I just read an account from a friend about her experiences growing up with a Christian family and finding her own niche among Sekhmet and Anukis and Idunn. Those are all mythological beings, two from Egypt one from Norse. She and I both have a love for mythology, we find it fascinating and in many ways, more real than anything else.
This isn't about Robin or her story. It's more about mine, I guess.
She spent so long, trying, struggling, to pray to Jesus, to understand why he died a martyr's death for our sins... She looked at it differently: Jesus was a crazy man, running a cult! And of course, the Hebrews, the Romans were to be outraged at such lunacy. How could they not be? Their entire lives built upon their own myths, and customs, and here was someone trying to change everything. But as said, this isn't about her.
I was not raised with religion, in any sense of the word. We celebrate(d) Christmas and Hanukkah and Passover and Easter. My father a Christian of some kind, I guess, and my mother a Jew by culture alone. But God or Jesus' birth, or Moses' leading of the people, that was never brought into it.
As a young child I looked at "God" as any other story I was told at bedtime. God and Jesus were the same to me as Zeus and Hera. Once I started school, I didn't understand that other children believed things I just thought of as fairy tales. And oh, did I love fairy tales. Faeries, and elves and sprites and tree-people... anything I could get my hands on. The story of Athena's birth to explain headaches? Genius, if only for good entertainment.
I considered myself some kind of vague Jew for the longest time. I still consider myself one, if only culturally. After all, I was born to a Jewish mother, raised in a Jewish neighborhood and even went to a jewish nursery school. The most I remember was making a little goblet to drink out of, by gluing strips of colored tissue paper to it. It was for Passover, I think. I know a few words to a payer: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam... "
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe..." That's about it. I had to look up the translation. Hooray for Wikipedia!
In Kindergarten I had a friend named Kate. One day I went over to her house, and it was near Christmas 'cause she had the tree up, and decorations and things. And one thing you should know is, I loved dolls as a little girl. I played with them all day, every day.
Kate had a nativity set with cute figurines and a little hut like thing, and I loved it. The hut made of real wood with fake moss on top... it was like a fairy den. And the dolls were so cute, that I wanted to play with it. So I sat down, and started to play. I don't remember where Kate was off to, but when she came back and saw me playing with it, she yelled and got very upset, and said I couldn't touch it, it was disrespectful.
I was very sad that I had done something so rude, though I wasn't sure exactly what I had done wrong. I didn't understand what it even was, nor what significance it had.
As time went on, religion just drifted into the background. It wasn't important, and it wasn't anything I ever had to deal with. I was never brought to temple, nor to church. I've been to a few sermons, because I've been to weddings and barmitzvahs and bamitzvahs, and other things. I've even recieved the host, more as a joke than anything else. "Really, that's Christ? A cracker? Really?
By eighth grade, we were taught the theory of evolution in science class. Looking back, why weren't we taught this BEFORE eighth grade? I was 13-14 at the time, and was already starting to form my own ideas about things. A little late, I think.
I had a friend, but I'll just call her J here for privacy reasons. She's a Jehovah's Witness, her mother is very religious. And when evolution came up in class, J scoffed, said her mother said that it was lies, that J should only believe god and god's words. And I actually got a little angry.
It bothered me that J would trust something that she'd read in a book
, as books contain STORIES. And that she would just turn up her nose to what we were learning in class. Surely, if they were teaching it there must be SOME validity to it. After all, this was science class, not history where it's all lies and diluted facts that've lost their truth somewhere along the line.
As it turned out, we got into an argument about it. Throughout the rest of my school years, J and I remained friends, but she later turned from religion a little bit, after all my pestering. I'm more like my mother than I'd like to admit, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
I just have very little tolerance for stupidity. I always have. That's probably why at 13, I was obsessed with Jhonen Vasquez's comic book called Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Johnny didn't have much tolerance for it either, though his usually ended with blood, while mine ended with arguments and maybe some yelling.
In high school I got into art, more into fantasy, deeply into nihilism and Chuck Palahniuk. I went to SVA (School of Visual Arts for those lamers not in the know) for a summer program where my art flourished and I grew to love the human figure. It is perfect in all of its flaws... ugly and grotesque at times, and at others, unnaturally beautiful. It was there that my horrific excuse for a painting teacher said, "You should go into illustration."
I'm digressing terribly. This is more of a bio and less about religion. For my senior paper I wrote about the terrors of a theocracy and the possibility of it happening in America. I used Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale. My teacher who was luckily a hippie was pretty awesome about it. A lot of others didn't agree. But the librarians? We had great discussions. And then the librarian caught herself and said she couldn't talk about this with me.
During morning announcements I refused to say the pledge. Kids said I did it for attention... as if. I hate attention, I'm very shy. No, it was the POINT of it. A fascist principle at best, and the whole 'under god' bit is unpleasant as well.
This is overly long and boring, and I'm sure no one's read this far. So, I'm going to conclude. I guess, I was just really moved having read my friend's self discovery, and felt a need to share a little of my own. I know that even if I had been raised in a more religious home, I'd probably still be at the same place I am now. The process might've been different, though.
The Nike of Samothrace, one of my favorite sculptures and mythological characters of all time.
*This is probably full of typos and run on sentences. I am not in the mood to edit, sorry.