Religion is like a girlfriend

Fri, 18 Dec 2015 | norman

In the beginning religion is like a girlfriend. For those who choose the religion of their childhood, it's like falling in love with a friend you grew up with.

But I reached a point—and I'm telling you this because, although you won't believe me now, I think you will reach this point too—when I realised she wasn't the woman I though she was. By this point you have made a commitment to her. Everyone knows that you've chosen her, for the rest of your life. And gradually your understanding grows. You start to understand prayer. Or you start to understand disease and earthquakes and tsunamis. Or you start to discover where your Book came from.

You start to realise who she really is.

Oh, you resist your gradual realisation. First you find explanations. After a while you find excuses.

But eventually you realise that she doesn't need your explanations, rationalisations, and excuses. All you are doing is lying to yourself.

And then you look at her as she really is. And what you made her out to be, and what you invested in her.

Some people have an angry divorce.

Some people quietly, sadly, walk away.

I try to be a peace-maker, a reconciler. I try to find a way to let go of what is bad in a relationship, and keep what is good. It's not always possible. Sometimes a relationship changes you, or hurts you, and it's not possible to keep what is good, because you just don't want any of it any more, any more reminders.

But with religion there is so much that is good: Community; Ritual; Art & beauty; and Insights into the minds and hearts of believers across countless cultures and many ages.

You can't keep the same community; at least, I can't. I feel like a stranger when I'm surrounded by those who are still in love with her, and I'm the only one there who knows she isn't who they think she is. But you can find similar communities who unite around other things. And there are similar rituals; rituals you get to shape around your own needs. And you can still keep the same art, and the same insights, but now you can appreciate the insights with a deeper, older appreciation.

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