So, I’m not feeling imaginative on the title for today’s entry either. Seems my post yesterday raised interest on my views of religion. Prepare to be awed! Yes, this is tongue-in-cheek, but truthful.
Interesting thing, that religion… Raised Catholic, just one cog in the wheel that is Christianity, I was born with “original sin“. Oh, it isn’t just me that has that little bitty problem; according to Christianity, we’re all sinners from birth. We’re all going to that fiery pit unless we repent, Repent, REPENT! Got that?!
I was taken to church every Sunday, and then once I started school (Catholic School), I had to go every Thursday as well. There were two churches that we would go to, St. Francis and St. Mary’s, and we had two priests that shared the duties between the two. Father G. whom always creeped me out in the “he’s a bad man” kinda way, and Father T.
Father T. was an awesome man, I liked him – he had a flair about him. He came from an island in the Mediterranean and wore the long, brown robe like Friar Tuck. Perhaps it was Father T’s style, his flair, his easy-going nature… who knows, but the kids in school loved Fr. T. Especially when it came to Confession.
Why the big ‘C’ on Confession? That would be because it was a BFD, or to fully (sort of)spell it out – a Big F*cking Deal! You sure better have something to confess – cause you know, you’re a sinner. No, wait… a Sinner (capital ‘S’). How terrified were we kids of Confession and not measuring up to those expectations of sins we’d committed in the month since we’d last confessed? We’d make stuff up! Our evil ways were so ingrained into us, that we felt if we showed up to Confession empty-handed, that was just another Big Ol Sin that was sending us straight to Hell.
Now, I went to grade school with my uncle K. K was four months older than I, and I think the school felt that we should be in the same class most of grade school. We got used to this, and I think there was only one year where we weren’t in the same class together and it just wasn’t right. Of course, the kids in school never believed that K was my uncle (really a half-uncle), so we just said we were cousins, and we were good to go. Okay, I had to tell that story to get to the rest of the Confession confessional.
K and I would stand in line, waiting to enter the confessional. It was a race to get to Father T’s line, because he always used the confessional booths… Father G used his office, and you had to walk past him (he sat next to the door) to sit on the other side of a partition he had up. To my budding little brain, this seemed wrong on so many levels, I didn’t know where to start, and DREADED having to confess anything to Father G., let alone go into his office. But, there we were, all lined up as if for the firing squad and the whispers would start:
Me – “Pssst…. K, do you have anything to confess this time?”
K – “No… I’m going to tell him I hit S (his older brother) and talked back to Dad…”
Me – “I don’t have anything either…. I think I’m going to say I took the name of the Lord in vain… and hit C (my brother). *pause* Do you think we’ll go to Hell for making up sins to confess?”
And so it went. Catholic school was an education for certain. I learned that I was going to Hell for everything I did, because I possessed this thing called Original Sin, and that no amount of confession or self-flagellation would ever right the wrongs that I may, or may not, have done. I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t. Hot Damn!
I was quite familiar with the smack of a ruler by the time I hit First Grade. I asked, “Why?” too often. The nuns didn’t like it. “It just is!” was their response, and I was just supposed to believe that. Blind Faith. The end of Fifth Grade brought about a change for the next year – we would be made to wear…. UNIFORMS! I remember going home and telling Mom that I was NOT going to wear a uniform!
It was then that I switched to public education, and the start of CCD or Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. I. Had. To. Go. I was expected to be Confirmed, and therefore, I must go through the CCD classes. So I did, and it was toward the end in one of the final classes, in my teens, when I had an instructor who was very wise. She had no children, was on her second marriage, and boldly told us that if we were not 100%-absolutely-certain-without-a-single-doubt that Catholicism was for us… we shouldn’t continue with it. We should venture out, try on other branches of Christianity or even other religions entirely to find “what fit”. That struck a chord with me… because while familiar and comfortable in a way that something is because it’s all you ever knew, I never felt it was a good fit for me.
Oh, I was confirmed – I had to be because Mom and Dad told me that was the rules. So, I went through with it, and then I stopped going to church. I read about all manner of religions, from various forms of Christianity to Islam to Buddhism to Wicca. I eventually found one that I associate with: Philosophical Taoism.
I couldn’t stomach a religion that told me I was a Sinner from the start. That the punishment for french kissing a person or murdering them was the same. That the main text for the religion was a book that had been translated time and time and time again through hundreds of languages – because how much of what we are taught now is REALLY what was written in the original? Recent news stories even show that the text has been misinterpreted. I had issue with a religion that flaunted wealth with gilt symbology throughout its churches, and preached poverty and sacrifice.
