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.”