I had a really enjoyable date night with my husband last night. We drove into Dallas and had delicious pizza on an outdoor deck, with skyscrapers all around us. Great weather for being outdoors. He even wrote “J + H” inside a heart on the chalk wall inside the restaurant.
Then we had one of our usual really deep talks about religion and philosophy for hours and continued when we got home. I’d like to think that playing the song “If I Believe You” by The 1975, which is about wanting to believe in God but being unable to, sparked it, but that’s probably giving my musical selections too much credit. (It’s not quite as cynical about God as “Ya Hey” by Vampire Weekend though…interesting that so many of my favorite bands cover this topic.)
My husband jokingly called me a “secular woo-manist” as a play on secular humanism with a lot of woo/New Age ideas thrown in. The truth is that I’m not quite a secular humanist because I do believe in some type of God. In reality, I’m more of a universalist (woo-niversalist?) because I think most religions have the same central truths. But I don’t think any one of them is more true than the other, so I take what I like and discard the rest.
It’s interesting, though, that his struggles with his Catholic faith are somewhat different than mine were. It was my doubt that heaven and hell existed that led to my further doubts about religion. To be perfectly frank, I’ve never felt anxiety over the question, “what if hell really exists and you end up there?” because I just so completely doubt it exists. I’ve seen some things that suggest hell was translated incorrectly and I tend to think that seems likely.
And I could never rationalize the cognitive dissonance involved in believing God was both all-powerful and loving, yet would send the majority of his children to eternal torture.
If the first commandment is that you’re supposed to love God with all your body, mind, and soul, how can you love the same being that’s threatening to torture you if you don’t? That’s one of the most sadistic things I’ve ever heard. If a friend’s partner said “love me or I’ll burn you,” I would get her out of there ASAP.
At the same time, even though I accept some truths in Christianity, it’s weird still coming to grips with the fact that I am not technically any kind of Christian. This feels like the most honest and least conflicted place on my spiritual journey so far. I am pretty deeply spiritual, actually…it just doesn’t look like what it does for most people.
Now I just have to continue to convince myself that it’s actually okay not to be Christian. In this society, that’s pretty tough. All three of my kids are atheist, so I’m unusual at home for having any faith at all, even if it’s a weird hodgepodge of beliefs. I’m glad that they don’t have any of the same hang ups or guilt about religion that I do.