I have a muddled religious history. I’ve been baptized twice, once as an infant in the Presbyterian church (which disbanded when I was in elementary school and now houses a car dealership on its front lawn) and once in a born-again Southern Baptist church (dunked underwater the full-immersion way). I’ve attended “uni-denominational” churches that fell apart among cases of financial fraud; I’ve sat down to countless Seder suppers with Jewish friends. When I got to college, I took a class in Buddhism and started attending a Zen center. I held a lamp and moved it in a solemn circle for the aarti ceremony at a Hindu Diwali puja. When I came back home, I discovered that my family—at the urging of my lapsed-papist mother—had begun attending Catholic Mass. So I went with them, comparing the homily in my mind to the teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist monk I’d started visiting at the local dharma center. When I came back for my sophomore year in Boston, I discovered Unitarian Universalism, and started attending a UU church, instantly at home in the mix of beliefs and the openness it held.
I still don’t know what label I’d give myself in terms of religion (though UU seems to fit pretty well). And, honestly, I’m comfortable that way. Finding my faith, to me, is an ongoing process. I declared my major in religion my freshman year; it resulted from a spontaneous decision to drop a computer science concentration and take a religion course, through which I discovered a passion for learning about religions.
To me, there is nothing (except maybe astrophysics and the whole idea of dark matter) more fascinating than studying religion as a way to understand humanity. It is through religion that people over millenia have attempted to understand the vastness of the universe, to understand death and life and the feeling of a greater power. From fundamentalists to atheists to agnostics, we all engage in a type of faith, whether it’s in God or Allah or science. There is beauty and grace in a prayer, in meditation, in the structure of a cell beneath a microscope.
Deepak Chopra once said, ““There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.” And so it is with faith. I believe that, somehow, all our faiths fit together. And, when the pieces from all of them combine, the greater truth of the universe is found. We as individuals might not be able to see that entire truth, but I hope we can attempt to piece ourselves together through tolerance and dialogue.
This blog will be my attempt to fit a few of those puzzle pieces side-by-side, though I know I’m far from understanding any ultimate truth.
Originally posted on my Tumblr blog, but now slightly edited as my religious journey has moved forward.