Tuesday, May 15, 2007

How can I appear to be a religious person? Do I want to?

I've had an odd issue in my life recently, and one that I'm not going into much detail on as several of the principals read this blog, that centered around people I'm fairly close to me not realizing how religious I am.

On one level, I don't get this. I have lots of religion books that I read and talk about, I make it to church a respectable percentage of Sundays, I spend lots of time volunteering with YRUU and, well, I have a religion blog.

By liberal standards, I'm a Jesus freak. (Ok, maybe not Jesus, but you see my point...)

I do partially understand the confusion in that I don't prostelytize, I don't complain about people sinning, and I don't obviously follow a bunch of religious rules. I don't forward religious emails or have a plastic chalice on my car. I don't judge people who don't go to church, I just do my own spiritual thing and assume other people are doing theirs in their own way.

So by conservative standards, I really don't look like a religious person at all.

A few thoughts on this issue:

1. Could it be that part of the reason that political and religious conservatives believe that political and religious liberals aren't religious is because liberals do not appear so because liberals express their commitment to religion in different ways?

2. Should we/I try to give off a few signs of religiousity to help people get it? If so, what should I/we do?



Comrade Kevin said...

A very good post, which contains a lot of issues I've struggled with in my own life.

I suppose my own answer is live your life as though you are a religious person, which you do already. Why do you need validation from other people that you are, in fact, religious? It seems to me that those who go around professing their religion to me are often Pharissees.

I have to dive back into my own life experience to give some more perspective. My father is a good person, lives a good life, is full of wisdom, but doesn't profess any particular religious belief other than Christian. He's also not afraid to speak the truth, no matter what.

A lot of people who move down here either have one of two responses to overt displays of religion: either it makes them uncomfortable, or they find it freeing that a person can be open about their faith convictions.

It's just that I daresay we all have been burned by false prophets from time to time so it makes us all wary.

Anonymous said...

I say just be comfortable with yourself, and do whatever you feel is right for you. To me, spirituality is a personal thing. Religion, by definition, (religion derives from reglio (or something like that) meaning "coming together")is a community based thing.

If people don't understand you, that is an issue within their own mind.

As to your first question, however, I think it is more about the conservative agenda or need to control and manipulate than anything else. They just want people that don't think and act like them to look foolish, which I think has more to do with the fear of the unknown. If they can tell people how to think and act, then they know how people are thinking and acting and, thus, they do not have to worry about what people are thinking or doing.

There is more, and I am sure that liberals "being different" is a part. But, I think it is mainly about fear.

Catherine said...

Hi - I've been enjoying the blog for a while but this is my first comment.

I was raised in a fundamentalist religion but I think I still considered the one UU kid I met in high school to be "religious." To me it meant showing up for church and belonging to a congregation. Later I realized that for a lot of other Christians you didn't even have to do the church part. For them, being religious meant that at one time you had some kind of experience with Jesus.

So now I've been doing the UU thing for a couple of months but I don't think I'm very religious. The term means so many things that it's almost useless as an adjective. Just repeat to yourself: I am not responsible for the assumptions others make about me.

Anonymous said...

Do you wear chalice jewelry? Maybe that would impress them. :-)

I think it's in the nature of conservative religionists that they wouldn't see any expression different from their own as legitimate.

PG said...

I've been reading your blog for quite a long time, but I realize that I'm not sure whether you believe in God (as understood by the major Western monotheistic religion). I think Westerners have an understandably difficult time grasping a belief system as "religion" unless there's an explicit God involved.