Where I Talk About the SECOND Thing We Do Not Talk About

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.

With Religion.

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. 🙂 )

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19 thoughts on “Where I Talk About the SECOND Thing We Do Not Talk About

  1. Now, I don’t claim much knowledge about Christianity…I was raised in a Jewish home and eventually ended up an atheist, whatever that says about my knowledge of any of the books of the bible that are in the new testament…

    What I do know, from much experience as a lax Jew…and then a really devout Jew…and then a lax Jew again…and then eventually an atheist…is that there is nobody on Earth outside your own mind who can tell you what God means and what is the best way to worship him.

    Can’t find a church that would teach your kids the values that YOU find important? Why not bring them up without a church?

    Wait wait! I’m not saying “Bring them up without God.” Obviously, that isn’t something you would WANT to do…nor is that something I would advocate for you to do considering you specifically AREN’T an atheist.

    Church and organized religion =/= God. I know many Christians who don’t agree with the many views of the religious organizations that claim to represent them…so they just don’t go.

    It seems like you already have a very fulfilling spiritual life without going to church regularly…so why not just cut out the middle man and allow yourself to work with God and, similarly, the spirituality of your children on your own (and their own) terms.

  2. Although I’m not Catholic, I grew up in a church-going household as well but don’t attend now, so I understand your consternation and heartache surrounding not feeling a part of that community, deeply (DEEPLY) flawed as it can sometimes be. I thought having a child might have thrust me back into that world since I certainly want my daughter to understand spirituality and embrace it if she chooses. But I haven’t re-entered that world and can’t see it happening. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith, it’s just deeply personal and without attachment to a particular religion/denomination/sect/belief system. Because you’re right, it’s hard to feel a part of something which still judges and segregates, even if it claims not to.

    And in a weird way, I feel lucky to be seeing the world through my six year old’s eyes and feeling the wonder of a child all over again as she discovers her own faith based on what we are able to expose her to. It gives me hope where church hasn’t.

    *Nice* post.

    • I don’t even know why I hadn’t thought of trusting myself to know what would be best for my future hypothetical children, and sharing faith with them in my way. Thank you. 🙂

  3. 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.

    Unfortunately, I think this is the reason a lot of people have issues with organized religion; I know that once I got to be old enough to actually see the hypocrisy it changed a lot of how I felt about the Church. It’s sad, really. The beliefs and the faith are wonderful things, but unfortunately a lot of the believers spoil it for people.

    My grandparents were Episcopalian, and I was lucky enough to have parents that let me do my own thing and choose my own beliefs, and thus my mother ended up with one daughter who went Roman Catholic (at age 25), and the other one going pagan.

  4. I am with you on this one. I grew up in the church, too. Not the Catholic Church, but the church in general. And then I met a man with an intensely personal relationship with Christ who feels it’s a private thing and feels the church, as a collective, is filled with hypocracy and for the first time I saw mainstrream Christianity and organized religion through the eyes of someone on the outside and it was appalling. That was the first thing that took me out of regular church attendance. The second was in 2004 when my preacher told us who to vote for in the presidential election. That did it. I couldn’t handle it anymore. That was my last day in church.

    I won’t lie and say I don’t miss it. There are times I miss it so very much. Sometimes I’ll just be struck by it in my car and I’ll start singl=ing praise songs and before I know it… I’m crying. But I know that I’m good with God and my faith is strong. Someday, maybe, I’ll venture back to the church. I don’t know. It doesn’t seem likely.

    Anyway, that was really long, but I just wanted you to know I get it. I understand.

  5. This all reminds me of my favorite quote:

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, for they are so unlike your Christ” – Ghandi

  6. The quote by Ghandi is one of my favorite as well. I, too was raised in “the church” (sounds so ominous). I feel that the hypocrisy within the church is one reason many people turn away. There are many of us, myself included, who have other reasons, but the majority leave initially due to the hypocrisy of the error of humans who want to judge others as if they themselves were God-like. So, what happens is you have your more Christ like individuals, the kind hearted, non-judgemental, leaving the churches, while the hierarchy of churches feeds upon itself. It is cyclical. Sad, really, for those who believe and have a need for their faith and their organized religions. Sounds to me as if you and Army Boy have found your way to a path that brings you serenity. That is what matters.

