Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blog Carnival: Chronic Illness and the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Where have I been?
Bitch, where haven't I been?
Paris. That's where I haven't been.
In my room, sitting on my ass watching cat videos? Maybe. You'll just never know, will you?

Today's post is part of the September Chronic Babe Blog Carnival and it asks:
Let's hear how your faith—or lack of, or explorations—have affected your life with chronic illness. Have you found support in a spiritual community? Found a like-minded support group? Received criticism from people of faith? Converted from one belief system to another? Let's hear about it! And let's get that conversation rolling.

This is a touchy subject for many people, and while I have no issues giving my opinion, I want people to remain calm and realize it is just that: my opinion through my experiences.

I'm going to back-pedal now.

When I was young, my parents were pretty regular about raising my brother and I in the Episcopalian Church. Our church in Pennsylvania was especially easy going and friendly, which made Sundays less of an ordeal as it was for some kids.

However, I never felt a connection to Jesus and all of his homeboys. The stories Sunday school teachers told were merely that - stories. And not very entertaining ones, either, because they all featured men and had not a single kick-ass woman like She-ra. I only dug Noah's story because of the animals and the bitchin rainbow at the end.

It was the people - more specifically the priest - at my church in Gulph Mills that I liked and respected because anytime I was in the hospital he would visit me and call me "tiger" whenever he saw me. This guy was awesome-sauce. However, my interest in religion was just never there and I was determined to be indifferent.

Remaining indifferent to religion became more difficult as the more I learned about them, the more disenchanted I became. The hypocrisy, the crimes against humanity and the Earth itself - all of it left a sour taste in my mouth. Feelings of exclusivity, superiority, encouraging war with and shunning people whose ideas/beliefs do not match your own - no, thanks. I'll have none of that.

There is no way I can take any comfort from any of this, especially when I am ill.

Yet, despite my wholly disapproval of organized religion and mankind's idiotic marketing campaigns against one another, I am not an atheist. Atheism depresses the ever-living crap out of me and I'd never be able to not believe in something.

Believe it or not, I am a spiritual person. I do believe there is something bigger than me out there and I have accepted my own ignorance on the details as par for the course. It's OK to not know everything, to not have all of the answers the universe possesses.

I'm not sure if my congenital heart defect is part of A Big Plan for me - I am definitely open to the idea, but I am not going to place any money on it. Maybe it was designed thus, maybe it was just a shitty draw of cards. I don't dwell on it, though, because I have better things to do with my life - like watching Doctor Who and collecting Monster High dolls.

As for like-minded people to receive support from, well, I'm not posting any online advertisements anytime soon. I enjoy deep conversation on the metaphysical with people I know and respect, but when it comes time for the next surgery, the only support I want is from my loved ones.

I accept that people take great comfort in leaving it up to God when it comes to their health, or relying on a God Knows Best philosophy to see them through tough times. If that's what gets someone through their day, so be it. I just don't subscribe to it nor appreciate the sentiment aimed in my direction.

I have yet to receive criticism from people of faith (but I look forward to your letters after this post /sarcasm) but I also don't go asking for trouble. I am a firm believer in Agree to Disagree/to each their own and not go get up in somebody's personal space to force my views on them - be it on their doorstep, in public, or a comment on their blog.


  1. I respect you and your beliefs. Well written, thought out post. I felt exactly as you did until I started studying the Baha'i religion and everything I had ever thought fell into place. I have faith in God now but life still ain't easy.

  2. Dear vulgar and fabulous Rachael,

    I stumbled upon your blog from Chronic Babe's Blog Carnival and am glad I did. You are a delight.

    I wish more people subscribed to the agree to disagree/to each their own philosophy but unfortuntely as an atheist, I get lots of unsolicited advice/comments from ignorant douchebags. Puke.

    Don't let atheism depress you. We heathens have a gay old time!

    Take Care,

  3. I really enjoyed your point of view! Thanks for sharing. I struggle with the notion of organized religion too for all the reasons you stated (although you stated them in a far funnier and more kick-ass manner than I ever could). And, because quite frankly, I don't like anyone telling me what to believe. But, I also feel deeply spiritual and I am happy knowing that there are others out there who feel the same without subscribing to anything in particular or feeling they must impose their views on others.

  4. I also came across this post via the Blog Carnival and am glad I did. I used to be a Christian - I truly believed - and then I began to understand the problems with organised religion that, like you say, left a sour taste.

    I then began researching to find a religion I could relate to and now classify myself as a Pagan, though my definition of what that means changes constantly.

    I wish for everyone to have understanding of other faiths and beliefs. I would never condemn someone for what they believe, but I do condemn the way most religions are run (yes, to me they are businesses). So yeah, I welcome discussion as long as it is done with an open mind and not to try and tell me I am doing it wrong. I want to learn. I do not want to be offered a sign-up sheet (if I am that interested, I will find it myself).

    Wow, that turned into a bit of a ramble there. But basically, I'm saying I agree with your post. :)

  5. SO late getting back to everyone, sorry!

    @Judith I'm glad you found a peace with Baha'i! Thanks for spotting by & commenting :)

    @Emily - I think the nothingness of it all depresses me; it's just kind of a disappointment e.g. like expecting a surprise party on your birthday but no one actually remembered. But I'm selfish in a way I feel atheists aren't; I want some cosmic force to acknowledge my presence and atheists throw their own parties! But yes, a live & let live attitude would do the world a whole lot of good.

    @Michelle You're very sweet, thank you (I struggled with how to convey my thoughts on the matter without coming off too much like a bitch) Glad to know there are more of us out there.

    @Tamara I think you have the right idea; religion should be ever evolving, changing, coming upon new ideas and conclusions. I think you're absolutely correct in calling them businesses...I think it's been this way for centuries but only until recently has the world been able to realize it as easily. thanks for popping in & commenting!