My grandmothers were extremely influential in my life. If you follow my blog, you have heard me speak of both a multitude of times. They were also, both devoutly religious. My parents weren’t, though. In fact, I have never attended a church service with either of them. My grandma paid for me to attend a private Christian school, kindergarten through eighth grade. I had bible study every day. As a result, I am pretty fluent in “bible”. I have KILLED biblical jeopardy rounds, for sure.
I would say my grandma W. was fundamental in her beliefs. She was extremely literal in the way she followed the bible. If the book said do it, she did it. If the book said it was bad, she would not tolerate it. Even snakes were a “no no” because that was the “form of Satan”. My grandma S. was less rigid and far less literal. She was open to other people’s religions and lifestyles but was, herself, unwavering in her beliefs. The fact that I was part of two church families helped me understand how the community of church impacts lives. On a local church level, I saw major outreach and community involvement. I saw how people socialized, learned, helped each other and found solace in their church families. I saw and still see the benefit. Today in fact, I attended a funeral service and saw how the church community rallied around the family who had suffered the loss. I was touched by it and reminded of how your church can become your community. It was warm and comforting amidst a great tragedy. The loss was felt by the church as a collective and I could see with my eyes the support that they gave.
The other half is how my parents raised me. We didn’t attend church, we didn’t pray, we didn’t discuss scripture ever. My folks drank and socialized with other non-Christians. We had a community. We had a wide circle of people from various walks of life that showered us with support any time we needed it and we did the same in return. This was a dichotomy as a kid. I literally learned in school that my parents were sinners and “would not inherit the kingdom of God”. My grandma W. often prayed with me for my parents to find the lord and I was likewise encouraged to do the same, because “wouldn’t I hate to spend eternity without them?”. I know this sounds crazy to some and could be misconstrued as brainwashing or mental abuse, but I assure you, it was not. She was a simple person and her intentions were pure. She did not want to enter into eternity without them either. Regardless of this influence, I grew to take her words with a grain of salt. I knew that my parents and our community were good people too. I knew in my heart that they were not doomed to eternal damnation just because they didn’t go to church.
This is where I’ll segway into today’s world of insta-judge where everyone has their own personal soapbox. The world of wonderful and equally damaging social media. My circle is similar to how I was raised… Half religious. I have a bunch of uber conservative, judgy, Christian types, a bunch of ultra mouthy, liberal, atheist types and the other third is “middle of the roaders”. What I see are a lot of blanket statements from the first two groups. It’s all black and white. The “non-believers” are saying that Christians are ridiculous simpletons too stupid to be as enlightened as they are in their ultra-cool atheist wisdom. Oppositely, my most conservative friends think atheists are all a bunch of bleeding heart liberals who want nothing more than to ruin America and force their homo-centric-anti family agendas. Then there’s the rest of us. I’m over here like, “hey, shut the fuck up with that! You don’t know that God doesn’t exist” and “hey you! Shut the fuck up with that! Doesn’t your book teach you to love your neighbor?” The truth is, we don’t REALLY know. Why should I begrudge a person for having faith, just because I don’t share it? Likewise, why should I feel threatened by somebody who simply does not believe? Does it hurt me? Am I being forced to acquiesce to their way of thinking? The answer is a resounding no. Being raised half religious, gave me a pretty good view. I wanted to learn about other religions. As a result, I read books about Taoism, I read the Quran (most of it, anyway), I read about Buddhism. What I found was that they are all saying the same basic things. The details vary but in general, they are saying “be good to each other”. The Bible and Quran both have passages that require death to non-believers. Both speak of women in submissive roles, both have consiquences and rewards for the way you choose to live. Likewise, all have been tampered with by imperfect humans and taking them literally, in my opinion, is a mistake.
The same goes for atheism. I mean, fine… Don’t believe in anything. Good for you! But what’s the BFD about other people believing? Don’t give me that shit about “all of the death and destruction caused by religion” either. That’s extremist shit. As far as that goes, I’m there! Fuck extreme beliefs! They are never going away and it’s not fair to generalize good Christians and good Jews and good Muslims into the extremist category.
Having been raised in this way, I feel strongly about the separation of church and state. I’ve learned to not only tolerate but to embrace the beliefs of others. To see people as individuals and realize that “one size fits all” is never going to apply to humanity’s belief (or non-belief) systems. I believe that we should do what works for us as individuals, while holding true to the Latin phrase “Primum non nocere” or “first do no harm”. We really can have it all.
Swearing Mom out.