I used to define myself as a Christian. I don’t anymore.
The shoe didn’t fit, so I stopped wearing it. Simple, really. And yet not.
Because when pressed to define my faith, I have trouble coming up with an accurate term. A comfortable box to shove myself into. A category that encompasses all the whys and wherefores.
So I was intrigued by a definition I stumbled across recently in the back of a fantasy novel. (Sidenote: Many sci-fi/fantasy novels have really thoughtful and insightful takes on religion. I’ve read books by Jacqueline Carey and Robin McKinley, specifically, that caused me to think about my own experiences with God/churches/etc. in whole new ways. )
This particular book was The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin. In the “Extras” section at the end of the book, Jemisin answers a question about exploring religion in her writing with this statement:
“Well, I consider myself an agnostic–not in the sense of doubting the existence of God, but in the sense of doubting the capability of any human religion to encompass the divine. More specifically I think religion alone is not enough to encompass the divine. Religion is a handy guide to living, assuming you’re still living in the society that existed at the time of the religion’s founding. It’s useful for unifying and motivating a population. But to understand ourselves and the universe, we need to explore other schools of thought–the complexity of the human consciousness, the limits of science, and more. I believe we will eventually need to interact with other intelligent entities, and exchange ideas. And we need to be wary of the ways in which letting others do this thinking and learning for us can come back to bite us on the ass.”
There is much about Jemisin’s answer that resonates with me. But in being a student of the divine, I have a long way to go. Many questions to ask and schools of thought to explore. But the older I get, the more strongly I believe that life isn’t about finding security in rote answers. Real living isn’t reciting catechism or memorizing prayers someone else wrote.
Life is seeking. Reaching. Asking. Taking a journey in search of the divine that doesn’t quite look like anybody else’s personal quest.
Some can embark on this journey from within the confines–the body–of a church. That’s a fine and beautiful thing.
I couldn’t do it. Can’t. Won’t.
So I left, and here I wander. But, to borrow from that Tolkien quote you see so often on the bumpers of cars, “Not all those who wander are lost.”
And neither am I.
-Lo, who means no disrespect to any whose shoe still fits.