The last time I talked about this prompt, I wrote a fairly long article laying out where I stand on both topics, if you're interested in reading that one.
Things have changed a little bit since then.
Day 19 ~ What do you think of religion or politics?
As I believed then, I still think that it's virtually impossible to discuss one of these subjects without at least a passing mention to the other at least in this country. Though there is supposed to be a separation of church and state, I think that most people can see that it's an illusion. Religion weighs heavily on politics in this country, and if you think I'm wrong, then tell me why gay marriage being a so-called sin should have any bearing whatsoever on its legality?
The short answer is that it shouldn't, but the reality is that it does.
Religion intrudes many aspects of politics, and it seems that it's done that even more so in the past three years, particularly when you look at the area of abortion rights. Many states have moved to significantly restrict access to abortion, and most of those restrictions have come at the urging of religious factions.
Now that I've told you that the two shouldn't have anything to do with each other, but do, I'll tell you what I think of them independently. If you're prepared for this, that is.
Three years ago, I had a different view of faith than I do today. I hadn't been tested nearly as much back then as I have now. I've seen things. I've questioned why. I've struggled to find reasons, answers, help. I've doubted. Oh, how I have doubted.
I stopped affiliating myself formally with the Catholic Church shortly after my father's funeral. I don't take issue with the religion itself so much as the human constructs that get in the way. I have become a fan of Pope Francis and truly believe that he is the voice of reason that the Church so desperately needed to find again. I have hope that he can restore the Church, at least in some ways, to the teachings of Jesus - of humility, of service, of acceptance, of love. I think he's doing a fine job of it thus far, and I really do see that it's bringing people back into the fold.
I'm not there yet.
I am technically registered at an Ecumenical Catholic Church, which follows the same teachings, but without the restrictiveness of the rules of ordinary Catholicism. Women can be priests, priests can marry, gays are welcome.
In truth, we haven't attended very often.
I was angry with God for a long time. I'm not anymore.
I stopped trying to understand, I made my peace with the things that happened, and I learned a lot about myself and faith along the way. It took a long time. I'm not religious, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I am spiritual.
My church, if you want to call it that, these days is outdoors. Nature. When I am overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds me, I can think clearer. I see that there are greater things in this world. I can understand the significance of my own existence, and at the same time begin to grasp the insignificance of it. I have always been drawn to water in times of sorrow, and I still am today. I have spent a lot of time alongside rivers and lakes in these past few years, and the flood hit me hard because it hurt the places I love the most, the places that called me and reassured me that I would be okay.
If this sounds very hippie-ish, I get it. I'm okay with that.
I don't need a building to talk to God. I just need to breathe outside and listen to the stillness around me for a little while.
As for politics, I have probably become even more jaded about that than I was three years ago. From the smallest local drama to the arresting of the entire Federal government to international conflicts, it's all disheartening. I truly believe that most people go into politics because they want to make a difference, they want to help, they want to create change.
The system though, it takes these idealists and it changes them. Instead of them effecting change on the world they sought to help, they begin to serve the interests that serve them. Driven by those with the ability to buy influence, they lose sight of what they were there for in the first place.
Reason goes out the window, compromise becomes a dirty word that shall ne'er pass the lips of anyone within a year of the election cycle, and partisan bickering prohibits anything from really getting better. I lay fault for this at the feet of both major parties, at the feet of the current structure, at the laws and rules passed and manipulated for the benefit of those with money, at the feet of the system in general for allowing it all to go so horribly wrong.
I don't know what the answer is, but I know that we can't necessarily rely on Congress to find it. They're too worried about being re-elected to actually reform anything enough to change it. Besides which, why would they want to? Their motivation is to do whatever it takes to keep their seats, not to reach across aisles and shake hands and figure out solutions.
If we want things to be different, we have to be different. We need to demand different from our leaders. We have to participate in this system of government.
There you have it.