Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 2, 2007
Heathen-believer marriage flourishes
Each other's questions on beliefs open the pathway to appreciation
Me and My Church
By KIM HALDANE
I married a heathen. Out of respect, or mostly because he thinks he's hilarious, my father calls him a "high heathen."
My husband, bless his un-baptized soul, was brought up with no religion. His brothers, parents and grandparents are devout scientists. Much to my surprise and shock their bookshelves aren't lined with The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Bible or even The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Catholicism.
Rather, their bookshelves are lined with books by physicists and scientists such as Feynman, Hawkings and way too many bestsellers to be holy.
Hubby and church
My husband, to satisfy his own curiosity about how the world works has read countless books about physics and studied how the world works. He will admit that he never had any interest in religion, and even today when I drag him to church I am sure he questions how he ever got mixed up with religion. (I can answer this question; it was his wife, dreaded woman.)
I think his wonder draws from the fact that I believe in God, to some scientists this assertion and even the idea of "belief" is preposterous. To some Christians, the fact that his or her partner doesn't believe in God can be a sore point, but for my husband and I, it is an area where we both draw strength from.
You see, even though our beliefs are different about the existence of God. My husband's lack of belief has helped my own beliefs solidify.
For example: my husband will sometimes innocently ask, "Why is the Church opposed to _________?"
His innocent and sometimes not-so-innocent, yet thought provoking, questions force me to seek out answers and also to dive deeper into understanding the Catholic Church and God.
His questions about God have helped me know my God better, but also, my questions about his beliefs have also opened his science-centric mind and to accept God's beauty and mastery.
The plus side
My husband now sees how churches are wonderful for uniting people, for encouraging people to be less ego-centric and also for encouraging them to have a more global understanding of issues. While, he will probably not ever devout himself to the Church, after our five years together, he is starting to see how churches usually do more good than not.
Also, his understandings about science and faith have had to become more open-minded. No longer, (well he would probably try) can he simply state that religion is a backwards hobby for people who don't think for themselves.
Rather, he has learned that religion gives a lot of people a framework to figure out tough issues. Religion gives people an opportunity to think about issues and to grapple with them on a spiritual level.
I, also, have had to learn to respect science. Science, for me was always an unknown area that generally confused me and was limited to my failed high school experiences where I didn't want to circle the right answer. Numbers, chemicals and formulas seemed like a simple way of explaining God's beauty.
I have always thought of God as more of a charming poet beautifully stringing the world together with magic and the most awe-inspiring imagination. It's hard for me to imagine God as a geeky scientist up in heaven crafting formulas to baffle the world's greatest minds and confuse the rest.
My husband insists, however, that heaven will be a place where no one will need calculators or slide-rules because they will all have a complete and glorious understanding of impedance spectrometry.
However, when I get desperate for books to read and the library is too far for my lethargic soul to venture to, I head to my husband's bookshelves. In reading books by Hawking and Feynman, I realize that scientists and religious writers are all trying to explain the same things. We are trying to explain the questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Who's in charge of this world?
The Bible, The Catechism, and even Steven Hawking's Brief History of Time all seek to explain these questions. All these books lead us closer to a greater understanding of the scientific unknown or God.
God is alive
So although, my blessed heathen husband claims that God doesn't exist, his questions and literature have all helped me grow and be able to assert more strongly that God is alive regardless if he disguises himself as a formula that brings scientists one step closer to belief, or as a poet who crafts a world so beautiful that artists feel closer to him through painting, writing or sculpting.
God reveals himself to us all, however like any good teacher; he uses the right technique to hook us.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.