but maybe I should start
Hey Lyle, cradle Catholic here. I took a detour from the faith during high school and college and came back in my mid-twenties. I'm actually working on an essay about it, but I'd say even though there are religious people that act in a superstitious way, faith shouldn't be equated with superstition.
I would offer a very well made video by IMBeggar about the problem of evil, which may be adjacent to the topic you depict here. I hope it helps in some way.
The "things happen for a reason" idea is not a comforting one for me yet I do get why it is for some folks. I have come to believe that the true purpose of god if she exists and of the various core lessons captured by most religions is to give us what we need to adapt and cope with what happens: Grace. Love. Support of others. Hope.
I had an on-again-off-again relationship with my Catholic religion for years. I embraced the core message "love thy neighbor" and took great comfort at times from the community. We all need community of some kind and one that offers rituals and support as we face personal and societal crises can be important. It is also powerful and that's where most of the religious communities seem to go bad. No religious community seems to embrace everyone as they are or wants to confer equal grace and position to all. We humans are such limited creatures; in our hands, god and all things mysterious or difficult -- like love or acceptance -- are mangled and transformed.
Yet I still reach for that idea that there is a greater power that helps us through tough times. The help may come in the form of another human, an animal, or simply a feeling/understanding that arrives when we most need it. This may not be god as he/she/they are interpreted by our organized religions but there is something sacred about it nonetheless.
Hi Lyle, I love your blog but do not respond often. Mainly because you write so eloquently and I’m afraid i don’t express myself nearly as well and English was always my weakest subject in school but I wanted to respond to your thoughts on superstitions. I am religious, Presbyterian, but do not feel I am superstitious although I’m sure there are religious people out there that are. All I will say is that I feel my religious beliefs have given me an inner peace I’m not sure I would have without it. Your last sentence is right on, it’s all about believing.
On a different subject, I was coming home with my brother from a family gathering on July 5th and we stopped at Jennie and Jeff’s to see the remodel. The first thing she showed us was the most recent picture of Em. Em looked like an angel in that photo and please tell her I love her new haircut. I’m so looking forward to meeting her. Please give Em and Allison my very best, that goes for you as well.
Keep up the great writing.
Love, Auntie Barb
As an intellectual Christian who doesn’t hold to the idea that belief means switching off your mind (in fact, I have discovered as I have studied that intellect and belief are deeply intertwined), I’d be interested in discussing this with you more, if you’re up for it. I’d like to hear more about your take on the Bible and how you interpret the idea of things happening for a reason (or not). I’d also like to hear more about your impressions from that Christian camp and various other encounters with religion you’ve had over the years.
Thanks for being open with this deeply personal topic.
Hey Lyle - great to see you exploring this for one of your pieces! I know we’ve have some more extensive exchanges on the topic so here’s a couple additions. I don’t have any particular superstitious tendencies and am now a committed Christian (Protestant - Presbyterian). I grew up in the church, was uncertain in my beliefs through college and Taproot days, but dove back in and sorted through my beliefs about 16 years ago. Here’s a strange but interesting piece of advice: the beginning of exploring your belief, for some people, may be like how we usually fall asleep: you start by pretending you’re sleeping (closing your eyes, getting comfortable, lying still, and eventually you’re asleep). I found myself doing this when I dove back in: I read the Bible, prayed, went to church, etc., as if I was a full-on believer, that is, I was pretending until I actually became one. For me, I found that I eventually felt God’s presence, felt Him showing up in very tangible ways in my life, and eventually answered a lot of questions I had, though there are still PLENTY! I have a good friend that’s similar to where you are, and I can totally respect your stance. I’m a scientist by education so I had to sort out how God intersected with evolution and the history of the universe and all those things but I feel I’m in a good place. I’d be happy to discuss more if you’re ever interested! - Jarrod
A provocative, well -written essay here, Lyle. You and I have been thinking along the same lines this week, (but without the baseball.) I, like you, did not get the religion gene, though sometimes I wish I had the comfort that religious belief affords. But, it is simply not in me. I have two Christian friends, firm believers, and they NEVER preach or proselytize. They teach their religion by simply being good people, and I appreciate that. Here is what I wrote this week that echoes your words ( 4 minute read). You might like it.
This is a thoughtful post and I have enjoyed reading it. I grew up in the Christian church but have moved on from that and now consider myself spiritual but not religious. Recent scientific research is providing a good deal of information on the role of consciousness in our lives and in the life of the Universe. That is where I choose to focus my attention. If you want to explore a new perspective you might want to check out some of the literature on the topic of consciousness. Meantime, I can empathize with your feeling that your daughter's condition was not something that happened for a reason. My sister gave birth to a baby girl who was also born with cerebral palsy. And it was for the same reason as your daughter's condition - not enough oxygen during the birthing process. She never walked until she was 4 and had several surgeries but she is now 63 and still going strong. I hope your daughter has a great doctor who can help her as much as possible.
Good article. Thank you.
Beautifully expressed, Lyle. Thank you. The second sentence really got my attention (!), and overall the writing is so graceful and thoughtful.
I was raised Catholic. My father was Baptist. When he died, my mom became a nun. Crazy. I finally escaped the crazy and just let myself be. I’m so much happier and peaceful without all the judgement and fear of hell. Thanks for sharing your story.
Enjoyed it Lyle thank you.
Bibles. Guns. Cocaine. What could go wrong?
Religion for us demands that Jewish antique jubilee. Every 7 years forgiveness of secular debts. I donot recommend imagineering that. For 10 plus years the Gaskins pulled off religion at the Farm in Tennessee. In an interview in the Sun Stephen disavowed the meetings that had him channeling the daily highs of 400? People into the same stream same page. Forgiveness for Jesus was a practice of 70 ×7 times accepting the shmutzy misunderstanding twixt two people and then: not much. Suspension of judgement based on that initial meeting. You have got the spirit of that high cat where you stick your landings on embodiment. Religion would be if we thought the nuclear family was possible. I mean without net cost to others. But we know that was an economic arrangement that works because of a gently satirical attitude toward its history of exaggerated thoughts. I guess my idea is that marriages donot work when they do because they are guided by voices; but because they achieve small decencies and animal underlined animal toleration.
Great piece, Lyle. I have similar thoughts on religion and I loved hearing about your summer camp adventure (as well as your baseball feats).
This part stood out:" Maybe you try not to do the more stereotypically superstitious things like step on a crack in the pavement" Every time I accidentally step on a crack, I make the sign of the cross. I'm not very religious, but this is nearly automatic at this point. I kind of chuckle at how much power this superstition has on me. But I can't imagine not doing anything if I step on a crack.
I love this. I too wish I could suspend my disbelief sometimes!
That knuckle curve was filthy man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. That pitch was so sick it had COVID all the way back in the 80’s.