Faith is so weird.

I am incapable of speaking for everyone but being raised in the Bible Belt, spending my elementary education in a Catholic school, growing up in a religious home, and spending every summer since third grade at a church camp, I can say that it's hard to think sometimes. My parents are very respectful of other religions, and I know they will read this so know that this is not a complaint, but it was just naturally assumed that I would be Episcopalian too. It was never forced down my throat or shoved into my life, it's just the way the world works. Obviously, there are reasons not to believe and reasons to believe and I really don't know the answer or if God is real but I know that love is real. The idea of organized religion has always bothered me. Everyone is given a set of instructions to follow and it is expected of them to follow. Go to church on Sunday. Go to the Synagogue on Saturday. Do not eat food that was not given to you. Suffering exists, to get rid of if you must get rid of attachment. There are stories upon stories, teachings and scriptures that people take too seriously in my opinion. I've never read the Bible from start to finish. I plan on it, one day, but I don't think it holds any sort of answer. It was a book written by a bunch of men back 2000 years ago. The book has been used to explain why we should have slaves, why we shouldn't allow gays, and where a woman's place should be. So no, I don't believe we should follow the Bible. Especially the Torah. I mean G-d was actually pretty brutal. G-d will make a flood one day to kill off most of the earth then help Abraham and Sarah have a kid only to tell Abraham to go kill Isaac. Not to mention the series of plagues G-d inflicted on the Egyptians for enslaving the Jewish people.

There's a line in one of Madeleine L'Engle's books, "A House Like a Lotus", where the character Max is philosophizing the world with the narrator, Polly O'Keefe. Max goes off into a monologue in which she states, "If we kept God and got rid of religion, the world would be a much better place." To me, this makes sense. In my comparative religions class, my professor started off the semester with the statement, "Humans are inherently religious" then let the class discuss. The thing is, religion has gained a negative condonation, and rightfully so. People aren't inherently religious. While we do strive for structure and meaning, everybody is different. You can't file humanity between only two titles, we're too broad for that. Madeleine L'Engle was a big-time Episcopalian, and it wasn't until I started collecting her books did I find more meaning into the thought of religion. Her thought of keeping God, to me, is keeping love. It isn't the set plans or rules that we need to follow, it's what you are supposed to learn, and that's just love.

I call myself Episcopalian, mostly because of my environment. My involvement with the Episcopal diocese is without a doubt the best thing to have ever happened to me. It's not because I had gone to some church camp where I found God and read the bible ten times a day, though I definitely still do go to church camp. It's because of the people I met through it. I consider myself religious by association because I spend weekends and summers at these Episcopal events and because I find beauty in Compline and the songs we sing. Maybe that's all we need. Maybe all we need in life is to spend weekends with friends, spend summers serving a bunch of elementary school kids and friends with diverse-abilities. There is a beauty of the collection of voices with nothing but the strumming of a guitar at night, when everything is silent but full. Maybe, all you really need is love to succeed in the world.