This evening I found myself drawn into a conversation about religion. During much of the conversation, I tried as much as possible to maintain a respectful silence, knowing that we were wading into dangerous waters.
Yet I came to understand, as I navigated the dangerous shoals of someone else’s fraught and intense description of their lifelong spiritual journey, that there was a deep schism between the intellectual and the emotional sides of what I was hearing.
You can make all the intellectual arguments you want for or against a particular religious view of the world around you. And there’s nothing wrong with that. One could easily build several worthwhile and intellectual exciting university courses around this very topic.
But the hold of a religion upon the minds of those who were raised with it is something else entirely. It is not a question of right or wrong, of logic or of deductive inference.
No, it’s much wilder than that, both fiercer and more intense. As far as I can tell, people carry with them the religion of their childhood — seared into their minds at some deep level — even long after they may have renounced that religion. We can argue all day about God, but the bedrock emotional truth is this:
You do not possess the religion you grew up with. It possesses you.