Have you heard the expression “religion and politics should not be discussed”?

I heard this a lot growing up, from peers and teachers, and it always confused me. Why shouldn’t we talk about two major things that have framed our society? Considering Facebook has now become a placard of people’s political alliance, I’m not sure it’s so taboo, but yet I know it really ruffles some people’s feathers discussing these things. I like talking about politics and religion, the same way I like talking about podcasts, I have my podcasts that I listen to and like, you have yours. I can talk about mine, tell you something interesting I heard in it and recommend it and you can do the same. I might find it interesting and listen to it or I might completely ignore and go on about living my life unbothered. I’m not gonna shove earphones into your ears screaming “LISTEN TO ME!” and I hope you shan’t either. I’m really interested in other people’s opinion and I’m the first to admit I don’t really know how to deal with people that agree with things that shame or hurt other people, I resort to toddler mode of ‘well you’re stupid’. I’m working on it, but anyway, isn’t being silent on important matters how shit storms begin in the first place?

I wasn’t reared on this mantra, the second you’d step into my grandfather’s house you were bombarded with opinions of the latest government corruption, the crookedness of the church and more socialist views. We were encouraged to talk about it, loudly and publicly. I know a lot of others weren’t and some people like to stick to this rule and sure, this may have been required in Ye Olde Times, where if things kicked off someone could slap your face with a glove and challenge you to a duel, which is no longer the case (I hope).

To me, religion is like mushrooms. Some like Portobello, some like shiitake, some don’t like mushrooms at all. If you like one, don’t try shove it down someone else’s throat in an attempt to make them like it. Or throw them violently at the person until they’re weak and scared of your mushrooms. There’s room for a magic mushroom joke here somewhere.

Anyway, I’ve always been sceptical about organised religion. My favourite question to ask in my (catholic) school was “but how do you know it’s real?” I was always really disappointed and somewhat angry when my teachers wouldn’t answer the question or ignore it. I now realise why I was ignored or got in trouble for asking, it’s a very heavy question that maybe they couldn’t explain to an existential 6 year old or an angry teenager. I like to believe that there’s something else there, something bigger than us, tying us all together so we’re not just hungry sacks of anxiety. I am highly against the Catholic Church as an institution, I think they are corrupt and have robbed Ireland of growth, joy and money for many years as well as causing an awful lot of suffering. It is only within the last 20-30 years their chokehold has loosened and we’ve regained independence to progress as a country. In terms of the bible itself, personally I’d take more spiritual advice from Eat, Pray, Love but if the bible’s your fave then do you boo.

I’ve been listening a lot to the comedian Pete Holmes podcast “You Made It Weird” where he has comedians and artists on discussing the broader subjects in life, like their spiritual beliefs. In one episode, Daily Show correspondent, Muslim and beautiful man Unknown-5.jpegHasan Minhaj is a guest. He discusses the current political climate and how that has sprouted from fear and ignorance, particularly the misunderstanding of people’s different religious beliefs. Pete Holmes was raised somewhat evangelical Christian and aligns himself most with Christ. It gets pretty deep. Their discussion together was interesting because they both talk openly about what does it matter, each of the religions have some similar teachings and at the end of the day the moral of the story in each one is “don’t be a dick.” Which is hopefully something we all can agree on. The other day I was at a protest to urge Ireland’s Taoiseach to condemn Trump’s Muslim ban, which featured speakers of all different religions in a chorus of the same message, to be peaceful with one another, and don’t be a dick (they put it more eloquently than that).

A lot of the books of worship were written out of necessity to protect humans at the time and create some law and order, they are no longer vital to follow it word for word for any reason other than tradition. I question the woman’s place in a lot of these books because let’s face it gals, we got the bad end of the stick, sometimes literally. I find nihilism naïve and depressing but I also ain’t shouting “hallelujah” (unless I’m singing along to Leonard Cohen of course). The same way I have no idea how planes fly I just hope it gets me from A to B, I hope there’s something there supporting us. I think it’s magic, mixed with energy and matter and other things I never quite understood in science class. I feel pretty solid with the notion it’s not a longhaired dude punishing people for being gay or eating meat on Friday. I also think a book where women are repeatedly told they must be quiet and that they are responsible for all the sins in the world should be treated with great cynicism, not met with devout faith.

It’s important to question, it’s important to listen to others and to search in yourself what you think it all means. It’s specifically important to not condemn someone to hell because they have different beliefs to you, after all what difference to your life does it make if someone is singing a different song to you. You may pray in the name of the father, son and the Holy Ghost, I pray to to Buffy, Britney and Beyoncé. They’re my holy trinity!  We’re not Eliza Doolittle or an 18th century debutante in etiquette school, learning to sip tea with our pinkies up and shutting our mouths, god forbid we have an opinion. We have opinions and everyone is entitled to their own so I think we should talk about these things to breakdown stigmas and ignorance.

So whether it’s shiitake, portobello, brown or white mushrooms are your fave, we’re all in the frying pan together so we gotta adjust and be happy and just try to make a delicious life omelette! Or, we could all go to the woods and take magic mushrooms together, we’d all be holding hands and loving one another in no time! Joking!

(Kind of!)

Whats your opinion? Should we shut up and just stick to talking about Game of Thrones?

Not at my table!

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Author: Shaunna Lee Lynch

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About: I am an Irish writer, performer, avid day dreamer, generally enthusiastic, hip hop enthusiast.

Instagram: @Shaunnaleelynch

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