“Religion is like a pair of shoes… Find the one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” — George Carlin
This big weekend of Passover and Easter seems like a good time to talk about beliefs. You might say that both of these holidays are all about what we believe, and how these beliefs translate into who we know ourselves to be. Easter brings all the fundamental tenets of Christian theology; believing in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the cornerstone of Christian identity. Passover honors the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, recounting God’s culminating plague which passed-over those families who identified theirs as the homes of the Hebrew faithful.
What we believe engenders not just personal identity, but also a sense of belonging, meaning, purpose, and direction. Religion and spirituality can be a beautiful part of this.
AND… riffing on the George Carlin quip, I recognize that not only do I expect anyone to wear my shoes, but I myself have a lot of different shoes! I wear them on different occasions, with different outfits, some for comfort, some for panache. I don’t think I’d be content with one pair of all-purpose shoes for the rest of my life any more than I’d be very satisfied with one fixed collection of beliefs, religious or otherwise.
For me, belief at its best is an evolving thing — flexible, ever-expanding and deepening in complexity and contradiction and context and nuance — born again and again.
Another way of looking at Passover and Easter is that they’re both celebrations of Freedom. Maybe this could include freedom even around our beliefs.
Typically, religion gets presented something like — believe this, and you’ll be free because you have the answers… Believe this, know this, identify with this, and you’ll be one of the chosen, the liberated, the saved. But I wonder if it’s possible to consider these holidays and religion, generally, not just as an access to freedom through belief but actually as the possibility of liberation from belief.
Sure, “the Truth shall set you free”— AND the Truth is so much bigger than any belief or even a collection of beliefs could ever hold.
So maybe real freedom has something to do with mind-blowing all our beliefs out into the open. Then we can look at them, have a conversation with them, dissect and examine them inside and out. Maybe we pick them up again in an integrated way, or perhaps we discard those that have outworn their usefulness.
Believe what you want, or don’t believe anything (which, incidentally, is also a belief). By all means! Truly, we are that free, if we want to be.
I can’t wait to see you. XO, Drew
© 2018 Drew Groves