city of stars

I thought of this while I was balancing income statements. The reasons why people attend church, why people are so against or for religion. The context is that my parents are firm believers in God, and everyone I know has at least an opinion on Christianity. And I am sure I’m not the only one who fluctuates between trying to believe and having books like ‘The God Delusion’ recommended to me.

Some people say that God is not the answer, God is the question. Everyone is asking if He exists. Some even believe that they have found the right answers. Those people usually wear important looking clothes, several layers of them.

I was pondering about the reason why people attend church. If God was so great, and so mighty, and so ever-present, then why do we still have so many branches of the same religion? Can’t he just shine a light and settle it once and for all. Preventing mass murders from being committed in the future. And answer the questions about how much homosexuality is allowed before it turns into a one-way ticket into hell. And what is hell like, etc. There are so many things I am curious about.

But then I thought, let’s go back to the main reason. Not the object or the person or the immortal thing we are praying to, but what is within us. Why do we go to church.

For me, it is for hope. If there is a God, then there is a why to live, and your life is not just limited to the 90 years on earth of struggling and boredom and pain and some happiness. Because if there is a why, then, I can bear any how. There is even a ‘way’ that is recognizable. Can I then say that God is a mindset?

I used to think that the world should belong to the strong and cunning. Survival of the fittest. Then I realised that there is a place for the average, the meek and the humble. Because no one teaches me these things. With the bible, I learn humility. I learn there is a being who cares for me and gives me the gifts of speech, of writing, of logical thinking and having full access to my emotions. That eventually there is a plan which will work out. Through religion it is possible to find peace, although it comes at a price of not being able to do many things.

I can’t answer why this or that particular commandment should be obeyed, because it is very contextual. I don’t believe that honoring parents is an obligation if your parents are fucked up, for example. But I believe that in the future I will understand. It is not a faith that I can explain, although I constantly ask myself why.

I hope it’s not sounding like a bed of roses. Christians don’t worship because it makes them feel good. Or maybe some do, being in a select group – self-selected – should probably feel good. Christians go to church because they seek redemption, however small the faith is. It feels like the other days of the week are less exciting, after all you don’t grapple with issues with eternity and trust at work.

If there was a measuring thermometer for the guilt we feel, the top three places would probably be in front of a judge in a court of law, on the hospital bed, and in church. In all three places, we are aware of how alone we feel, and how much of the rest of our lives lie in the hands of other people and what they want to do with us. The ‘rest of our lives’ doesn’t seem so far off now that you are getting a needle poked under your third rib.

It is just a pity that so many people use it to be angry instead of being more forgiving. And gentler. Anger is an emotion, we let ourselves get ‘carried away’ by our emotions. And in anger we don’t think. Anger that our closest and dearest decided to leave the church, angry that she can be so stupid. Can’t she see things? Why is she being such an idiot. With anger, there is no space for understanding. No, I am not just describing my mother.

Which, incidentally, she started packing for Italy already. One month in advance, all her nice warm turtlenecks laid out. She will be gone for slightly over two weeks, which means I will probably lose weight during that time. My cooking skills are terrible. But I am learning.