I was raised Catholic. No matter what Catholics do - pray the Rosary, say Grace, or make the sign of the cross while driving in front of a church - I rarely feel uncomfortable with it. I don't always agree with everything the Church teaches, but I try to make sure that, when I disagree, it's a well-thought out and prayerful decision of conscience, and not just laziness. (For example, I disagree with the ban on women as priests. But I thought about it, prayed about it, read about it, and tried to see all the arguments for it BEFORE deciding that I would not act in accordance with that Church teaching. Okay, that one's a cop-out, since I am not called to religious life anyway.) Sometimes, when people pray for something that I disagree with, I find myself reflecting on the arguments for the other side of the issue in my head. But that's not the same as discomfort.
And if I feel really removed from a religion, the ceremonies and practices of that religion rarely cause me discomfort. I think I would be very comfortable at a Wiccan ceremony or a Buddhist ceremony, learning what I can and observing the ritual and finding peace with the ideas (whether I agree or not), because the religions are so foreign to me that I feel like an observer.
But other Christian religions and some of their practices make me very uncomfortable. It's a silly visceral reaction, really, because either 1) I believe what they believe and just express it differently or 2) I don't believe what they believe, so I should feel like a mere observer.
Take a pictures in Alan's home high school yearbook, for example. The teacher had his arms spread away from him like wide wings and there was a caption about prayer. (1989...AFTER teacher-led prayer in schools was established to violate the First Amendment. But I digress.) Teacher-led prayer in public school has always been a problem for me, particularly because of the discomfort I personally feel (and even felt as a child) when the religious is close to mine in belief (say, a non-Catholic Christian) but not in specifics and practice. The picture of the teacher made me shifty, uncomfortable, and, if I am to be totally honest, a bit nauseous. That said, I don't have any problem in theory with this person praying, whether he is bowing to Mecca, chanting to the ancient gods, or worshipping Jesus. Yet I have a physical reaction of slight revulsion (only accentuated by the fact that he was a public school teacher and soem children in the class were forced to participate).
Tonight or tomorrow, Alan and I probably have to attend a funeral of a great-uncle of Alan's that neither of us really know. I am bracing myself for the religious dfiscomfort, because it will be at a Baptist service. I'm sure there will be talk of hell and damnation (which really bothers me at a funeral) and, maybe, just perhaps, someone will raise his arms in a salute to Jesus. And I'll break out in hives, despite my insistence at maintaining tolerance of other beliefs and learning and observing what I can from other religions.
This is abnormal, yes?