I have a very live-and-let-live attitude. I believe in doing onto others as you’d have them do unto you – the Golden Rule. Be good, do good, and it all comes back to you three-fold. There is no “one size fits all” for religion. You either believe in something or you don’t. My way isn’t the way of everyone else… It works for me. That’s the important thing. Whatever religion someone chooses to be, whether it is because it was all they ever knew, or because it’s what they researched and found it a good fit, that’s what is important. To be at peace with your decision.
I’m sure I’ll get flak for leaving the flock. That’s okay because everyone is entitled to their opinion. I won’t ever try to push my Taoism on someone. I don’t like having others religions pushed on me like a bad perfume at a department store. When it doesn’t “fit” you, it just clings to you like a bad funky smell. You’re self-conscious and uncomfortable.
So, congratulations to all of you who have your religious beliefs and are comfortable with them. I think it’s great. Good for you!
I don’t plan on ever making this blog a forum for relgious debate. So, I’m going to end this post with a quote I heard this morning: “Religion is kind of like masturbation. You can do it, we know you do it… but that does not mean you need to share it with everyone. You should probably keep it to yourself.”
Wow!! Thank you for telling us your story. I would have probably rejected religion too, if I had endured what you did as a child. Good grief!
I am not a fan of religion either. I am far more comfortable with the relationship that Jesus offers us rather than a set of rules and legalistic laws. In fact, Jesus totally rejected those who felt that keeping the law was the only way to God.
My intention is not to try to change anyone’s mind about their faith. I couldn’t do it even if I tried because I don’t have that power. I know how faith in Jesus changed my life, my heart and my actions, but others have to experience that for themselves. My husband said it best when he looked at me a couple of years ago and said, “You are not the same woman I married. You are so much better because of Jesus.”
Thanks again for sharing.
You’re welcome. Faith is a very personal thing, in my opinion. You have to make peace with your chosen god or gods. In my case, Love is the answer, is all powerful and can conquer everything. Thank you for reading.
Over the past couple of days, I have been a participant/observer in a few religious discussions. In these religious discussion, what always emerged was a debate about which group is the true follower of God. Each group thinks they’re it. Each group tells you about what they do in their group, why you should join their group, etc.
After much discussion between the others, I felt compelled to engage in the discussion and made the following points/questions:
Which religion has the whole truth? Within that religion, what specific subgroup embodies and lives out the whole truth?
Samir Selmanovic states: “We look at others and say, “We are insiders with God, and God is an insider with us. We are right and in, and they are wrong and out.” We thus keep God in our servitude, in a cage built with words, meanings, and the teachings of our religions.”Selmanovic asks, “Have we turned our religious texts, traditions, and rituals into containers and dispensers of God?”
God has placed each of us where He needs us. Is one place better than the other? Who determines this? Wherever we may be either by our own choice or Gods, we must ask ourselves: What must I do to inherit eternal life? No one size fits all.
If the grass is greener on the other side, what keeps me where it is dry?
Hello, Ivan, and thank you for writing. I don’t think there is any one “right and true” religion. They all have good aspects and bad aspects. What is most important is that whatever religion someone chooses to follow, that they are comfortable with it.
If you’re looking to save yourself from eternal damnation, should you believe in that, you have to bear in mind that most religions say that if you don’t believe in THAT religion, you’ll go to Hell. I do not personally believe in Hell. Since a person cannot possibly belong to all religions, that means we’re all going to Hell. Most wars are also caused by religion.
So, what keeps you dry? That would be what YOU believe in. To quote Buddha, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
When you are comfortable with your beliefs, your place in life and the direction it’s headed – you are “dry”.
>>”So, what keeps you dry? That would be what YOU believe in.”
Hello. ~ I thought I knew but now accept that I don’t know. I discovered that the christian denomination that I had poured my whole heart and soul into was simply a whited sepulcher. I asked question after question and found an abundance of contradictions and lies mingled with truths. I left the fold in 2010 and I am in recovery. I am as a ship without a rudder. I am seeking dry land.
It sounds as if Christianity is not your cup of tea. There is nothing wrong with that, and provides you with the opportunity to research and look for other options, should you so choose. I love facts and logic. Taoism provides me with that, yet still maintains the spiritual connection.
I am definitely searching and seek to find something that is not afraid to be questioned and is transparent. Facts and logic are a must. What books/media do you recommend?
I’m by no means an expert. There are so many sources out there, you just have pick a direction and go. I grew up in a house where my dad read all kinds of books, we even had the Quran in our house. A simple Google search of major religions will turn up a list for you to start. Good luck!