Well, I doubt it but I sure am one cynical old bitch.
There's a video going around of a Lutheran pastor named Nadia Bolz-Weber speaking to a group of Lutheran youth in New Orleans and I watched it and it did nothing for me. Nothing at all. And two people whom I really adore and love both posted about this video, one on her blog and one on Facebook and so I thought that once again, ONCE AGAIN, I would check out the message that people I care about think is important and yet, once again, I came away feeling like, Really?
You can watch the video HERE if you want. Nadia is charismatic, she is beautiful in a striking good-looking-human-being way with tattoos that she rocks in a tight tank top and painted-on jeans and she has short, very stylish black hair and Clark Kent Cool glasses and yes, she used to be a drunk and she used to be a drug addict and then God's grace saved her ass and now she's a pastor and has a church in Denver called House For All Sinners And Saints.
She's got the street cred, all right.
I don't know. I visited her web site. She's available for speaking engagements. She collects belt buckles. She's very proud of the fact (and I gleaned this from the video) that she's grown her church from eight members in 2008 to one hundred and eighty members now. Also, how inclusive her church is. There are black and white and ex-convicts and soccer moms and elected officials and transgendered kids and...oh, probably about one hundred and sixty tattooed hipsters, I'm guessing.
I can just see her when someone else walks in the door...oh boy! a transgendered kid! WOWZER! I'm so inclusive!!!!
See how cynical I am?
I DON'T HAVE THE RELIGION GENE!
I just do not.
I wrote to a friend the other day that there are times when I wish I believed in a god that listens to prayers. It would be so comforting.
I mean that too.
But I just can't.
It freaks me out when people go on Facebook and ask their "friends" to pray for random people we don't know. As if...oh, there's magic. Why do people keep believing in the power of prayer when there is absolutely no evidence that it has ever changed the course of any human or natural event? See- I think it's this universal religious belief that may rip it for me.
Do mothers who pray for their children's lives and who then lose those children to disease or accident or whatever pray the wrong way? Or not have the true faith in their hearts? Or...what?
I can see the benefit of focusing our thoughts on a particular outcome. Like meditation.
But I don't understand how anyone believes that there is any supernatural power going on there. I just don't.
I'm cynical. I want studies. Which they have done and which are, to say the least, extremely inconclusive and one such study showed:
Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.
And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.
And yet, people believe. It's like when I asked that very intelligent Catholic woman why she believed that when she took communion the bread and the wine turned into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus in her body when it was scientifically proven not to be so and she said, "Well, I know that, but I just believe it does. I have faith."
I don't understand it. And whether the person telling me that there is such a thing is wearing robes or tattoos, it still doesn't make me understand it or believe it either.
Listen- I used to have a damn Weight Watchers class in Thomasville, Georgia that grew from almost nothing to a hundred and something members in two years and yes, there were black and white and old and young and hip and definitely not-hip and gay and straight and I didn't for one second think that it was because I was offering up God's message of grace. It was because people wanted to lose weight and Weight Watchers has a really good program to help people do that. But I couldn't do it for them. I could give them the tools and then they had to use the tools and do it themselves. There was no magic involved whatsoever and I didn't ever once make the promise that there was.
And I cracked a lot of jokes and I tried to make people believe in themselves and I tried very hard to make it an enjoyable hour and I didn't shame anyone and I tried very hard to make each person there feel comfortable and welcome and I tried to help each person with their unique and different needs make the program work for them. And when they succeeded in meeting their goals, I gave THEM the credit. They'd done the work and changed their diets and exercise habits and if some of them prayed about it (and I'm sure they did) we didn't need to talk about it. I did not find the overly religious to be any more successful than those who were as cynical as I.
Hey-I'm available for speaking engagements. On almost any subject you'd like. I do not collect belt buckles. I am inclusive although I probably have some suspicion about ex-cons but I'd like to think that once I get to know you I'll judge you on your heart instead of your record. I am a saint and I am a sinner. I know glory and I know despair. I remember what it was like to be a child and I know what it is like to be older.
I have been showered with grace in my life but it came from human beings who were grace-filled. I have no tattoos but again- I don't think I have the tattoo gene. I love many tattooed individuals.
I am cynical as shit.
If I had a church, Keith Richards would be a saint in it because he gave us the guitar riffs for a whole lot of songs that make me dance. I may be cynical, but not when I'm dancing and okay, yes, I admit it- I believe the Beatles may have been supernatural.
In short, I don't have the religion gene and sometimes I wish I did but I don't and as such, I am just making my way through this life the best I can. A cynical old bitch who believes in love and light and fire and water and the course of the stars and planets through space and the great fishes who live in the sea and the tiny microbes which sustain us.
It is all a holy mystery to me. But that's because I'm not smart enough to figure it all out. Not because I don't have enough faith or haven't found the right religion.
And that's all I have to say at this moment.