A subject I rarely talk about has come up organically throughout this week so many times that I have decided I can no longer ignore it. It started on Tuesday, I was on the phone with my brother making plans for the weekend. We were making plans for Saturday night, we are double dating, and he was asking if I was planning to go to Grandpa’s mass at church. Let me explain what “Grandpa’s mass” is..
In the Catholic faith, which a good porting of my family are members of, there is a point in the mass when they say specific prayers regarding people or situations going on in the world. The reader will say something to the effect of “For all those who were killed in the 9/11 bombings, we pray to the Lord” and the response from everyone in the congregation is “Lord hear our prayer”. Well if you have lost a family member you can pay whoever it is at the church to include their name in that portion of the mass. That is why my grandmother refers to it as “Grandpa’s mass”, someone has paid for his name to be included.
I love my family and miss my grandfather dearly but I do not attend these masses when they come up. I feel it is exploitive to ask a person to pay to have their family member mentioned. I just think there could be another way. I would feel differently if the entire mass was devoted to his memory and it was all about him and his life, but that would almost be like a second funeral so that doesn’t make a lot of sense I suppose. Either way, if Todd and I can help it we save going to church for funerals and weddings only.
So my answer to my brother was no. No church for us, we will see you all after for dinner and painting.
The topic came up again that same day when I was scanning my “reader” on WordPress. Most of the blogs I follow are either Social Workers who share their stories and feelings about the field or fellow INFPs. There is one that I enjoy that is unrelated to either topic though, Godless in Dixie. I think he is great. I like his writing style, he is clever and informed. I definitely share some opinions with him. I noticed he had a post about proof versus lack of proof and the church’s argument on the subject. It was interesting for sure.
Then when scheduling an appointment to meet with an officiant someone other than the person I was expecting to hear back from called. He is with the same company but he is a reverend. The person I thought I was reaching out to is not religiously affiliated at all. I enjoyed my conversation with the reverend, he is sweet and has a calming nature which I always gravitate towards in people. I ended up hoping that things work it out and we can use him but then had to inform him of us not being religious. He went to a christian college and studied religion, this is his background. I was afraid of offending him, you never know how people are going to take it when you inform them of your lack of religion. He was fine. He is all about making our ceremony personal and about us and our story, no religion required. I was relieved.
The final straw that led to this post came yesterday when I received a visit from some religious salesmen at my front door. Yes, that is how I describe them because isn’t that what they are doing? Going door to door trying to sell you on God? They were nice guys and just because I have no interest in what they are selling is no reason for me to be rude. I listened to their pitch about the bible verses that prove there is a God and why atheists are wrong. I then accepted their pamphlet on the dangers of pornography addiction and bid them farewell.
Todd and I do not consider ourselves full on atheists. We do not believe in God but cannot say with certainty that there is zero possibility of something, what we do not know but just something. We definitely do not believe in organized religion, however. This is not to say we don’t believe in anything. Myself, I am highly superstitious and there is no rational in that at all, believe me I am aware. But I am superstitious anyway. I also kind of believe in ghosts. None of this makes any sense, I realize. But for me beliefs are an ala carte thing, you pick and choose what you want to believe in. I am not atheist/agnostic because I think I am too smart for religion or I think science can explain everything (although I do think science can explain a lot). For me it is as simple as God and religion work really well for some people and just don’t happen to fit for me. I think no differently of believers, I can completely see the merit in having faith and how it helps people. It just doesn’t help me, that’s all.
It is a hard thing to come out and say though. It is something that Todd and I kind of consider ourselves in the closet about. We do not deny our lack of faith if brought up but we do not choose to address it either. In my family there are some people who would take issue and for me it just isn’t worth upsetting my grandmother, you know? If she asked me directly I would not deny my feelings but I would feel bad that what works for me may hurt her heart, which isn’t what I want. My immediate family knows, my friends know.
It just feels like there is such a hard-line between believers and non-believers in our society. The believers want to save the non-believers and the non-believers think the believers are fools for believing. I just don’t feel that way. I think religion and faith, like so many other things in life, is a very personal choice. I don’t think it is something to judge someone by. There are good people who care about being good people and it has nothing to do with religion or lack of.. it is because it is the right thing to do and that’s it. To me there is no wrong or right choice on this subject, there is just choice.