I was brought up Catholic, and got married in a Catholic church, even though Frank and I were both at serious odds with our own lingering beliefs in any sort of god. He’s since declared himself agnostic, and I generally think of myself as a secular humanist, but I am also comfortable with the atheist label.
Luckily, our paths to this point have been pretty smooth. Nobody in our family is particularly knock-down crazy religious, so while we got a couple eyebrow raises because we didn’t baptize our kids, there weren’t any damnations or disownings or anything like that.
There are things I really miss about organized religion. I love the sense of community that a church provides, and I love the formal sense of ceremony of a mass. These two relatively minor things were actually my greatest personal stumbling block with disavowing my Catholicism and all the teaching of Cathol (anyone?). But as religion has figured less and less into my life, I can’t really understand why I was so attached to it. Familiarity, perhaps… the same reason why some people travel the world and still only eat at McDonald’s.
But, there’s the other side of the coin. The sex abuse scandals. The “we’ll take our social services away if you legalize gay marriage” threats (because that’s what Jesus would do!). The extortion of socially liberal Catholic politicians with the denial of Communion. And that’s just the Catholic church.
Yes, I know they do good things, too. But the bad things… the domineering, bullying, hurtful, hateful bad things, they sure make me happy I can say I have nothing to do with them anymore.
I have what might be an abnormally conscious fear of death.
It’s sort of hard for me to describe. There is more than one facet to it.
First of all, I simply do not want to die, and I fear dying young. I don’t want to abandon my children before they are old enough to know I loved them with all my being, and before they are mature enough to not be psychologically scarred by my absence. I love life, I love being alive, and I don’t want it to end any time soon.
Then, there’s the fear of dying itself. I am a secular humanist so I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or limbo, or reincarnation, or any other sort of existence beyond life as we know it here. I believe that life just ends, that consciousness just ends, and that’s it. Part of me really wishes I didn’t; if I could believe that when I died, I’d be reunited with my mother and grandparents and all my other loved ones, it would be so much more comforting. I wish I could find something about death that I could look forward to. I suppose it is fortunate that I have no reason to believe that death would be better than the life I’m living now. Still, I dwell on it occasionally, and quite honestly, it terrifies me. What will it feel like, to slip out of consciousness like that, never to return? Will I know it’s happening? Am I going to spend the last few moments of my life scared out of my mind because my greatest fear is happening to me?
I got wrapped up in all those thoughts last night, as I laid with Lane trying to get her to fall asleep. Oh man, it is not a good or comforting thing to be so aware of one’s own mortality sometimes.
Christmas is coming, and there are no signs of a white Christmas for us. Bummer, because I love white Christmases. Sure there’s snow on the ground NOW — but given our forecast for the next couple days of rain and temperatures just too warm for this time of year, I don’t see it happening.
So yes, we are a Christmas celebrating bunch. But for my nuclear family, it is entirely in the secular sense and the secular sense only. My husband and I both independently came to the conclusion sometime not long after being married in a Catholic wedding mass that neither of us really believed any of the Catholic doctrine… and general belief in any sort of god at all? Yeah, not there either. He describes himself as agnostic, I prefer “secular humanist” because it sounds all official… and, well, the Affirmations of Humanism just perfectly capture my faith in mankind and hopes for the world.
That said, we still have a tree, we still have stockings, Santa is coming, the goose is getting fat, etc. etc. We don’t go to mass, but I still sing carols like “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “O Holy Night” at the top of my lungs in the car because dammit, I like them. And I wish there would be snow. Not too much, because after all we are driving to Buffalo Christmas night (as in we are departing at like 10:00 p.m. — we’ve found it is sooooo much easier to make a 6 hour drive when the 3 year-old and the 9 month-old – wait, oh dear, he’s 10 months today; how did that happen?!? – sleep through the entire car trip, which can only reasonably be expected to happen at night. The hubby and I are both night owls, so driving and staying up until 4:00 a.m. instead of our normal 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. isn’t a huge stretch. Coffee helps.
I just have to remember to bring my pump this time. The baby still nurses 2-100 times a night, and my boobs went up like four cup sizes and doused me in the mother-of-all-letdowns the last time we did the drive overnight.
Posted in breastfeeding, holidays, me and the family
Tagged agnostic, atheism, atheist, breastfeeding, christmas, religion, road trips, secular, secular humanism, secular humanist, snow, weather