Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The weight of believing

Husband and I rented a dvd one evening last week. The movie was sort of whatever and left me feeling about the same way that the book had. But that's not the point. The point is that at one point during the film there was a preacher man preaching and praying at a gathering that was not church-like in any way. Or even religious in any way. Husband looked at me and said, "It must be hard to believe in God in the United States. It must be..." And he paused because he couldn't find exactly the right word. Which I then provided. "Heavy." "Yes, exactly, heavy."

It was strange. I sort of said it without thinking about it, it just kind of popped out. But it felt very true as it popped.

In France you get a sort of feeling about religiousness which is different, of course, from believing, but let's pretend it's not for a minute. The whole religious and even believing thing here seems more pragmatic at the very least and certainly more private. Aside from maybe going to Mass, there's just no ostentatiousness to it in a way that is comparable to the US.

At home, religiousness, at least the religiousness I was exposed to (and BELIEVE ME it was A LOT -I nearly choked several times and it almost cured me of ever believing anything, let alone Believing), was not pragmatic in the least. On the contrary, the harder and more ridiculous it made everyday life, the better. It could be a Protestant thing, the Catholics I know here (which is basically everyone) and at home (about half) seem to live comfortably with their religion, although that could be because I was raised in a Protestant faith and the grass is always greener. Although there is the whole Catholic guilt thing everyone talks about, which you tend to hear a lot at home and almost never here. If you're a Protestant and feel offended by my remarks, sorry, no offense meant. Just telling it like it seemed to be. Ditto for the Catholics. Love you all regardless.

I suppose some would say heavy is good. Faith shouldn't be easy, religion shouldn't be light. Serious stuff - eternity and hell and all that. But shouldn't believing in your god make you feel better, not worse? Open your mind to the world, not close it? Make you feel compassion for more people, not fewer? And shouldn't the weight of it all be determined by the believer, not the dictators of religiousness?

8 comments:

beth said...

Good points - your post has made me think. How can we even be sure there is an afterlife - that is my biggest question.
ps-re DVD - I took your advice and am watching the first season of Grey's Anatomy, then I will mail it to you - I should be done in a week or so. But, it will be mailed to you soon!

charlie said...

Knowing and not knowing are great and healthy substitutes for believing, I find. They aren't in the least bit heavy. They are as light as a well-made souffle. But, then, I suppose some people would regard me as crazy for not believing in things like immaculate conceptions or the earth sitting on the back of an elephant or ghosts or... ok, you get the point. I'll say it again, there is evidence sufficient to sink a mighty fleet of mighty battleships that people can believe six impossible things before breakfast, then get irritated to the point of murder if others don't join them in their fantastical view of the world. Humans are nuts. Their brains are too big for their minds.

Lorraine said...

"Catholic guilt"...it's so pre-Vatican II.

For myself, going over to Rome was, in part, very much about escaping the heaviness of being Protestant. I wasn't any good at that at all. I'm a much better Catholic. A much lighter believer.

Nicole said...

Beth - You can never be sure of anything. I'm glad you're watching them first. Talk about guilt.

Charlie - Couldn't agree more.

Lorraine - Actually, I had you in mind when I thought of someone who lived their faith well. I admire beauty of yours.

Amy said...

I think we're very lucky to have a group of blogging friends who break the mold... but I wonder sometimes if many other people, the general masses, for example - what I like to call the 'herd' - if that isn't exactly what they want/need... a heavy weight keeps you yoked and hoe'in in da row... you don't have to THINK

Nattie said...

I just stumbled upon your blog by checking someone`s blog links out - 'le nightowl' I believe. I read your post and really liked it. I've been contemplating much of those things you mentioned and they will likely stew for a while. A lot of people try to push aside thoughts or conversations on religion and beliefs if they can't convince others to jump on their bandwagon. Joseph Addison said 'The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for'. I think he had a good point. Just believe in something that gives you hope too. Thinking about all this stuff can be scary, because the answers we need are beyond our realm...but hope sustains :)

at least it works for me :)

Grish said...

Good questions. I bet there is a good percentage of the population that ask it as well...

e-face said...

Heavy. You chose the word well.