Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas In A Faithless, Consumer World

I can't believe Christmas Day is over! I spent two months waiting for it to come and then it just blew by! I barely had time to soak it all in before it was gone. I grew up Catholic and even thought I stopped going to church and practicing Catholicism, parts of my old faith tingle inside me once in a while, perhaps in the same way that a body misses and still feels a lost limb. I rarely get religious on this blog so just bear with me if you will.

When it comes to religion, it's not that I'm hell bent on not believing. It's not that I believe I am "above" religion or that I am too educated to have faith. In fact, I WISH I believed. It seems that religion is a big source of comfort for many people. Where I am afraid of dying, others are comforted to believe they will be in a better place. I love the Catholic traditions I grew up with and I know very many devout Catholics who are some of the most inteligent people I know. But I question everything. I doubt everything. My lawyer mind wants evidence and proof. The logical side of my brain rejects everything supernatural or Divine. I will never believe in ghosts or big foot. I won't ever believe in alien abductions. Heck, I don't even believe in the dog whisperer!

I want to belong to a faith. I have friends that are part of wonderful and close knit communities. I feel like a lost wondering soul that just doesn't belong. And I can't help but think most religious people are super cheesy. I respect them and I am in awe in their ability to have such deep faith. And I want to be have what they have, but it's impossible. My logical side just scoffs at it all. It's like there are two people in my mind- one religious and one atheist. Somehow, the atheist always wins.

So during Christmas, I open my mind and my eyes and I take everything in. I enjoy the traditions that I remember as a child- such as lighting the advent wreath, putting out the nativity set, attending Christmas Eve Mass and celebrating Jesus' birthday. I try to get into the mindset of what Christmas is about- one man sacrificing his life for the rest of the world. I also try to stay away from the consumerism, because it can pull you in so easily and it sickens me that buying things and accumulating objects is all to often the focus of American holidays. I focus on giving back to others and spending time with the people I love. And I hope someday, someway, somehow, I will be able to Believe with the same conviction as the childhood me.

As much as I hate focusing on presents and gifts, Jacob did make out like a bandit this year. It's so much fun watching the holidays through his eyes. Everything is new to him still. He reminds me to turn on the Christmas tree lights, and help him put on his Christmas socks each day. Being with my family was the best part of this Christmas season.


FSD said...

I'm one of those super cheesy religious people, so I have nothing profound to add/comment to your post. I've always believed, but my belief got stronger post-Zoe. Every time I look at her I'm amazed by God's perfect design. I look at how her body works in perfect harmony, I marvel at the way she develops, seemingly overnight, with little to no effort on my part, and I look around at all creation and how everything has its own special purpose and I can't help but to think there IS a omnipotent, omnipresent God who is at the center of it all. Perhaps I just foolishly believe, but my logical mind can't think of any other explanation for it all. I hope you can resolve the internal conflict you have on this topic.

Merry Christmas (two days late...)! Isn't it amazing how fast it flies by? I can't believe how big Jacob has gotten! He's still handsome as ever.

I hope all is well. I'm super behind on your blog, but I'm sure you've probably graduated by now. (Congrats!) Now the bar exam...(good luck!)

Anonymous said...

Cee, I have the same opinions and responses to religion as you. I am probably best categorized as a non-believer who hold out hope. I am also somewhat envious of those who can believe, in part because they find so much community in their faith. Having said that, I also believe that many religions have deep seated problems--power struggles, misogny, intolerance, fear and guilt, and so on.

In the end, you and I are probably destined to be non-believers for life. Neurotheologists have some very interesting studies suggesting (perhaps even demonstrating or proving) that the brains of people who believe work differently than the brains of those who don't--different chemicals are released, or different areas of the brain are stimulated. You might find this interesting -->

Proto Attorney said...

I also fall in the " want to believe" category. I've never been a very good theist... But on the other hand, never was a good atheist either. So I became Catholic. I do believe in salvation, and I do believe that love, faith and community can make the world a better place. But I find it very difficult to belong when the church enters politics. I find comfort from the church in the idea there's a god out there and he'll do it better, not when the church threatens to use the Eucharist as a political tool.

Allison said...

I totally relate to your feelings on faith and religion. I only ever started being afraid of death when I started doubting my religion. I wish I could believe -- but it's really not something you can force yourself to believe in. I wouldn't say I'm an atheist (because how can you be sure there isn't someone up there?). It would be cool if there's a god. I just try to be a good person and help other people, and I hope if there is a god it will look on me kindly for being good even though I didn't think my eternal soul depended on it.

This Sunday, I went to my parents' church because I am home for the holidays. I was very moved by some of the people who just completely believed. Wanting to believe and believing are two different things, though.