In the very early fall she understood religion. It was a Tuesday, a cold October morning, with a crisp snap to the air. Her class was at eight and she was walking across the quad. She looked down at her feet, in the same dirty sneakers she's had for(more) years, and thought about crime and family and God, and she understood.
She was a gender studies major and it almost infuriated her that there had to be such a major, that one of her required courses was The Exploitation of Women in Media, and once she understood religion she prayed every day for a renaissance of the human race. It did not happen, or else it happened so slowly at the molecular level that she could not see it.
She did not come from a religious house. Her father muttered incantations to a God of carnality-- "Oh God, baby"--but he did not say these things to his wife, who muttered weepy prayers to a vengeful God, trying to atone for her past sins of bullying an autistic boy in high school. She grew up with this violent, American-movie God, a god of guns and girls and sex and sacrifice.
On that cold Tuesday morning, trekking across the quad to Genders in Marketing 101, she watched the yellowing leaves bob their heads to her, and understood God. She understood religion, the need for safety in something all-powerful, omniscient. She thought about her father's God of pleasure and her mother's God of pain, and understood that neither worked, that neither God would bring about the renaissance of the human spirit or give her peace in her mind.(less)