02BE1: When You're Not Religious

Thursday Sariwon

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 985

Context: Today we watched the Extraordinary Attorney Woo episode "The Night of Blue Jeju II", which prominently featured a bunch of monks. Also this week, I've been toying with a (hopefully) tweet about how without religion I can only give thoughts without the prayers when people post about bad news but haven't felt comfortable enough to post it. So I guess I'm thinking about religion for some reason?

To be clear, I'm more agnostic than an atheist. I'm not closed to the possibility of some sort of higher power or powers, but I also recognize our inability to prove it. And I had explored atheism from a position of logic and science, but it also felt wrong to me to view the world and not recognize that all this can't have just formed randomly. And thus I don't think organized religions are the right path given their need to adhere to doctrine, but I do appreciate the philosophical perspectives such religions provide. That gives one a lot of interesting food for thought.

But there are aspects of our lives that seem perfectly suited for religion - mainly around how we express empathy or sympathy for others. Offering to say a prayer for someone going through a hard time or dealing with grief is a very socially-accepted way to interact. And you don't need to be some fundamentalist Christian to be able to say you'll pray for someone. It's just something that is said and done.

If you see how I interact with people online (particularly on Twitter) - I offer to hug people a LOT. It's my main expression of care and concern since I don't actually pray. And in my older years, especially since the pandemic, I probably hug people in person more than I used to as well. But at times it can feel a little limited as an online response - a little trite even. This feels all the more significant when you run into the big stuff and you sheepishly just say "hugs".

I don't regret my agnosticism. I also don't regret how I was brought up Catholic and went through Jesuit education and the perspective it has given me. But it's not always easy to balance things, because even the raunchiest gay friend you run into at O Bar may still attend Sunday service or something. 

On a related tangent, I wonder how to process my appreciation for yoga in the morning. It does wonders for my mental state and really helps me feel more centered before diving into work or whatever. I haven't been able to straight up meditate, but I do feel like I do, at times, reach a meditative state while practicing yoga. It's not prayer for sure, but it does help me feel better on what I can only describe as a somewhat spiritual level.

This is all still a lot to process - definitely more than what I want to tackle in a single blog post.