Religious beliefs are a very personal matter and usually this subject is best left alone as it does not lend itself well to debate or even discussion.  With that in mind, I will proceed very gingerly and not give even the appearance of questioning anyone’s religious beliefs.

In fact, I am very tolerant of all religions and do not even dispute those that have no religious beliefs or who view the world in either a very secular or spiritual manner.  My feeling is that life is full of trials and tribulations and whatever anyone needs to believe in order to get through is fine with me as long as while pursuing their beliefs they accept and respect those of other people.

Our country, even though it has very deep religious traditions, has adopted the official doctrine of the separation of church and state.  This, of course, was meant to prevent government sanctioned religions which always resulted in religious intolerance and persecution of those not on board with the official religion.  The separation of church and state has produced some contradictory results, at times, when, for example, we have “In God We Trust” on our currency but you dare not mention religion in our public schools.   We can’t seem to decide where the church ends and the state begins.

I have also noticed that many people only feel comfortable with religion lite.  We like our religion in small doses so that it does not interfere with our daily lives or become too intense or taken too seriously.  It seems to me that whenever anyone expresses an extremely deep religious commitment or professes to have an intense religious experience we tend to look at them as being a little odd or out of touch with reality.   I am not talking about those people who find religious images on toast or in rust stains since I hope we can all agree that such nonsense only trivializes religion.  I think that on some level we find the extreme religious devotion of people such as monks or cloistered nuns, for example, to be both admirable and difficult to understand.

People have questioned the very existence of God for ages and since there can be no proof belief can only be rooted in faith.  It has occurred to me that all of this confusion and uncertainly could easily be dispelled if God would just make a brief appearance and clear everything up for humanity.  A few words at the United Nations or, perhaps, a quick visit at half time of the Super Bowl would be all that it would take for God to put all these questions to rest.   A magnanimous gesture such as world peace, ending famine, or eliminating a disease like cancer would also go a long way to put everyone at ease about the true nature of God’s goodness.  Just a suggestion if anyone is listening.

Until then, we can each keep religion in our own way as we look to the heavens for answers.

On Monday, Annemarie comments on a recent visit with her son and daughter-in-law in “When Children Grow Up”.