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Saturday, September 15, 2001

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Religion

I've felt so unconnected today. It's at times like this that I wish I were better at connecting with people. I've felt so alone and wished that I could believe in god because it would be so comforting to belong to a church at a time like this. I kept remembering, though, that this atrocity was because of religion run amok, so it's not a panacea and can become an excuse to not think in new ways so this won't happen again.

So much of the praying and religious fervor seemed to be a knee jerk reaction. I'm sure the vast majority of people are sincere, it's just that they too often use religion as a pacifier instead of a springboard to change conditions that cause people like the terrorists to exist. There will always be terrorists because there will always be people who have tunnel vision when it comes to their beliefs and, to them, any dissent is evil and ok to kill. Still, many of their followers are following because they feel they have no other options.

Late in the afternoon I felt so unsettled that I rode my bike to the Grace St Paul Episcopal church and walked the labryrinth. Its in front of the church and I find it soothing. There were a couple other people that wandered through but I was basically alone and slowly walked in and out of the labyrinth. I still was not comforted but I was more calm. I like labyrinths and they are one way I can calm my mind. Meditation never really worked for me that well, but maybe it's because I am walking while focusing on the path that helps. I don't sit still very well.

It was nice riding back because the sun was down but the sky was still light and the clouds were interesting. I stopped at Bookman's to look at books and found myself in their 25th anniversary celebration. I had cake and got a couple books, two for one, with some credit I dug out of my purse. A band was playing as people wandered through looking at books. I heard one lady ask for books on Nostradamus and the clerk said they were out, that there had been a run on them. I guess religion isn't the only panacea for people.

As I rode home in the dark I seriously thought about going to church in the morning but by the time I got home I knew I wouldn't. I like sitting in churches but I'm not too big on services. It's a shame because I like ritual and sprituality, I just don't believe there is a god and feel like a hypocrite to pretend.

I also finished reading "Death in Holy Orders" by PD James. This was an ironic choice since I was thinking so much about religion today. Commander Adam Dagliesh is asked to look into a death in a small anglican theological college in East Anglia. It was a visit he looked forward to as he had spent a summer there when he was seventeen. Another death, thought to be natural, occurs before he arrives and soon a brutal murder.

It's an excellent look at the relevance of religious traditions today and how differently people look at the same traditions. PD James is at her usual excellence in the books and I could see the people so clearly and felt for them, or disliked them. Dagliesh, the poet detective, relives some of his experiences so many years ago and connects with new people as he struggles to understand why the murder occured.


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Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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