The Confining Walls Of Our Beliefs

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” I think you should not marry him.” Bonnie said emphatically. I looked at her sadly. She was my last hope. Her opinion being the last sign from which my decision would be based upon. Yes, in days of confusion and indecisions, I too fell in the trap of ” looking for signs ” while contemplating a pertinent problem in want of a solution. Needless to say these signs only led to more confusion and further indecisions.

Bonnie sighed, her face contorted with remembered pain. ” Marriage had not been easy for a Christian woman like me marrying into a family with a different religion.”

We were sitting in her spacious bedroom at that moment but when first I came to her house and was introduced to her in laws I did not sense any tension between them at all. I wondered what she was talking about.

” My father -in-law had beaten my husband black and blue when he insisted on marrying me.” she continued. My eyes widened.

It was unfathomable for me how a grown man can be beaten by his father. But apparently in that country it is quite common.

I met Bonnie when I went for a Sunday mass in a Christian Church in the city. Praying in an empty church has always been my one solace every time my life is caught in a whirlwind. At that time I was in the middle of a milder thunderstorm and like a guardian angel she sat by my side. My face must have been as gloomy as the church interior for she asked, ” What’s bothering you child?” My answer was a quivering sigh. Tears held at bay, brimming at the eyelids where one kind word would send them cascading down my cheeks. She patted my hands and whispered to me that I should meet her after service.

Salty water burst forth like in a broken dam from my eyes when finally I related to her the whole story, sitting in a room at the second floor of the church where she taught Sunday school for children. With a motherly sympathy she told me she will pray for me and my troubles. And she will ponder over the situation and would call me if she has an answer for me. She called after a few days. So there I sat in front of her while she dashed my hopes and dreams over coffee.

Bonnie is a beautiful tall woman from the North. She could easily been an actress or a model in my opinion. She has those perfect cheekbones and soulful light eyes with a curtain of the thickest lashes I’ve ever seen. With her beauty complemented by her tender heart, it was easy to see why her husband fought tooth and nail to keep her. Their relationship endured countless attempts of separation from her husband’s family but without success. They even threatened to disown her husband. But nothing fazed them. Against all odds they wed and are now blessed with three kids.

” I insisted we marry in a Christian church. Afterwards I fought hard to remain Christian. I did not convert. My faith is all I had. It is my choice. The only thing left of my independence . I held on to it.” I could feel the passion she had for her faith very strongly. I wondered If they beat her up for that too. She did not hint on it throughout the conversation but I thought it was more than probable.

” But then came the children.” Pain flitted in her eyes once more.

” Though my husband never asked me to convert, my in-laws of course would never allow my children to be Christians. This is one fight I could never win. I could never get them baptized. That tears at my heart. How will I save them from eternal damnation? I had to sneaked them out of the house when they were babies just so I can take them to the church. To know the Lord.”

She looked intently into my eyes. ” You don’t want that to happen to you.”

I was speechless. I could not answer her. She was right. It will affect the children’s lives most of all. Which belief would the children cling to before they can choose one for themselves? I said goodbye to her with a heavy heart. Still undecided and all the more confused. I walked away dazed with questions in my head . Plunged in deep reflection.

At the heights of love everything seems so carefree, even childlike in its wantonness . So what was I doing in the middle of something so serious, an issue that keeps polarizing nations apart? Whose God is the real God? Or if there is one? And which religion leads to everlasting life? And again if that is even possible? Why should we give up one for another? Why does it keep pulling people apart instead of together? It was all so complicated. Besides the culture barrier, there is religious barriers too. Why do people constantly build walls to keep each other out? Is elitism such an inborn trait? If other religions do not want Christians in their flock, some Christian are not any better in accepting others too. My ardent Christian friends back home gave me stern advice against marrying outside the faith. Frowning at me, I felt the sting of their scorn for beliefs different from theirs. How ironic. Jesus himself right there written in the bible mingled with everybody. He was the coolest dude who does not possess on single elitist bone in his body.

Without an answer to my dilemma I was only left with a conclusion that maybe people do feel safe if they belong to one “CLUB” or the other. And they fear that someone who does not clearly belong to one is dangerous and must be avoided.

©JMKhapra

10 thoughts on “The Confining Walls Of Our Beliefs

  1. Really good piece. You do a great job at characterizing in here, very detailed that they come to life visually. I grew up in a strict Roman Catholic house. Church every Sunday regardless of anything else and much of my up-bringing, looking back now, seemed to be guided by these values. Well, somewhere along the line, I would hear chattering here and there, not just from my family but from their friends, some of which are nuns and priests, my friend’s parents etc…and it seemed a “we know better than you” type attitude was central to a lot of what was being said. How those people who choose the “wrong” value of belief are destined for doom, no wiggle room. That notion didn’t settle with me, the whole you’ll be spared if you don’t know any better comes out poorly in my book as well, really degrades the whole idea of free will and the like.

    Anyhow, I consider myself a fairly religious person and actually write a lot about it in my poetry and other writing, whether overtly stated or through symbolism. I’ve read every major religions primary source book and found the opinion that no one is wrong, no one is right. I believe that the person is ultimately responsible for their afterlife, which I do believe in, and not some system of organized religion. For example, I don’t think it’s necessary to go to Church, as long as you are honestly committing to a real relationship, in conversations with God and by trying your best to adapt belief into your life as you feel applies. Probably shouldn’t have started writing all this, as it’s quite incomplete, but hopefully the gist is down, but to be complete it would take me pages and pages of what I believe in and so forth.

