17 November 2010

Day 235: Are You There God, It's Me Margaret

Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume.  ISBN: 9780689841583.

I very much identified with Margaret's struggle with religion.  Although I was raised Unitarian Universalist, and I still am, it's not a religion where you can point to a book and say, "all of that."  There are as many different kinds of UU as there are sects of Christianity.  It's extremely difficult trying to explain this to other people your age who have never even had contact with a Jewish person, especially when you are between the ages of eight and fourteen and pretty much all of your opinions are from your parents/friends/church pastor/horoscope and so you have no real reason behind them other than "Uh, they're the right ones because people tell me they're right."

I got so frustrated with trying to explain what my religion was to people who made no effort to "get it" that I eventually just got fed up and started saying, "yeah, yeah it does mean that I worship Satan and eat babies."  This was an act of desperation to get them to leave me alone, and sadly it worked.  I say sadly because for me it meant quite a few years of being lonely and misunderstood, and sad for them because it allowed them to keep their eyes firmly shut against the rest of the world.  On the one hand, I really should have been more open and patient in explaining what my religion meant to me; on the other hand I am and pretty much always have been mostly a private practitioner.  My relationship with god is very personal, and I don't feel like I should have to explain it or defend it to anyone else, and it was an especially unfair thing to have to go through so young and in such a hostile environment.  It very nearly killed my soul. 

I also had a grandmother who was very concerned with said soul and wanted me to convert to Southern Baptist.  We didn't see her very much, but it became almost painful to visit her after about the age of five.  Staying overnight meant I had to say prayers before going to bed and staying during the weekend meant I had to go to church.  This got more and more awkward the older I got because I very much disagreed with many of the things her faith preached.

I haven't had to deal with any of these issues recently, because most of the communities I belong to at the moment are all too polite to even ask what religion I am, and strangely, now I kind of wish I had someone to talk about it with.

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