I lost faith in 2007. Ironically I probably attended church more this year than in any year of my life. When we moved to Savannah in 2006 one of the first questions people asked us was, "So where do y'all go to church?" Worrying that they might invite us to theirs we figured we better hurry up and find ourselves a church.
This was no easy task for my husband whose father was Jewish and whose mother was born a Baptist, and converted back and forth between Episcopalian and Unitarian more than a few times, nor for myself whose father was born a Catholic, but proclaimed to be an atheist during my formative years and whose mother was born an Episcopalian, but practices Buddhism. So, we started our search for a church, more for the purpose of wanting some form of religious education for our daughter, which we both found lacking in our upbringings, and less for the purpose of having an answer to the question, "So where do y'all go to church?"
Despite my lack of religious education I always have considered myself a spiritual person. Ultimately, I believe in a higher power (I don't care what his/her/it's name is), I believe in the power of prayer, and I believe in Karma. I don't believe in exclusionary dogma, which I find many religions to practice. So, I was particularly alarmed when my daughter came home from school the other day and asked, "When God comes to Earth, does everyone die?"
I have to say that this question has led me to feel a great sense of panic. I wondered whom the source of this information was and I knew that if it was an adult, there would be Hell to pay! I had visions of marching to down to the school, righteously indignant, because one thing I had learned, was the separation between church and State! Turns out the source was a classmate. Welcome to the South!
Now, I knew that in moving here I was going to risk my daughter having exposure to many ideas different from my own. And I knew that my best line of defense would be to raise her with a strong moral compass and sense of compassion. In knowing this, I think she should be alright, whatever religion she chooses or doesn't choose to subscribe to. So I won't bother telling all of the details of the conversation that followed, but I will say that I tried to get her to understand that I didn't believe that a loving God would leave people behind who believed in God by another name. While covering her ears and looking out the window she asked, "Can we stop talking about this now?"
This experience made last night's lecture by SCAD's visiting painter/professor Steve Locke particularly poignant. He is currently working on a body of work called "Rapture". Part of this work includes paintings of gay men engaging in sex acts where one of the partners is no longer there because he has been chosen to go with God and the other partner is left with a puddle of clothes knowing that he did not make it to the Kingdom of Heaven. He also juxtaposes these images onto anti-homosexual religious propaganda. It is very powerful work and speaks to part of my struggle with religion. Check out his website at: www.stevelocke.com. He has several socially relevant powerful projects that have inspired me greatly. I feel very fortunate to have met him and learned about his work.
I know that in telling this story I haven't explained why I lost faith this year. I don't want anyone to worry though. I don't think I have completely lost faith, but maybe I have just misplaced it temporarily. I promise to explore the topic more in another posting.