When it comes to religion, I disclaim any expertise or higher learning. I attended catechism classes with other fledgling faithfuls but very little sank in. Memorizing has never been one of my strengths. I was never awed by the dumbed-down retelling of biblical myths and the pious illustrations that filled the textbook. The whole thing seemed like propaganda. I kept my true feelings to myself, though, as is the general rule for most things when you’re a pubescent teen. It wasn’t my idea to go to church, anyway. It was my mother’s.
She seemed to be on a mission. To this day, I’m still not sure why she wanted her children to be exposed to conventional religion. She did allude to a passing exposure to Catholicism in her youth on a couple of occasions, but she never elaborated. Her excuse was that it would just be good for us. So I gave in to adopting the appearance of a bonafide Christian, knowing that it would never last. Neither one of my parents professed Christian devotion so why should I.
While my father sat at the dining room table with his coffee and crossword puzzle on most Sunday mornings, my sister and I had to get dressed and go. My mother always drove us there and back. Thankfully for her, Grace Lutheran was only ten minutes away. It always felt a little odd as she pulled into the parking lot and up to the curb at the rear entry. Parishioners would be filing past our car in their Sunday best while my mother paused to make her delivery. She’d uncomfortably look straight ahead as we hopped out, as if quilted by the vivid hypocrisy of ditching us there.
But now I’ve begun to wonder if that look was something else. It could have been a bit of impatience along with a sense of obligation. It never occurred to me that both of my parents may have been where I am today – ambivalent. If I were ever to label myself in any one way among many, it would be as a humanist. One god cannot be our only hope. Humankind has created a plethora of gods and look where it’s gotten us. From the beginning, our heroes have been gods. But no one hero can save us.
That’s where each of us comes in. The monomyths of Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha, etc., outline paths to follow. We just have to explore them; first for ourselves, then for the sake of others. There are many. I thank my mother for allowing me not to become content with following just one.