Two Catholics, a Baptists, a Lutheran, and a Jew were sitting in a lunch room discussing religion… this is no joke…
When I offered up no faith of my own, the eldest of the group balled me up in her aged little eyes and asked me what I was?
“Er… I… um…”
Aghast, frightened stares from the woman — furrowed, suspicious brows from the men.
“Hm?” She cut in. Then soothingly, “Come on,” her tone quickly changing to that of a kindergarten teacher. “What church did you go to when you were a boy.”
Talk about being painted into a bizarre religious corner. It’s like being asked, do you still masturbate in the closet? So I just said it, “Well, I guess you could say I was raised Catholic.”
“So you’re Catholic then!” she quipped triumphantly, and then turned away from me and into another conversation so quickly that to object would have been a glaring social faux-pas on my part.
Anyway, the point is — what is this obsession with meaningless religious labels? I am no more Cathoilc than I am Sikh or Zoroastrian, but apparently believing in anything even remotely “Catholic” is not required to be one.
It’s not the first time I’ve come across unreasonable attachments to religious labels, people adopt them for all sorts of reasons that have little to do with the existence or nature of the creator of the universe.
But I still don’t get it. I mean, some labels we are unavoidably fixed to — our gender, the nation of our birth — but others we absolutely choose. Those that we choose we should take some responsibility for.
Most of us would not sign our name without taking at least a cursory glance at the contract, especially when the contract language is as severe as that in the Bible or Koran. And if we were so inclined, couldn’t we continue to draw inspiration from the teachings of Christ or Mohammed without being a Christian or a Muslim — just as someone can gain knowledge from Descartes without being a Cartesian?
I can express my enjoyment of Mozart without being a Mozartian, drink my favorite coffee without being a Starbuckster, and drive comfortably to work in a car that I love without ever referring to myself as Volkswaginian or Mazdite. Some people tell me they are “Christian” because of the great impact Jesus Christ has had a on our culture and society — but then wouldn’t they equally be Platonists, Euclideans, Pasteurians, and Gutenbergens?
These religious labels are nonsense in my opinion, they only hide what is really in one’s heart, covering it up with some iron-age label that includes prejudices, taboos, and rituals important only to a desert tribe trying to survive in a hostile world.