Why I just can’t do Religion…

Very early on in life we are taught about right and wrong.  Various means to this end all seem to have one underlying theme – we all have within us the ability to discern between the two.  For everyone, this is influenced by unique factors but for all the voice is still there – the one that weighs everything we know against a situation and allows us to make decisions.  Sometimes this is the right decision, sometimes it’s not-so-right.  Fox News knows all about the second one.

We are taught that Situation A + Action B = Result C.  We are taught, through consequences, that we have the ability to evaluate this system.  Break the rules, you’ll be punished.  Help an old lady across the street in Russia and someone with a dash cam will make you feel good about yourself.  Make top grades in your class and you’ll get a gold star…whatever.  I believe in this system of cause and effect.  It’s how I live my life and I know that, at the end of every day, my actions will be evaluated by my most scrupulous critic:  Me.

The problem I have with Religion (I have capitalized the letter R, as Religion is an entity which holds so much power over the human race that it deserves a proper name) is faith.  I know of no Religion which doesn’t require one to have faith.  Webster says faith is “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.  No proof?  In other words, with faith, what you see and feel and touch is trumped by what someone else tells you – whether it be from a book, a pulpit, or a bible verse written on a bathroom stall at Speedway.

I see it constantly.  Under the veil of religion, people look Situation A, Action B and Result C in the eye and tell them to go shove off – that they’ve got a uniquely true version of reality supported by nothing definitive and screw anyone who says otherwise.  Obviously this issue is as infinitely complex as the flaws in our understanding which allow it to continue but the simple truth is this:  We all have, built into our bodies and minds, the capacity to evaluate the world around us objectively.  It is, absolutely, how we stay alive.

Forget the countless conflict that has arisen.  Forget the families that have been torn apart.  Forget that some of the most heinous acts in human history have been committed in the name of Religion.  This is the reason that I just can’t do Religion, and it has to do with that essential capacity which makes us human:  Religion allows us to ignore it.

 

“What-ifs” – Good or Bad?

Sitting on Zach’s bed, I stared at the TV and pondered a timeless question, “How did this happen?” Throughout the day I had been helping him move into a new apartment, and seeing all of his things; the little knick-knacks around his room, brought back memories.

I knew I still had feelings for Zach. I knew I still loved him. I knew that he was the only boy I ever really felt comfortable with. But just as he had expressed regret that we hadn’t taken things farther, he had made plainly clear that “those days are over.”.

But something in me still thought that there might be something between us that was more than friendship. Part of me thought there still may be a possibility for romance. But laying there, a body’s width away from him, I couldn’t muster the courage to take his hand, to look him in the eye, and tell him how I felt.

We all imagine situations and examine them through the filter of an almighty variable “What if…”. My better judgement told me (well, shouted really) to let things go; to forget it; that the spark between us was gone. But my own internal “what if” kept holding me back. As we moved furniture and unpacked boxes in his new apartment, I couldn’t help but imagine how it would feel if this were our apartment; if we were together.

I looked at Zach and suddenly the cold reality of the situation seemed to slap me. We weren’t together. There was someone else for him. Most horribly, I blew it. A year ago when he moved to into the city I completely ignored the emotions between us. As he would later tell me, “I would have dated you in a heartbeat.”

But then I started to think of my soon-to-come move to Chicago, and the new start that I would have there. My “what ifs” began again. Only this time, they were what-ifs for the future. These are the good kind; the kind that give us hope and stir ambition. Maybe I’ll be happy there. Maybe I’ll make great friends, and maybe, just maybe, with a little luck, I’ll finally find someone that I can be happy with.

So as I begin my journey to a new city and a new chapter of my life, will my ambitions lead me to great things, or will they leave me wondering, “What if?”.