Religion: Or Fast Food for the Soul
I’m a Christian. I believe a supreme intelligent and all-powerful being created everything we see. And I believe this Being appeared on earth as a helpless human infant some 2,000+ years ago, grew up to manhood and taught us a fresh set of instructions on how to live and serve and treat each other, before he was brutally killed by the government and he rose from the world of the dead to live again, inspiring us forever.
What I struggled with earlier in life is which methodology was best for worshipping our Supreme Deity, when it comes to religion there are a wide variety of selections to choose from. I first began to question my own religion (not ever my Faith) as a youngster when I saw that kids in other religions, had parents who were out dancing on Saturday night, having adult drinks and still going safely to church on Sunday morning. My religion (I was raised as a So Baptist) didn’t allow for drinkin’, card playin’ or dancin’… so I wondered, how could these other religions tolerate that?
Eventually I began to equate our wide variety of ‘religions’ each one with a different set of rules, or its own ‘menu’ with our variety of fast food choices… so to speak.
Wait before you heat up the tar and gather the feathers…
Think of it like this: when your stomach is grumbling – you’re hungry and you feel a need for some kind of fulfillment to satisfy that churning need and so you have your choices; Big Mac, Whataburger, Whopper, Dairy Queen, 3-piece box of chicken and so on.
When your soul is empty and you’re hungry for some kind of spiritual nourishment you also have choices; Catholicism, Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, and on and on until you get all the way down to ‘non-denomination’ where you just feel the simple need to go somewhere on Sunday mornings and be with other people with a semi-pro garage band for music instead of a pipe organ.
I know I’m the odd person out, the one-off and I’ll probably get some email, but religion, of and in itself never did that much for me (as well, I rarely attended ‘pep’ rallies as a young student-athlete). I don’t require a chanting crowd to get me excited about something.
Part II (to where this story is eventually going)
My wife was raised in the Mormon Church. When it came time for us to marry, my Baptist preacher wouldn’t let her marry in our church, and the Mormons wouldn’t let me near their place either – so she found a Methodist church that had no second thoughts about our different religions and would happily marry us two heathens as long as we had the rental and clean-up deposit for their beautiful facility.
As the married years rolled by, we attended neither church but of course the Mormon missionaries in white shirts and skinny black ties on bicycles would pay us random unannounced visits. Now, these fellows as far as I recall were college graduates, who as part of their religious duties volunteered for a two-year stint pedaling the Good Mormon Word around the countryside on 10-speed English racing bikes.
One day about twenty-five years ago they stopped by the house; the wife wasn’t home it was just me – and I had some time to talk to them. Their ‘book’ on us told them my wife was a Mormon but that I was an absolute reprobate heathen and so they began to talk to me about their lovely religion and all its virtues and timeless benefits, and that’s when I leaned back in my wooden rocking chair and rolled into my ‘Religion as Fast Food’ notions and theories I’d developed.
You must know, these youngsters were fresh out of college, perhaps 21, 22 years old and the more I talked, the more their jaws drooped and their eyes widened… “…religion as fast food for the soul…?!... What!?!? Mr. Ferris, please tell us more...”
See a lot of times we’re born into a religion, and we grow up in the church and we never really question anything about it. I’m just the odd-duck that always wants to know why this and why that. The one-bible we have with the hundreds of interpretations and religious ceremonies that different groups of Men have concocted over the past two millennia don’t always work for Me.
After a couple of hours they left, walking slowly back to their bicycles, both heads being scratched in unison – I don’t know if they ever fully recovered from their visit with me- the Baptist heathen who viewed religion as something akin to a ‘family sized bucket of chicken’ or something like that.
Again, I’m a Christian – always have been, and fully understand and agree with the body of Christ and ‘church’ concepts – But it’s like the football pep rallies never did too much for me: “just kick the ball off, and let’s play” was my attitude, so as well my religious attitude became ‘I believe in God and anytime I’m with nature I feel like I’m in church anyway.”
I feel spiritually nourished by the sound of a babbling mountain stream, or a newborn baby, or by the power of a ferocious afternoon thunderstorm. All of that and more are my church, what God’s hands had touched, touches me.
Sometimes though I wonder whatever happened to those two young missionaries – they probably have grown children nowadays and live in lovely homes in the suburbs and serve as deacons or priests or whatever in the Church.
But on the other hand – I sometimes fear that my obtuse oblique inside-out take on religion changed them, and now they’re both surviving in a cave somewhere for these many years, isolated deep in the western mountains of Utah high above the white salt flats with long hair and fingernails and beards, their old bicycles with rotten tires and rusted chains long ago cast aside and growing into an pine tree while they continue their endless work on their groundbreaking religious manifesto declaring Religion is to your Soul what fast food is to your Gut.