Friday, August 27, 2010

From the Intern Files: What's the Point of Living Without Trying to Understand Life?

By Lizzy McCue, Project Interfaith Intern

I grew up in a United Methodist home. Actually, I was baptized on the stage of my high school, before the church my parents went to broke ground for some office space, a few classrooms and the worship area we affectionately called the “gymtuary” or “sanctionasium.” Isn’t it ironic that the place where I was baptized was also the place that turned me away from organized religion?

My majors are Journalism and Political Science. You might ask why a girl with more secular interests would apply for an internship at an interfaith organization. I ask, have you ever noticed there has never been a non-Christian President of the United States? Or, do you remember the media coverage of Mitt Romney in the 2008 Presidential Elections? I don’t contest the United States in its secularity, but religion has played its hand in every day of American politics. And politics has played its hand in religion, too.

There is that Marxist quote, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” I agree; religion is addictive. Although my interpretation is the study of religion, not practice, is the addiction. In classes such as “Comparative Governments,” “A History of the Islamic World” and “Medieval Europe,” I have studied the relationships of religion and government throughout continents and centuries. But that interest developed in the past few years.

In high school, the United Methodist church my family attended experienced a change in authority. It became dictated by the demands of the dollar bill. The resulting feud on how to ease construction debt (and a few other issues) split the congregation and left me with a rancid taste for organized religion. The “contemporary” services went sour for me, as well. I would rather not waste my time in a service built around badly composed, campy songs and short readings from the Bible.

Call me a cynic, but I would rather see analysis of how the lessons of the Bible can be illustrated and interpreted with a modern focus and understanding. Or, if you can’t guess from the classes previously mentioned, how Christianity has interacted with history. “To get where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been” is the proper cliché, I believe. Either way, I want to know there is more than a little creative thought going into the sermons I hear, but substantive research and a figurative approach to reading scripture.

Project Interfaith fits my interest because what I want is more resources, more interpretations, more education, so that I can decide for myself what I want to believe, and be able to back those beliefs, maybe to other people, but mostly to myself. What is the point of living without trying to understand life?

This is the third in a series of posts by the Project Interfaith summer interns. They're reflecting on what drew them to interfaith work and to decide to work in the tiny work space with a big heart that is Project Interfaith as well as sharing their adventures in interfaith work. You can learn more about Lizzy by visiting the Project Interfaith website and by finding her on Facebook and Twitter (@dandelionspider).

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