In my plethora of interests that some may deem as “nerdy,” by far the most complicated to explain is my fascination with religion. When I worked in healthcare, and now that I’m working in the legal field, anyone who has read my resume is surprised to learn (and confused) about the fact that I majored in religion in college. Why? Because I thought I wanted to go into ministry (but more on that later).
Hi my name is Alli… and I am a fallen Catholic. My introduction to Catholicism came from being raised in a small Catholic church. Growing up, I loved Sunday School, participating in the annual Christmas pageant and most of all I loved “CCD camp” every summer. My favorite story (besides the Nativity story) was the parable of the Good Samaritan which, as cliché as it sounds, embodies what the moral code of all of the world’s major religions – and reminds us to always be inclusive of those who are different.
However, by the time I was attending confirmation class, I found that my own views and my interpretation of Jesus’ lessons were not being promoted, by neither my confirmation teacher nor the church in general. For instance, jokes at the expense of Jewish and Muslim people were tolerated, and I was appalled to hear that hateful and bigoted comments were being made in particular about those of Middle Eastern descent. This zealotry, as well as my increasing frustration with the limited role permitted to women within the church, led me to confess to my mom that I could not confirm my faith to the Catholic church.
My mom also had her own issues with the church. That summer, my mom, my younger sister and I read the Bible at home and decided to start “church shopping” once the school year began. However, it just so happened that the first church we went in, a United Church of Christ (UCC) Congregation, immediately felt like home.
Being a member of this UCC community truly helped shape me throughout my high school years. I enthusiastically participated in confirmation class, went on retreats, joined the Social Action and Education committees, taught Sunday School, and most importantly, participated in youth group. Youth group was such a rewarding experience — the culmination of which was two-fold: 1. Attending a mission trip my junior year in San Antonio, Texas, where our group built ramps on the homes of disabled people and served in soup kitchens and 2. Helping to lead my youth group my senior year of high school.
When I got to college, I chose to major in Religious Studies because I’d wanted to make ministry my career. However, I decided that ultimately, it was not what I wanted to do career wise. That decision did not stop me from enjoying learning about religion — specifically how the five major world religions were morally and historically very similar, but the differences came from the rituals and traditions practiced by their parishioners.
And let me tell you, I’m not sure how anyone can think that the stories of how religions were formed are “boring” or uninteresting to learn about. The story of the founding of any major religion is anything but. From Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt for her disobedience, to the Buddha’s vigilant meditation, to Jesus overturning tables in the temple out of anger, these stories are nothing short of invigorating and dramatic.
I’ve taken a hiatus from attending church over the past few years, with no excuse other than the fact that life tends to get in the way of what we should be prioritizing. However, I miss the challenges, history and spirituality I find from studying ancient religious texts, and the community that is assembled when a group of individuals chooses to come together to ask themselves “the big questions.” As millennials, once we’re out of school, there are few places where we can come together with our peers and learn from one another.
Wherever you find spirituality, I encourage you to explore and question — and I will do the same.
Disclaimer: The above reflects my own personal experience and is in no way a generalization of any of the religions/ideas/beliefs of others, nor do the ideas presented here reflect the opinions of Not Another Millennial Blog.