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?