Angst on a Shoestring

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

 

Take It On Faith

Dragged out of the junk drawer from another site

I never understand people and religion.
I was raised Catholic..not just any Catholic, ROMAN Catholic. There were only 2 religions, them and us.
We were much better then those pagan babies we give our pennies to every week. I was all into it. My eyes would go just as wide as all the other little sheep in maroon plaid at the stories of Jesus and his Apostles. What child wouldn't go into convulsive weeping at the first time hearing how he died for us? Talk about nightmares and guilt! All at the age of 6!
It was around this time I started asking little questions. What was Jesus' wife like? Did he tell jokes? Did he hate to get up early?

All of these perfectly honest questions of a six year old child were met with the blank stare and silence of a habited cow.
I would ask my mother. Mom is a practical woman and she said she's not sure he was married, but she was sure he told jokes and didn't always like getting up early. I trotted back to school happy at least someone told me something! When I dutifully corrected my nun after she said Jesus didn't tell jokes, and, then told her my mom said that he did. Sister Regina Gertrude (she was a fridge with a head and one eye that kinda popped bigger than the other..she terrified me) started turning into a screeching horror. Now she knew my mom wasn't Catholic and she dismissed anything my mom said as heresy. Jeez.

And my mom will surely burn for taking us to a Protestant church for Christmas Eve.

The story is, she took us to the little church next to our Big Roman Catholic one. She just wanted to go there. So we go in and the minister greets us warmly shaking our hands welcoming us. We had never been in there. It was a small congregation..only like twenty people. And we sat in the front pews and the minister stood in the aisle talking to us. Our priest never worked the crowd. This guy didn't even have on vestments or anything!
He began telling the Christmas story in such a wonderful way. I was captivated by his easy manner and expression. The other children there asked questions, and he answered them! I was amazed! I was like sign me up! As he moved to the part about the Wise Men, he handed out little slips of brightly colored paper and pencils. He asked us to write what we would give to Jesus for his birthday. He stressed to all that material things were not the idea, rather something that we would do to make the Christ Child smile. We each wrote something, I can't remember what, probably something like help my mom before she asks. And he collected them in a little basket and placed them at the modest creche at the altar. He said Jesus will open them tomorrow. We sang songs, read passages and had a very nice time.
As we buttoned up to go home, the minister shook our hands and thank us for coming. Shook our hands! And he didn't even pass the collection plate!

We walked home quietly. My mind was so filled with questions. My mom was happy so I felt it was fine. When coming back to school after the holiday, my Sister asked if we visited any other parishes for Christmas. I raised my hand and told her we went to Glading next door. Her face turned bright red and said it wasn't a real church and I committed a sin going there for the Lord's Birthday. I was stunned. I never thought anyone could be so angry. Over a little church??..I got more from that modest little service, then I ever did in my whole time at St. Martins.

I decided I wasn't a sheep anymore.

I never really bought into alot of things. And I didn't take things on faith..I needed to know answers. Well..fast forward to high school..I'm in a religion class..( which, btw, are NOT transferrable credits to public high school) and a nun who went into the convent as a teen, never had sex is teaching Love and Marriage classes. Most of my class had more experience in sex then she's ever had. I raised my hand and asked if she ever dated. This was met with stone silence. And no answer. I was now the antichrist, to be sure. I ended up leaving this "nurturing" school after I refused to dime on someone about a bottle of Southern Comfort that was in a locker. Amazing how these "brides of Christ" become "Brides of Frankenstein" when things don't go their way.

So anyway, what was my point? I think that asking questions and challenging authority is an admirable trait to teach your children. I know I'm rambling here but Catholic School memories bring out the worst in me.

As I grew up I researched all kinds of beliefs. I became Jewish when I married my husband. I like alot of the principles, and the fact I can question the rabbi. I leave what I don't like. You might call it cafeteria style religion, I look at it as being spiritual, which is to me alot more important then how many days you went to church or how much you gave to the organized religion of your choice.

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