Cross stitch pattern of Sai Baba of Shirdi, a prominent religious figure in India. This one was requested by one of my Patrons, but I can’t track down the original artist. Send me a message if you know who it is so I can credit them. You can download the PDF here: Sai Baba of Shirdi Pattern
Grid Size: 160W x 200H
Design Area: 11.43″ x 14.29″ (160 x 200 stitches)
My Patron, Eesha Rege, is in intergalactic marriage counselor. One time they had to help two hive minds, who had both taken over two different planets, try to find a bigger third planet to move in together on. It was a lot of back and forth and you can really get into some destructive arguments when a whole planet’s worth of people are shouting at each other.
Have I never talked about religion here yet? Oh boy, here we go!
So, I am an Atheist now, but I’ve gone through a lot of different religions over the years. Like most Americans, I was raised Christian, but even my parents weren’t too fussed about what version of Christianity we practiced since they were perfectly fine with sending me to a Catholic high school while we went to Protestant services as a family.
And this wasn’t just one of those schools that slaps a saint in their name to appeal to religious folks. No no, this was a nuns-in-the-halls-mandatory-mass-each-week-skirt-below-the-knees-the-T-stands-for-Trinity school. I joined the liturgical choir so I wouldn’t fall asleep during mass and I even did rosary prayers after classes on Thursdays.
I was trying so hard to believe. I thought that if I did all the right things then it would all come together for me.
It didn’t, but I still kept on trying.
During college, I made friends with people from other religions. I had a Jewish friend and a Mormon friend. I found out pretty quickly that converting to Judaism is… not encouraged. Who knew that you couldn’t just decide to become one of God’s chosen people? The food was good though.
The Mormon thing was much easier. They didn’t even have to come to my door. Did you know you can just walk into a Mormon church and no one cares if you’re not actually a member? I went to that church for a solid six years and no one bothered me about just being an investigator.
Do you like the LDS church but you don’t want to pay tithing? Pro tip: switch churches every year or two and never get baptized and you’ll get all those sweet sweet rewards of… being able to go to heavily gendered church activities… okay maybe it wasn’t that appealing apart from the religious aspect, but to be fair, you can have a pretty complete experience at the LDS church just as an investigator. Even the temples have open houses pretty regularly where you can tour the whole building. Those Celestial Rooms are swanky AF!
I had my falling out with religion once the LDS Church started doing that thing where the children of gay or Muslim parents couldn’t get baptized. It was pure BS and it made me really question the prophet and the church leadership more than I had before. I was always hesitant about the whole living prophet thing, but this decision really hit home that my doubts weren’t something I could just ignore so I could keep having fun with my friends. In the end, what really made me leave was that the church leadership broke my trust and I felt like I couldn’t go back to church on Sundays knowing that the prophet was just a regular guy who had convinced himself he could talk to God.
I briefly contemplated going back to a Protestant church after that, but once the cracks in religion appear, you start seeing them everywhere. So, I decided to take a break from churches and I suppose I still am years later.
I guess I miss having that sense of community, having a group of people that I met up with regularly was really fun and knowing that I had a new similar group of people waiting for me everywhere I moved was comforting. So pro tip #2: If you do contract work and move around a lot, then joining the church is a great way to get quick support everywhere you go and you can visit all the temples in your new city like a temple crawl. Just don’t think to deeply about the doctrine.
I still like the stories and I got a lot out of my time exploring religions, but the books are more like folk tales to me now. They’re part of my culture as an American, but Joseph Smith’s story is more like John Henry, a uniquely American myth, based on a real person, but not an actual historical event.
All in all, I’m glad I left. Learning to question religion gave me the skills I needed to go on and question other things in my life like my relationships with gender, sex, and, politics. I’ve gone from asking, “How can I make this work they way I’m told it should?” to “Can this be better and why isn’t it better?”. If the answer basically amounts to, “Because some people with a lot of power and money say so,” then that’s a big red flag for me to start asking questions.