I have written extensively about my lack of belief in the divine. I have described, at length, my feelings about the place of religion in our society. Your beliefs are your business and so long as you don’t try to make other people follow them, we can get along just fine. I have never really felt the need for faith (I believe I have mentioned this before as well) but I can understand where some people do, so have at it. I won’t stop you. Hope however, is another business.
Maybe that’s why I can be calmer about religion (I know those who don’t like their Christian privilege challenged will say otherwise) than most of my fellow atheists, or at least, calmer than those who like to stand at a pulpit of their own. Faith can give you hope, and in a world as uncertain as ours, hope can keep you sane, it can keep you moving, driven on by your heart when your mind says “stop.” It can save your life when it pulls you through those hard times.
I learned about hope, and about caring about the larger world, in the little, front room of the house we lived in on Reliance Street in the city. I did not learn all of my values from comic books. Some of them I learned sitting around the record player listening to Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Ritchie Havens and their contemporaries.
We would sit together on a lazy Sunday, singing those songs together. Rainbow Race, Little Boxes, Hobo’s Lullaby and so many others were our hymns. They showed me we can care for each other, that the world does not have to be needlessly cruel or unbearably cold. These folks sang of a world where all of us, all (now) six billion cared for their neighbors at least enough to make sure they were we safe, warm and fed. They made me believe in a world in which it was no longer accepted blindly that we should kill another human being simply because someone in power told us we had to.
That was my Sunday Church. Singing praises not to one of the billion faces of god, but to the potential of my fellow man. Hope at thirty-three revolutions per minute, and it still helps me get through the day.