I’m a surfer in a tourist town. I get weird questions. But the one I was recently blindsinded with at school left me reeling, and it had nothing to do with surfing. Upon passing a fellow teacher in the hall, one whom I barely know, I heard, “How’re you and Jesus doing?”
She kept walking and didn’t seem to be looking for a real conversation, so I had only a fraction of a second to process this riddle. All I could muster on short notice was, “Um, I haven’t seen him in a while.” By then the teacher and I had passed one another, but I added, “Let me know if you see him around.” I didn’t turn to gauge her reaction, but I imagine she contorted her face in disgust or began praying for my salvation. Probably both.
I am tempted to write a post about religion. I won’t, of course, because people get weird about that stuff. They lose their senses of humor and reason. I wouldn’t want to offend anyone, so I’m not gonna write that.
But if I did, I’d probably explain how, as you might’ve guessed, JC and I are not on speaking terms. It’s not that we had a falling out; I didn’t “unfriend” him. I’ve just never bought his bracelets, much less turned my life over to him. Seems like a solid guy, but I have a hard time with all the miracles. As a man of reason, I lean towards Thomas Jefferson’s version of events, the one stripped of all the Harry Potter gags.
I might include how the closest I’ve come to “seeing the light” was during Tebow-mania. Sunday after Sunday a few years back, I religiously watched in awe as a God-fearing, God-awful quarterback led his football team to a series of unbelievable comebacks. Had I not witnessed the miracles of Saint Tim with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed them any more than I believe the earth is just a few years older than Betty White.
I’d also add that the only times I recall praying were in the midst of one nasty hangover and once when I thought my plane was going down in a storm. In each case, in my fragile state I sent a mental shoutout to Mary’s alleged baby daddy although I knew he was probably too busy fixing sporting events to hear me. I survived, obviously, but I chalked it up to dumb luck rather than divine intervention.
We inherit religion from our parents without question, or at least without answers based on anything more than longstanding stories. My dad attended Sunday school as a kid, but he was “saved” by a paper route at 12. Mom was raised Jewish but only celebrated the big holidays. So growing up I learned that God meant flat, crunchy bread and chocolate coins, and speaking to Him required a little round hat and a throat full of phlegm.
My parents didn’t talk about religion. They did go out of their way to help those less fortunate, not because the church told them to but because it’s the right thing to do. As a result, I developed a sense of karma straight out of “My Name Is Earl.”
I’m in no position to help anyone financially, so I “do good” the only way I know how. I take people surfing. Disabled, underpriveleged, anyone who otherwise could not do so on their own. Unlike religious do-gooders, I don’t urge these people to believe in a collection of stories from thousands of years ago; I give them my book on how not to be a kook. I’m not pushing them into turning their lives over to anything; I’m just pushing them into a few waves.
If I wrote about religion I’d definitely include that my church is the ocean, my god Mother Nature. (However, I’m a staunch advocate of the separation of church and surf. Tying any other religion to surfing ain’t kosher.) As pioneer waterman Tom Blake said, “Surfriding is a prayer of a high order…the sea is a beautiful church, the wave a silent sermon.” What my religion is not is organized (unless the wind happens to be blowing offshore).
The sea has been my sanctuary and my teacher. It has taught me how small we all are, how to be self-sufficient, and to respect the earth. I haven’t always been the best student, especially when it comes to respect. I mean, do you know anybody who routinely takes a piss in the middle of their house of worship?
I’ve only spoken about my religious beliefs, or lack thereof, with a few people, so I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable writing a post about it. I don’t mind offending people, but I wholeheartedly support the idea of allowing everyone to have their beliefs. We’re all just expressing our opinions anyway. Our thoughts on the subject are called “beliefs” rather than “knows” for good reason. All I know for sure is, I’m looking forward to getting back to church.