December 24, 2012
It was a Monday morning at work and my manager and I were chatting over a cup of coffee in the pantry of our usually busy store. My manager Mr. Steve Jones was good hearted man in his early thirties and I, (also a hearted man, good or bad, I don’t know) struck on a conversation about India and the religions in India. Our conversation was just hitting the right directions when Steve suddenly asked me.
“Anil, you go to church every Sunday, isn’t it (pronounced “ain e”)?”
“Yes, of course. I go to St Peters in Roath or to St David’s in the City Centre” I promptly replied to him.
“Why do you go to church mate?”. I was literally taken aback when he asked me this question.
“Well, Steve. I believe in Christ and hence I go and pray to him every Sunday. It is also a rule that believers or Christians have to attend the holy mass every Sunday”.
“What will happen if you don’t?”
“Well. It is a sin and you have to later confess to God that you have sinned.” I replied to him to the best of my knowledge.
“So you mean to say that there is a provision given by God to make up if you miss Sundays mass”
“What if you don’t go to church and also don’t go for confession”? Steve was questioning me as if he had prepared a questionnaire.
“Steve, God would punish people who don’t go to Church”
“What? Anil, Look I don’t go to church. I am doing well, God hasn’t punished me. You are so naïve Anil, you believed in what some people taught you when you were a kid and it’s amazing that you still follow it religiously”.
I did not have much to say as I felt he was right at that moment. Some of my grey cells really had some serious thinking to do. Here I was, religiously following the Sunday ritual without even knowing the reason behind it. Have I been going to Church simply because I am scared of burning in the fire of hell? Am I scared of the society and what people say if I don’t follow any religion especially in a country like India? Am I going to the church for the right reasons? Steve had shaken my faith with just a few questions.
I went back to my apartment, prepared some lunch and sat on my couch watching Friends, my favorite pastime activity, even to this day. This series gives a lot of peace to me at times of despair and I somehow relate to this series and feel strong enough to face whatever life throws at me. Monica, Rachael, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Ross are always with me and I feel good about it .I am sure many people around the world have poured their sorrows and shared their happiness with these 6 characters from the hit series of the late 90’s.
As I was watching Friends, a weird thought came into my mind. “Why do I watch Friends”. The answer as I said earlier was obvious “I loved them and so I watch it again and again”. A series of thoughts went up, down and around my brain. Steve’s questions came rushing back to haunt me again. When he asked me why I went to church every Sunday my answer to him was that it was a rule that every catholic attend the Sunday mass or else he would burn in hell. Whereas I realized that if I loved God, I would never have answered like that and would have ended up saying “Well, Steve, I love god and so I go”. Simple.
I was ashamed and began to ask myself “Do I really love god or I just pretend to be a devout person”. I knew the answer. I thought that I was a religious person, without knowing what religious really meant. I have begun to realize that people who really love god from the bottom of their hearts are religious and not the ones like me, who measure their piousness by the number of masses they have attended or the number of confessions they have gone to.
I feel every one of us at one point in our lives has gone through being devout, losing faith, questioning god’s existence and finally gaining it back. We are all born into a religion and do not have a choice to select our religion. Our parents begin to inculcate good values of our religion into us. As children, we would wait to go to the temple/church/mosque. Acquaintances with people from other religions make us think about our religion, study it, argue about it, but from within something tells us that the religion we are born into is the best. These two phases are common and I am sure experienced by almost everyone who had the patience to read this article up till here. There would be a stage when we pray to him day and night and when we get what we asked for, we forget him. It is very hard to find people in one category throughout his/her life.
Then there are people who do not believe that God ever exists. I somehow have failed to understand the thinking of atheists. I have done quite a bit of reading on them and what surprises me is the ease with which they deny the existence of God. I have had the privilege of sharing some thoughts with atheists and the only reason they provide for every question is Science. All of us are taught about Origin of species in school. How many of us believe in evolution? I find it very difficult to understand that we were evolved from monkeys. According to Darwin I am a fit monkey and hence have evolved into a human. I pity those unfortunate monkeys who still whoop and jump from tree to tree. Moreover I would love to know how an atheist can answer the question of plant evolution, or the very birth of the universe and the very first thing from which we have “evolved”. Anyways the topic of evolution vs creation is very fascinating.
Well to sum it all up, in a way many of us are god fearing people and not god loving people. It is a fact. If given a chance to donate money to a religious project and a poor homeless man, 99 percent of us would choose the religious edifice, just to please him. Am I wrong? I hope I am. Only when the fear turns to love, I guess we will appreciate all the good things in our life which god has given us and would be able to see the world in a different and better perspective.
Anil D'Souza - Archives:
- A Stutterer's Life
- St Pius X - My Favourite Saint
- Mangalore-Kundapur Bus Journey - Stairway to Death
- Eddie and God
- Cardiff, Call Me Back!
- Evolution of a CV
- Alliance Syndrome
- Me and My Train...
- Youngsters and the Question of Faith
- From Pathrode to Pork, Mangalore Cuisine has it All!
- Global Financial Crisis and India
- Eddie, Women and I
- Super Superstitions!
- All about the Magical Word 'Love'
- China - India Bhai Bhai..
- Hey Kid, do you Speak Konkani...?
- My Experience with a Broken Bone.
- Catholic Roce - Is it an Extinct Ceremony ?
- Three Hours at the Bus Station...
- Weddings then, now and in Future...