come across at times as “you are too stupid to know any better.” Which is not nice and is never received in my usual calm and rational tones. Bat-shit crazy is probably a better description of my reaction and probably the root of our most epic fights in the 20+ years we have been together.
We are not in any sort of snit right now, despite my not-so-fond remembrances of the few scorching rows we have had through the years. I mentioned to him I ordered a book on Judaism – the first actual physical book I have purchased in many years. I was fully prepared for his head to spin completely around as if I had brought up the idea of shaving my head and becoming a Hare Krishna, but no, he was curious about why I had purchased an actual physical book rather than an ebook for my Kindle. My explanation – it was used, less expensive, and seemed like a good idea at the time – passed without a further comment or reaction.
Spiritual journeys do not happen in a vacuum, or at least it will not happen for me in a vacuum. What I am reading, what I am thinking, and most definitely what I am feeling have an impact on my marriage. M can be a complete asshole sometimes, and that tendency has a direct impact on the harmony in our home. The two occasions when he has tried to censor me have nearly ended our marriage, so he has learned to be more thoughtful, rational, and logical in our discussions about sensitive topics and the extraordinarily occasions of “sensitive” literature. I mean, I could take up watching porn on the internet all day long and he’d probably not be overly alarmed (unless it was some sort of male gay porn that would gross him out) and would be far more curious as to why the sudden interest, as I tend to find porn either incredibly stupid or intensely boring. If he can come up with a good reason for me to avoid reading something popular or that I might be drawn to, I am willing to listen and take his concerns under careful, serious advisement. But to tell me not to just because he has read something alarming about it somewhere is just not going to cut it. This is an extremely rare occurrence, but the fallout was huge.
Events last week sent me to a bad psychological space, which is where my thoughts of faith, bad things happening to good people, and what do I believe in tend to come from. I am not certain where it will lead me in the days ahead, but educating myself is always better than remaining this level of ignorant.