Monday, December 29, 2008

In Small Doses

I am decidedly non-religious. For me, religion, the church-kind any way, is like yoga. I go expecting to have some huge spiritual awakening… and… nada. It’s disappointing. I want to be enlightened; I want to be moved; I want a perspective-shifting moment of clarity.

I was raised Catholic, but for a time when I first moved to Chicago, I thought I might find what I was looking for (whatever that was) in one of those new fangled rock n’ roll churches. You know the kind where everyone is 25 and they hold bible studies at local bars. I went to a service once at this “non-denominational Christian church” with a woman I knew from graduate school. It was set up with folding chairs in an old auditorium the congregation rented for Sunday mornings. They had a band -- drums, guitar, bass, the whole nine yards -- with a singer and midway through one of the songs she started shouting, “Do you feel Jesus? He’s here! Do you feel him?” As I looked around and it became apparent that I was the only one who would have answered, “No.” I never went back to that church.

Now that I have a vehicle, I drive to Ohio for the holidays. The space between Chicago and Indianapolis and Indianapolis and Columbus is sparsely populated. It’s mostly corn fields, dilapidated barns, and general emptiness. When I’m alone, and NPR is no longer available, I turn on Christian radio, even when there are other options. This isn’t new. I started it in undergrad when I would drive long distances to see family or friends or my then-significant other.

I don’t particularly enjoy Christian radio. Sometimes it makes me angry. But I listen intently to sermons made by theatrical pastors for no other reason than to see if they say anything that sticks. I don’t want to be religious. I don’t want to change my values to conform to a doctrine I -- for the most part -- don’t believe in. But I want to be inspired. So far, it hasn’t happened. In fact, the only thing that provides me with moments of clarity, enlightenment, and inspiration is running. True story.

One thinks it’s time to start running again.