November 4, 2009


I don’t have faith.

Maybe God is laughing at me, because today I have to write about my relationship with religion. If I believed in God, I wouldn’t accept it as chance that when asked to get a random article from Wikipedia, Wikipedia came up with information about the Greek Gospel Book. I would believe that it was a message from above that I was forced to pay attention to, what? the first four Books that got the Bible going? But I don’t believe in God, so, in the definition of irony that I learned in college literature classes, it’s merely “a cruel twist of fate” that that’s what happened.

My parents did what they could to give me the chance to culture my own beliefs. Science got in the way.

My earliest memory of religion is that my dad was the organist for the Methodist Church which was two doors down from the house in which I grew up. Sometimes, whether it was on Sunday or on Wednesday practice night, I had to go along. Nothing was shoved on me, I was just present.

When I was old enough, I dutifully attended Sunday School classes. According to my recollection (35 to 40 years on by now), again it was mostly because I was a hanger-on to my dad’s obligation as organist rather than because of anybody’s rapture that I be indoctrinated. I don’t remember anything that was ever discussed in Sunday School; but I do remember that one time only, my question (whatever it was) was briefly the topic of discussion. I vaguely recall that shortly thereafter, my attendance was no longer mandatory or even expected from anybody’s point of view.

One of my fondest memories of familial bonding was when my mom attended the expanded, holiday version of the church choir to participate in the singing of Handel’s Messiah. (I’m quite certain that this was mainly because of my mom’s love of music.) My mom is an alto, I held my own in the same range; I was taking piano lessons by then so could read the music. And I have a good ear, so I could follow along otherwise. Even now, I must listen to the Messiah at least once in December. In general, baroque music is my favorite, especially Vivaldi.

As related in the orthodonture saga yesterday, at some point, I moved to a different state. I was pretty sure by then that I didn’t believe in God. But I did like my new friend a lot and I liked to sing, so I attended her Catholic church and choir for a few weeks. Even in my teens, I understood the concept of the old college try.

Faith was long gone. I can’t remember the last time I made the attempt. I think religion is fascinating, intellectually. And also architecturally. I have a recurring dream about the Methodist Church. I’m always trying to find a place to sit in the righthand pews on the south side of the room, without disturbing anyone too much. Maybe one time in 10, it’s on the lefthand side. If that is unsuccessful, then I’m transported to the balcony, where the Sunday School rooms were. If that doesn’t work, then I’m trying to make my way through the labyrinth of halls in the basement (which don’t actually exist), usually to find the bathroom. Then I wake up.

You can believe what you want to, and that’s fine. So do I.

[Thank you, Google Street View, for the images.]

One Response to “Gospel”

  1. Merendis Says:

    Lovely little blog here. I really admire your adherence to your gut beliefs even from a young age. I was brought up by a quite religious father and a mother who probably could have gone either way. As much as God or Jesus never really meant all that much to me, church was such a part of my life and my social life that I never thought to question. At the high school I attended, it was quite clear that the Christian athletes (did you have FCA or Young Life at your school?) with a penchant for accidental debauchery on the weekends despite their strong faith were the cool kids. I tried very hard my freshman year of highschool to get in with that crowd, and it included Bible study groups. When I wasn’t "saved" and therefore "cook" after that year, I decided to actually think, and life got much better and much more annoying. I’d still consider my faith as up-for-grabs. The most recent influence that still makes me pause and think every now and then is Fritijof Capra’s ‘The Tao of Physics’. If you happen to check it out, get back to me on what you think. Perhaps I’m misusing it as an intro to physics or Eastern religion, but oh well. Either way, it’s quite impressive that you’ve held your faith for so long. Enviable even.

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