Guilty Pleasure Friday: Me and My Religion

by Amelia Kanan

I’ve been described as a flirtatious little floozy when it comes to religion. A hussy, if you will, for rituals. And a real tartlet for quiet gatherings.

Before I go any further, I probably should mention that I’m not at all religious in the sense you might think. I believe that either A: There is nothing upon death, B: there might be some light energy kind of thing or C: there could exist something our little pea brains can’t even fathom until we die. I’d be down with any of the above. Sure, “C” might be a bit scary but, aren’t the best things in life the scariest, i.e. drugs, base jumping, babies? 

My obsession began when I was 4 and made my first best friend. When you’re a kid, your best friend is the beacon of cool. You latch onto everything that sets you a part from them – not because you’re critical but because you want to have those things. Lana had everything I wanted: freckles, tightly wounded curls, dimples and a cool ass raspy voice. She also happened to be Jewish. Lana had a cute older brother who teased me, a cute baby sister and a mom who oozed a swirl of kindness and wisdom. It was just a short matter of time before I began finagling my way into Shabbat dinners. It was then that I recognized something within myself that I had never felt before – an overwhelming sense of love, respect,and connection that brought even my 4-year-old self to tears. You could imagine my Lebanese Catholic father’s face when I began reciting “Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam…” when asked pray before dinner at home.

My parents thought it was a phase, like my child modeling. Though, nearly a decade later and after years of living states away from Lana it was clear that my love for Judaism wasn’t going anywhere. I flew into town for Lana’s Bat Mitzvah and sent letters leading up to it filled with questions like “Can you really read Hebrew completely or have you just memorized everything?”. I never felt so excited and nervous watching her sing Hebrew in front of all her peers. And although I was so happy for her, it left me feeling a little empty.

You know how they say “You can’t pick your family but you can pick who you love”? Well, that’s how I feel about religion. Catholicism is my family. Judaism is my first love. Yet as love goes, we can have more than just one (although there is nothing like your first).

Next, I had a few playful relationship with Krishna, Buddhism and Shaivism. I enjoyed my time learning about these ones and connected deeply with the communal and humble teachings, however I didn’t feel anything in the pit of my stomach. As I went through the motions and compared my feelings to my first love, I began to think that I could never love anything how I loved Judaism…

Then, within the past few years, Islam stole my heart. Did you know that in Islamic marriages, the groom pays his bride a mahr, which is either money, property or other generous gift that is meant to be hers alone? And, if a Muslim woman decides to work and earn money, that money is meant for her to do with what she pleases. It is a man’s responsibility to pay for all household expenses and bills. Typically, modern Muslim wives spend their money on family related luxuries such as traveling.

All this said, I’m a lover of religions and find them all beautiful, respectful and deserving of devote followers but because I love them all…so much, in different ways, I just can’t commit to one. And…isn’t that the theme of my life?