“Magdadasal ka kasi,” (That’s why you should regularly pray) a friend told me last week. I knew she meant well, but her words hit me like an attack. I’ve been telling her about my anxieties, which had manifested into a couple of sleepless nights and days of irrational distress. What I didn’t tell her—because I didn’t want to come across as too defensive—was that I do pray nightly: I would hug my pillows, relish my bed (my three-week stay at the hospital over a year ago still haunts me to this day), and have this overwhelming sense of gratefulness because, thank God, I am actually on my bed, my conscience is good, my family is safe, and I have nothing to worry about.
I’ve received not a few, similar comments from friends before; the subtext seemed to mean that I’m being punished, or that it is a means for me to find God.
I’m reminded of that scene in Rabbit Hole, where grieving parents were holding a group therapy session and one of the couples was rationalizing the death of their daughter:
Sam: It was her anniversary last week.
Ana: A year last Tuesday.
Sam: And it just starts all over again. We just have to remind each other that it was just part of God’s plan. And we can’t know why. Only God can know why.
Ana: God had to take her. He needed another angel.
Sam: He needed another angel.
Becca (atheist in the group): Why didn’t he just make one? Another angel. I mean, he’s God after all. Why didn’t he just make another angel? Hmm? Just, pfft. Just putting it out there.
I personally prefer to leave God out of these types of rationalization, just leave him out of the mess, cruelty, injustices, and irrationality that is sometimes life.
I never actually stopped talking to God; I even kid him sometimes, “Hey look, I’m not even sure if you do exist,” though I’m not sure if he finds it funny. And I’m absolutely rooting for an afterlife. It doesn’t make sense but one of my greatest fears in life is that when we die, that’s that.
I guess what’s official is: I no longer subscribe to the politics that is the Catholic Church. I’m not hardcore as to refuse going to friends’ wedding and their children’s baptism; I still go through the routine of kneeling along with everyone when the Mass calls for it. I also like Pope Francis—a lot—but he feels like such a singular voice among the hollowed chorus of bigoted priests.
This post was brought to you by the article, Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity.