Loved this for a thousand reasons, RB. I have something to write about this that is similar and am probably going to link this.
I am interested in religious history, but not in being religious for the same reasons. I chose an alternate path when the southern churches of my youth banned Blacks, and Blacks were my family, and the pastors gave me what I knew in my very young heart to be evil, vague and bullshit answers to why Blacks weren’t allowed in their lily white churches.
Are you familiar with the works of Reza Aslan?
I have found him to be wonderful and thoughtful reading, a true religious scholar, and someone whose very serious study of the life of Christ nailed it for me (please forgive the pun) when he did a deep reveal of the environment and times of the man and what surrounded him. His book on how we twist God to fit our needs is breathtaking, and for me, simply wonderful. He says that he now sees God in everything, which is kinda where I am these days. When we are able to see God in the eyes of others, of every living thing, in every plant and bird and fish, when we can let go of our incredibly self-centered need to feel superior to that which we simply don’t yet understand (animal life, plant life, fish life) because we feel it should speak our language rather than we learn to speak theirs, we might have a chance.
Other readings that I have loved:
The Crone, by Barbara Walter
When God Was a Woman, by Merlin Stone
While there is plenty more, these have helped a lot in my personal journey to find the sacred.
Lovely read, as always. Deep and rich and dense and sometimes difficult which is precisely what I love about your writing.