Confessions of the Divine Miss K

Friday, April 07, 2006

WTFWJD?


I usually try and be funny when I write blog entries, not that I’m always successful. But reading funny is a trillion times more entertaining than reading someone's sob story or rant about politics, and I like to keep my audience coming back for more. However, that being said, I also started up this blog so I could have another outlet in which to explore myself and question who I am. I’m also narcissistic, but since we’ve already determined that this blog is mainly for ego strokes, we'll just move along.

Anyhow, I’m just going to get straight to the point, which is that this entry isn’t at all about the funny. Instead, it deals with something very serious, very personal, and, in a way, very painful, something that I have been mulling over and wrestling with for quite some time now. Yes, this entry is about one of those topics that your parents warned you never to broach at a dinner party. No, no. Not money. I’m actually talking about religion.

Inspired by a very honest and lengthy phone conversation with Charkins this past week, I’ve decided that I’d like to put down in writing how I feel right now about my faith, not just for posterity’s sake, but perhaps also for the clarification and insight that often comes when I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I’m hoping that by expressing my thoughts on this subject here, that I’ll somehow receive some illumination into this topic that has me hopelessly muddled right now.

Ok, so first some background. As all three of you know, I was raised in a very religious evangelical Christian home. Before moving to Crannie when I was just about 8 years old, my family attended a Pentecostal church which is about as charismatic as they come. My earliest religious memories are from that church, and they are not good. I dreaded Sundays, dreaded the rollers that I had to sleep in the night before, and dreaded having to be bored silly and memorize useless Scripture verses. I can remember at the age of 3 crying the entire way to church, pleading with my mother to let me sit in the service rather than go to Wee College (Sunday School for those under 4). I despised it and I’m not even sure why. Furthermore, back then my parents also dragged my brothers and me to the Sunday evening service which meant that while all the other kids were playing on the street on a hot summer Sunday evening, I was inside putting back on my dress and patent Mary Jane’s. It was absolutely brutal, but the upside was that during the long night service usually my parents would let me lay my head on one of their laps, and my feet on the other, getting a full body massage that made it all seem worthwhile.

Anyhow, upon moving to Crannie, I was enrolled in a Pentecostal private school that was all about the crazy. And that’s probably when I first started getting turned off religion. My classmates weren’t allowed to go trick or treating (“Celebrating Satan’s birthday will send you straight to hell”), boys and girls had to remain at least 6” apart (a ridiculous rule to impose on pre-adolescent children), and ALL MOVIES AND ALL MUSIC ARE EVIL. Needless to say, it was the exact type of Christianity that everyone loves to mock, and so they should. It was all about rules, all about fear, and all about shame.

However, since my personality is quite similar to my father’s, which is that I am not rebellious by nature and in fact will always tow the line, I fit into this atmosphere quite well. Sure, I was considered a bad-ass but that had more to do with the fact that my mother wore glitzy clothes and a ton of makeup and also because I was the sister of Jebus, the biggest bad-ass the school had ever seen. At any rate, life went on swimmingly and I considered myself a hard-core Christian, just like all my friends were. I was a champion Bible-verse memorizer by now and sure I loved Jesus, whatever the hell that means or looks like.

It wasn’t until I reached Grade 7 that my faith really began to experience the tiniest bit of wavering. My parents placed me into a private Catholic school that I loved with every fiber of my being. I loved my friends there, I loved my teachers, I loved my schoolwork. I adored my life there. And perhaps that’s why it hurt so much when my best friend Pint Size Jesus Freak said to me during that year, “It’s too bad that they’re all Catholic and are all going to hell. Just like my grandparents. I pray for them everyday so that they won’t.” And I remember just thinking, “Holy mother Mary of God.” Except that I really didn’t think those exact words. Instead, at the point, it was probably something along the lines of “Oh dear.” Still, I remember being deeply disturbed by this statement. I mean, it was one thing for people who rejected Jesus to go to hell. C’mon now, they so have it coming! But the Catholics too? Why? Is it the Mary prayer? The crucifix? The fact that they believe in stigmata, which hello, CREEEEEPY! I tried to dismiss it out of my head. I mean after all this statement was coming from PSJF, she who was not allowed to watch “Ghost” or “Indiana Jones” and who’s parents turned off “Speed” because Keanu Reeves said the word “fuck.” Well, goddammit, what would YOU say if you found a bomb in the bus you were traveling on, bitches? But still, I remember the thought crossing my mind that if God really did send the Catholics to hell, He was quite the asshole.

