Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Misfit Shrines

Note: I started this post on the 18th and have been sitting on it for a few days. It was difficult to write.

It's been a while since my last post, deepest apologies. I recently had a conversation with a friend that brought to mind a lot of dissonance that has existed in my personal life for some time now. I don't really know where to begin, and and don't have the energy to describe it in every detail. For a while, especially since started graduate school, I've felt a conflict between my field of study (and academia in general) and my faith as a Christian. I've easily assimilated the tenets of science with my religion as a believer in theistic evolution, etc., but through the comments and attitudes of certain peers and faculty I've been led to believe that my faith is something to keep quiet, as scientists "don't really believe that sort of thing." A fellow student in a class once had the gall to say "I don't really think one can really believe in both the scientific method and God" (or something to that effect).  It felt like a challenge, one that I'm tired of being confronted with, as someone who has long believed in both God and evolution, dinosaurs, etc. It's also illogical, to my understanding, since the scientific method is a process of trying to understand and explain the material world, not a way of trying to prove the existence of God.

On the other hand, are the conservative Christians who has also made me feel like an outsider who will never fit in. Evangelism, in the form of approaching a person for the sole purpose of forcing another speech about Jesus and salvation (often in the most condescending way possible) strikes me as awkward, superficial, and usually ineffectual. I'd rather have an honest, down-to-earth conversation where my perspective is desired.  Through Christ I know the old law is dead (i.e. all the insane laws of the Old Testament) and my sins are forgiven. I choose to embrace people who are gay as my equals who deserve equal rights. As much as I abhor the thought of abortion, I support the reproductive rights of women. As human beings I believe we are stewards over the Earth, and need to care for it and all its inhabitants (although I swear I'll kill every spider I come across in my apartment). I believe that women and men are equals who complement each other (look at powerful women in the Bible--Esther, Ruth, Mary, Mary Magdelene, etc). Women can serve as both political and religious leaders--I have a hard time stomaching the idea that women must submit to their husbands, although I've read personal accounts of Christian marriage relations adhering to this principle that made sense to me. As much as I strive to believe the Bible is the word of God, I can't help but see Paul as a bigot and homophobe (a bit problematic considering he wrote about 75% of the New Testament).

In sum (since I'm beginning to rant), I've had a fair amount of anger at fellow Christians because I feel they don't accept me, ignore me, don't include me in their little cliques, and have accepted a lot of ideas I just can't stomach. To be fair, perhaps I'm depending too much on my own emotions and gut reactions rather than an honest analysis of Scripture. Also, it sounds like I'm making a lot of blanket statements, so I want to add that I know a lot of people who share my faith share a lot of the same sentiments that I've described above, and I've had really positive relationships and interactions with other Christians as well. This also goes for all my non-Christian friends. I am trying to grapple with my liberal worldview and political leanings and assimilate them with my religion. I have been tempted to try to abandon it altogether, but it's never been something I can seriously do. I just can't support legislation that relies solely on religious reasoning (sorry, the U.S is not a theocracy), and I can't discount all the scientific discoveries that have been made (God gave us reason, use it!).

So there it is. For those of you who've stayed with me this far, thank you. I had to get this off my chest, and I know that this is rather unpolished and unprepared. I know there are others like me out there, so there's no reason for a full-out pity party. I'm not as much a misfit as I sometimes feel. In the end, I may be wrong on some points, but I'm getting to where I want to start living openly and honestly. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Just Checking In

I feel it's been a while since my last update, so I'm stopping in. I don't really have a particular topic in mind, I just...don't feel like working on my thesis. I did some data entry into Excel earlier today while watching Young Frankenstein as the rain poured outside. In less than two weeks I'm hoping to have my data more or less analyzed for my defense. It feels strange that the end is in sight, and surprisingly, I'm not any more excited or motivated to work on it than usual. As long as I get something done each day, I feel more or less content.

In other news, still plowing through Dickens' Bleak House, and am now about 600 pages in. About a week ago I wrote down some ideas in my paper journal that I'd had about reading while I was washing the dishes. I thought about how I typically can't wait to finish a novel, with my eye constantly on the stack of books I want to read next. I sometimes rush through endings, reading practically nonstop until I'm done. With Bleak House, however, I don't necessarily feel that rush. My eyes do stray; for example, I'd love to pick up Tina Fey's autobiography at some point. I have so many books I'd like to read, but I don't feel myself rushing through this one. Part of it may be the language--it's difficult, but I love it. I can get "lost" in descriptions  of buildings, characters, scenarios, etc. It keeps me in the present. 

To make a bit of a logical leap, perhaps that's a good thing about my present troubles. When I'm fully in the present I'm not as preoccupied with the past and I can't expend as much energy worrying about the future. As someone told me, our twenties are a time when we're allowed to experiment and make mistakes. There's always something else that needs to be done. My apartment is a mess, there are bills to pay, and there is always more work to be done on my thesis. I'm trying to just take life one day at a time and enjoy it.