This past week in class we watched the film, “Separate Realities,” which grabbed my attention in a very large way. The film portrays two adults who are part of surprisingly different religious traditions in a small town in Pennsylvania. A man who was “saved” and attends a First Baptist Church, and who seemingly uses religion as a way to forgive himself for his past sins through his heavy involvement with the church. The other is a woman who is relatively new to the area and begins attending the local Episcopal church, because she has gone to Episcopal church her whole life, but who is slightly uncomfortable talking about her personal spirituality and her relationship with God.
This film struck a chord with me, specifically the woman’s story. I was raised Episcopalian and have gone to church all my life, but never really understood spirituality, or how one could feel such an intrinsic connection with God that they would want to blatantly talk about it, much less attempt to convert other people to their religion, which was in high contrast to Glenn’s my-way-or-the-highway take on religion. He seemed to believe that there was a definitively right and wrong way to believe in God, and that everyone had the capacity to be “saved,” just as he had been. I connected with the Episcopalian woman’s story, because she expressed discomfort with religion, and did not care to talk about it at all. She remained busy and was a regular churchgoer, but often doubted her own spirituality and if she was “doing it right,” and I feel that this questioning attitude about religion may be something connected to the Episcopal church. In my experience, Episcopalians are quiet about their religion, and approach it from a more intellectual standpoint, questioning each step of the way, and looking for different types of interpretations, not just accepting instantly that they’ve been “saved.” It is seen as a personal journey and something to be found in due time; you may turn to religious leaders and biblical texts to find answers, but there’s no right way, and spirituality is something that is developed by oneself, not always in conjunction with religiosity. This film furthered my fascination with Christianity, and the fact that two individuals who identified as “Christians” could have such wildly different experiences with religion, spirituality, and faith.