  7. I’m so glad I discovered your blog. Expect for about 40 years, we could have been separated at birth. In fact, I have a post up over at my blog that is a letter to my 20 year old self.

    I, too, was raised Catholic. Now I call myself a “recovering Catholic,” and while I consider myself spiritual, I have no use for organized religion of any kind.

    I get the biggest laugh out of the so-called “Christian” right who throw around the term “Socialist.” Jesus was the original socialist. What happened to all that “Love thy neighbor as thyself”? I think Jesus should sue these people for blasphemy.

    • Hi Jayne! I’m glad you stopped over. I’ll definitely look forward to reading your letter. Maybe, like the comments of everyone here, it will help me in exploring my own feelings on the subject.

      “Recovering Catholic” is the best term, but the shame kicks in more after you’ve left the church, and wonder why you “couldn’t cut it.” Why were you seeing issues that others apparently didn’t have?

  8. I wrote something similar a while back about my religious background. I went to many different churches and eventually called the Catholic church home. However, I left a little over 10 years ago. I don’t regret it. I think it’s possible to separate religion from “church”. Spirituality and closeness with God, Allah, or whoever you choose to believe in is a deeply personal thing.

    One of my all time favorite sayings: Going to church doesn’t make a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.

  9. Hmm, I find myself in a weird minority here and even though I am 10 days late, I thought I’d comment. I am one of those folks who does still go to church.

    I totally understand all the comments/opinions expressed here and I agonize over the politics of organized religion and the idiots who seem to have totally disregarded the christian teachings of love, compassion, and forgiveness (not to mention those who have DONE wrong and broken faith). Personally, I am not always nice. I yell at my kids, I get grumpy and whiny. I am sometimes envious of other people and frustrated at stupidity and definitely not very patient.

    Thing is, the christian community I belong to helps me be better. They are not perfect either but they give me strength and they help me to celebrate my faith. They were among the first to accept me being a single parent. They surround with acceptance those who have been divorced, homeless, mentally, emotionally or physically unwell. They accept those who question faith and they welcome those questions passionately.

    Yes, I can have faith on my own. I can teach my children that love and faith. But together in community (which is what the first churches were), celebrating that love together is amazing. I wish more christian communities were like that. I wish more people knew that there are lots of loving, accepting, supportive, encouraging, uplifting christian communities out there…I guess that is my prayer…

    • Thank you, Lianne. That environment is exactly the type that I’m hoping to find- one that practices acceptance and tolerance, as opposed to everything that’s been mentioned above. It’s nice to hear that does exist, and gives me patience and hope that I might eventually find what I need in a church experience.

  10. Pingback: Crazy Churchy Stuff… You’re Doin’ It Wrong, Akshully. « Txting Mr Darcy

  11. It’s so very sad. I’m not saying this is a universal thing, but it seems as though everyone I’ve met who gave up on Christianity started in the Roman Catholic faith.

    Not to be preachy at all, but I wish you lived here in Washington! There’s a church here that I love that’s non-denominational, and very open-minded and willing to accept that there is not only one interpretation of the bible. They are caring, entirely non-judmental, and surprisingly fun. I never expected to find a fun church, but when it caters to youth, has a live band every service and the pastor makes jokes showing that he’s human, too, it makes you want to go back. I wish you had that experience.

    You’re right, I don’t see how someone in the Christian faith could open their arms one minute and turn their backs the next. It makes me sad when some of my friends assume religion is pointless, because I really don’t know what I’d do if I believed that no one was “up there.” Too many surprising and amazingly played-out things have happened in my life for it all to be coincidence.

    • Welcome Viennica. 🙂

      I definitely believe in everything that I learned through my years of religious education. Hopefully I’ll find a church that’s the right fit, like yours.

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