The list of my incapabilities is long and endless. I can’t swim, drive, ski, sing, get mad at anyone for a long time, or whistle. And more importantly, I can almost never say no to a good time! Oh well, what can you do!
I just can’t say no to a walk on a glorious, sunny day!
Followed by an evening of music and community and friendship at, of all places, the Swedish Church in New York!
And yes, this is going to be one of my enduring images from the day…the kitchen towels! They summarize everything I felt there!
Now, if you knew me personally, as some of you do, you would know that I am the least religious person, mostly because I am an atheist. One of my parents is deeply religious and I have nothing against that. I am just not a fan of organized religion, especially when it leads to riots and crusades and jihad and conversions and such.
One can do whatever one pleases personally, and by all means do it. Hey, even I pray to the universe for stuff. So, feel free to call it God, Durga, Yoda, Jesus, He-Man, Allah, Mickey Mouse, Vishnu, Mary, Hanuman etc. etc. Just be aware that it’s not a real person, but a construct (created by you or someone else), to help you feel better about yourself and the world. But it also has the potential to interfere with other people’s lives. So, you really need to be careful. And what you choose to believe in, is after all, your responsibility and therefore, you are also responsible for the consequences of your beliefs.
--this could be a library, but it is the Swedish Church--
Given my atheism, I have an awful lot of friends who are either religious or spend a lot of time trying to explore the spiritual aspects of life. But, they have always been the kind who have been okay with me not being part of that belief system. I have always been more than eager to be part of their cultural lives, like eating the goodies on Christmas Eve, enjoying Lakshmi Puja on Diwali, listening to the beautiful Choir music, visiting temples, gurudwaras, mosques, churches, monasteries and such. I don’t see anything wrong in the celebratory aspects of religion, the food one gets to eat (e.g. at langars), the candles we get to light on Diwali etc. My stand is that we need to appreciate the good things about religions and get rid of the bad parts. Some people might say that it is impossible to do that, so we should all try to be atheists. I have a feeling that it’s not a very feasible solution.
Coming back to the kitchen towels, let me make a disclosure first. I am a huge fan of Swedish design. By which I don’t mean just Ikea.
This place I visited this evening, was the least-religious religious place I have been to. May be it was so because it was an open-mic-day for them. By which I mean that people sang songs like Fields of Gold, there was no talk about Jesus or any other Christian imagery, no one ever mentioned the Bible, we drank wine, ate yum food, I never felt out-of-place despite me not being Swedish or Christian, they had a kitchen, we vacuumed, there were plenty of kitchen towels, a store-room with very Swedish groceries, we gossiped, laughed, took photos and I wasn’t made to feel theistic at all! It actually reminded me of the Peruvian embassy in New York! (Was I being tricked into something…ha ha!)
Of course, then we walked a little, I spent sometime at the Subway station and waited for the train.
And got back home and wrote this post.
Good night and good morning!