A couple of weeks ago I girded my loins, and wrote a post
commenting on the current political climate. Mainly, I felt the need to write because it was something that had personally affected me, not just an announcement on CNN or a headline in the newspaper.
Dammit if I’m not going to go there again. Sort of. Only worse.
Yesterday, Army Boy and I went to my parents’ for an amazing Easter celebration. I don’t think I can adequately express how perfectly he fits in with my family. It’s completely unusual and surprises the hell out of me. Honestly, at this point I think that if things ever went badly they’d get rid of me and keep him. I wish I were kidding.
We sat down to an incredible dinner, and over wine started discussing what Easter means to all of us. This proved to be an enlightening discussion, because over time I’m realizing with more clarity how much disdain I have for organized religion.
This both surprises and saddens me, because I was raised Roman Catholic, and followed the faith strictly into my early teens. At that point, I made one of the final sacraments (aside from Marriage and Last Rites), and my parents got a divorce.
I saw how unsupportive the priest and parishioners were of my mother, that instead of being her rock and counseling her they were judging her for making the difficult decision to end her marriage. She was informed of various changes that she would have to make in order to continue being a “good Catholic” and participating member of the parish.
You don’t sit in church as a teen and watch your parent cry because of things someone supposedly “of the faith” and “holy” said to them, and walk away unaffected.
I can look back now and see that this particular individual was extremely disturbed and needed far more help than his calling to the church could give him. He commited suicide when I was in high school. The sad fact is that I can acknowledge his humanity, and that as people we are inherently flawed, while he could never acknowledge that in my mother.
The truth is this: Church is for sinners. Not for people who attend to sit and feel smug in their righteousness. It is for people that are struggling, and need to take time to ask forgiveness and sit in God’s presence for a short time each week.
I saw this righteousness on the faces of my neighbors in the pews ahead of me, the ones that I knew were cheating on their spouses with each other. I saw it in the faces of my classmates in high school, who blankly informed me that I was going to hell if I didn’t attend church. I see it now, in the people who choose to question my faith, because I’m non-practicing.
I don’t feel like I’m doing myself a service by attending church in a building with people that will stab you in the back six days a week and shake your hand and wish you peace on Sunday.
That is my problem. Until I can find a place where I feel that church is a sanctuary as it should truly be, I will keep searching. And my relationship with God will be deeply personal. I don’t need witnesses to verify that I am a good Christian. However, if those witnesses chose to look closely they would see it in the respect that I have for my fellow man.
Army Boy opened up yesterday and shared some of his religious experiences with us as well. He was raised in a faith that is only slightly less strict than the Amish tradition. They are a faith of high standards, in personal, spiritual and financial ways. He admitted that he noticed segregation among the congregation that was directly related to how much money each family made. They also deeply believe in pacifism, and when his older brother decided to join the Navy, he was forced to stand before the entire church and explain himself.
He was then “shunned” by many members of the congregation.
Army Boy faced a similar level of discrimination a few years later when he joined the National Guard as a way to help pay for his education. The other families, whose kids didn’t have to work for certain priviledges, looked down on the fact that he was choosing to a: serve his country and b: work his ass off.
(Note: This is hard for me to write. Because I don’t claim to understand these things, nor do I want to be disrespectful. But it blows my mind.)
These same people were in line to shake his hand when he returned from active duty in Iraq.
This is the same church that his parents still attend. I can’t say that I understand it. If anyone chose to mess with my children, especially for something that they felt strongly about like serving their country or bettering themselves through education, these fools could shove their bibles up their asses. I would never go back.
People that are hypocritical, judgemental, righteous and holier than thou… These are all of the things that I can’t live with. And things that seem to be constant when I turn an eye on organized religion.
Don’t get me wrong. I WANT to go back. I want to be able to raise my children with faith, so that they understand the symbolism behind the holidays that we celebrate, and the stories of the Bible. I want them to know how to pray and who to direct prayers to. But am I doing them a favor if I’m exposing them to the shark-tank of organized religion??
Even today, “my Church” is embroiled in yet another sexual abuse scandal. Evidence has come to light that the man who would become Pope Benedict received information about young boys abused by priests, and chose to ignore it. In the Easter Sunday mass yesterday, one priest thanked the faithful for ignoring the “gossip.”
No Cardinal, this is not “gossip.” This is FACT. And the “faithful” are all in denial. It is time that the men of God were held accountable to the laws of man. How much longer can this group sweep claims from countries around the world under the rug?
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, for they are so unlike your Christ” – Ghandi
(credit for quote goes to Amy, one of my first and smartest and busiest blogfriends. 🙂 )