Sunday, September 02, 2012

A spousal insurance for getting into heaven...

by Salman Hameed

The Style section of today's New York Times has a nicely written article, An Agnostic's Guide to Marriage by Colleen Oakley. I won't spoil the piece for you, but it provides a good window on religiosity (including atheism) and marriage in contemporary times ( least in the US). Here is the beginning of the article (but do read the whole article):

When my husband, Fred, and I planned our wedding, he had two strong opinions: 1) brisket should be served, along with the fried chicken; and 2) we would recite the Lord’s Prayer in the ceremony. 
This came as something of a shock to me (the prayer, not the brisket), as the two of us had attended church together only with my family on holidays, and my quick editor’s hand had been busily crosshatching out all references to “God” and “Jesus” from the wedding vows sent to us by the liberal preacher we had chosen. 
“Is the Lord’s Prayer really necessary?” I asked Fred. 
“Yeah,” he said, in his quiet way. “It’s important to me.” 
I have never been a big fan of religion. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small town in South Carolina and attended one too many frightening services at my best friend’s church, where people spoke in tongues and were “saved.” 
Maybe it’s because my hippie parents kept an open dialogue during my Presbyterian upbringing. “Do you believe Jesus was the son of God?” they asked on the drive home from services one Sunday. 
The initial thought in my 7-year-old mind: “I have a choice?” But my second thought was more startling: “No.” 
Even at a young age, I thought God and heaven were pacifying ideas to keep people from being afraid of death. Though my judgments of Christianity and belief have evolved to a more nuanced understanding, my lack of faith has not changed. 
But for my fiancĂ©, I could recite the Lord’s Prayer, even at my own wedding. Marriage is all about compromise, right? So I left that part of the ceremony unmarked by my red pen, and started to dig deeper into my husband-to-be’s revelation. 
“So you believe in God?” I asked him. 
“Yeah,” he said. 
“You know I don’t, right?” 
“Yeah,” he said. 
“And that’s cool with you?” 
Fortunately, I didn’t love him for his verbosity. 
I realized that we hadn’t really broached the subject of religion in our three years together. In retrospect, that’s shocking because we had such in-depth discussions about every other important aspect of life. But because we never went to church and Fred didn’t talk about God, I wrongly assumed that he thought the way I did: the idea is nice, but it just doesn’t all add up. 
How can you stop there? Read the full article here.

Also see an earlier post: In and Out of Religion


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