What if the religion you follow does not align with your beliefs? For starters, it can significantly affect your psychological and emotional barriers. The realization can trigger various emotions, and a person may feel deprived and depressed.
Richard McMaster draws attention to the impact of religion on an individual. He says, “the influence of faith can result in a significant identity crisis, causing inner conflict for the individual.”
The Concept of Religion
Religion, much like music, is subjective and difficult to define. The term “religion” is derived from the Latin word “Religare,” meaning “to bind back” or “to rebind.” This etymology depicts the notion that a missing or broken link between God and the worshipper needs to be repaired.
Religion is linked to the complete dependence of man on a Higher Power. This dependence arises from inadequate protection, provision, sustenance, and supremacy. An individual’s mind cannot comprehend certain mysteries, such as the origin of life and death or the afterlife. As a result, he seeks refuge in the Supreme Being.
Personal Identity is the numerical identity of an individual with respect to time. It describes an individual’s personality, encompassing their beliefs about who they are and how they differ from others. Examples of personal identity include gender, social status, beliefs, values, and culture. “Personal Identity” is a dynamic concept that changes with the growth and development of individuals.
Faith, Religion & Personal Identity: The Connection Defined
In the field of social sciences and sociology, there is a growing interest in religion and identity. Theologians, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and scholars define religion as a symbol of ultimate concern, representing spiritual relevance and influence in a worshipper’s way of life. Religion and personal identity are closely intertwined: Religion can significantly shape a person’s sense of self and identity. A person’s religious beliefs can influence their values, worldview, and behavior significantly.
For some individuals, religion provides a framework to understand their position and relationships. It can offer a sense of belonging to a community of like-minded individuals with similar beliefs and practices. Additionally, rituals and traditions can provide a sense of continuity and stability in a person’s life, contributing to their overall understanding.
The Journey of Self-Discovery & Personal Identity
In “Aaron’s War,” the protagonist, Aaron Vanko, an Iowa farm boy, enlists in the war to fight against the Nazis. But soon afterwards, he develops an inner conflict that renders him clueless and bemused.
Aaron faced a challenging situation for two reasons. Firstly, he can’t conform to his new identity. Secondly, the newly-found religion keeps him away from wedlock with a non-Jew.
Vanko’s inability to comprehend the drastic shift in religion causes him to undergo behavioral issues:
In the book, when Maty reveals Aaron’s religious identity, he feels a range of emotions like confusion, anger, and sadness. This situation causes him to stay aloof from the warzone and avoid the fight with his fellow compatriots.
Loss of Purpose
‘Through religious beliefs comes spiritual guidance and fulfillment’, a statement that relates to the importance of religion. However, individuals may struggle to find inner peace and happiness once the principles are maligned. Additionally, when religious affiliation is revealed, an individual feels a sense of distrust toward their loved ones. Like, Aaron Vanko, who discovered his Jewish heritage and felt a sense of betrayal or disillusionment towards his family, whom he believed was responsible.
Existential crises and religion are closely intertwined. Both factors deal with fundamental questions about the meaning and purpose of life. An existential crisis is a time of deep introspection and confusion about one’s existence, identity, and values, triggered by significant life changes, traumatic events, or disillusionment.
Religion provides a framework to address existential questions by offering a set of beliefs, practices, and values that help individuals make sense of their existence in the world. Aaron and his Jewish identity were at loggerheads, failing to align and develop sense. He struggled to find a new purpose and direction in life. Moreover, anxiety and depression got the better of him.
Religious traumas and experiences are personal and unique. Some people may find solace and comfort in their newfound beliefs, while others may struggle with the transition. Seeking support from loved ones or a mental health professional can be beneficial in processing emotions and finding sense of peace. Through Aaron’s character and experiences, Richard McMaster explores the complications of religions, beliefs, and life events, such as war and marriage.
About the Author
Richard McMaster, a former executive in the healthcare industry led three startup companies and held positions on multiple boards. Originally from Iowa, the author lived in North Idaho for almost two decades before settling in Phoenix, Arizona. Along with being a writer, he has also written screenplays such as “The Attic” and “Ticket to Heaven.” He is also the author of “Voyage of Life.”