Saturday, November 27, 2010

why religion why

Shocker, my world does not revolve around diapers. I feel compelled to write about a non-diaper related issue that has been on my mind recently. I used to be a very religious person, the key phrase there being "used to be". I am now not a practicing religious person and I know that will be a problem in the relatively near future.

My story starts in second grade, I know it's a long time ago but hang in there. Like most Americans, I was in the local public school. Unlike most Americans, in the first and second grades I would get into fights every day. These fights would end up with people on the ground bloody and crying. I spent a lot of time sitting in the main office, that's the administrative offices just outside the principal’s office where you have to wait to see the head honcho. I would also come home with cuts and bruises often.

In second grade my parents had enough. Since I was in a very religious family, they found the best Catholic school they could afford and at the end of second grade I transferred. I spent the whole summer between second and third grade catching up academically to my new peers. To give you an idea, the school I came from didn't even give homework until the fifth grade and the school I was going to started giving homework in kindergarten. Needless to say I was way behind.

After spending the whole summer learning how to multiply and divide, write in cursive, and read and spell at an advanced level, I was thrown into a much different environment. They prayed multiple times every day and had school wide church services on a regular basis. It did strengthen my religious ties but 6 years later, by the time high school came around (9th grade), I had had enough.

We moved into a new town the year before and my mom sent me to the newly formed church youth group which got me back into the religion. It wasn't just about praying in school and going to church anymore, it was about being with like-minded people my own age. Most of them were from public schools making these meetings their only source of religious activity, which helped to turn me around and bring me back into all of it. I was an active member for four years and since it was a new group, I was one of the oldest so I had a lot of people looking up to me during those four years. But when it came to the end of my senior year of high school I had to leave.

It was a rule that after you graduate from high school you cannot attend the meetings anymore unless you want to be a group leader. If you want to pursue the path of a leader you need to take a year off and reflect on your connection with the religion. Since I was one of the founding members and I was in new town when it all started, these were my only friends. To be told that I couldn't hang out with them anymore really hurt me. I begged and pleaded to be let back in but they were firm with their rule. This sent me on a downward spiral that I never recovered from.

Wow that sounded bad...oh well it's already written...moving on. We moved again a few months after I started college which helped me to distance myself from everyone I used to hang out with and ultimately ended a relationship I was in. I was only seven minutes from campus now so I spent all my time there and met a whole bunch of new people. I found a new Catholic youth group that I was a leader of for a few months before it was shut down due to false accusations from another leader, the truth came out and our head minister was cleared but the group never recovered. Now I was on my own again. I was out of another youth group and the only thing keeping me going to church was my girlfriend at the time. I was just going through the motions.

When my junior year of college came to an end, due to various things I will get into later, I was determined to leave Massachusetts. I broke up with my latest girlfriend of almost 4 years and all I wanted to do was get as far away as possible. I spent the next 2 years living in Florida where I completely abandoned my religion and met my future wife, and yes from the moment I saw her I knew she was the one. Together we moved back into my parent’s house in Massachusetts before buying a condo in Rhode Island. She is from a different religion then I was brought up in and also abandoned it when she moved to Florida. We got married 5 months ago and religion started creeping back in.

When the wedding came up I convinced my family that it had to be in a non-religious location because her side of the family is in a religion that doesn't mix well with the one my side of the family is in. This excuse worked for the wedding but now my family wants me to get the marriage blessed by a priest from their religion and I want nothing to do with it. I don't want to be in that religion anymore. I don't believe in it and I don't want to fake it anymore. Of course my wife is now hinting that she wants our kids to grow up in a religion. To top it off, I know my family will be clamoring for a baptism as soon as my first child is born. I know I won't be ousted by the family for not baptizing my kids but things won’t be the same. I am currently my grandmother's favorite grandchild, and with 30 grandkids that's saying a lot. It would break her heart to find out I want nothing to do with the religion she raised us all in. It kills me to think about that. I really don't know what to do. I want to live my own life the way I want to but I don't think that's possible. My wife and I both fell in love with Hawaii on our honeymoon. We both joke about moving there frequently and I know that would solve a lot of my problems. I would finally be out of my family's reach and I could live my life the way I want to.

Due to my family being so intensely religious, I feel my only way to escape this grip would be to move very far away and start a new life. I'm not saying I want to completely abandon my family, but I need space to live my life the way I want to. I don't want to baptize my kids into a religion that I don't believe in and I don't want to fake my beliefs to make my family happy. Obviously I am not bashing any religions here. Whatever you believe in is fine by me, unless you believe that killing thousands of people will get you into heaven, that I have a problem with. All I'm saying is that I don't believe in this religion and I don't want to be forced to believe it to make my family happy. I just wish moving to Hawaii was feasible.

1 comment:

  1. That's a tough situation. You were born to live YOUR life though so that's what you should do. I try to surround myself with people who I know will love me and accept me no matter what. So I'm honest about my life and if people don't like it, they don't have to be a part of it. That sounds harsh and I feel sad that I don't talk to my dad very much anymore but for the most part, life has gotten better. I wish you the best.