Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

29 Dec 2004, 11:56 a.m.

There Is A God (yes/no)

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2004 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Part of my reason for my interest in religions is hereditary; my father, a Hindu priest, has always been a student of world religions. My sociological interest trumps my personal quest for meaning (as I implied to John while misjudging his offer to assuage curiosity). How do people figure out how to live? Well, sometimes religions tell them what to do, but lots of people only follow religions part of the way. They obey some rules but not others. Why?


Here's the PowerPoint description of Judaism. Includes "God has favorites and some nations have a special deal with God", as well as:

  • When God tells you what to do, you must do it, even it it seems crazy
  • The bible contains a lawbook better than any law we can make today
  • God created the world in 6 days

The children of this congregation also have taken field trips to other religious services, including a Reform Jewish Shabbas.

They did not give us the little caps to wear. If we come back, we would probably want to weat them. Do they have a basket of loaners, or would we have to buy our own?
The spirit was a bit different at an Eastern Orthodox Easter service.

We visited on Sunday, May 17th 1999, which was the last Sunday beteeen Easter and Ascension. This meant that a major element of the service was the repeated triumphal hymn of Easter: "Christ is risen from the grave, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!" One of our adults commented later that this was not unlike a stadium of football fans greeting the home team: "You know you are visiting the winning team."

Our kids were more impressed by how long the service was. Two hours is a long, long time to stand when you are 12 years old, and some of them may not go on another field trip after this.

What do you believe? Choose!

There is a God (yes/no)
There are many Gods, each person can decide which to pray to (yes/no)
There are many Gods, but only one of them is good (yes/no)
Do pets go to Heaven (yes/no)

Currently I'm interested in the huge multidimensional Venn Diagram describing what I believe and how those beliefs fit into other religions. Evidently I am a Unitarian and I didn't even know it!

"Seeker-sensitive" actually does appear in the descriptions of nondenominational Christian churches in the SF Bay Area - I had previously only read that term in a Real Live Preacher anecdote about conferences among clergy.

In the course of this rambling I found a listing for the SF Quakers and found out how they run their Meeting for Worship, which has no pastor or priest. (I'd love to watch their meetings to check how they avoid the Tar Pit From Hell.) The Quaker meeting description includes the line "this is not a discussion group", which should also be in that song about the country club and the disco as well as the song about the wife and the beautiful house.

The Quaker listing is on the best GeoCities page I've ever seen. Martin Marks recently made me laugh:

Oh yeah, memo to Dan Brown: your novels read like extremely compelling Geocities pages. Please, please, please go take a writing course at your local community college. You are hurting the children.

(I do not know whether Leonard would mind if I embraced a stapler on camera to indulge Mr. Marks. Would it have to be a red Swingline à la Office Space?)


Had a long and interesting conversation with Seth last night. I surprised him and myself with my passionate denunciation of deliberate rootlessness as inflicted on children, in implicit defense of raising children in a religious tradition. So there is some personal quest here, as well as the "look at cute or clever or puzzling things I have found on the web" aspect. I don't know how I want to live my life and all I can do is be honest about it. Wish me luck, if you believe in luck.