Anyhow, as I made my way through junior high and high school, I slowly began distancing myself from my faith. I mean, on the surface, I was the good Christian girl. I towed the line, got baptized, kept my swearing at a minimum, NEVER smoked, NEVER partied, NEVER drank, NEVER rebelled. I went to church every Sunday, but still hated it. And I even made the effort to go to youth group, but drew the line at that one since if I’m going to experience hell in the afterlife, there’s no point in going through it now. But I just didn't really feel the whole Christian-thing. I didn't feel how I thought you were supposed to feel.

As for my personal relationship with God or Jesus or whomever, I was very aware of it. And very aware of my shortcomings and failures. Unlike my mother who would probably classify herself as a spiritualist or mystic, I am again more like my dad, very practical, very rational, very logical. I can almost guarantee you that if I hadn’t been raised in a Christian home, I would never have become one. I really don’t have a spiritual bone in my body. The act of prayer bores me to tears, and my mind usually wanders. Or I realize that I’m basically making the prayer all about me, “I want this, I want that.” And sure, while there were moments of extreme intimacy with God, they were fleeting. I would be water-skiing at sunset and suddenly overcome by gratitude to the Almighty, and send up a prayer of thanks. Or I’d go for a jog on our path and argue with Him about some point of contention in my life. But this was the extent of my spirituality.

I was much more focused on figuring out my life for myself, studying to get into a great university. And while I sneered and held myself above all my classmates who lived only for the weekends so they could get trashed, it wasn’t their alcohol consumption that I was judgmental of. For secretly I wanted to be doing the same thing, just with a bunch of sophisticates, swilling excessive champagne and martinis on Lexington Avenue in New York. The thing is, I wanted to be a bad girl. I just was too focused and too scared to take the chance. And that’s probably a good thing, because while I might not have my life figured out, at least I have prospects and potential, which is more than I can say for the majority of graduating class.

University is what really changed my outlook on religion. My first year of school, I lived alone in a tiny apartment downtown Montreal, not knowing a soul. And never have I ever felt so surrounded by God’s grace. I was so excited, so happy and felt so protected. I met a fantastic group of friends through McGill Christian Fellowship (including Tamara Lee). And I ended up taking a religious studies course that blew me away. And suddenly it seemed as if my life was all figured, and wasn’t God great?

In Montreal, I completely stopped attending church but I believed that I was still getting fed spiritually through my studies. And boy did I love the Religious Studies aspect of my university education. While I found the courses on Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and ethics stimulating, it was my courses on Christianity that blew me away. I gobbled them up, even enjoying the research I had to do for essays. And I realized that while some people experience God on an emotional level, I had finally found my way of connecting to Him – intellectually. And this was great. I mean, sure I became a bit disillusioned with Christianity at this time. When you study Church history, it’s hard not to. And it was startling to find that many things I learned from an academic point of view were in direct contrast to what I had been taught in Sunday services but yet I still relished it.

By my fourth year, however, I was starting to become more frustrated. And more corrupted. No longer was I condescending to those who went out drinking and dancing on Friday nights. Instead, I joined in. Plus I began to feel the influence of being in a very liberal university setting, which began to raise a bunch of moral questions for me, about homosexuality and, even more importantly to me, women’s status within the church. I was disillusioned by now of the church completely. And confused about my own relationship with God. As for Jesus, I don’t know. How do you love someone you can’t interact with? I still don’t really understand that. When pastors tell you to love Jesus, turn to Jesus, what the fuck does that mean? What does that look like? Hell if I know.

