In today’s world, there aren’t any frontiers. The entire globe has been well-charted, mapped, sonically-explored, and Google-Earthed. Therefore, I have strong doubts that any church/temple/house of worship that doesn’t meet the approval of our masters has been allowed to stand. “Approval” comes in various ways because sometimes the biggest nut-case cults are allowed to flourish if considered politically-expedient or a convenient magnet in which to draw disruptive elements thereby neutralizing them.
To have dominion over the unconscious and irrational mind of one’s subjects pretty well ensures continuation of our sorry global dystopia. However, denying the existence of the uncharted dimensions of our minds or the universe itself is also an officially-recognized money-pit in which to deposit and withdraw politically-expedient elements.
I believe that it is fortunate that human beings don’t know and can’t know everything about everything for a variety of reasons. It is what gives me enough hope to go about my day.
In moving every two to three years among other disruptions throughout my childhood, I’ve attended nine different school systems growing up for a total of 11 schools (not counting trade schools, individual classes, and higher education). I have also attended far too many churches, temples, and other houses of worship than I can count—both as a child (my parents each attended different churches each time we moved with some shuffling at the onset) and in traveling Europe, Asia, and The Americas. I’ve also experienced various exotic spiritual venues to include numerous elaborately appointed shrines, chapels, dungeons, and cigar lounges along with other unusual places nearby and abroad of “natural” or “supernatural” origin.
I still haven’t found “my religion” so I make up my own as I go along, borrowing liberally from a variety of sources.
I find proselytizers including Atheist Missionaries (LOL) predictable and ineffective albeit many are “good-intentioned”. I count many religious people and Atheists among my friends but there is a line that when crossed causes a quick correction. Meanwhile, yes, I would love to attend your religious or intellectual gathering trusting you not to drug and kidnap me. I can assure you that would be a waste of your resources that you would live to regret. I’ve already been brainwashed and inducted, thank you, and yet here I am.
One of the gaps in my religious experiences is Orthodox Christianity. I’ve been advised by one of the followers of this blog that the Orthodox Easter is a good time to experience it and there’s a sizable population here in Los Angeles. I may do just that.
I’m also very drawn to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism; however am opposed to vegetarianism. I love Eastern art as much as The Dutch Masters. I enjoy The Norton Simon Museum nearby even if I don’t approve of the company by that name. I can appreciate that the most revered artists have wealthy patrons with the source of that wealth often questionable. That last sentence should be considered “sour grapes”. I can be had cheaply!
I think spirituality is very important however and also confess that if various key elements were in place I could be persuaded to “convert” to some religion or another even if my conversion is purely pro forma. However, that conversion is unlikely to be doctrine-related or invoked by means of rhetoric.
I spent a month in Europe alone—the only time I’ve been there alone—to meet up with my now ex-husband for three more weeks in Germany (just prior to which he evidently hired an impersonator of me, but that’s another story). One of my stops was La Rochelle, France, considered the “home” of The Three Musketeers and the “Huguenots,” to which my maternal grandmother traced her ancestry. I found their severe, windowless church to be oppressive and prison-like. Although I tend to be drawn to very old architecture and ruins (such as in Rome) the Huguenot church is one place I couldn’t even bear to tarry within for more than a minute. However the city itself is phenomenally inviting and I recommend it for its marina alone.
Here’s a part of La Rochelle that most people never see:
(Video is not one of my more accomplished art forms.)
However, in retrospect I think I would have preferred to have remained in Cádiz, Spain, which has elements more to my liking including the men. By departing I was relieving myself of their temptation being determined to adhere to my marriage vows despite my anguish and despair at the time (the reason for my trip is too complicated and painful to fully describe).
I believe that the WASP dominance of the U.S. is largely responsible for the “backlash” of both Feminism and celebrity-worship. Albeit, Judaism clearly also plays a major part. Are they rivals or collaborators? I believe that the answer to that question depends on class and is multidimensional. Both of these religions formed the greater part of my upbringing with my family being completely WASP with the majority of my socialization Jewish, Black, Irish, or Italian (in that order). Although, I do not necessarily hold the individual adherents (or victims?) of WASP-ism or Judaism responsible for some of the less desirable effects of that upbringing, I am probably immune from the doctrine or its backlash. That last would also apply to Islam. Doctrine or guilt-tripping tends to glide right off of my well-oiled feathers, if I prefer not to be assaulted by it. I’m likely to turn the tables.
One of my favorite churches (albeit it is more like a museum) is the Notre-Dame de Reims which combines both traditional and modern elements after being essentially rebuilt after being bombed. It is Joan of Arc’s place of triumph (the crowning of Charles VII) and resting place. The replacement stained-glass windows were done by Chagall, a Jew. Like pretty much every Catholic Church in Europe, it was erected on top of Roman ruins. I like its fierce melding of traditional, modern, and secular elements, or perhaps that’s just the champagne talking. I suspect, however, a sinister element at play here somehow related to Quedlinburg, Germany—artificial rivalries on top of secret alliances which is a condition I effectively personify.
I find the history of the Catholic Church to be fascinating including its antecedents in ancient Greece which some believe is the root of the rift between Protestants and Catholics. I am grateful to various Disqus users for enlightening me on the subject.
As for the key elements of a religion that could successfully convert me? They are as follows:
1. Freedom to practice my various forms of art and to appreciate art from other sources.
2. Food, drink, and smoke that I like with freedom to partake of and prepare from other traditions thereof (or to invent my own) albeit I also appreciate a limited time of fasting or cleansing and am otherwise capable of self-control, trying new things, and going with the flow.
3. Sex that I like which is primarily of a psychological/spiritual element but to include certain physical acts of the traditional and esoteric varieties, not necessarily limited to those acts therein, and with freedom to pleasure myself albeit I can also appreciate a time of limited celibacy or restriction, following hard-limits, incapacity, etc.
4. Freedom to be alone as well as to associate with others.
I hope that this list will not attract to me missionaries who shall offer me all of the above but then for purposes of my spiritual enlightenment and conversion shall deprive me of all of them. I don’t believe that any further humiliation not toward my liking would offer me further redemption. Personally, I would prefer to simply undergo a ritual test of my allegiance rather than yet another epic period of suffering. If suffering is good for the soul, then, I got soul, Baby.
I believe that God has guided me through each one of the traps that I have escaped because otherwise I ought not to be alive. Curiously, I have not yet been entirely relieved of my ability to speak my mind.