“Everything but the kitchen sink,” I say, when asked what I write about.
I get a blank look, so I elaborate.
“Essays on everything – whatever life dishes out, what I think of it, questions I pose myself, oddities to make me laugh or to make you laugh. Subjects like parenting, love, sex, reality TV, hot shoes, French lingerie, sexual politics. You know. Everything but the kitchen sink.”
As I think about my response – that I write essays on everything – I realize it isn’t quite true. Religion? I don’t go there. Faith, which is even more personal? I don’t go there. At least, I have not as yet.
I consider religion and faith private matters. That is how I was raised. Furthermore, my approach might be considered eclectic; it is admittedly unconventional. I consider myself a woman “of faith” and I gravitate toward people of faith, yet not a specific faith. More precisely, I prefer the company (and values) of those who believe in something, and live their lives accordingly. It’s about ethics, and goodness. More “yes” than “no” – as seen through their actions rather than their words.
I’m in favor of questioning – everything – including the kitchen sink.
Yours, mine, and ours
Gods of any sort are beyond my comprehension, but the concept is enchanting, terrifying, glorious, inscrutable, comforting, divisive, brilliant, and contradictory.
To my mind, monotheism may be a human creation, or a phenomenon of powerful presence in forms we’ll never fully understand. The gods of religions as practiced today are often ill-fitting for me; the dogma troubles me – “my way or the highway” – in most things, it seems utterly arbitrary. And possibly more so, in refrains recited in a building as actions belie the principles preached.
Yet I am a woman of faith.
My faith has to do with history and tradition, with values and learning, with mystery and people. With actions in the here and now. My faith has to do with whispers of the human heart. And all of this respects a sense of forces that may be beyond human, or simply, as yet beyond human identification and explanation.
I have no need to know which.
If you believe in no greater powers, but are responsible and generous of spirit, open and giving, then I will believe in you. Your “humanness,” as faith.
The world as I dream it
My children – like all children – perceive many differences in the world, and take them as a given. They’ve grown up in a region that is ethnically, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse. They have been the minority in many instances; they assume no special entitlements of any kind.
They are born of a rich, mixed heritage; we honor both.
- In the world as I dream it, faith comes in as many flavors as ice cream, and is always sweet.
- In the world as I dream it, we celebrate our varied flavors and recognize our common values.
- In the world as I dream it, we rejoice in unique traditions, and we honor our humanity.
- In the world as I dream it, an individual who believes in others is as much a person “of faith” as one who is raised in a particular religion.
- In the world as I dream it, we do not war over our divergent faiths; we do not ascribe “correctness” to one or the other.
- In the world as I dream it, your gods would be as content with this as are mine.
Whatever you believe, and whatever you celebrate – peace.