While much of the student body is engaged in perpetual mock-wars between different religions (particularly the Creativists and the Uniformists), I would like to take the opportunity to offer an alternative: agnosticism.
People ask why I am agnostic. “Is it not terrifying, to have no solid ideals to stand on?” they ask me all the time.
“It is like walking on a glass floor on the upper levels of a busy palace,” I tell them. It takes a while for them to imagine a glass floor, as they are used to floors of oak and concrete. “Part of me is afraid of the dizzying height, but another part of me stares with wide eyes at all the happenings revealed through the floor. To me, wandering through this palace and watching other people’s trajectories as they follow their religions is more enriching than following a religion of my own.”
They tell me my religion is close to that of the Wonderers. Indeed, the Wonderers are one of the groups closest to my heart. In case you do not know: they are the ones who you find walking outside in their pajamas when you get up to pee (or listen to PHSS) at 3am in the morning. Perhaps what keeps me from being a true Wonderer is that I have not participated in their insomnia gatherings, being fortunate enough to never have sleep problems (or unfortunate enough to not be able to stay up past midnight). Another philosophical distinction between us is that Wonderers believe very much in trying things, as evidenced by the American children’s book “Green Eggs and Ham” being on their reading list, while I take exception (as I am a vegetarian, there are many foods which I do not try, on principle).
Do you notice students who hold up signs advertising their religions after class and pass out handwritten brochures? Those of us who otherwise have trouble finding conversation partners at lunch know that we always have this recourse. Of course, with them we do not get to choose the topic of conversation. They have learned to talk fast, because they have learned from Introduction to Rhetoric not to give their listeners time to ask questions.
I have enjoyed many of these conversations. Zyndra offered a necklace with a Z made of pale blue stone that would rest coolly on my chest, explaining that as the last letter of the alphabet, Z represented the fact that all Zyndrian followers must have their eyes focused on the spot beyond the horizon, because everything before the last is ephemeral. She genuinely believed her own religion, unlike many of the students who proselytize as their homework assignment for Religion 101, whom I tend to avoid: for example, when I finished my conversation with Brent, he gave a sigh of relief that his homework had been accomplished. Other students, like Sankar, have constructed elaborate mythologies claiming divine inspiration. (I see that Professor Drim’s Awakening Your Creative Self class has been very successful.)
One proselytizer, angered at my unwillingness to convert after taking up several of her lunchtimes voicing doubts to statements she took for granted, told me, “Well, why don’t you start your own religion, and call it agnosticism?”
To her surprise, I took her comment seriously, though not literally1, and decided to start a job as Counselor for Agnostics at the Wholebeing Center2. (It was an interesting experience, filling out a job application for a job I invented myself. At the job interview, I explained to them what I would be doing, which, I am told, is the reverse of what normally happens.) The job has been a pleasure for me: many students who are unsure about which religion to follow want nothing more than a neutral party to listen to the conflicting voices inside their head, and I am more than happy to be the neutral party. For one hour, their heads become like the transparent floors of a glass palace and I am privileged to peer inside, before they once more draw their mental shades and become once more opaque to the world.
because to create a religion of agnosticism so would be a paradox of the same variety as “the set of all sets who do not contain themselves”, although I did for a moment imagine myself on the other side of the table, passing out brochures and preaching earnestly my true beliefs↩
editor’s note: formerly the Center for Physical and Mental Wellbeing, formerly the Health Center.↩