I was raised in the bizarre religious ideology of Catholicism, which is an interesting religion to say the least. We pretend that a cracker and some wine turn into the body and blood of our savior once a week and eat it together. When I was a kid this all seemed normal. I had my first communion as a child, as is normal in Catholicism, and when I was a kid I just believed what they told me about god and Jesus, I believed it was true because that’s what my parents told me.
Jesus, as presented to me in Church, seemed like a cool guy who, from what I can tell, wanted to make the world a more peaceful place. Did he really perform miracles? Who knows, but if I had been around at that time and seen him do miracles and heard him preach, I probably would have followed the guy. In fact, he seems like a fairly decent human being, regardless of his status as the “son of god” or not, perfect, no, still human, but a pretty good homo sapien all around. The whole trinity thing is weird, in Catholicism we believe in the father, the son and the holy spirit, which is the holy trinity, but they are all one thing so it’s a bit confusing when you’re a kid. The idea of a loving god is appealing to me, though I still have trouble believing in anything so esoteric without any proof. My favorite line in all of musical theatre is in the Finale of Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Well I guess if that is the case then I’ve already seen him! Theism here I come!
This song makes me teary and generally pulls my heart strings.
I listened to Les Miserables way too many times during my teenage
Feeding the poor with magical loaves and fishes, raising the dead, healing the sick, saving Mary Magdelane from stoning with the words “He who is without sin shall cast the first stone”, and sacrificing himself to supposedly save us from our sins, those are all admirable actions if they were indeed ever undertaken by Jesus Christ. Most of the issues I see with Christianity are because of silly humans who aren’t actually following the path Jesus laid out. I do have some serious issues with aspects of Catholicism.
The guilt is powerful in Catholicism, as anyone raised Catholic knows. We sin, we feel guilty, we repent. Then the cycle repeats. I think this makes it much harder to love yourself and live a fulfilling life, when you have to hate yourself as born in and full of sin. I love and accept myself and just try to be the best me I can be, but forgive myself for my imperfections and instead focus on learning and improving myself when I find I’ve made mistakes. If I were in charge of the rules of Christianity, I’d focus more on radical self-awesomeness than hating oneself and feeling guilty all the time.
Another bizarre aspect of Catholicism is the vilification of sex. Sex is an important act in the formation of pair bonds with a partner and leads to the creation and upbringing of the next generation. Encouraging fidelity and vilifying adultery are important, since the family unit is important in Western society, but I literally was told in church that babies are born in sin because of their parents having to have SEX to make them. Seriously? Good sex is important in long term relationships and open communication is important for that goal, so why not focus on it as a beautiful act of love between two humans that could lead to making another human?
Speaking of sex, the main reason I hate Catholicism now is that the church allowed its’ “celibate” priests to molest children and, when the truth was found out, they often moved those priests to a new area rather than prosecute the priests for the abuse. That’s just so evil, it’s beyond me how any Christian could do that. The whole celibacy thing is clearly dangerous and should be re-thought.
Personally, I was truly horrified at the terror of death when I realized that my parents had no access to higher truth and were just teaching me Catholicism as a TRUTH because it’s what they believed, because it’s what they were taught; I realized that there probably wasn’t a heaven or a hell and maybe not even a god. My loss of faith was a serious blow to my psyche, leading to depression and suicidal feelings (as I was a teenager, I can’t say how much of that was due to loss of faith and how much was just being an angsty nerdy weirdo teenager). I wouldn’t personally raise children to believe in a religion as a truth, I would tell them what I believe and why and let them decide for themselves. I know with young kids this is difficult, but at some point I think adults have an obligation to be honest about the limits of their knowledge, especially when they know their kids will be troublemaker bright little ones who question everything you tell them, as mine are sure to be. Life felt so pointless and meaningless after that loss of faith, it took serious effort to find a reason for living. Luckily I’m a good problem solver, so I found my purpose and that gives me a reason to get up and fight the good fight. But many people flounder through life, clinging to hedonism, nihilism, consumerism and/or materialism and feeling lost and meaningless without a faith to provide them meaning.
No one really knows any truth about this universe, we’re all just evolved monkeys, but I seriously doubt those crackers I ate every Sunday during my childhood were transubstantiated into the body of Jesus. However, I might be a better person for having been raised Catholic, whether or not it was a lie. If you have nothing to replace religion’s role in society, you should not encourage it to be left by the wayside. It has an evolutionary purpose, as my friend wrote his PhD thesis on. Without it we are lost and turn to other irrational belief systems for meaning.