Religion is one of the most fascinating facets of humanity to me. I grew up in what I would describe as an oppressively religious household. My parents were, and still are to some extent, of a belief that the Roman Catholic church is the absolute authority on life and the afterlife, to sometimes a very extreme degree.
From a young age, probably 4 I would say, I realized this just couldn’t be the case. Prior to that, I wholeheartedly subscribed to my parents’ beliefs. But after a certain point, logic took over, and I understood the many contradictions inherent in the entire practice. Just one quick example: having been simultaneously created in God’s image, while getting condemned to hell for being gay.
Because of my parents’ religious fervor, I was never taught about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc. I still received presents and candy, I just always knew exactly where they came from. A part of me wishes it had not been that way, I think the magic of Santa is pretty cool, to be honest.
My parents obviously taught me not to spill the beans on the Santa thing, but I must not have gotten the memo about the Easter Bunny, for one Easter when I was around 9 or 10 I got into a little spiff with another girl over the existence of this mysterious, egg-laying (I assume, where else does he get all the eggs from?) rabbit.
I was quite insistent that the bunny simply did not exist. I don’t remember for sure, but I think I may have even convinced her to the point of tears. I might be making that up, though. In any case, I was proud of my victory in defending the truth and informed my parents that very evening of my good deed.
At which point they promptly told me that when I went back the next day, I had to apologize to my classmate and admit the Easter Bunny was, in fact, completely real. I was flabbergasted. Surely lying is a sin, it is not? How was that okay?
Head hung, I did as I was instructed. Feeling like an idiot, I repeated the lie and compromised my own morals. I wished so strongly I could have held my ground, but I did genuinely feel bad for hurting her feelings. It just didn’t seem fair to me, though.
It wasn’t all bad, however. Because Easter is the #1 holiday as far as most of Christian/Catholic religions go, for the first few years of my life, my parents would go all out with the gifts. Only three to four months after Christmas, and in the midst of my brothers’ and my birthdays, this was amazing. We would get new clothes, baskets full of goodies including DVDs, those crazy big Hershey Kisses, toys, eggs, the works! Then my grandparents would come over and spoil us further. It was great.
I am 21 now, and this year my parents bought a gigantic cake currently taking up an entire shelf in the refrigerator. I won’t complain about this either, but I cannot help considering the implications of this holiday and the religious history behind it.
Usually the religious aspect is hiding behind all the hollow bunnies, so it is easy to ignore. But living with my parents again has reminded me of the degree that their religion literally controls their lives.
As they have skipped the meat for the past two days, I’ve been enjoying delicious pork chop leftovers. While they go to confess their alleged sins to some guy in a robe, I congratulate myself on feeling as if my karma is in balance.
All those specifics, that straight and narrow path one must take to get to heaven, doesn’t fly with me. I have developed intense spiritual realizations in the past few years, based on a common core of truth I find within quantum physics, and different aspects of many religions and movements that all seem to work together when you only accept those beliefs that do not limit the beliefs of others.
Today, my answer to the Easter Bunny conundrum would be essentially that whatever it is you believe to be is the truth. It is still beyond my full grasp for me to succinctly explain, what my true beliefs are, but they feel much more all-encompassing and right than anything the Roman Catholic church, or any other for that matter, could come up with.
By describing a thing, you limit it. Organized religion is a practice of fitting life into a little box where everything is just so. It doesn’t account for Satya, the Sanskrit word for that which pervades the universe in all its constancy, or absolute reality; that which is.
Descartes perhaps said it best: “cogito ergo sum”. I think, therefore I am. That is much more crucial to me than any holiday, or sexual orientation, or whether or not I eat meat on a Friday.
I definitely won’t be forgoing the cake and candy today. But I will be forgoing church, religious stigmas, and any ideas that threaten to limit my mind and my life. And to me, that is the essence of a Happy Easter.