…organized religion

Tonight I talked to a former high school teacher. She was an amazingly influential part of my life when I was graduating from high school, and remained really important to me my first couple years of college. We have drifted apart as I have moved and she’s started new ventures. We hadn’t talked in months when I sent her a message today.

We used to joke that I was like her kid, she was like my mom. we were really, really close. Our conversation tonight was awful. Maybe she changed. Maybe I changed. Maybe I am less willing to take people’s bullshit and blatant disrespect of my ideas and ideals. I don’t know what happened.

We really started growing apart when I told her I was trans. She didn’t care, which is different than saying she didn’t mind. She asked me why I had to tell her, if I was still the same person. She never grasped how important it was for me to come out to her.

Tonight I told her I had been going to church. She mocked it, and said that it’s sad that I have to go to a church to find community. That the world doesn’t need organized religion telling people what to do. She told me that she prefers to define herself. I said that one of our principles was the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Her response?

“I don’t drink koolaid, no matter the flavor.”

Ouch.

She was so unwilling to listen to me. Only interested in telling me how dumb religion was. how dumb this awesome thing that I have found a lot of comfort in was. It hurt a lot. I am really glad we had the conversation, but it hurt.

Was that how I have acted toward evangelical Christians in the past? So unwilling, unaccepting, unable to see past my own prejudices to recognize that even if it wasn’t .my. choice that it was .a. choice, and a valid one at that?

Even with all she said to me, I’m so grateful for her presence in my life. Without her insistence I would have never applied to college, moved across the country, or grown up nearly as much as I did. I just wish our friendship had turned out differently. It’s like when a little kid idolizes their mom, before realizing all her flaws. Not an exact analogy, but close to what I am feeling. for so long she was this person who stepped up to the plate when she realized my family of origin wasn’t going to do much. Now I realize that that was useful and important, but that I did a lot of it for myself.

I’m glad I have found new people to support and encourage me in my journey. In my free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

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2 Comments to “…organized religion”

  1. Ugh. I'm so sorry that this happened! I personally don't much care for organized religion, but that's no reason to demean it as "sad" or somehow a poor substitute for something else. In fact, the thing I value most about Judaism is the sense of community. I don't actually believe in many of the religious tenets.What matters is that you live your life as well as you can, respect others, and try not to be stupid. (I say the same for myself!) My problem with Evangelicals (and I do have a problem) isn't that they believe something different, it's that they believe that I need to believe something different. I don't go around preaching atheism, and I get pissed off when people come to my house or accost me on the street to tell me that I need to accept the "truth." I've actually been told things by Evangelicals that remind me of the mean things your former teacher said to you. That my life is "sad" and that "I must not have a boyfriend." Seriously, where did that even come from? So anyway, I just don't think anyone should force their views upon another.I'm happy for you that you have found a community you feel safe in and that you've found meaning in their message. It doesn't sound like you're drinking any koolaid…

  2. Sometimes one becomes wiser than our mentors, sounds to me like you have. I am sorry that you may have outgrown yours, though she sounds like she was a valuable part of your life and that is never lost. I agree with Ashley, the most important part of my chosen religion is community. My faith path is about making community work, because if we can't make the small communities work, I despair for the larger ones like nation and global. At least UUism has a set of principles that resonate with who I believe I am, even though it is tough at times:)

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