(Another interruption of my narrative, which seems to have already lost it sequence. Oh well. )
I used to love to watch Pope TV on Christmas eve, live from the Vatican. All that pomp and choreography, plus hushed commentary to help you follow along, just like a golf match. Eveyone was so serious. Grown people who believed in ghosts, ignoring all reason; I felt sorry for them, particularly John Paul II. It was (no pun intended) mass delusion.
When I had a moment of awareness, years later--a sudden and jarring formulation, for which I was not prepared, of the idea that I did believe in God--I thought I had gone crazy. It made no sense. Rational people didn't waste brain power on this. It was months before I even mentioned it to anyone. In the interim, I started going to services. It was an unusual synagogue, full of singing and dancing--based upon my prior experiences, I barely recognized it as Jewish. And there was often a woman standing at the bima, which was utterly alien. I told myself that it was fun, and a great place to meet guys, but the real reason I returned each week, even going so far as to wake up early on Saturday morning, was to convince myself that I wasn't nuts. Here were hundreds of smart Jewish people who prayed; they couldn't all be living in a fantasy world (especially since a large percentage were mental health professionals, this being the Upper West Side), could they?