With this first installment of my Lenten meditations I want to truthfully, with depth, insightfulness, and clarity, say that these things are bullshit.

Meditations and long diatribes about religion, spirituality, and “place” are contrived and filled with less substance than a fine, airy French pastry. I know this because in the past I’ve both written such essays on this blog and have consumed some fine French pastries. They are remarkably similar: airy, flaky, and filled with tons of sugar.

I think to be effective and to acknowledge the idea that we are not Not Of This World or of any of the myriad of cutesy, responsibility-devoid catchphrases often used to market religion (specifically Christianity), we must recognize our humanity – yes, our humanity in all it’s beer-drinking, sex-having, selfish, sorry, angry, petulant, flawed, and beautiful glory. It’s what we are as we crawl our way into existence. We’re human beings, for Christ sake. For some reason, though, as we progress through life, everything hoisted our way concerning spirituality wants to make us out to be different. We’re beings of some sort – whether connected to the earth or to the sky, whether created from nothing or created for nothing, or formed in God’s image or our own selfish images – and we are apparently not good enough to just be human. There’s value in our selves as the corporeal forms that we happen to be. This matters just as the Earth and everything within the Earth does.

Religion is often a bad thing. Christianity, to speak relatively, is often a bad thing. You might think I’ve lost my marbles and am scrambling around my living room to find them, but I assure you I am not. Actually, it’s quite the opposite at the moment. I choose not to speak of this often with anyone. This internal dialogue is shared with no one – not my wife, kids, best friends. This is personal.

Wait.

Scratch that.

I guess it’s not personal any longer, now that I’ve spilled the beans as well as my marbles. The idea of institutional religion is a step toward zealotry in its most rigid and pronounced form. To can ideas that stem from God into neatly packaged jars, much like the vegetables of the harvest, is a philosophical impossibility and is only done to make the power of God accessible to us human masses. The concept of God became accessible when traditional stories passed orally (which leaves a whole lot of room for reinterpretation, revision, or reinvention) from human to human thousands of years ago – and let me reiterate, thousands and thousands of years ago, not a few thousand years ago. I know, I know…creationists might be exploding at the thought, but science does have the upper hand on this one. These stories I speak of, which include the creation stories (yes, there are, at the very least, a couple of these just in the Christian tradition, never mind any others…) took the concept of God and made it understandable for their own selves. How could God possibly be explained? How is this even possible? I think humans, as a whole, have reached a level of philosophical maturity that the canned idea of God as the bearded dude in a throne up in the sky can get tossed to the recycle bin. Oh, you can tell it to the kids, though, because it’s what can be used as “the power that’ll kick your ass when I’m at my last straw and you’re laughing at me,” but beyond that, nope. Sorry. We have so much understanding at our disposal and so much learning yet to do that God shouldn’t be conceptualized and should be allowed to be what God is – and that is.

Yes, is. Allow me to illustrate: at the moment, I’m listening to Shake the Sheets by Ted Leo and The Pharmacists. Man, I really love this album. When I drive and crank this loud in my car, I kind of feel like dancing. For a cracker-ass like me, this is a good thing. I think about the drummer and his beard and I’m jealous that mine’s not as big as his. Or, sometimes this music makes me want to buy a drum kit again and play away. I want to feel the emotion of creating art. And there it be: God. That’s it – God in all God’s glory. For such a complex idea, God is pretty fucking simple.

How do I reconcile this, though, in my life as a part of the canned vegetable pantry? I’m not sure. I hope that by Easter I’ll have a modicum of an idea. There are so many ways I can work through this. I think this is most effective though. Swearing helps, sometimes. So does music. Going to church clouds me too often. Sometimes I think because the Catholic church’s hierarchy is made up of such jackasses of note, I cannot suffer their idiocy. Sometimes I think, Jesus fuck, I’m a Pole! It’s in my goddamned blood to be Catholic! Sometimes I think that I should just walk away. Sometimes I think of my Dad and know that I should stay right where I am.

No.

In fact, my internal dialogue isn’t merely internal. It has everything to do with me. It has everything to do with my Dad.

And God, I suppose.

Oh, and I don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, so he’s not there. But, holy shit, Jesus was on to something when he railed against Rome and the institutional Jewish church.

Hmm.

See you all soon.