Part 1 of a 4 part series where I examine the current status of my Eternal Soul. (Part 2 can be found here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.)
Awhile back I decided to go to church every Sunday through New Year's Day, a Mass I've always loved because it's a nice way to start the year. It's more of a social experiment with myself, than anything else. I've been having a maj0r crisis of faith - not in God, but more in organized religion. I believe in God, I am just not sure about the nitty gritty details. By making a commitment to go to church for the next few months, I am hoping to see if it makes a difference. Maybe I will end up enjoying it? Maybe not? Maybe I won't see ANY differences. I also made a commitment to floss my teeth everyday. Not related, but in the same vein.
My relationship with God and religion has taken a path akin to a spider web. An OLD, abandoned spider web, the sort you find in the autumn where it's apparent the spider has crawled off to die. The paths tend to go a in a circle, tracing the same paths, ending up nowhere in some cases. Over the years, I have attended a variety of religious services for a myriad of reasons with friends and family - Methodist, Presbyterian, Jehovah's Witness, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Assembly of God and so many evangelical, "free-for-all" churches than I can't even count. And then in my undergrad years, there was what I call my Islam Epoch.
I am now Catholic. I "signed up" in my late 20s before I had even met X. Then, when I met X, a nice born n' bred Catholic boy from India, everything fell into place. Decidedly, we are Catholic and I doubt we would ever join another type of church.
My own family is a mix - we have no particular religion. My father's dad was Jehovah's Witness (recent generations) and my father's mom was Baptist (recent generations). I am not sure what my mom's family was. So, for me, religion has always been a blank slate.
I learned about God from a babysitter at the age of 5. My mom is not religious and my dad was going through a major crisis himself with God after having gotten back from the Vietnam war. In 1st grade, I desperately wanted to go to church with my friends. My mom had to talk my dad into it, but she did. My friends would pick me up and take me with them - I don't remember the demonination of the church, oddly enough. In 2nd and 3rd grade, we lived in town and then I would walk to church by myself .
In 4th grade, my dad started to go through some major soul-searching and began attending the Episcopal church. He started taking my sister and I to church with him on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes, my mom would come with us, but she wasn't really enamoured of the whole thing. By 6th grade, my parents were divorcing and my dad continued going to church. We would attend with him on "his weekends". He continued going to the Episcopal church, but also started attending an evangelical church. A grass-roots church that began in Lawrence as a group of students getting together as a bible study. Like many born-again Christians, my dad became very zealous about religion. He has mellowed out now, but there was a period where he "lived and breathed" All Things Christ. I also went through a period in high school where I really "got into" church.
Then, I went to college. Where things got radical. In my freshman year, I started dating a Pakistani. A Pakistani who had had a pretty western upbringing, had not grown up in Pakistan and was not religious. I, however, became very interested in his religion and absorbed everything I could that was Islam for the next 4 years. I can see now, that from a cultural perspective, it was fun meeting people from all the world and as a bonus, I loved learning the classical Arabic for prayers. However, now it is hard for me to write about this period of my life. Most kids explore a bit when they go to college, just not like this. It's not something I regret and if anything, it kept me out of trouble. Most muslims are just honest, God-fearing people trying to take care of their families. Furthermore, considering the climate we live in today, I am grateful for my in-depth, hands-on knowledge that I have of muslims and of Islam. For sure, I have a unique perspective when attempting to sift through all the ignorant crap out there that the media tries to shove in our faces. However, for many reasons that I am not going to get into here, I chose to turn away from Islam in my mid 20s. And then, I went exploring again.
I had always felt comfortable in the Episcopal and Catholic churches. In my late 20s, after careful deliberation between the two and conversations with my dad, I decided to convert to Catholicism and went through the Adult Rites of Initiation. One thing I find most interesting is that when I became a Catholic, Olathe Grandma started passing along family heirlooms that were Catholic. It turns out, long, long ago, some of our family was originally Catholic, but was sorta kept a secret for reasons I can only fathom.
So, that's where I am today. I have more about this, but will use the rest of the Sundays in November to ponder.