I was more or less raised in the Southern Baptist tradition that I don’t believe in any more, if I was ever truly vested in it. My grandmother, the matriarch of our family–long gone but someone whom I idolize to this day–was a second mother to me. She took us in after my parents split and was my emotional go-to at a time when my mother, scrambling to recover, had no energy for me.
My grandmother talked in Bible-speak, constantly spouting verses and was relentlessly judgmental. She was a constant source of amusement to me and my cousins. When there was a thunderstorm, she would make us kids sit down quietly while she sang this scary-ass hymn (made hilarious by her warbly voice) about God troubling the waters. When asked why, she said the thunder symbolized God’s anger or some such ludicrous thing. We would wait out the storm talking in loud whispers as she spent the time singing and telling us to be quiet.
In the mean time, I went to Catholic school for the superior education (ie, better classroom discipline than public schools) from 4th grade all the way through high school. Religiously, I was an outsider, an infiltrator, an observer. I had thought about converting but there are way too many degrees of separation between a Catholic and God so I ultimately passed on that.
Back at the Baptist church, in my late teens, I joined the cool, hip young adult choir because I love music, and yes, because it was cool. As water seeks its own level, I eventually fell in with a couple of irreverent pot smokers. As is sometimes the way, we had a falling out when a man one of my girlfriends was going after decided he wanted to be with me (I swear it was an accident I did not actively cause). I wondered for weeks why the entire choir was giving me the stink eye before it was revealed that a nasty rumor was ruining my reputation. That’s when I decided that maybe organized religion was not for me.
Quite frankly, the new philosophy was working out well for me until I fell in love with a Muslim. The deistic ideology of Islam–one God, no trinity–was in line with what I was thinking anyway. I got married and the more I studied the religion the more I realized it answered many of life’s questions for me. With all questions answered and possibilities limited, there was barely any reason for me to write.
© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2010.