Hey Tildians, This is going to be a really long post that is an ongoing search and conversation I am having with myself. Its going to be about religion and culture. Sorry for the shitty title, I...
This is going to be a really long post that is an ongoing search and conversation I am having with myself. Its going to be about religion and culture. Sorry for the shitty title, I am really bad at coming up with titles, I tend to ramble a lot.
I'm currently going through a crisis both of faith and cultural identity. Not because I am questioning either, but because I have never had either. I'm a white man from america. Growing up as a kid, my parents gave me the option to look at religions and choose one if any that spoke to me. None did, so I didn't go for a long time. In high school I attended Methodist Church every weekend because I felt pressured by my Boy Scout troop to be Christian, the Methodist Church let us use their church for our meetings despite none of the troop being members of the church, and the priest there at the time was a really great guy that I liked a lot. I spent a lot of time talking about faith with him and eventually, he said to me "let's face it, you don't believe the things I am preaching. That is completely fine. You're welcome in the church, it'll always be home, I'm always here to talk about faith or life or anything, but you don't believe in Christianity and you owe it to yourself to try and find something you do believe." And he was right, I didn't. So I studied a few things here and there and none ever stuck. So I've just been agnostic. But I desperately want to believe in a religion and have a sense of community and just, something to tie my individual beliefs to the world and know other people feel the same way I do.
Similarly, I grew up pretty much "American". I know my heritage is from Ireland, Poland, UK, Croatia, Germany because I did reports on ancestry in school, but they've never been a part of my identity. We never talk about being from Poland other than explaining to people why my last name is spelled the way it is (WHICH IS STUPID BECAUSE IT'S NOT A WEIRD SPELLING OR PRONOUNCED DIFFERENT THAN IT LOOKS). It just isn't a thing. I've always envied my friends whose families are very proud and invested in their heritage. And that's not for a lack of trying, I've tried to get invested in them, but there aren't really communities around me for it, my family doesn't give a shit, and even if I did, I'm like 15% everything so it doesn't feel like I'm REALLY from that culture. I guess that's why some people are so extreme about being American. They're such a mix of so many different European countries that if a parent isn't invested in a specific culture, it's hard to identify with any single one, so they rally behind America. It is all they have.
I don't know. It's very weird crisis that came out of nowhere in the stupidest ways (rewatching avatar and then having a crisis of faith looking at a chacra candle in a used book store). I've realized that I am paralyzed by the lack of a foundation of my identity. Personality traits and political views and hobbies are all malleable and change over time and so what I define myself as now could be completely gone and irrelevant in 2 years time and something about that terrifies me. It makes me wish there was something I could tie myself to that doesn't change, like what country my family is from. And if not that, an felling like I undestand the world around me would be great, and something religion provides. Also, the community wouldn't be something I'd hate to have.
Tangentially to this, I'm having a weird relationship with faith in another way. I keep finding myself gravitating towards budhism. I don't know why, but it just is what I keep ending up looking at. I have 6 different bibles, a torrah, and a quran that I've read. None feel quite right. I keep ending up reading more about budism. But I feel SO WEIRD about it. It feels like I'm that white dude everyone hates that wont stop talking about budism. I don’t know. I know I shouldn’t let the outside world’s perceptions affect my religious views. But that doesn’t mean it is easy not to.
Guess to make this more of a convo I’ll ask some questions to generate discussion:
Religious folks: How has growing up with a religion effected your life? Do you think you’d be a drastically different person without it?
Atheists: How weird does this sound to you? Did you go through a similar crisis before landing on atheism
People who grew up with a strong cultural identity: How has that effected your life? Are you generally happy that you have that identity and community? Were there ever times you wished you weren’t a part of it?