Monday, January 17, 2011

Actively Ex-Catholic

My upbringing was very Catholic. The clergy, faculty, administration and volunteering parents all regretted Vatican II, they were that conservative. They also tolerated and even encouraged the bullying and abuse that happened to me. I allowed all that to happen for so long because, firstly, I didn't know that anything else existed and, secondly, I thought that that's what God/Jesus/Mary/etc. wanted.

Then I went through a rebellious phase in which I hated all Christianity. This is very common as the atheist population grows (at least amongst the middle-and-higher classes). I never blamed God for everything that happened, to me, though; I just changed my concept of God. There's the argument, commonly used by militant atheists, that God can only be two out of these three qualities: omnipotent, all-good, omniscient. Ignoring the subjective meaning of "good," this argument excludes another quality: active.

My relationship with an inactive God ("God" just being the Western term for an unknowable, ultimate being/force/essence. Tao comes close to my concept) is separate from my relationship with Catholicism. There are still many questions I want answered about the terrors of my childhood. I continue to study Catholicism not only to uncover more answers, but also to find peace with Catholicism. It's highly unlikely that I'll ever "be" Catholic again, but being mad at it is a waste.

Catholicism has been successful for centuries for a very good reason: symbols, rituals and hierarchies are emotionally appealing in a chaotic environment. Many "nonbelievers" (future blog to come on belief) attend mass regularly because it can be a calming weekly ritual and it's pretty. I admit that, when I'm having a crazy week, the idea of attending a peaceful mass with my family sounds like a nice escape where I won't have to think. And it would help heal some old wounds.

It is possible, and maybe even healthy, for an ex-Catholic to find harmony with Catholicism. It's as big a character in my past as my parents; I've made peace in my relationship with the absence of my father, Catholicism is next.

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