Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Tree

Yesterday I dug my Christmas Tree out of the closet where I had so recently stored it and set it up. Along with it I placed the nativity figures I bought last year in the stable I got at the thrift shop. When I had finished putting it all together, I wondered why I had done it. No one will see it but me, and the passers-by on the street. I basically have no religion. Yet the rules and customs of Christianity are the basis of much of our culture in the United States. It's impossible to ignore or live outside of religion, and most of the American population is Christian. At least this is my impression. Our governmental bodies open sessions with a prayer, our money says we trust in God, we pledge allegiance to our country "under God." I have a difficult time understanding how this can be, how multitudes of people can believe as they seem to. I've read that over 80% of Americans say they believe in God.

It mystifies me that people I admire, people I consider intelligent, actually believe there is a being who influences individual lives. Because of this, I have to question my own lack of belief. I base my beliefs so firmly on logic, as if logic were not a religion if logic were something independent of human thinking. I believe so firmly in the ignorance of humans to understand what goes on around and within them, yet even that is based on ignorance. All our thoughts and ideas are products of our human brains, and therefore not to be trusted. So how can I so firmly NOT believe? It is as rash and unsupportable as absolute belief.

So, I put myself hopefully through the motions of Christmas, including the story of the birth of a savior. Why not? It is a beautiful idea, and has inspired the greatest art of all time. That depth of the feeling is something I should envy. And I do.
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from away said...

"Under God" in the pledge is a relatively recent addition, yet another invention of the 1950s. ;)

We had this conversation at Thanksmas, but I'll mention again how I can appreciate the appeal of religion even if it's not something I can bring myself to actually want to participate in. It must be so easy, so comfortable...

Emma said...

I remember when "Under God" was stuck in the pledge of allegience. I was in third grade and it was hard to remember to say it in our daily recitatio(Standing by our desks with hand over heart.) Even at that age it seemed like a slap in the face of Thomas Jefferson.

A said...

belief structure v. faith...dogma tends to win, as Dogma points out!