Wednesday, October 06, 2004

broken faith

I was listening this morning to an NPR report about how John Kerry is starting to talk more openly about his religious beliefs. So I figured, if the "he's got to be better than that other idiot" candidate can do it, so can I.

I believe in things like all living things are connected. That nature is the best god we could ask for. On good days, I believe the universe provides what we need and wants the best for us. That the power that is greater than each of us is all of us, i.e., that the collective souls and accumulated wisdoms of the living and the dead move and shape this world and any other. I believe our loved ones stay with us in spirit. I believe we probably come back and try this life again a bunch of times until we get it right. To me, these beliefs are simple and relatively innocuous. Even so, I'm imagining they leave out a whole lot many would like to see in a spiritual philosophy and grate against many long-taught traditions, for example the one I grew up with.

It doesn't come easily to state these things. It is surprisingly difficult to type them, look at them on the screen, and not delete them immediately. I'm uncomfortable talking about faith. It is perhaps up there with pregnancy in categories of things I could write about that would most easily provoke strangers to weigh in on with certainty and fervor, or to write you off for when they disagree with your point. I'm an absolute believer in the separation of church and state. Politicians who create themselves a pulpit from which to preach make me sick. And even if you don't quite turn inside out in your skin when you hear our leaders invoke their god in public speeches and legislate morality from their desks like me, I think many of us have learned to avoid religion as a topic among friends, acquaintances, and, often, family.

I bring all this up because first, I'm long-winded and like to drag you along on my stream of consciousness rides as far as I can. Maybe it's just one more thing on the list that I'm trying to work on in my own mind and figure out how to impart to a child. But more important for the moment, I am troubled. I am sad and I am troubled. I am very sad. I am very sad. I am freaked out and unsure and who the fuck signed me up for this pregnancy thing anyway? Basically, the foundations of my "faith," if you can call it that, are being challenged. Here's the deal. Stay with me: I have the greatest husband in the world. Screw the rest of you, I got him. He will support me in any way possible. So, why do I know in my heart of hearts that this pregnancy means that I, much moreso than he, will have to rethink my passions, my work, my self. It is me who stays awake at night and worries about what I can get done before I'm huge as a house and feeling like shit. Thinking about what I can accomplish before I actually, have a baby to take care of. Look, I don't pretend to know all the ways parenthood affects men anymore than I know exactly how it affects women. But what I know is, he has the insurance and I have the breasts. Those things aren't going to change in the next year or so.

Maybe you see my dilemma by now, or perhaps not. Maybe I should go back to bed and try this day again. But my universalist, nature-loving faith has hit a wall and my mind has started to entertain frightening possibilities: Is there really a god? And, is he a man?


Molicious said...

I've been reading your blog for a while. I felt today was the right time to comment. Like you said, when you talk about politics or religion it will make people talk. Which isn't always a good thing.

I am scared shitless when it comes to child birth/rearing/educating...blah blah blah. I'm married and happy and have no intention in the near future to change my life for a "wee one". As a Christian we are taught to breed, make new ones, get out the word! I never understood that and I quite disagree. But if I were to have a child, I would continue to raise it in the Christian faith. I do believe there is a God, and he loves a good joke. He would have to in order to bring upon the wrath of pregnancy to anyone who doesn't really want it. Real funny I'm sure. But if my child decides at some point that Christianity isn't right for him or her, I may not like it, but I will still love them. What else would a mother do? You can only do what you think is best for them. If you screw up, there's always therapy. Thank God.

ruby said...

yes, you'll have to rethink everything more than he will as a result of the pregnancy. a woman's reproductive life changes her destiny much more than it does a man's. but he's rethinking everything some other time when you're not even paying attention. and the whole having a baby thing gives women have more choices than men, i think. it's not always a bad thing to be forced to take a break from life as you know it. then you get to decide how to proceed. i wouldn't trade places.

Anonymous said...

You are in most unique place... do you think this pregnancy happened by chance? Or do you believe that it has even greater meaning than it's obvious purpose? If you believe the former, you most likely believe that nature just does its thing... reproduces and keeps going on because that is what it does. If you belief the latter... you most likely embrace the notion that there is an almighty God controlling things.

God puts things in people's lives in order for that person to learn something from the situation... good or bad. But he never gives someone something he or she cannot handle. You are entirely capable of bringing this baby into this world... and raising it with love. Dare I say it was an act of God? I believe so.

You are now re-evaluating things you once believed as certain. You question them... It would take an extreme action or, in your case, a pregnancy, to get you to address those beliefs with real and sincere consideration. This pregnancy is more than just a birthing of life... it's a birth of thought.

Smiles, a Pal.

Kitty said...

I completely agree that this time is a birth of thought. My main thought this time was the biological constructs layered with the societal constructs (i.e., me with boobs, husband with insurance) that felt like a cruel joke. I do not believe that Nature necessarily works by chance. Lack of chance or belief in Nature does not bring me to the conclusion of a god, however - nor that it is a "he." There was some part sardonic in my musing questions that may have been missed. I'm intrigued that we can't help but bring our whole selves to what we read. My focus as a writer means not so much once it is given over to an audience. I appreciate the feedback. Talking religion is a sure bet to cure loneliness in writing. Pretty much garantees talk, as we've said.

tracy said...

A friend who literally have birth the other night while I was sitting around drinking a glass of wine told me something a few months ago. One of her doctors said that pregnancy is designed for the mother as much as it's designed for the baby. And my friend, when I asked if she was scared about all of it, made the observation that once the baby is here, then her husband will help her "carry" the child. I thought that was interesting (especially in the context of you with the boobs and him with the HMO plan). I suppose when the day comes, you release the "weight" so that it's for both of you to share and carry together. It's interesting, even as a pregnancy evolves, mom has to rely on others for more and more (carrying heavy items, shaving her legs, etc). That's part of the transition of Dad (and the rest of the village) beginning to take on some responsibility for the well being of that creature.

I'm too tired to think about religion right now. (wink)

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