A Likely Story | Choosing my religion
Whether you’re an atheist or a staunch believer, you should have a good reason for it
April 6, 2011, 5:11 am·
Two weeks ago, I went to Sabbath services for the first time in three years. It was also the first time that I had done so voluntarily. Religion is a part of life that I have systematically ignored since age twelve.
What struck me most about my recent return to Friday-night prayer was not the actual praying but, surprisingly, what I learned from another student I met there. She talked about what her religion meant to her in a calm and relaxed way that made her certainty clear. She really believed in what she was saying and was at ease with her beliefs.
Her conviction made me uncomfortable, if only because it made it obvious that she had settled something that I was far from deciphering myself.
Even if I’m still profoundly unsure of the place that this whole religion thing will end up having in my life, I’ve become convinced of the importance of figuring it out.
Whether you were raised in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or a more traditional church, there is a good chance that religion was a part of your upbringing. It is also likely that you eventually felt the need to ask questions. Would I still go to services if my mother didn’t make me? What does it all mean to me? And does any of this make sense?
These are by no means easy questions to answer, but for some — like myself — they do seem shockingly easy to brush aside.
My negligence never felt like a big deal to me. I had a slew of secular responsibilities to keep these thoughts out of my mind. But then I was confronted with a question that I couldn’t answer — one that forced me to reconsider my game plan — what was the cause of my negligence?
“College presents a unique opportunity for students to explore religion more freely than in any other point in their lives,” said College junior Maria Bellantoni, chairwoman of Programs in Religion, Interfaith and Spirituality Matters. “If you’re going to have a theological struggle in your life, this is the time to do it.”
Why, you ask? Well, why in the world not? This struggle is huge, and we are all bound to run into it every once in a while.
Hillel President and College junior Josh Belfer agreed that “it is important for each student to think about and determine what they want their relationship with religion to look like.”
Even if at the end of the day you decide that religion is not your thing you can still “take part in some of the fascinating interfaith/intercultural discussions that take place on campus,” wrote Sarah Ijaz, president of the Muslim Students Association, in an email. “You definitely don’t have to belong to a particular faith/culture to gain something out of them.”
Whatever path you choose is really no one’s business but your own. But the way you get there is. If you are to dismiss religion, you should be able to dismiss it wholeheartedly. If you choose to embrace it, you should be aware of why you are doing so.
Sara Brenes-Akerman is a College junior from San Jose, Costa Rica. Her email address is brenesakerman@theDP.com. A Likely Story appears every Wednesday.