An in-depth Friday Five about a subject I usually avoid

1. Were you raised in a particular religious faith?

Nope. I’m descended from Roman Catholics, and there was even a nun or two, somewhere in the family. We buried my grandmother with a rosary given to her by her aunt, who was a nun, but we deep-sixed the remnants of our religion with her. Even she was disgusted with the church, but in her final weeks, her mind and heart accepted it more than she ever had.

I became an atheist after my grandmother died in 1999, because I just couldn’t find an explanation for all the pain and suffering she endured in her last eight years of life. It’s horrible to watch someone die, and we had just finished watching her mother die, who was literally the sweetest woman who ever touched this earth. And as a young person who is suddenly forced to examine the cruelness of the world, what can you do? You curse god and you realize that the Golden Years is just a glossy coating for your tired and aging body. And you wonder why you have to suffer your whole life (financially, emotionally, etc.), only to die a painful, physical death. And you curse god some more until you finally turn your back on him or her, especially when you have a grandfather and a mother in their own physical and emotional pain. The cycle never ends, and you know it.

The family shuns the Catholic church because my great-grandmother, who divorced her psychotic husband when she had three small children, was told by a priest that she could only remain with the church if she promised to never again marry. Anastasia was quite the level-headed lady, and she told that priest that as a working mother with young children, she would love to remain with the church, but if she could find a man who could love and support her and her family, well, she didn’t want to eliminate that possibility entirely. So the church rejected her. She never did remarry, and she worked her fingers to the bone for the rest of her life, but I will always be proud of her for doing what was right for her, even though I know she missed her faith, despite the fact that her church wasn’t there for her during those difficult years.

Personally, at some point last year, I reconsidered my atheism and favored agnosticism, which is where I still am today. I am fascinated by the gods in Roman and Greek mythology, but alas, perhaps those are as much folklore as I consider the bible to be.

Once in awhile, though, I hope that someone is out there listening, and I believe that something beyond my own strength gets me through these times when I could very easily become homicidal/suicidal. But I think modern Christianity is off-base. I think that there could possibly be a god and a goddess, but I also think they have day jobs … perhaps they let us run the world and only step in when things get really fucked up. Maybe they end the wars and stop the pestilence or ensure that murderous snipers get arrested (but can they just kick bin Laden’s and Hussein’s asses — pretty please?). I don’t know. I am but a speck on this big round ball that floats in the solar system. I’ll find out the answers soon enough. 🙂

2. Do you still practice that faith? Why or why not?

Faith and religion are two separate things. I still shun religion and view it as the ultimate travel agent for guilt trips, and I also view it as a shitty foundation for oodles of politicians across the world. People kill and die in the name of christ or god or allah or whoever. Remove the cult aspect that exists in most religions, and there you may find faith. But I find my faith within myself and within those I love. It’s deeper than some fictional stories in a big book written by a man on a rock. I believe in inner strength, love, courage, respect, happiness, kindness and triumph over adversity, and all of these are rooted in faith in oneself and in others, and having them have faith in you. Further, if any one religion were “right,” then why on earth do we have so many variations on a theme?

3. What do you think happens after death?

I was just yapping about this today to Shan. I believe wholeheartedly in reincarnation. I’m in my sixth life, and I believe I’ve traveled with several souls throughout the centuries, and some of them are in my life today. I believe in having several soulmates, and I believe we learn lessons during each new life. I do believe in the whole “nine lives” theory, but it doesn’t end after nine lives. I think we just go to a big ol’ Club Med in the sky, rest up for a few millennia, and start over as unjaded new souls in the first life of the next cycle for each of us.

I believe we carry imprints from previous lives (i.e., my irrational fear of falling might have come from plummeting to my death in another world), and I believe that our souls recall unresolved relationships. I think we collide with those folks again and again, through the centuries/decades/millennia, until we finally find our ways to each other, for whatever reason. Come on, there has GOT to be a reason why IKEA Boy and I, after years of soaring highs and devastating lows and even a few years of silence, can be the best of friends. Something in this life keeps drawing our paths together, and I’m sure I’ll see him next time around as well.

Same thing with Shan, how we started chatting the day we met, as though we had known each other for decades. And with many of my other friends, with whom I may lose contact for months or years at a time, but the conversations pick up right where they left off. That’s special, and I believe the foundation for those friendships were laid back when e-mail was merely a stone tablet thrown through the air! 🙂

In another poignant instance, one of my great paramours in this life, CR, is also in his sixth life. He’s now married with two adorable kids. While I believe that we are pretty much done with each other in this life, I know we will definitely meet again, somewhere in another existence, and we will figure out what it is we keep doing wrong that prevents us from being together. And by life number nine, I think we will be each other’s final destiny. That’s why I was okay with letting him go … the time isn’t yet right for us … and maybe in 500 years, it will be. I can wait … we have forever!

And that’s why I am so fucking disappointed with my ill-fated encounters with Brat and RK. I was meant to meet them in this life. I knew it from the moment I made eye contact with both of them, that they would be special, that maybe they always WERE special, in previous times. Perhaps my soulmates for lives seven and eight, respectively?

I also believe we choose our parents, and I stand by the fact that we are meant to have the names we are given (I could give a lesson in numerology to those who are interested!).

Sometimes I wonder, though, who I pissed off in my last life to be so utterly miserable with this one. My misery only started last year when I started working for Second Choice, and it has continued since. I do have my happy moments, but overall, I find I am at my happiest now when I am on the phone with my mom, at IKEA Boy’s house or out at Benny’s with Shan. I don’t have enough of those happy moments, and I need more, damn it!!!

But I don’t believe in Judgment Day and purgatory and heaven and hell. Hell is what you make of it, and it’s very personal. Same with heaven. Some people want to be munching on wafers and sipping wine with the savior; I personally want to be surrounded by my favorite souls at our favorite gay bar. Only “getting high” would take on a new meaning, I suppose!

4. What is your favorite religious ritual (participating in or just observing)?

When I lose something, I call upon the appropriate saint to lend me a hand. It usually works. 🙂 My other favorite religious ritual is screaming to god when someone leads me to an earth-shattering moment through expert hand or tongue stimuli. hee hee

5. Do you believe people are basically good?

I’d have an easier time answering yes to a statement along the lines of, “Do you believe people are basically naive and/or ignorant?”. I desperately want to have faith in humanity, yet it’s so hard when I’m hearing about serial snipers, arsonists and terrorists. Closer to home, I find that the lower my expectations are of people, the less frequently I become disappointed. If I expect them to act like veritable bumps on a log, then I can’t be angry that they didn’t do or say something that they should’ve.

Further, it’s difficult for me to let someone do something nice for me … although I’ve met many benevolent, generous folks in my life’s journey, it still greatly takes me aback when they want nothing in return for their kindness. It’s a shame that I’m so damn surprised when I experience and/or witness people expressing goodwill toward others. I always look for that attached string, because more often than not, I’ve found it. Quite honestly, I will probably never STOP looking for attached strings.

I’m just disgustingly grateful for the fact that, as a soul in my sixth life, I’ve been around the block a few times and can spot a fake from 10 miles away. I know when people are “in it” for themselves, and I can smell a lie like I can smell cat shit that didn’t hit the litterbox. That’s why I’m always hunting for those strings; some people use invisible thread, but it’s still there. Although … I must admit to truly enjoying when people get all tangled up in the strings they dangle, because I can play the game better than the best, if I so choose. I love to watch people get too comfortable before they eventually step into the mess that they made. That doesn’t make me cruel — I consider it more like being a vigiliante … I like when karma bites people in the ass. ‘Cause it always does, and I always love a good show!

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