Friday, December 19, 2008
Religion can be painful. I was raised Roman Catholic. In high school I dated a girl who was a Southern Baptist.
I hardly need to tell you how things were between the Catholics and the Baptists in the 1950's. The divisions that came between the two of us were painful. I've never forgotten them.
My parents were always supportive of me in my choices, including my choice to date a Southern Baptist. My father, especially, was such an accepting person that he would never judge someone else's religion or judge me because I cared for someone of a different religion. That's probably what got me (and my girlfriend, I suspect) through.
As I look back, I suppose we would have broken up anyway, but it did seem religion was part of the problem. For a long time after that, I did not attend church at all. Then after that, I looked for churches which were accepting. I never had much truck with churches whose people thought only those of their own denomination (or even that only Christians) would be in heaven. I believe most doctrinal churches just leave people out, especially the poor, mentally ill, those from other cultures and radically different relligious beliefs, or others who are somehow different. If you've read The Body in the Record Room, you know how much I would hate that.
As I've grown older, in some ways I've grown farther and farther away from organized religion. Too divisive. Too much judgment and struggle. Instead I work on my own faith in the context of my Unitarian Universalist fellowship.
I am still a Christian because of the radical vision of the man Jesus. I still cling to his words in Matthew 25:31-46. But I'm here to tell you that the pain judgmental religions cause never goes away. It may be forgotten for a while (pushed back into the recesses of one's memory), but it never goes away.
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