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✍🏻 ¡Hola, Papi! | "I'm looking for awe"
There’s a great post today over at ¡Hola, Papi! by John Paul Brammer. Here’s the post.
I love their response to a question from an atheist about whether one needs to participate in religion in order to feel something akin to awe (emphasis mine):
“There’s an architecture to holy things, isn’t there? When you enter an elaborate cathedral with its ornate pillars that lead you, an ant, to crane your neck up, up, up to the heavens, past the painted ceilings to a sky we don’t fully understand, heavens teeming with angels and gods and beings that defy logic, that’s glamor at work.
This is the desired effect, meticulously planned by people who knew how to inspire it in you. The same effect, or something similar to it, can be achieved, for example, by a drag queen in a costume that looks like it was made by aliens from outer space. Though there’s a real person beneath the ensemble, the point isn’t to be a real person at all, but a vision, a gleaming spectacle meant to make you feel small in its presence. “Goodness,” one might think, “how strange, how beautiful.”
Returning to your question: rituals are all well and good, but they are not the only route to experiencing the sense of awe you’re seeking. Because what is awe but a sublime sensation of smallness, a brief and exhilarating brush against the vast and the utterly incomprehensible? We build churches on top of mysteries because faith flows from the spring of the unknown. We worship, fear, hate, and tremble before what we don’t understand.”
Religious traditions can add to our sense of reverence and wonder—but they aren’t required to feel them.
Religions can shed light and cast shadows. Our own histories, and the trauma we carry because of them, determines our willingness to bear both.