29 May 2003
From both sides now
The road not taken, you say? If it's a spiritual path, SurlyPundit has either taken it or mapped it out:
[B]y pretty much any definition, I'm not a person of faith. I have been Christian, fanatically Christian, indifferently Christian, agnostic, atheist, Wiccan, and pagan. I've read about Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Satanism, Santeria, and Hinduism. I've thought about it all from different angles. I know Anglican and Catholic theology inside and out. In other words, I may not believe, but it's not because I don't know the arguments or haven't tried to, in various ways. No, the reason for my chronic fence-sitting is just that I don't (can't?) feel comfortable in any of it.
Sterner sects would insist that you adapt to them: they're certainly not going to adapt to you. Probably why I subscribe to none of them. There's a lot to be said for the straight and narrow, so to speak, but if every time you turn around you're going to get busted, eventually you'll stop moving altogether.
Interestingly (familiarity? leftover childhood indoctrination? random selection?), she feels "more at ease" with the Judeo-Christian deity:
I've tried various strains of paganism and Wicca, but I always feel like I'm disappointing the Big Guy. I don't call this a logical belief and it certainly shouldn't convince you, but it lets me sleep at night and does no harm.
And one doesn't have to have the Dies irae ringing in one's ears to want to avoid disappointing the Big Guy, I think; if you're persuaded that there's something beyond merely a vague Something Beyond, it seems reasonable, or at least human, to want to personify that something, and it's a fairly small jump from there to wanting to stay on his/her/its good side. (Paybacks, be they purely karmic or incarnated as plagues, are a bitch.)
I don't sleep that well at night myself, but that's another issue entirely.