“Trying to Lose My Religion”
by Stav Dimitropoulos
Discover, September 2017
My Orthodox Greek grandparents’ house had Byzantine icons of Mother Mary holding baby Jesus and grown Jesus stretching his hands while hovering away from the cross of suffering mounted on virtually every wall of its. But, I got educated. I learned science, philosophy, logic, reason, and broadened my mind. I can no longer fancy God as a long-bearded, old wizard (though I’d really like to!), paradise and hell seem oversimplified reward and punishment schemes shared by almost all folk religions, and the power cravings a couple of religious leaders exhibit make Platonian realizations of the corrosive nature of power buzz in my mind (I will not touch on the delicate subject of clergy romance and a couple of personal experiences at this point).
But here comes the catch. Every time I go to church, I am still attacked by waves of rapture, a mystifying experience transcending my skepticism, a temporary break-up with my meticulous companion, Mr. reason. I focus my eyes on the warm glow of the candle sinking into the sand of wishes, I inhale the intoxicating frankincense of the ambiance, the ruby reflections of earth and gold around obviously sending my imaginative, right hemisphere into an overdrive. And all this in a shared experience with the rest of the attendees. My being intensely drawn to religious rituals has got me thinking: What happens in my brain when I am faced with spiritual/religious experiences?
How about an article exploring how religion registers in the brain of a skeptic? In times when religion has polarized the globe, I think it’s an interesting and timely for MOM [Mind over Matter]. I can interview the researchers of the surveys I mentioned (and probably more). Apart from infusing the piece with my personal and cultural experience, I also have the scientific knowledge to understand what I am writing about (as I have written in my previous pitches, I hold an MSc in RCDM, a BSc in Psychology, a Diploma in Writing/Journalism and a Certificate in Natural Sciences, and was a cognitive scientist wannabe before crystallizing on a journalism career). Finally, I possess the writing experience to write for a high-profile outlet like MOM (have written science journalism tailored to the needs of xxxxxxxx).