Every time I see or hear of a fundamental Christian or Catholic, I think about my own position on faith. It’s not something I’ve discussed much on this blog, and maybe it’s time I redress that.
I was christened Catholic, and attended Church with my mother and brother until I was about thirteen, every Sunday. My mother is Catholic, my father is not. After I turned thirteen I attended church sporadically with my mother, and up until the year before last, still attended at Easter and Christmas, although rarely outside those times.
What changed? Well, the first thing was a growing awareness of many of the positions of the Catholic Church. The other thing was that although I didn’t lose my faith in God, I lost my fear of Him.
I no longer believe that God requires my presence every Sunday to please him. I believe that he would prefer me to address my conscience and make decisions compassionatly rather than follow a set of rules that scholars have argued about since the dawn of Christianity. I no longer believe that my God is a God of fire and brimstone. I no longer believe many of the positions of the Catholic Church. I believe they run apposite to the teachings of Jesus himself.
I also feel like something of a hypocrite when I attend church. I don’t feel like it’s the right place to be when so many questions in my mind remain unanswered. I don’t feel that I’m serving anyone (least of all myself) when I sit there listening to the Priest’s sermon whilst my head runs through the list of questions it throws up for me.
My main problems with the Church are:
I don’t believe that many followers of the Catholic faith realise that not judging others actually means not judging others and practicing forgiveness and compassion.
I don’t believe the Church does enough to help the less fortunate when it is within their power.
I don’t believe that God is as wrathful as the Church would tell me.
I don't believe that Jesus would ever cast out the marginalised as the Catholic Church advocates.
I don't believe that Jesus ever meant houses of worship to be so lavish and unnecessarily opulent.
I can't, in good conscience, sit there and have that running through my head without wondering whether I'm in the right frame of mind to be attending Church. When I was younger, it was because, well, being forced to go to Church as a child immediately makes you not want to go.
Now, I question my faith itself constantly.
I want to make one thing clear: I have never, and don't now, question the existence of God. It's not something I'm good at putting into words, but it's not something I've ever had to question. There's no doubt in my mind. It's not brainwashing (my brother vehemently denies that there is a God), it's just a feeling. I can't describe it.
The last time I was at Church was Easter two years ago. I planned to go at Christmas, but by the time we got to my mothers house on Christmas Eve, she had indulged in too much Christmas Spirit to be up for it.
Anyway, it was the first time I had felt any connection with the Church in a long time. Before that, I'd gone out of a sense of obligation rather than any sense of fulfillment.
The problem is, every time I think about going, I think of all the reasons I'm angry with the Church. I think of all the times I've been steaming mad when a priest or official of the church has failed to show compassion to someone who clearly needed it.
I think about the people who hassle scared woman as they go into family planning clinics.
I think about the refusal of the Catholic Church to use it's abundant riches to help those less fortunate.
I think about my own beliefs, and how I don't think they tally up with the Catholic Church anymore.
Can I call myself Catholic,
am I Catholic anymore? Does that matter, if I still believe in God?
And if I am still Catholic, how on earth to I reconcile my beliefs with my faith? Because right now they're poles apart.
I'm pro-choice. I don't agree with the Catholic position on homosexuality. Or sex before marriage. Or contraception.
But I don't know if I'm willing to give up what I do believe in because of what I don't.
I wish there was an easy answer. I wish I was sure there is an answer at all.
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