“Are you Catholic?” Alex asked. “Yeah,” I mumbled. “You know,” he added, “I grew up at St. Genevieve’s, went to school there too. But. . . .” So went another of the ever-occurring reasons for “why I don’t go to church anymore”. I can relate.
Substitute, writing for Catholic, and you have my last few weeks in a nutshell.
Welcome to my world.
So am I.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had returned to the Church once again, seeking. . .something? Hell if I know what.
I didn’t find it. Nothing bad happened. The priest was okay as priests go. I don’t expect much.
If you don’t know what you are seeking, it’s pretty likely you won’t find it. How would you know?
Writing is just about as confusing. I’ve written a lot over the years. All sorts of writing. Big bold essays of a hundred pages, footnoted to Hades and back. Short, “reflections”. Legal arguments chock full of citation to other learned writings. Notes of books I’ve read. And then all this blogging. Years of it. thousands of posts, millions of words, ideas formed, bent, twisted, reconfigured, spit out. Arrogance, pomposity, mendacity, with a rare humble crumb offered here and about. My guts displayed for any who bothered to note it.
Do I have nothing left to say?
Perish that thought. I’d shrivel up and croke. My enemies (having enemies is a true joy if you think about it seriously) wish I would just “shut the fuck up”. That alone should spur me forward.
I start, I stop, I flounder. As good as I came, I saw, I conquered (veni, vidi, vici) doncha think?
Why are we so three oriented? Tragedies come in three, examples are most often offered in threes. Trinity? Trifecta? Triple creme? Triple crown. Banana split which has little to do with the split banana and everything to do with three scoops.
I’m reading a very intriguing book. What is God? Not Who, but What. It all stems from that flip. Turn a globe upside down and leave it like that. It will make you rethink a few things.
I’m processing faith versus religion. I’m pretty down on religion right now. Composed of fallible humans what would you expect? Is it necessary? Church votes yes. I’m pretty much votin’ no at this point.
I choose to express my faith through some rituals of this faith system. I call it Catholicism. You can call it the Whore of Babylon if you are not well educated. I don’t care. There is too much wrong to defend it. There is more right than I often admit.
I’m pretty sure that God is not what we think. But I am not at all sure. I don’t think I’m supposed to be sure. Augustine said we can only say what God isn’t. That is hardly a recipe for success.
Church is like stopping off at a rest stop. It is good to get out and stretch your legs, relieve your bladder, and munch a snack. But it’s not home. You got to get back at the grueling drive that never ends. Thinking, watching, staying awake. Driving requires concentration if you plan to do it successfully over time. So is God-seeking.
One premise is that there is always something not quite real about reality. We sense there is more, but we can’t see it. We recognize the unreality. We have become desensitized to unreality. It passes by us with nary a nod.
A man says, “I am going to kill you because you are raping our women and taking over our country.” Another man says, “that’s hate against Christians,” (since the dead are Christians). Whose reality are we talking about?
I don’t reject the Catholic Church because of its theology. There is a Catholic Church here that is “not aligned with Rome”. They love my politics. But I don’t go and sit in the pews there. There is one of those Universalist Unitarians, or something here. There is Bahai here. I am not interested.
I plant my butt in a pew and I sit, and I wonder why I’m there. I count off the various “parts” until we get to communion and then the closing prayer, and then the closing hymn and then. I’m free again.
Why do I go?
I stopped going.
I feel something missing. Vicious and jealous mistress you faith!
Faith and religion. Two separate but unequal things. Faith matters, religion is some bonus at least once upon a time. Ever? Never? I did good once. It does good sometimes, somewhere.
The problem as always is the people. Fallible humans muck up the mud. Turn it ugly and personally motivated. I hate welfare not because I don’t want to help the poor but because I want to decide who to give my charity to. So they say. What they mean is I can then avoid giving welfare to lazy queens and princes who lay in bed half the day before they saunter down to the welfare store and pick up their checks. As I JUDGE them anyway.
I don’t want the government to tell me how much to give. I bet ya a million bucks you couldn’t come begin to tell me how much the “government is taking out of you in taxes” to support medicaid, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and so forth. You couldn’t even give me a ball park figure of what they take. But somehow, you assure me, you would give more if it were voluntary. Yeah, sure ya would.
Religion starts off with laudable goals. Seek God. Take care of God’s people. But your old fallibility rose like the skunky smell it is, and you changed that to “God’s chosen people” however YOU JUDGMENTALLY DECIDED THAT.
I’m for Israel because they are God’s chosen, you utter with perfect surety. Bullshit.
If you believe God has favorites then you believe in an awfully wicked and strange being. One who creates so poorly that He finds one poor slob called Abram and tells him, he will “create a nation” of him. Hope he does it better than the first couple of times. Dont’ forget the whole fiasco of Noah and that damned ark that couldn’t be built large enough to begin to house “all God’s creation”.
Yet you got a passel of morons whose brains are so gucky with sludge that they gotta cling to that stuff as literal and then make it their life’s work to make you take it literally too.
And God is not in that damned Book you fool. PEOPLE wrote the book. They wrote it about the God they were seeking. Since you can’t tell me much about God on your own, why do you think they were any better at it? They’re just trying, same as you and me. Yet you kneel before the freakin’ book.
So here I sit. I read that the Pope has offered up an encyclical on the environment. As sure as it’s June and it’s hot, right wing Catholics are finally letting out what they really think. They really really don’t like this pope at all. Unlike their precious JPII and Benedict however, Francis doesn’t inherit the “God’s chosen” appellation. We don’t have to pay attention to Francis when we don’t like what he says.
“He’s not a scientist. He’s just giving his opinion on a subject that he has no expertise in.” So the upshot is to ignore what he says. He’s a dupe of some libtards in the Vatican who haven’t explained to this poor illiterate fool that words matter. “He’s a marxist, anyway.” If you tried to continue the conversation say about women priests, they would tell you. “Pope John Paul has spoken on that issue and we will not allow further conversation because he says it is a closed issue.” Some personal opinions count. Oh yeah, the one’s you agree with.
Whose reality are we talking about?
Everywhere I go, I see the same thing. Distinctly different takes on reality. Both can’t be right. Or perhaps they can.
God is in the mysteries of life.
Oh, seeking Him there is not as easy as sittin’ in the pew. Reading and thinking and meditating, and working out the details. Only to realize that each and every insight provides fresh mystery, new questions, and potential conflicting yearnings.
Open your eyes, and your ears. But mostly open your heart. Take little if anything for granted. Seek serendipity, and sweet harmony. Enjoy the sugary taste until the bitterness creeps in. Seek further, and never stop. Ever.
That is human becoming.