Some of you may know I’ve been cheating on my progressive church with the capital “C” Catholic Church. Most of you are probably a little confounded by this. Or a lot. I’d like to dip my toes in the water of Explaining This. I’m nervous about it. I think I’ll do a bad job. But. I’m going to take it slow. If you have questions, I will be super happy to attempt to answer them as I tell this story. Any question is cool, as long as it’s a real question. So “How can you believe such stupid bullshit?” isn’t a real question because it’s secretly a statement. However, “That whole being against contraception thing seems like stupid bullshit to me; what’s your take on that?” works for me.
The story kind of starts with Andrew. Although I don’t know if he really wants the blame for it! When I met him, I was kind of religiously nothing. I was always interested in religion. I had spent the last decade or so reading – Judaism, a little paganism, and finally back around to Christianity – but I kept it pretty intellectually removed from life. (Actually, I’m still good at that.) So while I was coming around to the idea that Christianity wasn’t complete made-up bullshit after all and actually had some amazing, insightful, philosophically sound qualities, I started showing up for Sunday morning services at Ye Olde Progressive Dogma-Free Church about once every six months. I’d feel the tug, go, and then be done for half a year.
My moral compass was a bit damaged, especially relationship-wise, but before I met Andy I had finally decided that marriage and family were also not a big bullshit con that I didn’t deserve anyway, but rather something of value, something I wanted. I learned that love was not the warm fuzzies I felt (all about me) but an action toward another (all about them). (Don’t get me wrong: I’m still really selfish. But at least I know better.) When I met Andy, the complete opposite of my past choices, I immediately recognized a Good Man.
(Also a cute one. And there were still warm fuzzies. But that’s not what this post is about. Ahem.)
I once saw this interview on The Daily Show. I swear it happened, though I can’t find the video. Jon Stewart was interviewing Gene Simmons. Gene was talking about his wife, but also his many other women, and giving Jon crap for being married monogamously. Jon, utterly unfazed, smiled and said, “It’s the difference between pleasure and joy, my friend.”
Yeah. I was starting to get that distinction. Eventually, I would be able to see it in more categories of my life. I mean, that’s kind of what Christianity is selling: it seems like a rulebook to kill all pleasure, but it’s actually in order to replace it with joy.
Somewhere at about a year of dating Andy, I knew we’d be getting engaged before long, and I started going to church regularly. And Bible study. I know, it’s hard to explain. Funny thing is, before that, I could have given you plenty of historical or scientific or philosophical reasons to take Christianity seriously, but that’s not what got me through the door. There was something in me, that when I thought about having a family – family – made me seek a place to mark those milestones. What I told Andy after we were engaged, when trying to decide what kind of wedding we’d have, was that I didn’t know what I believed about God, but I knew this was sacred.
And that’s how it started. Family turned me to God. Family is where I saw God. Family is where a lot of abstract theological concepts started to make gritty, real-life sense to me. Sacrificial love? Got it. The interplay between justice and mercy? Totally, we’ve got kids. Good and Evil and Love and Free Will as very real things and not meaningless terms we attach to biological impulses or whatever? Uh, hell yeah. All that is grand and cosmic is also right here in my house.
So. That’s the beginning.