I write this on Easter Sunday. And I rarely write about religion, or faith. I write this both as a man who believes in science, and a man who has faith. I write this knowing that each year— Easter seemed to grow more hollow. As if like, Christmas, Easter belongs to the past. To childhood, to memories of better days gone by— days that were better simply because we were innocent days.
Easter in Roman Catholicism is the most important time in the Church. It trumps Christmas. It trumps Christmas because Catholics have hinged their faith in one word: Resurrection. Catholics believe that Jesus died on the Cross for every sin, to redeem humanity— a lamb for the slaughter. This belief is the single greatest reason to be a Catholic and without the Resurrection, the whole Catholic religion is nothing.
Each year, like every year before that has been a journey of religious tradition. It is the same cycle, year in and year out. The text does’t change. The message doesn’t change. And doesn’t it strike you? Anything repeated, and expecting different result is the sure sign of insanity?
It was a rather cynical thought. Are we expecting a different result? And for that matter, what result are we expecting?
Surely, how many of these people understood that the Church hasn’t been like this? That it was different when the Church was a fledgling. That even the choices of books of the bible were choices made not by Jesus and his Apostles but by generations after them? That the Church grew, and renewed and changed over the last 2,000 years. Do people know the context of how we got here, in this moment, and what choices were made to get here?
Would Jesus have approved of the Crusades?
If I had nothing to wear, would Jesus still let me into his church?
Which is the greater sin, having sex wearing a condom, or having sex, getting the woman pregnant, and unable to support mother and child, or worst, abandoning mother and child?
Is this a sign of belief then? Is how much one has read sacred text, or how much time a person stood up in front of a crowd reading and parroting words from the Bible? It is a sign of Faith or simply being Religious to do readings and to read prayers?
On Black Saturday, I stood outside a church. Half-listening to Easter mass. The lights were off. And it was three hours of pomp and tradition. I remind myself, through the first hour that there was a reason for tradition. To indoctrinate the young to continue on; to remember the story of Jesus, and to carry on for generations to come. As I stood outside the church, with the gentle breeze behind my back, I looked up at the night sky. And I let my mind wander.
I saw stars. No, it wasn’t vertigo. I saw actual stars painted across the night sky. Not the kind of stars you see soaring on our television screens, and crashing down on Earth. Real stars are such a rare sight these days. Not when our city lights make them hard to see. Not when we rarely let our eyes wander across the night sky. Not when some point of light could be a passing aircraft, or some satellite high above the Earth to help make this world, actually function.
And I turn to the conservatives, blinded by religion— not faith— religion and they argue Science has little value when every single day, science has eased world hunger. That science is impart to blame for increasing longevity in humans. That now more than ever, is the single largest, most expressive moment in human history.
Could they not look at the stars in the sky, and wonder, how did God made them? Aren’t they at all curious as to what wonders, God has created in the universe and that understanding the universe— whether one believes in God or not, is an endeavor worthy of sentience? That perhaps, why we are sentient is to bear witness to the universe in all its glory, in all its mystery?
What about those who believe there is no God, and yet in their zealotness, in their quest to make others believe that there isn’t one, are as zealot as their religious counterparts?
In one of the darkest moments of my life, a nun told me these simple words: “Jesus loves you.” At the time, I nodded, just to agree without agreeing. I didn’t really believe her then.
I grew up a Catholic. I still am Catholic, if you call going through the motions, being one. And yes, I’m a terrible Catholic. You won’t find me reading the Bible, or reciting the rosary. You won’t find me leading prayer. (Don’t ask me to, you’ll be turned down.) Good luck trying to get me to get others to do all that. So don’t assume that just because my instagram is filled with religious snaps, that I’m religious. In spite of all that there is no sense denying that my sense of right and wrong— that thing we call, “Morality” is shaped by my religion, by society, by upbringing, which in turn that thing called, “a conscience” is entirely shaped by Faith, (and upbringing).
So is Faith is a personal matter? Does it then reflect on your religion (or lack thereof), how we treat other people? Does religion, or lack thereof shape us, define us? Do we then, define us by what we do, or do not do, every single day?