This Christmas I went for Mass after over a year, or has itbeen two? I’m not religious. I pick and choose what parts of religion I want tofollow. For much of my adult life, I have picked Christmas, Easter and the weddingsof friends as my mass-going days. But since Benji, I haven’t done even that.
We didn’t do anything for Christmas this year except go tochurch with Benji. He stayed quiet for some of the singing but tended to wantto run around and V did the needful. This is quite a cliche because in India, you always see the dads running around with the babies while the mums stay inside devoutly bearing the spiritual burden for the family. But it works for us because V cannot actually remember the last time he sat through a whole Mass and I do not see the point of a truncated Mass.

I loved the Mass. As I grew older, I realised that thevalue of Mass for me is in the very things that I used to scorn as a child andwhich adults would tell me was the point – the ritual of it, the sameness, the repetitionof words that have been repeated for time immemorial. There is a peace in that repetitionthat goes beyond the meaning of the words.

Recently, on IHM’s blog, I got embroiled in a big debate onthe ‘benefit of religion for women’. Mainly, I had a lot of time on my handsand got bored with what everyone else seemed to be saying. I find the smugness ofthose who don’t believe as boring as the fervour of those that do. I find thestandard arguments of religion as patriarchy, religion as war-mongering,religion as the source of all evil optimistic at best and unimaginative andstale at worst (or maybe vice versa). I went through that phase in my teens and now I am more respectful of other people’sopinions, even their follies and delusions if one wants to see religion assuch. I agree that religion has propped up patriarchy, that it has been the cause of war – or at least the excuse for it; the cause of war is generally a quest for power. Organised religion is about power but at the individual level it is also about other things and I think it’s time we look into those as well.
I believe in the irrational and that everything cannot beexplained. I am not against a good placebo. I am amused by people’s easy acceptance of explanations under thebanner of science that they probably understand even less than religiousexplanations. It seems like a new version of the Emperor’s New Clothes. If it ispeer-reviewed it must be true. And the truth is what we must know, even at thecost of beauty.
Anyway, this is not about religion or science but aboutresolutions. I like sitting in a church occasionally. I like losing myself insongs about good intentions. I like the performance of the ritual and therepetition of it. Why am I not doing this more? So I will. I hope.