I tried to keep this short. I really tried.
Late to this (using the Christmas break to catch up on newsletter reading!), but as a deeply lapsed Catholic it really resonated with me. Especially the part about being drawn to churches as a place of peace and reflection.
I sometimes struggle with teaching moral lessons to my kids because the reason I was given (the promise of heaven) has no relevance to them. It’s been important work for me too; to think beyond the basic explanation I was given and look to the root of why we do things. To be honest, I keep coming back to the golden rule - to treat others as we wish to be treated.
PS As annoying as the footnotes are when reading on a mail app, the first one was worth it and exactly what I’d hoped for after all that scrolling.
I had to set aside some time to carefully read this, as I knew it was going to evoke many and diverse thoughts. I also read through the article you linked to about gender and leisure. Fascinating stuff!
Jumping right in to one of my biggest take-aways, your observations on how the cultural momentum and imprinting of your family of origins is like a force greater than yourself resonated with me. I have often thought that culture, along with other things, is something like a “spirit”, in that it possess a certain implicit power over it’s individual constituents. It is a power only felt when you try to live, believe, and act outside of its invisible boundaries. It is something far larger than any one individual, and it guides and coordinates that actions of many individuals. (Ex: according to every study ever, weed is far less damaging to one’s health, completely natural, and non-addictive. Compare that to alcohol, which is a leading cause of many health related problems as well as strongly correlated with negative social effects. And yet, despite obvious knowledge, I still can’t imagine doing weed because of its cultural association!)
I think this ties up and into the sense that something “bigger” exists. But, it’s certainly “bigger” than just culture, as I think most spiritual people would agree with. I like how you approach the “woo” here, self-consciously acknowledging that a former version of yourself would have rolled your eyes all up and down the state. I strongly identified with that feeling. I, too, have shifted many beliefs, many to the degree that a former me would have shunned. But, such is the nature of growth and change, and, perhaps, perspective.
Your clarity in the midst of uncertainty was welcome and refreshing: well executed! For what it’s worth, I want to honor that authenticity by sharing a brief snapshot of what I see from my path right now. I was raised in evangelical Christianity, and remain Christian. However, several major shifts in my own understanding of the traditional religion I have been handed have taken me into a different place than where I started. Currently, I see the scriptures (Genesis-Revelations) as man’s inspired thoughts on God. This is in contrast to Sola Scriptura, the doctrine that every word, comma, period, and letter was somehow dictated by God through time. For many Christians, for many of my friends and family, this puts me “outside the camp”. And yet, I have a ardently held vision of and belief in Jesus. I think he’s better and bigger than what can be contained in notation and description. A perfect point I like to draw this out on is John 1:1. “In the beginning was the “Word...””. The “word” is not the Bible, it is not scripture, and it’s certainly not what every John MacArthur Bible thumping, hell and damnation preacher thinks it is. It is the all encompassing love and truth of God, that “something” which is in, around, through, below, and above everything. It is the experience beyond understanding. It is everything in the Unknown, and everything that highlights synchronicities, weaving together a story of meaning through the random occurrence of life.
I’ll stop now, but thank you for writing something which lets others look deeply in the mirror! Everyone that reads your post will have many such thoughts, I’m sure, even if they don’t have the time to put it into a comment.