I"ll readily admit: I"ve been looking forward to this moment all year. The time had finally come for me to write my scathing critique on sorority rush! I downed a few beers, sat down at my computer and... ...couldn"t do it. No, it was just too easy. I mean, I could sit here and shoot fish in a barrel (such an activity will be henceforth referred to as 'seafood recruitment'), but instead I"m going to take the hard road. No final-semester slacking for me, no sir. I"m going to write about religion.
I was born and raised Catholic with the whole nine yards: penance, Communion, confirmation and the accompanying nine years of Monday night and Saturday morning religion classes. I was also following something of a Catholic tradition: giving up the religion after confirmation. My attendance had slacked throughout high school, and once I got to college, that was pretty much it. Went once on Parent"s Weekend, went once right after Sept. 11... and that's been it.
Around sophomore year I had declared myself as a religious free agent. I was waiting for a good offer, someplace where I could get a starring role, somewhere in the neighborhood of seven years, 90 million and eternal salvation. Did some research on Buddhism, thought about doing retreats for various sects of Christianity, but I ended up no closer to any answers.
This Christmas, I found myself in a church for the first time in three years, accompanying my mother to Mass, a Christmas vigil. From a logistical standpoint, it was pretty easy. Though I can count the times I"ve been to church in the last five years without taking off my shoes, I still knew when to stand, when to kneel and the appropriate responses so as not to make an ass of myself. I could still do the full Apostle"s Creed without hesitation. It was truly a flawless performance. The problem was, I couldn"t shake the feeling that it was just that: a performance.
Most of the Mass I spent staring up at the cross, thinking to myself about where I actually stood about my faith and spirituality. I had my questions, of course. How can you not have questions about God these days when religion is not only the most important domestic political issue but the most important foreign policy issue as well? How can you not lose a little faith when 200,000 people die in Southeast Asia and not a single one of them is Paris Hilton? (Oooh, Paris Hilton jokes. The originality just keeps coming!)
I indulged my nerdy side the other day (and given it"s size, it needs quite a bit of indulgence) by pricing out a new computer online. In mere minutes, I was able to tweak the specifications to my desire: how much memory I wanted, how fast a processor, do I want a DVD burner, etcetera. And I thought: wouldn"t it be great for religion to work like this? Pick your savior from a drop-down box, check off the options for tolerance. Let them know I"m willing to work for it, but I also want to be able to eat bacon. Click Okay, and voila! Matt-ianity.
I can have it if I want it; I just need to cope with the fact that I don"t think I could convince enough like-minded people to get together and hold services. It"s a tough tradeoff--the benefits of community weighed against the freedom of individuality.
I know non-religious people who tend to deride those who believe strongly in a religion as zealots. I have a lot of admiration for believers, though. College is a time in our lives when there"s a lot of stuff up in the air. Organized religion is responsible for a lot of the world"s problems, but before we get too down on it, let"s remember that a lot of people who otherwise wouldn"t have much family have their congregations to go to instead.
Enough with the heavy stuff! It"s Friday afternoon. Go party or something.
Matt DeTura is a Trinity senior. His column appears every other Friday.
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