    I guess, the major point I’m trying to make here is that exclusivity is unimportant. Believing is the focus I think, not how you do it. I’ve found many tenets from each Religion to bear truth for me personally, which I incorporate into my own system of values etc.. but that’s by no way saying that those who believe differently are wrong.

    and even when you are looking at people who are strictly devout to one system of belief, like the Islamic issues going on right now, it, for me, comes down to interpretation and probably more over, being deceived by a human who is either utterly irresponsible and/or ignorant in their translations, yet are adept at motivating, perhaps charismatic and they get people to follow them, and many times they take this exclusive, elite attitude and unfortunately violence typically results, when i can tell you from experience, I don’t care what religion it is, violence is not preached in any of them. Sure some have stories which have violent actions discussed, but it’s really takes a weak minded person to interpret it to such avenues. A quick example is here in the States, Islamic devotees are chastised as a whole for the ills of the radical outliers, and it’s unfair. It’s really a rather peacefully intended religion, and yet, you’ll get Christians who think nothing but how violent and amoral a belief system it is, when, if you go back through the annals of time, there are so many instances of corruption and violence to choose from.

    Ok, again, this is the last paragraph, promise and sorry for hijacking the post lol But I think in terms of interpretation and being swayed to an exclusive tract, happens, as do the negative connotations each system gets portrayed by, has to include the fact that all of us are humans, and there’s a lot of learning and fault inherent in the business of being human. so mistakes and bad decisions happen. It always will, don’t care who or what beliefs one has, errors are a way of the non-divine.

    So long story short, this is an outstanding piece, that obviously, got me to respond more in-depth than normal. Which is the best example of having liked what you wrote. One final note though, can’t help it, I’ve also always felt that although in many places, Religion and Politics are kept separate, they are so much alike. Elitism and exclusivity is alive in both. And there’s always that oh, you’re a democrat, republican or whatnot and of course judgments are then prematurely made etc….Why can’t we all believe in our value systems, our faith, political affiliation not by membership in a group or a system but instead on topical issues, ideas that matter to you and your personal sense of right, wrong, fair, unfair, just and injust. I think the world would be a better place if more did.

    Again, sorry I went on so long. But take it as a compliment. Please do. Thanks for quite the inspirational piece urging such a response. Obviously much of what I wrote is extrapolated differently, but it’s the gist of your piece that brought it all forth. Have a great evening. Thanks.

    1. Thank you, I really take it as a compliment when someone responds to my post as elaborately as you did. We write to provoke people to think if not feel, and to open the pathway of discussions. Talking about religion is a sore point for some people. I guess if they agree to your way of thinking they might be forced to admit they must be doing something wrong hence they cling on tighter to what they believe in. It should not be that way. Tolerance should be the hero of the day as you said. People should learn to agree to disagree in a less passionate way. But I guess I’m preaching to the choir. Those who should would not read this anyway. Thank you again for reading and honestly sharing and expressing your opinions which strongly resonates with mine. Have a nice evening as well. Btw your poetry is one of a kind. Very very different from everyone else. I really do enjoy them. Especially the short ones I can fully understand. Some are so deep. I need to analyze it thoroughly. I do look forward to it every time i check WordPress. 🙂

  2. Very cool piece. I’ve been all over the place as far as my feelings on religion. I’ve tried to be very open-minded and I think I still am. I only actively attended church for a few years in the 1990’s ,when I was married and had young children. I enjoyed it at the time, but felt so many contradictions were present in the bible, that I couldn’t really buy into it totally. I’ve read up a little on Buddhism and even enjoyed the teachings of Confucious. After looking at everything scientifically and with an open mind, I consider myself an agnostic-atheist. I simply state that I don’t know. Who can “know” ? But I don’t “believe” that there is a God. I fully concede that I may very well be wrong, mind you. I just don’t “know”. I do think that I am far more tolerant of Christians and their beliefs, than they are of mine.

    That being said, again, I love your writing ! Very impressive use of dialogue ! You’re good !! That is one of my weak points, as far as writing goes. Dialogue. I attempt fiction occasionally, but I always struggle with dialogue. I really enjoy your work. Have a great day, Jofelyn !

    1. Thank you. 🙂 and thank you for taking the time to read this. I picked up most of the nuances in my dialogue from real conversations I had with people I meet. They just stayed with me that way and come out on its own when I’m writing.

      My husband is an atheist too. Me, I am currently in a confused place. My logic says all religions are frauds intentionally or unintentionally but I still believe in spirituality. Something happened in my life where I can say someone is out there looking out for me in a big way. I don’t know which one. I am not given into mysticism but there are just things beyond explanations. Was it a coincidence? I also don’t know.

      All the teachings are great, from Christianity to Buddism, Hinduism etc. wisdom and lessons we can learn from are plenty. I’ve read a few also. My observation is that confusion comes in the interpretation and practice. Most people bend those teachings to serve their own purpose or agenda. Which is the saddest thing.

      Anyways thanks again. Glad you like this piece. I do enjoy exchanging thoughts and discussing philosophy or in this case, theology. 🙂

  3. Great writing Jofelyn & the issue you raise is true all around the world. The world needs more tolerance..as a Christian by choice I had written about this topic some months ago. You are a great story teller 🙂

  4. isa lang ang pwede kong sabihin.. have faith… there maybe hundreds or thousands of roadblocks everywhere but the only thing that you can treasure and call your own is your faith..

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