I was baptized by an East German spy. Does that even count? Born a decade before the Berlin Wall came down, the cold war was my home. My Grandmother hated Russia with a passion. She never spoke about what happened when WWII ended and she had to protect three young girls. One of them was my mother. I can only imagine.

For my family, religion was a routine. Church was obligatory, ever other week. Evening prayers before we went to bed. Yet, going to my grandmother’s house, religion took on a different tone. She truly believed in God. Seeing the pope, however, even just on TV, triggered an almost violent reaction.

I remember her seeing me as a young child watching the Pope on TV. It must have been Easter or another holiday. She came racing into the room, turned off the TV and lectured me on the evil embodied in the Pope and the catholic church. There is little recollection left on her rant, except the emotional intensity.

She had a strong aversion to the church as an institution. For her, baptizing an infant was a meaningless procedure. It satisfies the parents but takes the meaning of religion away from the child. I think she had a point.

Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when the former Stasi files were opened up, one of the headlines was about our local Minister. Turns out, he was born in East Germany, sent to West Germany to become a Minister and work as a spy for East Germany.

It all contributed to my move to Berlin. My family was full of contradictions, none of which were talked about. Berlin was the new mixing ground. East meets West. Institutionalized religion meets atheism. Sexual freedom meets pent up suppression.

Sure, by the time I moved to Berlin, a decade had passed since the Wall had come down, but the stark differences were still visible. The ‘Gedächtniskirche’ was the symbol of the coming together of different religions. It all merged into a belief in some higher being, without overtly promoting one version over another.

When I see a house of worship now, I get confused. Confused in a good way. I don’t believe what I see, what I hear. And, yet, something seems different. More than a building, it changes how people speak, behave, interact. To me, it’s liberating. The ‘social norms’ are replaced with a higher norm that cares little about minutia, formalities, or protocol.

Entering a church turns me on. I feel a connection that cares about me, not the superficial world around me. This has never been more so than in places where exercising religion has been restricted. The power of people to keep their faith against officially sanctioned believes is incredibly resilient.

Never did I feel this power more than in the former Soviet Union. Whether inside St. Basil’s Cathedral at the end of Moscow’s Red Square, or St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, I feel a surge of freedom. And freedom is fabulously arousing.

Too many times in my life, I could not shake the feeling of a guiding hand. Some higher power that pushes me in the right direction. That push, however, almost seemed to mock the institutionalization of religion. It was more like a kind ‘be who you are‘, rather than a list of rules to follow.

I’ve never had sex inside a church. Seeing sexy nun outfits turns me on, and even more so reading how others have sex inside a church. Not because it’s wrong. Quite to the contrary, because it’s so right. If there is a higher power, and I do believe there is, having sex is so much a part of who we are as humans; it must be right.

Not only does it have to be right, IT IS what we are supposed to enjoy.

F4Thought