My Blend of Religions

Despite the existence of enduring cathedrals, the Church has not been gaining many newcomers from Generation Z.  Our peers are less religious and less spiritual than our parents and previous generations. For me, as someone whose views do not align completely with one, I gradually abandoned the role of religion in my life.

Religion, unlike old times, has become a personal experience rather than strict protocol or a tool to rule a given nation. Even though some countries still hold religious dogma as the administrative law, religion itself has been incorporated into the lives of individuals with increasing freedom. Having faith is neither a privilege of aristocrats nor an asset for only one ethnicity. Christianity includes more than Western cultures and has spread across the globe. But why are so many young adults still walking away from the world of spirituality?

Religion has never been a topic that I am fond of digging into, since it’s such an abstract entity. No one readily comes to an agreement on the definition of the term “religion,” and its implications. But when I spontaneously uttered “omfg” in front of a friend, he jumped up on the table and accused me of "cursing in the name of the Lord." I never gave those seemingly innate expressions much thought until this friend pointed them out. He then gave me a speech on Christianity, which suddenly turned him into an old-school preacher. He included that when conforming to the Bible, sex before marriage is immoral and should be condemned. It occurred to me that his words must be confronting his own previous hook-ups in that moment.

I also have Chinese friends who have been in the states for over five years since their enrollment in Catholic high schools. Some of them developed a sense of disgust at Christianity’s practices, while others remained impassive. This is likely attributed to either individual lack of interest or unpleasant interactions with Christians. People from all walks of life hold certain attitudes towards religion based on their experiences. I have become accustomed to an increasingly secular ideology in my life, in which religion has faded. My family maintained a conservative environment while I was growing up, just like other Asian households. But my grandmother’s Buddhist beliefs do not align with the concepts that my mom passed on to me.

Granny insisted on performing specific prayers whenever there was a conventional festival on the lunar calendar. Rituals varied but they shared the same underlying focus: showing respect for Buddha. In my experience, however, these were superstitious customs that left me fatigued. Once I have been confronted with the house of worship, I am expected to be a loyal believer.

The existence of gods is confirmed for Granny. Some of them protect your wealth, some of them support your kinship, and others defend you from bad fortunes. Your wish will be granted if you devote yourself to the faith, and it will be neglected otherwise. Following my granny, my mom did not discard the habitual routines of prayers, but she put less emphasis on the superiority of gods. She translates quotes from Confucianism and Buddhism to wise words that connect to everyday life.

The most typical scene in our home was the tea ceremony that was rooted in religious beliefs. According to my mom, the time you spend brewing tea is a form of self-cultivation. You have to recognize that it is the ideal season to unpack the tea bags, measure the amount of leaves and water in the pot, and determine the precise temperature that will yield the best flavor. People exchange their values in gentle drinking and laughing during tea socials. The tea ceremony goes far beyond the simply quenching thirst; it contains rich meaning in Buddhism.

Tea Bag In Mug MoodyForming my own view of religion has been very puzzling. I do not have a consistent answer as to which religion holds the answers to my questions, not to mention I have been instructed in different manners just from one sect. I have acquaintances who pursue Christianity and then gradually leave their faith after moving away from their families. Some of them also changed their views later in life.

Today, teenagers are less likely to commit their thoughts to a system of faith, but I still look optimistically to the future of religion. As long as people seek relief and structure, religion will thrive among us.

two women sit on the beach, facing the ocean. the sun shines in between them.