Late night discussions about God causes religious pondering

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

GRADY OLSON, Channels Staff

A few friends and I share a similar trait once slightly inebriated. We like to talk; small talk, big talk, girl talk, drunken talk and every now and then a deep talk. Topics range from what love really is, parenting, our next surfboard we are going to shape (yes, we can get deep on that subject), our relationships with our parents and same sex marriage. The topics mostly depend on what the big buzz is at the time.

Last week, late Thursday or early Friday, depending on if you are one of those “the clock struck midnight so it is no longer tomorrow it’s today” kinds of people, my roommate and I got into religion. He was raised an atheist and myself a confirmed catholic, so I was surprised at how similar our beliefs were.

He never believed in the bible and my confidence in it was lost some years ago. We both believed that the basis of religion is good; to promote being a good person, nice to others, to help find peace in yourself by spreading it.

He doesn’t believe there is a God. I don’t believe in the God, the one who sits on the left side of his son. I do believe in a God, but not some man who created all life and then had a son somehow who was born without his mother having sex, and could also walk on water, but something similar of a God.

Call it a force, presence, vibe, mojo or whatever you want, but that thing is what separates us from each other, not just biologically and from appearances.

The reason why I think one thing is funny but my roommate can’t stand it.

The feeling that’s shot down my spine making me pause my hand just for an instant before I take that gas station candy bar.

The thing that when I’m driving at night on the freeway, it’s been hours, alone just driving and that sensation starts to spread over me. That sincere wonder of what would happen if I just turned the wheel a hard right, how many full rolls would my little green truck do, would the cars behind me stop or just keep going, who would be the one to find me, who would be the one to call my mother?

I keep trying to psych myself up, just a quick slam down of my right hand to my right knee. But I don’t, I never do and I never will. Something pulls me back and some thing never lets me.

That is what I believe in. Call it one’s willpower, soul, love or the desire to become more of what I am already, whatever it is that’s my god.

Your God might not approve of something that I have done, but my God does. I might not make it into your heaven, but I think I will make it into mine.

This conversation with my roommate got me wondering if we are the last generation where a majority of us are raised where going to church on Sunday was not an odd thing to do.

In a survey released last year by the Public Religion Research Institute, 32 percent of citizens ages 18 to 29 declare themselves unaffiliated, a number that is dramatically higher than it has ever been in the past. I think that number is only going to increase in the future.

It seems like with almost each new social and civil rights issue that’s in the public spotlight now has a counter group that is religious. For abortion and contraception there is American Life League, and for same sex marriage there’s the National Organization for Marriage who may not be a claimed religious group, but its donations are from them.

When I have kids, I am not going to push a specific religion onto them and certainly not make church a weekly enforcement. The days of waking up early to put on your Sunday clothes, the wooden benches combined with the heat and trying to sound out the melody to the songs and prayers that you never learned the words to. And then finally, counting the seconds to when you can untuck your shirt and enjoy some donuts. Those days are slowly dying.