Faith & Fragility

My ex husband and I had a cross cultural, intra-faith relationship.  And by intra-faith, I mean he identified with one of the big 4 religions and I have my own idiosyncratic belief system.  He hated it when I asked questions.  I made him feel stupid.  At least that’s what he said.  I think it’s more likely that my questions made him uncomfortable.

Because what ever my question (usually starting with “why”) the answer was always that someone else – namely a religious figure of whatever stature or influence – had said this was the way it was.  He had read his holy text, but he’d never thought it through for himself.  And my questions about his belief system did not help in the effort to stay married.

It didn’t help when, standing in the shower together, I asked him if he would face judgement when God came back.

“Yes.”

“And you’ll get asked about your life and your choices, right?”

“Yes.”

“And is your religious authority of choice going to raise his hand from the back of the crowd and say ‘wait, wait, God Almighty, I got this one’ and speak for you?”

Silence.

“Well, if that isn’t how its going to go down, don’t you think you’d better come up with answers that you can stand behind?”

Silence.

Yeah.  We’ll call that a nail in the coffin of the marriage.

He could have asked me all kinds of questions about what I believe, and I could have answered them.  It wouldn’t have bothered me, because he couldn’t have pushed me any harder to come up with a defensible belief system than I pushed myself.  I know why I believe what I believe, I know why I do what I do.  My belief system isn’t so fragile that it can’t withstand a reasoned discussion.  If I had a holy text (which I don’t) you could burn that if you felt the need.  What does your act of rage have to do with my faith?

I think the more degrees of separation we have standing between ourselves and the things we believe – people, interpretative texts, cultural norms, traditions that no one questions – the more anxious and defensive we get about our faith.  When you’re confident that you can stand at judgement day (or any other day for that matter) and take complete ownership of the path that you’ve taken, then it really doesn’t matter what other people do or think.  Your direct connection to the divine/universe/source/G-d/Allah/whatever is not dependent on an external entity.

When your connection is based on rumor, hearsay, tradition, interpretation, etc…  how can you not be anxious?  If your belief system is dependent on any number of unknown external entities, then maybe the guy’s opinion down the street is a legitimate threat.  Maybe this book being burned, or that film being made, or that gay couple getting married, maybe all of that is relevant.  How would you know what mattered, or who could upend your world if your relationship to the divine wasn’t a monogamous arrangement?

Maybe it’s judgmental, but whenever I hear someone squawking about what other people are up to, I pretty much assume that the reason they’re so bothered is because their connection to their belief system isn’t intrinsic and organic, it’s a super-imposed structure that they can neither inhabit, defend, or explain.  When your belief system is organic and intrinsic, then what other people do with their free time isn’t relevant.

The further you get from owning your faith, the more fragile you are.

Just my two cents.

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Faith & Fragility

3 thoughts on “Faith & Fragility

  1. Entrope,

    Beliefs require a lot of maintenance…..

    Know or don’t know – keep it simple.

    What you seem to be saying is that you will stand anywhere, anytime and defend your belief system, which is close enough to knowing for me. A few cents more to augment the stew:

    Faith is intrinsic to the leap one must make to encounter divinity……if it is over structured it is no longer faith, it is an overpass built to shepard people away from taking difficult steps (a non-organic overpass).

    When one decides to sidle on over to the edge of the abyss and make their own appraisals, state their own declarations and if the wind is right, step forward it can be tremendous. Really, the only thing you need to know about the abyss is that it stops being an abyss the moment you leap……you see – you’re in it.

    Mark

    Like

  2. Entrope,

    Yes, yes, and more yes. The only person you have to sleep with is yourself. If you can do that, you’re probably okay.

    I’ve developed an internally consistent philosophy over the years, but it has required giving up most of the conventional beliefs, the ones that encourage people to judge each other. Those people need to talk to the mirror.

    I have a collection of reusable bags I shop with, carry my own reusable coffee cup around, boycott packaging as much as possible, and am developing a product line of simple, public domain products, using scrap and repurposed materials, such as glass jars, cardboard boxes, old clothes, and the like.

    There is a method to my madness. I’m currently living on Social Security but want a safety net for when the government declares bankruptcy. By helping re-institute the “Can Do” spirit in this country, by making better use of our now-wasted resources, we can find a healthier way to lead the world.

    Sincerely,
    Libby Belle
    alter ego of katharineotto.wordpress.com
    *independent country of one*
    $world’s only free market capitalist$

    Like

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