This post is about explaining my previous post ‘Of Faith and Fear'( Of Faith and Fear (wordpress.com) ). It is from a series called ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’ in which I use absurd images to communicate well-formed ideas. Many of my friends wanted to know what ‘Of Faith and Fear’ was really about. I was hesitant to do this as the post is about something that I’m not comfortable talking about openly. However, the piece means a lot to me personally and I think if you guys knew what led me to writing it, it would make the piece a very interesting read for you. So, let me share.
I’ve never liked horror movies. The reasons why I don’t is not germane to the topic of this post. Let’s just say for the satisfaction of half the people in my life that I’m a wimp. Anyway, once in a while I find myself in a position where I have to sit down and watch a horror movie regardless of my general distaste for the genre. On these occasions, I try my best to get through unscathed. One of my favorite techniques is to imagine the movie set. I like to imagine the director giving instructions to the actors, people running around with lightboxes, and interns giggling in the background. It helps me to break through the illusion and remind myself that the moving pictures are man-made, the result of a series of very deliberate choices. When I do this, the horror movie, by virtue of it having a particular lighting or sequence of camera angles, becomes a “portkey”(HP reference) back to reality.
Let us now take a detour into something that happened a few weeks ago when I had the most random of thoughts. I asked myself why in all the churches I’ve visited, Mother Mary is always dressed in blue. So I Googled it. Apparently, the Bible is full of references to the colour. It stood for heaven, riches, royalty, purity, etc. However, from my very basic research, I found that Virgin Mary is always dressed in blue because the colour signifies purity. In fact, during Byzantine times, blue was widely used to signify this quality.
Alright, let’s get back to scary movies.
For all my life, I’ve been a devout Christian. Still am, I’d like to think. But in the past few years, I’ve found myself questioning my beliefs. I’ve gotten to a place where I believe that all of it is true one day and find it absolutely hard to believe the next. It’s a scary place to be when you’ve lived all your life believing in something completely. Considering the idea of eternal incineration is scary enough. But what about my life here? I want to live in the truth. It’s important to me. I’m caught between extremes and it’s the most depressing and horrifying thing I’ve ever faced in my life. Is it all man-made? Or is it the absolute truth? At the moment, it all depends on what day it is.
So, when I tell you that churches can be scary spaces for me, I hope it makes sense. They’re powerful, larger-than-life spaces that make me feel part of something beyond my insignificant existence. Being in that space on a day that I don’t believe is the scariest thing in the world. It’s like being ripped apart. So, in desperation, I try to look for the cameramen and the directors; I try to find ways of imagining it all as man-made. Anything from facetious expressions to illogical claims help me to breathe. This is how I treat three hours on a routine Sunday as a horror movie.
This is why when I read about why Mother Mary is always in blue, an image popped into my head. I’ve tried my best to paint it.
What I saw was a group of people carrying a giant statue into a church. Wet paint was dripping off it. It made no sense whatsoever why anybody would carry a statue still wet with paint into a church. But I let it play on. This was followed by an image of me in a church seeing a blotch of paint on the red carpet and holding on to it as a mark of how man-made the larger-than-life space of the church I was in was; a reminder that the tinted glass, the high ceilings, and big curtains were all the result of deliberate choices of artists.
The image also reminded me of how there is blue inside the church and outside the church. The sky is also blue. It proclaims the handiwork of God. But we meet God in closed spaces, disconnected from the infinite blue above us. I often find the blue inside the church to be an entirely different shade from the blue outside. There seems to be a disconnect between the world inside the church on a Sunday and the world outside on the other six days of the week. Most people I know have different ways of living inside and outside the church. I’m not a pantheist but I was reminded of Spinoza’s philosophy that exhorted people to return to the blueprint of nature. Why is it that the purity of nature and the scriptures always have to be adulterated by our selfish desires and agendas? It’s always been the story, even in the Garden of Eden.
I’m not a catholic. The imagery used is not a jab at anyone. I merely allowed ideas to possess certain images to communicate something. This is also in no way a statement that comes from a place of conviction or certainty. I’m confused. I don’t resent religion. I consider myself to be a Christian; but my beliefs are based not on sight but on faith. I have no evidence for what I believe in. I believe there is a God and that Jesus was divine. I do so because I want to and I have nowhere else to go. But I don’t believe in a lot of things that most Christians believe in. This is a piece that comes from a place of humility and acceptance of my own incertitude. As I write this, part of me is happy to present a part of my life that I found hard to communicate with others. At the same time, I write every word fearing divine retribution. I find peace in knowing from experience that honest expression has always brought me closer to the truth, be it in people or ideas.
P.S. This is not a very well-written post. I was not feeling up to it but I thought it was required. Hope you guys enjoyed reading it nonetheless. Cheers.