Two...or Three...or Four Religious Roads Diverge in a Yellow Wood
As you know, I live in a predominantly Muslim country. I guess that's really an understatement. There are mosques everywhere you go and you very rarely find a "non-practicing Muslim" or the equivalent of someone in America who says that they're Christian because they just don't know what else to call themselves.
This is going to be one of those religious posts so if you're easily rattled, you best jump ship.
While I was going through high school in America I was a Christian. I was the most Christian-y Christian you could have met. I had all the t-shirts and went to all the church services. I even carried my Bible to school for some light reading between assignments. I had a very one-sided view of religion,however, and wasn't exposed to other sects of Christianity much less other religions.
Fast forward several years: After university (3 stints of university, might I add) and during university, I was exposed to many different religions, viewpoints and thought patterns concerning God, Jesus, Christianity and everything in between. It was the first time I had met a devout Catholic, an Atheist, a Buddhist, an Agnostic, etc. I didn't feel like I was being led astray from the Christian faith necessarily. I felt like I was finally making this belief path my own and taking responsibility for what I believed in rather than just being a teenager in love with Jesus.
I was finally taking the time to understand how I felt about my personal relationship with God. That's not to say that plenty of Christians don't do exactly the same type of discovery, obviously. Mine just took me down a road that has no name.
Basically I feel like I don't subscribe to a religion in a traditional sense. I wouldn't call myself a Christian. I wouldn't call myself anything. I like to learn about different religions and cultures and see things the way they see them. Being able to be open to the experiences has had more of a religious feel to me than being in a church. Maybe the church of the open road is more my deal. Hah.
Now, with all that being said....I can say that I enjoy experiencing the variety of religions here in Qatar. You'd think that it's predominantly Muslim and you'd be right but there are still things to be experienced in the quick conversations with Hindu cab drivers, Muslim colleagues and Christian expats. In these exchanges you get a glimpse into their lives, their faith, their religious practices and it means a lot to me that someone is able and willing to open up and share their viewpoints even if it's only for 10 minutes on the way to the grocery store. It's still something new that I didn't know before and it's like a little treasure I keep in the back of my mind. All of these religious beliefs and experiences coalesce into this whirlwind of faith that I'm surrounded by on a daily basis. Maybe one day I'll hold onto one but for the moment, I'm enjoying this horn of plenty overflowing with deities, calls to prayer and religious temples.
Once more, an excerpt from "Holy Cow":
"I've now been immersing myself in India's spiritual smorgasbord for eighteen months. At times I feel god-filled, at other moments slightly spiritualized [...] but I feel I've weeded out some past conditioning that dictates my preferences and prejudices; right now these people are as beautiful as I make them, things are as scary as I allow them to be, and as ugly and nasty as I create them. The world's a beautiful place."
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