Thursday, June 10, 2010

3 Rs: Reading, Religion and Ranting

Our town library was not very busy on Monday when I was volunteering. It gave me a chance to scout out some books for myself. I came home with The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley for Mike. Any one who tracked my book borrowing and purchasing might conclude that I am really into history, particularly the military history of the United States and western expansion. They would be wrong, though.
I brought home for myself Anne Tyler’s Noah’s Compass, Michael Pollan’s Food Rules and Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. I’m usually more of a fiction reader, but I’ve enjoyed Michael Pollen’s other books and this one took about an hour to finish. I like that one of his rules is to enjoy yourself enough to occasionally break the rules. “All things in moderation…including moderation.”
Jon Krakauer is an excellent writer, in my opinion, and Under the Banner of Heaven is about religious extremism. The focus is on the Mormons, but it really speaks to any kind of extreme fundamentalism. Even though I’ve just started it, I can tell it is another one of those books I won’t be able to put down for any length of time and won’t be able to stop thinking about for a long time to come.
My parents were devout Catholics and I was raised being told that was the one true religion. When I found out that there were other religions also believing themselves the one true religion, I just thought it was most logical to conclude that there was no such thing as "THE one true religion." I was nine at the time, so you could argue that was the work of a really immature mind. I have to say, though, I really haven't been convinced otherwise in the intervening years.
The Catholic church had a saying about giving them a child until the age of seven and he was theirs for life. That didn't hold true in my case. Could it be that as a "she-child" I felt pointedly excluded? That is something I really have a hard time with--that women can be such ardent followers of patriarchal blowhards. That is just sad to me.


  1. I'm right with you on this. I started thinking along the same lines when I was about 9 also. It just made sense to me that geography and genetics played the biggest role in how our beliefs were created. If that is so then how can their be only one TRUE religion.

  2. I can see why we three are virtual friends. I agree with both of you. I was lucky to have been brought up in a moderate (close to liberal) Methodist family so I was taught from the beginning that good people come in all shapes and colors and from many different cultures.

  3. Religious extremeism sends me over the edge. My life has been so deeply involved in religion I try to stay as far away from it as possible now. I watched my denomination drift into fundamentalism. If you're from the south you have to deal with religion, everybody talks about it, and there's a church on every corner. I so enjoy living in Oregon where religion is not the subject of every conversation. I'm not sure I could stand to read the book you mentioned but I may look into it. I try to monitor myself so I don't get all worked up about religion and it takes very little to do that.

  4. You and I would get along well.

  5. Totally agree. I am a very spiritual person but do not buy into organized religion for that very "we are the only ones who are right" syndrome.


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