Monday, April 25, 2011

A Spiritual Home and Dealing With the Childish

Lately I've been feeling kind of empty in the spirituality department. It has nothing to do with my overall belief in God or values. It has everything to do with the fact that since moving to Albuquerque I haven't found a religious community where I feel comfortable. Back in State College I had a great church, and it was one of the few times in my life where I enjoyed going. Even in Altoona, I had a strong sense of community with my Catholic friends my priest and the small chapel we had on campus.

Albuquerque has a pretty large Catholic population, which would lead one to expect that it would be easy to find a church. But, it isn't just about the denomination, or the location, or the building.There's nothing more disappointing than going into a church that has a really old age structure, no one participates, and there is little community to speak of. Also, if the music stinks, then that is an absolute deal breaker for Matt and me.

I've been going to therapy sessions over the past few weeks, and the whole church thing came up. My therapist is also Catholic, and recommended some churches to me. This weekend Matt and I tried St. Joseph on the Rio Grande for Easter. It was a definite improvement, but Matt thought the organ was over done. In his defense, it was. There was a guy with a 12-string guitar who we couldn't even hear (did he even play it?), and clearly the choir hadn't practiced a few of the songs, which for such an important holiday is troubling. We've decided we'll try the earlier mass at 10:30 to see if it's any different. Admittedly, we're kind of picky but we know we'll never be able to replace Good Shepherd.

There's another issue, which I've been reluctant to talk about with many people, and I haven't brought it up in therapy. I'm not the most devout person, but I have a pretty strong faith and if nothing else I like the security and comfort that church has given me in the past, especially with my dad dying and with having a long term relationship fall apart. Now, with my move to Albuquerque and my transition into biology, I've found myself around more people who are aggressively against religion, particularly Christians, and especially Catholics. It comes off to me very arrogant, unsophisticated, and distasteful when people think it's appropriate to mock what is important to other people (Haha, look at these stupid people for believing in Zombie Jesus and thinking there's a sky wizard!). I've found people who think they are really progressive and open minded, but when they open their mouth they sound really immature and bigoted.

This sense that I can't be open about my religion concerns me a lot; while I really don't care what people personally believe, I don't want trouble in my professional life. Basically, I don't want people judging me because I'm not an Athiest. Maybe people just think they can be open with me (generally they can, I have a fairly tough skin), but no one will ever have a close enough relationship with me to mock me to my face. Actually, they're making me really uncomfortable. An appropriate response would be to tell them they are ignorant and nasty people, but so far I have just ignored them and not sought out their company. But what they're doing is wrong, and it hurts people. Preventing others from causing harm is something fundamental that I believe in, so I feel like I need to start saying something.

The really ironic thing is I get the sense I'm expected to just let it all slide off my back without it affecting me, but I think if I were to openly oppose it I'd get a backlash of crap I'd not soon forget.

Perhaps this experience is a sign of the times. Everywhere I look I see people failing to engage in constructive debate and discussion. It almost always devolves into name calling, mud slinging, and trying to make the other person look like a fool without saying anything containing substance. I used to experience this on a fairly regular basis with a very rude and "conservative" acquaintance in college. It's just easier to resort to the kind of tactics that 4-year olds use, because then you don't actually have to think. I see it on the news, I see it from politicians, and I see if from my fellow scientists. We, as a people, are all acting like children.

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