I wasn’t planning on posting this, must less right now when I have a bunch of stuff to get done right now and I’m all busy and argh andâ€¦ anyway:
Religion. Faith. All that jazz. Not something I tend to really talk about in public. Not because I’m afraid of controversy, fuuuuuck y’all know me, but just because it has always been, for me, something that wasn’t anyone else’s business. At least not the internet-at-large’s
So let’s talk about it.
My family, from my grandparents (on both sides) back, is religiously Jewish. My mother and father, however, both converted away from Judaism before they even met. I, personally, have never asked why. None of my business.
My mother is Protestant, my father was Catholic. You know, nominally. In the way a lot of people are. They’ve certainly both seen the inside of churches, but we never went as a family, that I can remember.
They then sent me and my sister both to catholic schools from 1st to 8th grades. Because why not? Living the middle class 70s dream of avoiding perfectly good public schools for mediocre, all right honestly utterly fucking terrible, parochial schools. Go team!
So yeah. I’ve been baptized, and confirmed, and to hell with both of them. The whole catholic schtick never took, for me. It always felt like performance art, but that may have been a function of spending all day in a school with idjits shoving this stuff down my throat, while being openly terrible to the two Muslim kids in the class, who were my best friends at the time, and having no religion at home to speak of.
I once asked my dad what religion was right. That’s the kid I was. I wanted to get it correct and not chase false leads. He shrugged and pointed me to a bookshelf in the apartment that was filled with every religious and spiritual text (like including Scientology, ya know?) he had poked at and told me to figure it out myself some day.
Fair the fuck enough.
So yeah, for most of my life I’ve identified religion, really that spiritual feeling I’ve heard about described by people who happen to have it strong as akin to my feeling when I listen to live music, or go see a good movie in a theatre. Those were, for me, about as close as I come to religion.
Strictly speaking it was 1994, leaving Boston for NY on a Peter Pan bus as the sun just started to rise over the Mass Pike, with Tom Waits ‘Ol 55 blasting at unsafe levels on headphones. That was my moment of spirituality.
But religion? Organized religion? I never subscribed to the stuff. I never really mocked it, I disliked a lot of what it did, sure, historically, but organized anything does that if it wields enough power.
But, as I enter my mid-40s I’ve been thinking about it all again, with newer, much weaker (thanks reading glasses) eyes. And it isn’t that I’m feeling more spiritual, per sayâ€¦look my grandmother wouldn’t celebrate Hanukah because, near as I can tell it was the late 40s/early 50s in NY and that wasn’t what you did to fit in. So they celebrated Christmas. But the family couldn’t have a tree because they were Jewish. So they put presents under a designated Christmas Chair.
I’m saying my family’s relationship to religion has always been laughable (in a ‘laugh with us’ not ‘laugh at us’ sort of way) and tenuous at best.
But yeah. New eyes. Or something.
And I start to wonder what I am. The political climate being what it is, this feels like the sort of question one might need an answer to, while finding their papers, or something. So yes. What am I?
I’m not Catholic, or Christian. I know that. I’m not Jewish, religiously. But I’m not nothing, either. It isn’t that I doubt the existence of a God, or necessarily believe in one, either. I’m open to it, I suppose.
But back to the political climate. And that has to play into it. It just has to, if your eyes and brain are at all open.
So I started thinking: Maybe I should look into converting to Judaism. I mean it’d be, in the family tree of this thing, a strange chess move, I guess. A leap simultaneously leaping backwards and leaping over nothing much, to land somewhere that seems like it was nowhere much to begin with.
But realistically these days, you need to, more and more, pick a tribe and choose who you want next to you when your back is against as wall. And that might as well be some folk I, culturally at least, share the most with. And the least with, in some large ways, to be sure, but hey.
Which is, really I guess, my point in all this. Back then they moved away their faith because of fear, near as everything tells me. I feel the shift going in the other direction.
I dunno if I’ll have the time/energy/be allowed/have the follow-through/etc/fucking etc to actually convert. But I do think I will investigate it as much as possible, there’s a good reform temple not that far away.
And shit. Maybe they’re open to adopting the Christmas Chair idea. It worked, right up until my uncles got my grandfather a set of tires and had to wrap them and balance a chair on top of them, in the living room.
But yeah, fuck, who knows anything, anymore. I just know a bunch of people want to make folks I share a lot with afraid. Very afraid. I can distance myself from them, or I can move closer.
Closer lets me put my shoulder to the stone and help move it.
Closer it is.