I’ve attended two RCIA sessions now. I’ve done a lot of thinking about it; I’ve done little to no writing about it. Instead of including this in my journal, I’m writing it here. It will have an unpolished, unfinished feel — as if anyone stumbles onto this silliness.
I find it difficult to make the sign of the cross. I feel like a fake, as if everyone knows that I’m only really doing it because everyone else in the room is doing it. But is that the only reason? The motions are comforting in some sense. Perhaps it goes back to the idea of sacred space to which I keep returning. Growing up in a church that considered it’s small numbers (not even 200k) to be the sole, true Christians in the world that also so lacked a sense of sacred space that it rented movie theaters and union halls for church services, I should be surprised that the idea of sacred space so novel and moving. Obviously the sign of the cross is an extension of the sacred to gestures (such as genuflecting) that also extends to the seemingly ephemeral (incense and holy water).
So why am I doing this at all? I spoke with the priest leading the RCIA sessions after this week’s meeting, and he seemed to be asking me that in a quiet way. Why? Why am I no longer calling myself an atheist but not willing to call myself much else?
The mystery of harmony goes a long way to explain it. Some proclaim, “Music is my god,” and I think that’s not very far from idolatry. There’s something in music that is ecstatic — stands outside of itself. I don’t know what would be the value in a purely material world of music. What is the evolutionary value?
Another conundrum: the problem of good. The problem of evil for Christians is in fact the problem of good for atheists. Why be good? Why is there nearly universal agreement on the basics of morality?
Then the personal, the change: since I’ve begun taking as a possibility the existence of God, since I’ve begun attending Mass regularly and praying semi-regularly, I find a certain joy that was never in my life. I find myself smiling more often than I ever have before. I find my love for my students to be deeper and more unconditional than ever before. I find my patience growing. I find a difference, in short.
I could try to explain it materialistically, but why? It didn’t work in the past. I like who I am now better than who I was then. So why fight it? Why explain it away with smoke, mirrors, and misguided attempts of applying Occam’s Razor?