Religion has always been something I’ve been sensitive about. When I was younger, my feelings were centered on a kind of snobbery that my religion, Unitarian Universalism, was the best religion out there. It was a place to get away from the excessively dogmatic doctrine that seemed to flood every aspect of media, and it was a place to get away from hypocritical religious leaders who seemed to take themselves way too seriously. The Unitarian Church was so open that it welcomed everyone and this translated into it being a kind of haven for the heretics of our world.
As a Unitarian, I learned that while other faiths—Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Islam—had the Church with “one true answer,” Unitarian Universalists had the Church with “no answers.” We didn’t know. And we took almost a perverse joy in not knowing because that meant we could keep on searching for some kind of spiritual feedback.
My twin sister Jessica has told me that this method of non-information is what caused her to search for answers in another direction. She needed to believe in something powerful and this permanent quest for self-actualization that Unitarians delight in was obviously unsatisfying for her. Unlike Jessica, I cannot have the kind of faith that brings “the rapture,” though I have tried. Jessica has had several conversations with God about how she would like me to try harder, but I have tried. I cannot just nod my head and bury my qualms when someone says to me, “You know, Jesus, Our Savior, died for our sins, right?” How do they know Jesus died for our sins? How? I ask. How? And why should it matter?
I cannot just accept a story on the sole basis that Pope Pius XII, a man who refused to publicly decry the Nazi Party, told the world it should. I have thoughts, and I have the ability to reason, and these two things prevent me from believing in something that sounds ridiculous.
In an extended family of mostly Unitarian Universalists, Jessica is the oddity: the sideshow. Our brother Chris is an inveterate douche and our other brother Matt is the pretentious clinically depressed first born with a penchant for temper tantrums, but Jessica believes, fanatically, that there is a man sitting on a cloud somewhere up high in the atmosphere just gazing down lovingly. Like Jesus, I love my sister, too. However, I cannot stop thinking that her head didn’t quite heal well enough when she fell down the stairs when she was three and hit it against the radiator.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.