Anyhow, life moved on, Europe passed, and suddenly I found myself back in Crannie, living with my parents and working at a job that I seemed to have acquired through Providential means. Yet again, I couldn’t help but think that I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

And then everything changed. Absolutely everything. I fell in love, and my faith was relegated to the backburner, just like everything else is when one fall’s in love. And then suddenly the moral framework on which I had been raised didn’t end up being nearly as sturdy as I once thought, and soon the girl who had pledged to remain a virgin until her wedding night was sleeping with her boyfriend.

And just as everyone else later became shocked by this news, I shocked even myself. Not that I didn’t see it coming. I mean, my God, you can feel the lust and desire building up. But I kept waiting for God to intervene and prevent me from having sex. And He didn’t. And when that happened, I suddenly didn’t even really care what He thought. I didn’t experience any guilt over the sexual nature of my relationship with Adders, or the guilt I did experience was a result of having to lie and deceive my parents.

In a way, it was like God was dead to me. Or not dead, but irrelevant. I felt duped by him. Here I had made this promise, and I felt like He had brought Adders into my life, but only in the context of “Look but don’t touch.” I don’t know, I just began to have a lot of empathy for Adam and Eve.

And then there was the Bible study that revolutionized and changed my entire life and view of Christianity. For various reasons, I don’t think its prudent to go into what exactly transpired last summer or even what the Bible study says. But what it did do was confirm something that had been bothering me for a very long time, something that had been discussed with great passion in my classes at McGill. The Bible study simply said that there are no such things as miracles. I mean, of course there are, like a kid getting healed of cancer or someone surviving a deadly car crash. But God made rules to govern the universe and He isn’t about to break them by stopping the earth from moving. This fact relieved me from having to believe in irrelevant and useless dogma that is so dear to Christianity but which actually has zero effect on people’s everyday life.

It also made it unfeasible for me to continue my faith in Christianity. When the premise of the belief-system is built on the concept of a virgin birth and you no longer believe in its possibility or its occurrence, you no longer believe in that religion. It’s like all those people who say, “I believe Jesus was a great prophet, but I don’t really believe he’s the Son of God.” Well, you really aren’t a Christian then, are you, because the crux of Christianity is the belief that Jesus is the Son of God. And since I too can no longer believe Jesus is literally the Son of God (since when can an angel or the Holy Spirit impregnate a woman? God made the rules: sperm and egg equals conception. Even Jesus would have had to follow suit), then I guess that means I’m not a Christian either.

So what am I? Where does this leave me? I remember hearing the word “backslidden” with horror when I was a child. I mean, the worst people in the word, worse than kidnappers and molesters and maybe even Hitler, were backsliders, those who had once “had the truth” but had rejected it and turned away from God. Am I one now? Probably not. Actually, I’m more of a heretic than anything else.

Obviously, the change in my beliefs made attending Regent a ridiculous affair. I remember getting into a scathing debate about Jesus walking on water. I simply dismissed it as being a fabricated story that the disciples put in the Gospels to make Jesus sound more glamorous (and trust me, if you’ve studied any early Church history you’ll know that this was a regular occurrence and also that the books that are in the Bible aren’t necessarily the ones that should be there). Furthermore, who cares if Jesus walked on water? What the hell does it matter? Seriously, does it affect my life, my faith, how I raise my kids or love my husband in any sort of way? No, so why do we make such a big deal about these miracles? Same with Christ’s reappearance after he was crucified. Again, I scared off half of Regent by insisting that it was not Jesus reappearing in his physical body (the body rots when you die, people! You can’t resurrect a physical body. It’s impossible. And it makes no sense). I mean, sure I have no problem with the belief that Jesus was “resurrected” in a spiritual sense, but I’m sorry I’ve never heard of a physical body suddenly appearing in a room without having walked through a door first.

