Thoughts on My Past Super Religious Years – Grant Corriveau
I was just reading a fascinating article about a Muslim astronaut who spent the entire month of Ramadan while in orbit on the International Space Station. Since those who observe Ramadan time their fasts and prayers by the sun, what does one do in space. He explained that fasting from sunrise to sunset is not necessary if one is traveling (orbiting the earth in space would count as “travel”) but nonetheless he observed some fasts while in orbit. The details and religious restrictions and regulations of which he spoke reminded me of my own attempts to be religious when I adhered to an ultra-old-testament-church sect whose legalistic teachings today are generically called Armstrongism.
Since then I’ve realized that this religious orientation and perspective is not the only one seeking to ‘please’ or’ know’ god by following religious prescriptions. I recall how, on one flight from Montreal to Miami an Hasidic Jewish passenger (judging by his traditional clothing) asked me if we would be flying more than 100 miles (? or some such number) offshore during the trip. IF so, he told me, then he had to say a different prayer for our safety. I quickly reviewed the route in my head and let him know – and thanked him sincerely, explaining, “I’m always happy to receive prayers for safety!” And quietly wondered to myself just how unsafe might we have been had he not asked and got it wrong! Oh – religion, rules, prescriptions!
“Religion” derives from a root word that basically means to ‘re-ligament’ (re-join) ourselves to God. I used to be VERY religious because I thought that’s what ‘it’s all about. I was dead wrong. Turns out, the whole point behind ‘this Jesus guy’ and his life and teachings etc. was to reveal a God who never was and never can be “un-ligamented” from humans. Therefore, there is nothing we can, or need do to make ourselves more joined or more lovable or more “right with god.” In a word, unconditional love (oops – two words) means that love that never fails.
When it comes to our relationship with God we humans don’t seem to like that message. Why is that!? Speaking for myself – I think it’s because it shows us how little we humans are in control. And we hate that. We can’t ‘make’ God like us more – or ‘enough to get into heaven.’ We can’t perform our contractual obligations and then know that we have obligated God to owe us something in return…
I think it’s a little like my (erroneous) thinking when I was a young boy – As long as I was a ‘good boy’ (I thought) my parents would love me – but when I misbehaved they would withhold love… (turns out I seriously misunderstood that). But that is also how I perceived the society around (a little more true there – that is basically how we humans treat one another)… so I was always trying to live by the rules. Put up a good front. I was always a little (or a lot) afraid to just be myself (and if I decided I didn’t actually like who I was when I was ‘myself’ there could be no hiding – I would have been compelled to really change rather than just hold up another mask),
So – during my Super Religious Years, I had to work out many conundrums about how to ‘keep’ Holy Days. Or, how to apply the Ten Commandments. I eventually began to discover that here, as in my life in general, the Spirit behind the rules (Love) was always the ultimate guide. When ‘the rules’ helped guide me towards that, they were fine. But, when I made The Rules the whole point (often becoming harsh, argumentative, self-righteous, and legalistic in doing so) – I was badly missing the point.
We learn. We laugh. We love and move on.
Grant Corriveau is a retired airline pilot living in British Columbia, Canada, who now, among other pursuits, has turned his attention and focus to writing. “Uplift – A Pilot’s Journey” is Captain Corriveau’s chronicle of experiences, insights and sometimes humorous stories of his life in the air.