For those of you who don’t know, I am a Sufi Muslim, who attended Catholic elementary school, from a quarter Jewish mother (she is all Jewish culturally. The woman can kibbitz.) and I grew up doing yoga and sound practice. This gave me a casual buffet style approach to religion, and also a weird sense of semi-belonging and semi-apartness in each of them individually. You’re sitting in Church snuffing up incense, enjoying the tenors, and suddenly in your head, “I WASN’T BAPTIZED. YOU WOULD ALL HIT ME WITH YOUR PROGRAMS IF YOU KNEW.” You go into a mosque with your hijab making a run for it down your back, it’s fringe tangled in your bangs, thank God, but still getting utterly scandalized looks from plump ladies. You slide into a synagogue, you have no idea what the format is, but by cod you’re comfortable with the people.
There are drawbacks, that I’ll think of when I have more time, but o there are benefits.
Benefit 1) Holidays. Christmas. Ramadan. Other people’s Seder’s that you go to and come in strongly on the Baruch Atah Adonai then gently mumble the rest of while you quaff their grape drank. Presents. Oceans of food (all kinds!). There is no bad here.
Benefit 2) Lack of fear. You ain’t afraid of nobody for their religion, or the way they look. What you would like to do, is to get a nice outfit like theirs and go hang out at their service. Will we get to handle snakes? Wonderful, I’ll pack my antivenin. And if they’re hurting people for their religion, why, you know enough to tell them that they’re idiots and that’s not what our scriptures dictate.
Benefit 3) SUPER AWESOME GOD JESUS BUDDHA PARTY GO! i.e. you’ve realized that you can get a hit of the Universe most anyplace, in varying flavors.
There are probably others.
But! It is the traditional Jesus birthday in a couple of days. And, you know, also coincidentally the time when Pagan individuals would take a specific mothertrucker DOWN to insure the return of the sun and generally attractive harvest circumstances. Today is Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s birthday!
How do you do an apostrophe after a parentheses? Should I not do that? Would Oxford frown pityingly at me?
It’s also Nureddin Jerrahi (pointless parentheses to thumb nose at imaginary scornful Oxford dons)’s birthday! He founded the Jerrahi Sufi order, a beautiful and brilliant order centered on the ecstatic love of God.
You now have four reasons to religiously celebrate. Go share a muffin with a homeless person. Go bounce around in the ocean of love, God is the floaty noodle, you’ll be okay.
P.S. I was walking around a suburb of Jackson, MS today (more on that later) and there were all these nativity scenes. Increasingly complex nativity scenes. A certain keeping up with the Nazarenes aspect. And as I was walking along, watching this subtle battle for supremacy, I imagined Christmas Eve. Glowing with lights. Everyone in their beds. Quietly, slowly, the Wise Men stretch their arms. Mary shakes out her robe. Joseph picks up his staff. All the nativity characters, except Jesus, he is just a baby after all, meet in the center of this suburban street. Cardboard cutouts, ceramic statues, little cloth dolls, full size mannequins. There is a tense silence. And then, one of the donkeys kicks a shepherd and it’s a straight up, all out, dead silent brawl. Cardboard is torn, crowns are ripped off, stripey robes are rent from outraged shoulders. Only one can survive. The cloth dolls. They were sturdy, so they were, begorrah. And as they lurch back to their own sweet manger, wounded and busted, but fiercely proud of their victory and the elevation of their Christ Child over all the others on the block, they hear a sound. Giggling? Chatter? The clink of glasses? They get back to their manger, the scene of their victory, only to find all the Jesuses out of bed and hanging out together, probably drinking wine even though they are babies, like there was never the Terrible Suburban Christmas Rumble of ’15.