Friday, March 18, 2011

Ineffable and Sprung

I feel that this first section needs a disclaimer: it's religious navel-gazing. Because this is a blog and my navel is in my purview.

Taking the good where you find it
I love being an Episcopalian/Anglican if for no other reason than I can imagine Bertie Wooster sitting (impatiently) through service in a pew near me. My love for English literature is central to my religion, it's a cultural thing: these are the stories that my people tell. So much wonderful language comes from the wells of the Bible and the book of common prayer. In addition to the cultural heritage aspect I have a religious impulse although I do not believe in a personified God/gods. This gives me plenty to think about when reciting the Nicene Creed. My personal view of God (= the entirety of all that is and has ever been) works for me. And the friction it creates when in contact with scripture and church teaching is instructive and good for my brain. I find that my feminist beliefs are also honed to a fine edge by the sanding of the Bible that tells us stories of that particular patriarchal tribal history. Some things that move me in service are praying for others, singing beautiful poetry (there's plenty of crappy poetry in hymns too, so the good stuff is precious) and imagining every human being working to get beyond their own flaws.

I love thinking about this, it pleases me to parse my own personal beliefs and I'm quite curious about others religious ideas although I'm also too polite to ask. I have resolved to get beyond that reticence and ask some metaphysical questions of my fellow churchgoers. Because I really want to know! And why are we there if we can't talk about some of these ideas that go beyond the material world?

In my opinion most humans have a religious drive and it can be satisfied in a myriad of ways. The fierce atheist who wants to browbeat everyone into admitting there is no God with a long beard sitting on a throne in the sky makes me tired. They seem to be discounting every metaphorical/poetical way of thinking about existence and connection with other humans. And I am uncomfortable with *plenty* of the beliefs of plenty of my fellow Christians.

In contrast to the extremes, here is a statement by a witty agnostic (good old Scalzi) that I appreciate:
There are a number of people who have come to agnosticism or atheism because of conflicts with or disillusionment about religion, and in particular a religion they were born into and grew up in, and others who are agnostic or atheist who feel that religion and the religious impulse must be challenged wherever they find it. For these reasons among others I think people assume those people who aren’t religious are naturally antagonistic, to a greater or lesser degree, to those who are. But speaking personally, I don’t feel that sort of antagonism; I don’t look at those who believe as defective or damaged or somehow lacking. Faith can be a comfort and a place of strength and an impetus for justice in this world, and I’m not sure why in those cases I, as a person without faith, would need to piss all over that.

We've had our first week of Spring here. Monday's 2+ inches of snow melted in a couple of hours and the crocuses are out, yellow and purple both. Last night I slapped a mosquito on my ankle. Goddamn but mosquito season is long here in eastern Kansas. St. Patricks's Day was upon us yesterday. I split a (non-Irish) beer with my husband in the evening. We sat out on the patio with some neighbors and it was delightful. Yesterday I read that originally ale was brewed in the British Isles without hops. The hops were eventually imported from the continent which allowed different sorts beers to be brewed. And now most ales have hops for the preservative qualities as well as the taste. This ale/beer dichotomy is interesting to me but I haven't got a hook, we'll just let this paragraph peter out.

The children had fun wearing their green clothes. Lexi's 1st grade class got face painted. She was very proud of the shamrock on her cheek but all the boys got green mustaches painted on! Hilarious! I harbor a desire to throw a mustache party but I'm worried that sounds dirty.

Too Keyed Up
Here's an email signature I found insufferable today:  
Regardless of how distant your dreams may seem, every second counts.There's the fussy font and then the presumption that her philosophical musing will be relevant to her readers campus-wide. And the sentiment makes me think of sitting at the edge of my seat looking for portent as every second passed. I'd rather dwell in the now -- this is the day we have. What can we do with it? Today I am continuing my tradition of taking little things too seriously.


Lucy said...

I love your religious navel-gazing to bits. Thanks for it.

I'm not generally too wild about e-mail signatures anyway, though some of my best friends do have them.

Nimble said...

Hi Lucy. Better stop, you'll only encourage me. I *can* think of a couple of great email signatures I've read. But the light touch is so often missing.

Bee said...

Does your church have "circles" or Sunday school for adults or such-like? My parents' church has lots of this kind of thing -- as do all of the Presbyterian churches that I'm familiar with -- and I believe that in some of them you can talk about what it is you believe (or don't believe).

It is so thoroughly spring here that I'm feeling sorry for people who are still stuck in winter. BTW, I'm going to be in Texas from April 2-20 this year; any chance?

Nimble said...

Hi Bee. Oh there are adult education groups at our church. Mostly bible study but some other special topics. I think I'd rather stay informal though.

Ah spring. We had our first tornado watch of the year yesterday. The trees and forsythia all bloomed on Monday, bang!

Hm, I've just done a flight search for April. Chances are slim but I'll email you to discuss.