Lastly, there’s the whole deal with my mother. In many ways, in terms of my faith, my parents raised me in such a great way. And part of the reason I think my parents are so upset that I’m now engaging in pre-marital sex is because they too had thought this, and that they had trusted me a lot. For example, for being evangelical Christians, my parents were fairly liberal – we got to watch most movies, listen to whatever music we wanted. We were allowed to drink, as long as it wasn’t too excessive. And while my potty mouth often irks my father, my mother has long since joined in.

Yes, I was expected to attend church throughout high school. But once I turned 18, it was my decision and never once while I was living with them last year did they put me under any pressure to attend. If anything, they understood that a relationship with God is a private, personal matter and as long as I was pursuing it, they’d leave me alone. But the problem is, I wasn’t. I was going through a spiritual crisis. And while I attempted to address this to my mother, she is on such a different level that it was hard to relate to her in this department.

Then the whole disaster happened on Valentine’s Day, and suddenly this spiritual crisis reached a climax. Because the one person who I had most identified to as God, the person who I thought was the most holy and who would most likely be able to know what God is like, betrayed me in the most painful way possible. Of course, my skepticism over my mom's spiritual well being has been growing for a very long time. But all of the sudden I realized that if she is who God is, if she what this Bible study is and if she is the model or poster child for those who lead a spiritual life, I don’t want a fucking thing to do with it.

So I’m throwing in my hat. Of course, I’m not rejecting God. Only fools do that. God exists. He really does. Heaven and hell exist. Eternity exists. It’s all real. It’s all relevant. And it’s all vitally, vitally important. But I can no longer adhere to just Christianity’s view of things. Or this Bible Study’s view of things. Or anyone’s view of things. Indeed, I’m becoming increasingly cynical of every religion that thinks it has the edge on getting into heaven or achieving intimacy with God.

I guess you could say I’ve become one those willy-nilly liberal types that I would have sneered at in my younger days. I really do think we all have a responsibility to find out what God wants for our lives (but how you do that, I have no clue). I think we all have a responsibility to read and obey what the Bible says, if only because it has some great advice on living a life of success, that is to a certain extent, for one has to be careful of not letting the rules govern you (i.e. Jews separating dairy and meat. Riiiiiight. Because when Leviticus says “Don’t boil a calf in its mother’s milk” this was God’s way of outlawing cheeseburgers).

But am I still confused? You bet. And I’m not even sure what I believe right now. Or how I plan on raising my kids, because I do think instilling faith in your children’s lives is very important. But thankfully that’s still a long ways off. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m boiling everything down to just God and me. I still suck at praying. But at least it’s not about putting on a show anymore. Nor is my faith centred around my parents or school work anymore. Instead, it really is just about Him and me. Just the two of us.

4 Comments:

  • At 2:34 PM, Blogger Charkins said…

    Amen. You know what makes me doubt God? The fact that Brad and Jen got divorced and now Angelina is having his baby. Still, thank you for explaining how we all feel. Well, all of us who are normal and not hopped up on kimchee.

     
  • At 4:40 PM, Blogger adders69 said…

    Ahhh... Let me see, I don't really know what to say besides Amen sister you preech that shizznat. And fucking rights you should have empathy for Adam and Eve, God didn't even give they clothing to prevent temtation. You can only look at a naked human being of the opposite sex for so long with out going insane or erect or getting that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach... tee hee. I totally agree with everything you said and I honestly feel exactly the same way. Oh and what the fuck is heretic?

     
  • At 11:30 AM, Blogger Charkins said…

    You're heretic adders, and that's why we love you.

     
  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger Monkey McWearingChaps said…

    Hmm, I guess I can't relate to the whole christian thing seeing as I'm a Hindu and very hellbound as a result..but I just had to say that I too am a McGill grad (2000, B.A.). Hello from 1 martlet to another.

     

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