'Cuz You Have Given Me More Than I Could Ask For, More Than I Could Ever Imagine, And You Keep Givin' Me Love, You Keep Liftin' Me Up
If you knew me it all you would know that I'm not very religious. Aside from my stint as Vice-President of my high school's service society and meeting Archbishop Roger Mahoney, I have had very little claim to the mantlehood of being deeply religious. I think I'm more spiritual than religious since the trappings of church, dogma, and scripture hold very little interest to me. Deism, with its focus on Reason and Individuality, is my philosophy of choice as it conveys my own sense of Man creating the World as much as the World creating Man. I think, more than anything else, I never bought into the idea that there is some higher purpose ordained for us other than the purpose we create for ourselves. I don't think there's any paradise at the end of the road. I think our paradise is here and now, as the desire to do good should be as well. If the only reason you are notching up your bedposts with your good deeds then I think you've missed the point. You should be concentrating on what you can do to help out because it makes you feel better and not because some invisible bean counter is deciding your ultimate fate.
Nope, I'm not religious at all. The fact that I haven't set foot inside a church since 1992 should clue you into that.
Yet the conundrum is I am deeply respectful of people who are. It amazes sometimes how much my ears perk up the moment I find out someone has deep-held beliefs regarding God. I eat it up like Pez. From my earliest encounters with Sniffler in the church pews of St. Rita's when is was in my early teens I always seem to fall for the so-called "good" girls. Or, in the opposite extreme, I can remember that all my male friends in elementary school had been more devout than I and I recall myself wishing I could be more like them. It used to bother me that I couldn't fall in line with what I was being taught by my teachers (from Kindergarten through 12th grade I attended Catholic Schools) and parents. I used to take it to heart when my cousins used to tell me that I was going to hell for speaking of ideas contrary to Christian teachings.
In a sense, knowing I was different from those closest around me, made me appreciate them more. For instance, yes, Sniffler had the auburn locks I appreciate to bits and pieces, but it didn't escape me that she was going to church week after week voluntarily. She never went with her parents, the godless heathens they may have been; she always went with her sister. I don't know about you, but if my brother was put in charge of my spiritual upbringing I don't think I would have ever attended church. Yet she came week after week and, despite my distracting her with my pathetic attempts of getting to know her better, she seemed to enjoy the instruction being levied against her by the clergy. She was into it and I was into her. Because of that I struggled to find the interesting points in the Mass, if only to feel closer to her. If the Catholic Church had really wanted me to remain in their fold they would have never stopped that particular adolescent from going to St. Rita's. I may still be attending today if I could be sure of seeing her week to week.
This strange fascination also extends to music. I don't like Christian music. I never have. Except I find myself listening to Jump 5 all the time when I feel like being happy. Hearing songs about blind faith in a higher makes me feel better. More than the fact that they are talking about God, I think I appreciate the idea that someone can love so completely, so honestly. I'm a romantic that way. It's rather nice to know that that type of love exists out there even if it's not for me. Plus, can those damn kids song.
Even Breanne, with her strange way of incorporating God into the formula for her success, I seem to be tickled pink by. If everyone made religious so much fun and so uplifting like she does I think I would buy into more of it. True, her faith wasn't the main reason we became friends, but it says a lot that her constant (and constant) desire for me to go to church and praise the Lord above doesn't grate on my nerves. I think everyone has something to teach us about ourselves and a lot of what Breanne says I should do does make sense to me. The idea that all these life lessons can be found in the bible is secondary to the idea themselves. I do appreciate the aesthetic beauty inherent in a person who believes so strongly in an idea that she is willing to spread to her friends. If I found something that truly uplifted me the way God uplifts Breanne I think I would want to share it with my friends as well. But preachiness has never been my favorite quality in her. Even if your point is valid I simply think there are other ways to get your point across.
But I think the biggest glaring example of a person's faith actually changing my way of thinking has to be Rachel. She did it without ever saying one word to me or knocking me over the head with dogma. In fact it's because of that fact she's the only hero I've ever had. Before her you would have never caught me leafing through an obvious piece of Christian propaganda like Rachel's Tears and its two sequels, Chain Reaction and Rachel Smiles. It's one thing to be taught we should be good and another thing entirely to see someone actually sticking to her beliefs to lead a virtuous life. I've had all about I can stand of the preachers, the pundits, and the politicians who say we are all living in sin and who profess we all need to change. People can talk and tell me I'm not good enough all they want. It's not going to make me think I'm leading a sinful life. However, when comparing my life to that of Rachel Joy Scott I realize that there are things that I can change to leave this world better than I found out. All the years and all the people screaming the need to be better, and, for me, it's one seventeen-year-old girl who died far too young who makes me want to be a more religious individual.
I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.
She was the best. She was the greatest. And I know it has everything to do with the religious life she led. That's why I can say, even though I'm not religious, religious people are some of the best people on Earth.