Religion and Belief

Religion and Belief

I’m not a believer, nor a member of any religion. I never have been. My wife, on the other hand, is Catholic and has a strong belief in god. For her, belief is a source of strength: a firm anchor that she can rely on to remain fast in the face of an ever-changing world.

My mother felt similarly; she wasn’t religious in the sense of attending church or praying regularly but she maintained her strong faith. I was always puzzled by people’s belief in the divine. I have never felt any sense that there was some ubiquitous presence. There’s just me and the universe around me.

My natural curiosity has led me to speculate about religion and belief since I was a child. A particularly cynical child who could not imagine any benefit from subscribing to the archaic, male-dominated, hierarchical view of the world promoted by the Christian churches. I had–and still have–a consistent world-view that works for me with no obvious gaps into which I feel compelled to fit a divine entity.

However, as I have matured I have come to recognize that their beliefs do provide comfort to some people. Something to hold on to: as long as they maintain their grip they cannot become lost. It provides a sense of security, a safe haven. A sense of familiarity and unchanging stability that feels like home.

That is a feeling I can identify with, although my personal comfort derives from being in a predictable environment with well-established routines. In some ways this mirrors the trappings of religion with days being measured by regular masses and prayers, the familiar Sunday attendance at a church service. Echolalia substitutes for the recitation of the Rosary; stims rather than the sign of the cross. Subconscious ritual.

Understanding leads to acceptance. I can understand why their faith is so important to some people, I can see how it gives them strength and support. I accept them as they are.

What I cannot accept is intolerance. Whether it stems from religious teachings or the influence of others in society does not make a difference: intolerance is the opposite of acceptance. It’s hate instead of love. It destroys instead of supporting and nurturing. If your faith truly gives you strength, then be strong enough to love and accept those who are different from you.

Doing Right

Doing Right

I am so proud of my wife tonight: we were at our local where we had had a lovely night with friends, and at the end of the night encountered somebody who was insulting a close friend of ours. Well, she stepped right in to defend this person who wasn’t even there, at some risk to herself (matters were somewhat heated).

At that point the focus of the attack shifted to my wife. I did step between the two and tried to calm the situation but became passive when threatened myself – what is it with some people under the effect of alcohol? Such aggression. Is it latent and released when inhibitions are reduced under the influence? Or is it a side-effect of inebriation?

I felt that I ought to take a firmer stance against this person but my fear of confrontation was too great. I feel that I let my wife (and my friend who was being denigrated) down. I feel ashamed of my timidity, giving in to my fears and failing to add my voice. It was cowardice on my part.

My wife is terribly upset about the whole incident. So I have promised my wife that I will have words with this person when next we meet. Yes, I am anxious about the encounter but sometimes you just have to do what you believe is right.