Secular Easter



Partner and I celebrated Easter this year by going to a nice restaurant in downtown Providence for brunch.



Partner was born and raised Catholic; I was a convert to Catholicism in my teens. Both of us have gone through waves of piety and observance, but we have both come through it and out of it, and Holy Mother Church has lost her charms for both of us.



A few years ago I went through an ultramontane phase. I went to Mass almost every day at noontime. I joined the local parish. I even did the Triduum, the three-day ritual that leads up to Easter Sunday.



And suddenly, one day in the spring of 2008, I packed it in. I just stopped going.



Why? One too many homilies explaining why, although the Church loves everyone equally, they just couldn’t accept gay people as they were. One too many homilies about God’s mysteries which are beyond man’s understanding.  Too many intelligent people sitting meekly and listening to illogical and badly-presented drivel.



Ritual is very nice, of course, and very attractive. I think this may be the center of religious belief: the deeply satisfying practice of dancing and singing and chanting magic words. A peaceful feeling comes over you sometimes when you do it. And once you’re in a nice peaceful mood, it is easy (and comforting) to believe that God is very pleased with you.



And religion may even be useful. David Brooks, in a recent New York Times column, talked about the uses of absolute religious belief. It creates values, you see. It is a regimenting and organizing principle.



(Until, of course, it runs up against another absolute faith. It sort of creates problems at that point. But David Brooks is apparently okay with that.)



I’m not quite a pagan, not quite an atheist. I have vague yearnings, and a sense that there may be something unseen, some magician behind the curtain, something more to reality that we can’t quite put our finger on yet.



But whatever it is, it’s not hanging over the altar at St. Sebastian’s Church.



If I want to dance and sing in front of a god, I’ll do for some more kindly god, who doesn’t mind if I screw up from time to time.





About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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