Snow, snow, everywhere...
And I love it.
Wow. All those posts to the last blog entry have my head in constant conversation. I think the post that I've thought about the most was the one which indicated I was breaking the question down in a poor way. (Well, there were many posts pointing that out...) This one broke down the debate in a different way - between religion with supernatural claims and religion without supernatural claims. That is true. I guess I don't normally think of or remember that there are religions without supernatural claims. Buddhism is the only one I can think of. (Not all sects of Buddhism.) Or the Unitarian Church.
To me, religion works best as a ritual keeper and community builder. These things are very important. In my observations - which are mostly about my upbringing in Spokane in the Catholic church and then watching my friends who have stayed in the church - the best thing they get from their religion is the shared rituals and community. These are the things that I really craved, in retrospect. I had mouthed the words and didn't think all that much about the readings, I liked Bach and the candles and the idea that I had stood in this same church year in and year out on one particular day that earmarked the dead of winter or the beginning of spring - saying the same things, hearing the same songs, watching kids grow up, flirting with boys, seeing who was getting married, mourning those who had died. All those things can be a part of a life without the supernatural.
On the other hand, the supernatural specifics of what we were all supposed to believe were, in my opinion, a great hindrance to the development of a skeptical outlook and even general critical thinking skills. So, the ideas we were so benignly taught had an insidious price. We paid with our critical minds. SOME of my friends from Spokane, for example, have - in my humble opinion - undeveloped political opinions. Worse, they back off from any debate. They make ad homonym attacks. Tragically, some of them have no understanding of the tenants of other faiths, and even of their own faith. Sometimes it seems that they are even proud of their lack of information. Is the Church to blame? Hmmm... I kinda think so. I hate to say, I do.
But the rituals and community continue to give. And I can see that it is a great value.
I think the Unitarian Church can offer this, but not at the cost of your critical mind.
But for me, I do not feel in need of the community anymore! I like the idea of it, but not the practicality of it. It involves a great deal of socializing and I feel that I am filled up with that. What I crave now, (and I am fifty, so maybe this is a natural thing to happen,) but I want less socializing and social obligation in my life. I crave quiet and contemplation. I want to learn. I feel I am hungry to learn and read and think, well, it's almost as if I had scurvy and were in need of an orange! And true learning and thinking take a lot of time and quiet. With a husband and a child, as well as a few very close friends, I feel I am up to my ears in interaction with people. Adding a church would put me over the edge. Even if Mulan may benefit from it, she would have an even more frazzled mother and I don't think that is good. (I could just see myself getting caught up in it at first, volunteering for five committees, nodding "yes!" to the bake sale, and then being in the worst possible mood about it all for the next six months... Wait! This is what being at a public school is like already! I've so far been able to back away from most things... But yes, I feel guilty about it. Guilty or Angry? That's always my dilemma...)
I think me and my friends would have been better served by a Church that did not subscribe to supernatural beliefs. We would have gotten the ritual and community but not the inanity.
But sometimes I wonder, would we stick to it if it didn't have a whiff of a real God on High? I might not have. It would require inculcating me about the need of community and social obligation and not about someone looking over my shoulder who could see everything.
...I wrote the above jumbled blog entry this morning and was intending all day to get back to it, reread all those wonderful posts from the last entry and rewrite it. But now it's late, and I have to fly to New York in the morning. So I'm just going to throw this out there. It's woefully inadequate in it's musings upon this topic.
Jill Sobule and I are doing a show on Sunday night at Joe's Pub in New York and it's sold out. That is really exciting!!!!