Losing My Religion

I grew up with very Catholic grandparents and not so Catholic parents. When I was in elementary school, in an effort to make my grandparents happy, my parents sent me to Sunday school. There are only two memories I have of Sunday school. The first is that there was a lot of coloring, and you were given a piece of candy if you got a question about Jesus right. The second was the singing. At the end of every session, each grade would gather into the main hallway, and an old woman would sit in the middle with her guitar and make us sing songs about Jesus.

I didn’t understand anything that was happening, and I often asked my teachers for proof of the history of Jesus (artifacts, anything), so my parents promptly removed me from classes.

As I got older, my family and I started going to church less and less, and pretty soon, all I knew about being a Catholic was that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter and that his birthday is what we call, “Christmas.” As we were pulling away from God, I questioned everything spiritual more and more, year after year. Eventually, when I was nearing the end of high school and beginning college, I decided that I didn’t believe in the afterlife, heaven, hell, God, anything. I had no proof, therefore, it was not real.

I didn’t think about anything regarding religion until I watched an episode of “Long Island Medium” with Theresa Caputo. I had watched other mediums perform before like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, and James Van Praagh, but they were always positioned in front of a large audience, and everything about it seemed so staged. Theresa, on the other hand, was stopping people in grocery stores, doing private readings, going on cruises and reading groups, and walking in to someone’s home and reading a group of 10 people. She did it all. Every situation she was put in, she came out with a victory. How could you not believe her? But, I still wondered, was it a sham? Were these cameras set up? So, when she came out with her book, There’s More to Life Than This, I bought and read it. Then, my life changed forever.

I started believing again when I watched Theresa on TV, but her book really won me over. She talked about experiences that people have in their everyday lives that are signs from spirit, instances that you can’t write or verbally explain to anyone else. It was as though someone had gotten into my head and described everything I’ve never been able to tell anyone else in perfectly strung sentences. I finally felt normal.

In fact, so normal that I recently began working at a Christian college. Everyone that I work with is obviously religious, and they have been their whole lives…Unfortunately, this is where I fall short. I know hardly anything about being a Christian, and I can safely say that I’m not one. At least, not the type of Christian I’ve come in contact with. Yes, I like everyone that I work with. But, I also believe in gay marriage, the fact that homosexuality is not a sin, that swearing is a part of human nature, and being edgy is what makes you real. I love Lady Gaga! Of course, all of these things are generally not celebrated in Christian faith, and that is why I can’t be a true follower.

Theresa Caputo has stated multiple times that all too often individuals use religion to pull themselves apart from others or as an excuse to “hate” someone. When, really, we should be using religion to spread love, kindness, and compassion. They use God as a symbol of fear, instead of a symbol of understanding. Like the GOP, once Christians can wake up and modernize, then maybe I’ll jump on their bandwagon to Bethlehem. I’m not trying to say that all Christians are bad people, most of them are the most compassionate individuals I’ve ever met, but, it’s time to embrace the new world and remind ourselves that Jesus was friends with a prostitute. So, seriously, is being gay really that awful?

Granny Smith – over and out

Autism Awareness

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If you don’t know already, the month of April is Autism Awareness Month here in the United States. And seeing how the month is almost over, I thought I’d dedicated this post to those individuals with Autism, my brother, specifically.

My brother was three years old when he was diagnosed, and my family’s life hasn’t been the same since. I can’t tell you how many countless hours my brother has spent with therapists working on his speech and cognitive ability and how many days he was in the Special Education room at our high school only for us to realize that he isn’t so different after all. He’s still a typical boy who has his own likes and dislikes, he just can’t express himself in the same way we can.

For years, my family has gotten stares and weird looks in public places when my brother has cried out, hummed, or even danced near complete strangers. Even tonight, we went to our local YMCA for a swim and a young boy (probably only about 10 or 12) told my brother to hand over the ball he was holding because he was supposed to use it to shoot hoops not hold it! Of course, I glared at the boy and flipped him the bird…in my mind. But, we carried on, business as usual.

When I was younger, I would get so embarrassed half the time because my brother would have to use the ladies room with my mom if my dad wasn’t around so that someone could help him in the bathroom. We even stopped going to church because my brother loves to laugh, hum, and cry out during inappropriate times. Whenever someone looks at him, all they can see is his age, so they’re completely confused as to why he’s behaving “in that way.” Nowadays, I don’t give as many shits. If he cries out, he cries out. If he decides to dance in the middle of the grocery isle, let him have at it (as long as he’s not in anyone’s way)!

I’m not saying that I’m completely fine with his outbursts and that they never embarrass me. Of course, I still get agitated with him every once in awhile. But he’s my brother, and that’s what siblings do. If anything, he’s made me more of a tolerant person. Yes, people mess up once, twice, three times even! But, because I live with a boy who constantly needs to be reminded to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom, or to take his shoes off before climbing into bed, I’ve never gotten into a heated/screaming match with anyone. No one has ever pissed me off that much…because, it takes A LOT for me to REALLY show my frustration.

Like my dad says, “everyone should have at least one disabled child so that they know what it’s really like.” And, I completely agree. There’s too many government officials trying to cut funding for those with disabilities and it brings me to near tears when I think about how much those with disabilities have already been shafted in life, how many limitations they have when it comes to things to do, places to go, or people who will take care of them, and now this? My father actually has a friend who works for the government and has a disabled daughter, and because of that, he makes sure that he knows every law and is able to fight that much harder for her rights. He’s actually helped a lot of families (mine included) knowledgeably advocate for their disabled child. And, never would he have become so involved if he didn’t have a daughter with a disability.

My brother and other individuals with disabilities that I have spent time with over the course of my life thus far have helped me get a better perspective on what really matters in life. Not only that, but they’ve also taught me how it’s important to treat individuals with the utmost respect, say what you feel, and do what makes you happy.

If you’ve never had the chance to spend time with an individual or individuals with a disability, I encourage you to volunteer for the Special Olympics, or for a disabled group home. Even if it’s just for an hour and only one time! Make some sort of interaction with these uniquely talented and special individuals, and I guarantee your life will change for the better.

Granny Smith – over and out