Growing up in a Greek Orthodox home, religion was and has been a huge part of my life. We did the typical things you would expect of a religious family; go to church every Sunday followed by a brunch with the family, pray at night, take communion, kiss the icons and drink holy water. I was never encouraged to ask questions, I just did it all. However, like every middle school adolescent, we are built to ask questions about everything. Thankfully, my parents let me ask these questions but never really provided me with answers; now I know it’s because there really aren’t answers, just faith. At 20 years old, my religion is still a huge part of my identity- although I’d like to stress that it isn’t my only identity. It has and always will bring me a sense of comfort, safety and remind me of home. Although I consider religion to be an important part of my life, questions have and always will circulate.
Today in Professor McCoy’s class, we were asked to discuss the course concepts in our small groups. Some concepts that we brainstormed were “being an outcast” and “feeling alienated from society”, which were evident in works like Bloodchild and Big Machine. Eventually, we arrived at the discussion of “truth and doubt” while discussing course concepts in Big Machine. Throughout the book, religion has been visible to those who had some experience to notice it. Like myself, Mikhayla Graham wrote a post about her interpretation of religion in our reading of Big Machine, Religion in Big Machine. Because of our background knowledge of the Bible, we were able to make some text to text connections between the two works of literature. Mikhayla made an interesting connection: “Another example was, ‘The Whisper created suns and planets, insects and beasts, right before the Heurequeque’s eyes. A single breath from the Whisper’s lips and deer appeared in the world. Venus was created with a hum’ (264). I saw this to be very clearly mimicking Genesis, the first book in the Bible”, as she continues to refer to the creation of our world through the work of God. Some religious interpretations I made were very clear towards the end of the book as Ricky compares himself and Adele to Joseph and Mary. Ricky explicitly says that he cannot compare himself to Jesus because “A guy is born divine and grows up to be diviner. I might admire him, but how can I really aspire to that?” (page 366). However, he proceeds to tell his audience as to why he and Adele are the modern day Joseph and Mary: “The story that actually moves me, as a grown man, is the story of Joseph and Mary. And it’s because, for all this talk of them being holy and righteous, they were just human beings. No matter how many visions and dreams and visitations, they were still just folks at first. They didn’t know if they were right. They could only hope. I can try and aspire to that” (page 366). What I think Ricky is trying to say is that he and Adele have accomplished the impossible despite the factors against them; they survived their worst nightmares and they are living an actual miracle- the biggest part of this is the fact they are normal humans with no “magic” or “divine” giving them an advantage in life. No matter how hard and unpredictable life gets, Ricky wants his future angel to know where he/she came from- two brave people who had all odds against them.
The ending of Big Machine asks us to give them a lot of faith- just like the parallel between Joseph and Mary. We are asked to have faith in Joseph and Mary despite the odds against them. Along with faith comes doubt- the reason I say this is because if we don’t doubt what we know, then we will never ask questions. Furthermore, even the Dean has doubt; he sends Ricky in place of a better candidate (Violet) for the job because he has faith Ricky can accomplish what he asks of him, but the doubt lingers in the back of his head. Therefore, instead of asking Violet to complete the job, he sends someone he is not afraid of losing.
I’ve learned through my childhood that it is okay to be hesitant about what we believe because nothing in life is certain. However, having faith means you don’t need to “see it with one’s eyes” to believe it. I have met many people throughout college who have said that they are not religious because nothing can be proven, and what they can’t see they can’t believe. I personally think that is the beauty behind faith- accepting religion doesn’t mean you don’t have your doubts because we aren’t given certain answers, you just have to have the hope that your prayers are being heard. Just like myself, it gives so many people a sense of safety and comfort knowing you’re loved and being watched over. “Truth and doubt” makes an individual humble and they are both essential components in faith- whether we are talking about having faith in religion, institutions or relationships, it will always apply.