The Religion Of Hanging Out
A DIY Religion VS Loneliness
My sweet friend, I’m gonna write about religion. I know there are some things about religion that make a lot of people feel uncomfy. But, you know what I’ve discovered? That religions tend to be born with good intentions! So, even if religions get a bad rap sometimes because some of their questionable members, I think we could think of the benefits they can bring to us... One of those benefits is: HANGING OUT!!!
I grew up extremely Catholic in Mexico. I believed 100% in Jesus, baby Jesus (that for some reason seemed to be a different person), the Virgin Mary and all the saints. I also believed in the devil and was very scared of him, which kept me from misbehaving.
I loved the relationship I had with my very personal God. I used to talk to God all the time and imagine he was my BFF and I was his favourite person. These beliefs made me feel safe and chill, because I knew (or sensed) someone had my back at all times! I used to pray for all kinds of weird stuff.
- When I was 8 I prayed until I got tired and sweaty, that I would never ever stop being a kid.
- When I was 12 and I had obviously stopped being a kid since my li’l body was already, irremediably, changing. So I prayed and prayed to get huge boobs.
Both of those prayers went unanswered. But I cheerfully assumed there might have been some good reasons for it, and I continued believing very hard in God and Co.
As an adult, I joined a Buddhist temple and practiced Buddhism for around 5 years. I really loved it!! I honestly think all of us should learn a little bit about buddhism. I felt so calm and peaceful and I started seeing the world and people in a completely different light. I felt so different about Love!
When the Buddhist temple I attended started charging a bunch of money for its membership, though, I stopped going there. When I was looking for a new (cheaper) religion, for me and my little ones, I bumped into a beautiful church that seemed similar to the catholic ones of my upbringing.
This one was different, though:
- It had a priest who was able to get married and have babies.
- It had a woman priestess!!!!
- It had a choir teacher who was very openly gay.
This was all completely unheard of back in Mexico! I was so shocked!
- There was a book full of songs and we used to sing all of us together!! It sounded so epic!
My absolute favourite time on Sunday morning was something called:
(Are you ready?)
it was called:
— COFFEE HOUR —-
Boy, oh boy. Does that sound thrilling or what?
Coffee Hour was a time when, once done with the priest talking and the kids singing, we would all walk to a big hall and have coffee and tea and cookies.
And we would even have tea sandwiches when we were feeling wild!
all of us together.
There we were, whole entire families, very very old people, immigrants and refugees, babies and kids, and we would chat and try to be super duper nice to each other and memorize each other’s names and faces and facts, just so we could be super duper nice to each other next week too!
To be honest, it seemed like the whole church experience was created just so we could get to hang out at coffee hour.
Seriously! Think about it. What is another situation where you can meet people of all ages, ready to be super nice to you, week after week after week?
Which brings me to wonder…. What if religions create a kind of social situation that could help humans feel less lonely? What if we could re-create something of this sort, even for people who don’t usually like religions?
I found this in my journal:
Ok, I’ve been thinking and thinking of this thing about a religion. You know what? I miss going to church! I miss the older men and women who are so kind and caring and behave so differently from the young people that they seem to come from another planet!
They are so generous and energetic and cheerful and make everything look so easy. Volunteering, carrying boxes, teaching, singing. I miss them! I miss hearing about Jesus and his adventures. I miss singing songs about God and the universe. I miss leaving the building filled with hope about the future and about humanity.
Then, in another page, I was thinking about what would I do if I had to invent a religion:
If I had a religion, I would like it to be:
- Accepting of everyone.
- Based on Kindness and Love.
- Beliefs would be flexible.
- It would accept that we don’t really know what the meaning of life is.
- It would be accepting of human imperfection, yet, it would encourage betterment.
- It would care for health and mental health, because happy, healthy people, make for a happy healthy world!
- It would encourage sharing.
- “Getting together” would be one fo the main objectives of having a religion at all!
- (I don’t like it when I’m asked to believe in things, but…) What if we agreed to believe in love? And in some kind of universal intelligence we don’t understand? And on hoping things can be better?
In another page, I even found the commandments for my religion!! (hahaha, oh gosh. It seems like I was thinking about this whole thing very seriously!)
OK, THE COMMANDMENTS FOR THE RELIGION OF HANGING OUT:
- People are Fellow Humans (No men or woman or child or elder or poor or rich)
- God is no binary. And in fact, we do not even understand what the heck God is.
- We see love in each other.
- We practice Joy. (We do things we like together, like making music, cooking, dancing, etc. We share Joy with others)
- We do our best.
- We take good care of ourselves and of each other.
- We accept and support each other.
- We try to make things better!
If you think of another commandment, we can add it to the list! I’m missing two in order to make it to ten, so it sounds more official.
I see all religions as a similar thing!
I see us, little humans, trying so hard to make sense of life and death and the whole incomprehensible hugeness of our existence and the universe. On the meaning of EVERYTHING.
I think it’s very endearing that we make these efforts. Especially if they could make us kinder, more curious and more connected to each other!
Have you ever considered.. if you were inventing a religion… how would you want it to be?
Hi Ani, this question resonates so much with me. Something I've been thinking about a lot over the last few years. I grew up atheist but now I'm realizing how many important values, practices, and connections essential for our collective wellbeing are woven into religion. We are losing those values, practices, and connections as more people are throwing away religion, yet there are few secular ways of keeping them alive.
I'm currently putting together a talk on what ancient wisdom and modern science is telling us about human wellbeing. I think we do need a new kind of religion that bridges the two worlds. I completely agree with you that the core of it requires human connection across diversity. I also love that you see all religions as a similar thing! I made an illustrated blog post about this that you might like: https://www.jessicafan.ca/blog/2019/9/30/what-is-truth-what-is-vessel
I would love to talk more about these ideas if you're open to it. I happen to know several friends who know you too so I feel we're meant to connect :)