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If I were a citizen of pre-Christian Rome, then I would be worshipping in Jupiter’s temple. Since I know myself, I know that would be true. Rome would have philosophers or more thoughtfully inclined, better educated citizens who would want to probe further, maybe question established pieties or speculate about alternatives to established beliefs. They might ponder what life, or nature, is really like-what it all means. They might even lose some sleep over it. But most wouldn’t.

After this contemplative pause, they would return to their ordinary lives, ordering dinner and eating it, attending to the routine business of running their lives. A few would take radical positions.

But for most citizens, the conventional doctrine, whatever it was at their time and place, would be enough, and more than enough. Now, there is nothing wrong with that.

If I return to Christianity, due to the pressure of being forced out of our wonderful ability to live, forced out by old age and disease, I am responding to religion with the faith that most accords with my background and historical moment. I’m standing in my own shoes and admitting it.

There was a time when Christianity began to encroach on Rome and the established older religions became weaker until they eventually were eliminated. But I don’t know that means that the older practices were intrinsically less valuable and the new faith more valid, except conditionally.

A change was necessitated in history. The universe and life on earth were being looked at differently. I don’t understand such axial transitions, whether I’m in the avant-garde or toiling in the rear. I think that religion is an essential human construct, so I will kneel in church out of respect for what I don’t understand and will never understand, and to structure and discipline my spiritual life.

I will never figure out what life is about, or what “universe” is. I will die not knowing these things…very frustrating. But if any wiser writers had figured this stuff out, I would have read it in a book by now-and there is no such book. The Bible is a highly privileged document, but it’s not the only book, and all books qualify each other in a continuous chain of vibrations. I agree with the ancient Egyptians that all writing is sacred, with the qualification of some writings being more sacred than others.

By religious practice I am paying my respects to the unknown, which feels more comforting to me than facing the void and blinking. Perhaps someday there will be other religions, perhaps millennia from now, if there are still humans at that time. Or maybe we will keep the same ones that we have now. But I believe there is fusion between humanity and religion. If there are human beings, religions will develop as an occult extension of our awareness. There’s a need to understand farther than where we can see, even with our best instruments.

“Meanwhile”, which means the rest of my life, I remain fascinated by the ordinary, by how people have lived and are living in the everyday. I’d like to move mentally X miles and X times away from my house, enter another house, and see what is there and what is to be felt and thought in that place.

That’s why I love museums, reading, the movies-it’s as close as I can come to how other people have lived or are living, what they imagine is good, and what they imagine is bad, what they want to eat and who they might have with them, if anyone, when they sit down at their table. All the little stuff that, assembled together, makes a life. Until the end, a work-in-progress, as is this essay…very frustrating.