Thursday, September 21, 2006

Amen?

Me and religion go way back.

Well, back to when I was an infant, anyway, and was baptized into the Catholic Church. Really, I had no say in the matter, being all of three months or so, and in baptizing me, my parents intended me to follow a straight path of Catholicism, one Pope under God and all that good stuff.

Attending Catholic schools from first grade on, I listened to all the Bible stories, and ingested their meanings. I sang with gusto all the religious hymns, indeed my favorite subject besides reading was song practice. Granted, we didn't have it every day like our religion classes, but weekly. "Friends are like flowers" was the song I liked the best, and we didn't sing it at every Mass, to which I was always disappointed. In the 8th grade, I was even chosen to crown the statue of the Virgin Mary during the May festival, tottering up the ladder in my white heels and my white virginal dress. I seriously thought I would fall right there in front of the altar, sure to knock over the oversize statue on the way down.

In some way, shape or form, or actually many ways, shapes and forms, religion was a large part of my upbringing. Mass every Sunday, First Communion and Confirmation. I never had an issue, never had a problem with the thought of God, or our place on the earth in relation to God.

That is, until I reached college. I began to reject the Catholic Church and large bits of their teachings, which I disagreed with. There are too many to list, some of them rather minor in the scheme of things, some large. Some rules the Church doesn't even bother to enforce anymore, but I knew they were there, and they bothered me. So I stopped going, stopped associating myself with the Church. But, I had spent too much time studying the Bible and listening to sermons for it not to have affected my world view in a profound way.

Yet I never stopped believing in God. I don't consider a belief in God and the ability to think critically to be mutually exclusive. My problem was with the flawed human beings who saw themselves as the appointed conduits. For a while, I felt that it was not important to belong to a formal organization, that I could simply believe in God and He in me, and everything would sort of work itself out from there.

Except as my son began getting older, I began to question the path I had chosen. Which truly, wasn't much of a path at all. I wasn't teaching him anything about God, I don't know if I thought he would pick it up by osmosis or something. I reflected on my upbringing, and decided that being raised with a religious background didn't harm me irreparably or turn me into a zombie who couldn't think for herself. And don't get me wrong, I know that just because someone claims to be religious, doesn't mean they are necessarily a good person. In fact, more often than not, the more vocal someone is about religion and God, my trust is affected inversely. On the flip side of the coin, I don't necessarily believe that someone who does not believe in God is worse than one who does. As my father told me not so long ago, "I have been screwed over in the name of God more times than I would care to admit."

Fully cognizant of this, I decided to expose Mr. Personality to a religion, the religion of my youth, and Hubba-hubba's as well. And as he got older, if he chose to reject the Church, that would be his choice, I wouldn't stop him from doing so. I still haven't resolved my issues with the Church, I still disagree with more of the canon than is seemly. But it is what I know, it is what I am familiar with. It is difficult to change the Catholic Church, it is huge and hidebound with tradition. A tradition that I am fully aware of, good and bad.

I hope that doesn't make me a hypocrite. But I am thinking it might.

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