November 22, 2020
Kirchensteuer: German tax that churches collect from their members, 8% of your income in Berlin (yeah, that high). Good luck proving you were not baptized.
Before moving to Germany, the separation between state and church was a given, coming from the current secular form of government in Mexico. To my surprise, the question of religion came up when doing my Anmeldung. I declared myself an atheist, and yet, I keep getting these letters from the German government. They ask, with both tolerance and confusion,what church is it that I belong to.
They are trying to confirm their biases. This hispanic human - me - surely got her soul stolen by the Roman Catholic Church when I was a baby against my will.
If so, they can tell the church to count on my rather high religious tax.
And this causes a big cognitive dissonance in me.
Political affiliations and religious leanings tend to share a big overlap. Politics are the material application and often, the most powerful contemporary manifestation of those values that are derived from the spiritual beliefs that have been sugar coated and systematized in the form of profitable religions.
When those beliefs are apparently rationalized to become structured ideology, political sides start becoming a part of a contemporary human identity.
I'm not only talking about the overlap of obvious subjects as abortion and same-sex marriage. XXI century humans also vote for how open the borders of their nation are in the face of a refugee crisis and increasing immigration.
The funny thing is that politics also affect the spread of those religious ideas through mobilization. Colonizers used religion as a tool of oppression (heyo Spanish Monarchy!), building Christian temples on top of local temples to prove a point.
That's how Catholicism got to Mexico. I was indeed born into a Catholic family. But I also luckily scaped the Catholic rituals that most Latinx are forced to go through.
Baptism seems like a disrespectful act to me. Who are those religious institutions to call a new-born the "contractor" of an inherited "original sin"? Why must we believe we should be born guilty and shameful by de-facto? Their answers do not particularly follow logic.
That's why this systemic ritual of control has very little to do with what feels like spirituality to me.
My spiritual leanings are basically a hippie flavor of "I am the universe and the universe is all, therefore you are me and I am you", which regards the need to get to know one-self and understand our differences and similarities while loving each other is the ultimate purpose, and by nature being our common ground and part of us.
And my favorite moment of shared, communal spiritual moments have happened without expecting them, by coming together with others through music, at indie festivals as Primavera Sound or Glastonbury, or at Berlin techno clubs.
There's seemingly not a lot of religiousness to the act of of paying to see a band or a DJ, or expectations to clean our sins. However, we are able to dance our "sins" away, we bring our personal confusion with the past and anxiety for the future and trade it in for presentness, sheer happiness and connection through dancing.
My church of 2020 was the summer at Sisyphos, a techno club in Berlin. They opened up during the summer of 2020, even with a pandemic going on, legally, after a series of illegal raves in parks, before the government developed the idea of opening with "a health concept", for the sake of keeping culture alive.
But hey, churches were also open!
When I'm there, I'm home.
Each time is a journey through consciousness in communion, the hands of like-minded humans rising up to share energy, exchanging smiles, cigarettes and taking care of each other because of the shared care and peace.
Is this spiritual? You fucking bet it is. I pay my church taxes as entrances to Sisyphos. Religion can be reclaimed as our everyday political acts while caring for our spiritual peace.
Should we be religious? Hopefully we are able to unlearn the rituals that were imposed on us and develop a sense of exploring what spirituality means for us.
We are all tiny universes after all.