Finding Religion, or a Reasonable Facsimile Thereof.

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on February 29, 2008
Tags: , ,
I recently posted about this over at Stephanerd, but I thought it would be good to do a pared-down, less excruciating version of that post over here.
To start with, Sunday mass was something I did out of habit as I was growing up. Or not even that. It was something I did because I had no choice, and if I grumbled about it, I would get a monster guilt trip from my mother.

Especially if my grumbling happened to fall upon Mother’s Day.


(notice the look of fear here?)

The Roman Catholic dogma itself — or, by extension, my faith — was never something I ever thought about or questioned. It was just something I was.

Once I hit college, however, I became the typical undergrad and began rebelling against my Roman Catholic upbringing.

And I’ve been some version of agnostic or atheist ever since.

Still, something has always been tugging at me. A fascination with the faith of other people. A desire for community. A vague belief in the inherently spiritual, whatever that (vaguely) means to me.

Months ago, I subjected myself to the Belief-O-Matic at beliefnet, and found myself a 100% match with the ideals of the Unitarian Universalists, an organized group that was apparently open to all faiths. My curiosity was rekindled only a week or two ago when my friend Nicole mentioned — in a tone of manic excitement — that she had begun attending services at a Unitarian Universalist center in Ridgewood. And she was in love and stuff.

Michael and I joined Nicole and her fiance this past Sunday for the 11 a.m. service. It was different from any service I had ever before attended. As I sat through it, I found myself thinking about the different aspects of the service, and what benefits they presented to the congregation.

I’m still unsure how I feel about what I experienced. I’m trying to find a way to analyze it, as it was so alien to me, especially considering the ritualistic nature of the Roman Catholic mass. This service, in comparison, seemed less structured. It was difficult for me to find the common thread. Perhaps this is the flaw in creating an organized community around many disparate faiths and beliefs. At the same time, though, I was intrigued.

As far as my own personal beliefs go, I connect with an Einstein quote cited in Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion:

“I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.”

To explain myself further, I have never sought a higher being behind existence itself. I find it enough to be awed by reality itself, by the things I see and the people I meet every day. Community and life itself are all I need as far as faith goes.
At the same time, I am endlessly fascinated by and admirable of the absolute strength of the faiths of others.
I know that religion is always a tricky topic to bring up, especially in a public forum, but I’m interested in what faith means to you. And spirituality. And where you have gone in the name of both.
A great number of self-help books are faith-based, and it would be remiss of me to ignore the comfort that faith can bring, and the ways in which it can improve a life. So I’m hoping you won’t think I’m too far off topic here.

3 Responses to 'Finding Religion, or a Reasonable Facsimile Thereof.'

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  1. Diane said,

    apparenty I’m a Liberal Protestant 100%…. only 64% Roman Catholic…..

  2. stephanerd said,

    @Diane: food for thought, hmmm…? Why don’t you tell your dad you’re converting?

  3. Diane said,

    I think I’ve resolved to continue being “catholic” with my own interpretation….. : )

    PS.. your mom looks soo much like you in your baptism picture!

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