I am supposed to be editing, but I was asked a specific question today that was now on the front on my mind and I need to write it out before I complete the final story arc of book 3.
I have a few posts saved and sitting in my wordpress after the election last year when people got very political and religious with their views.Yeah, you were there too, weren’t you? That’s why I may or may not post them. This entry, however, was a specific questions asked of me today, and I wanted to share it.
The posts details my journey through religion during the past few years. I hear the term “spiritual” but not religious used more and more, and I am speculating as to why that is.
My family is Catholic, and I am not, so If I go to Mass, I can’t take communion with them, which makes me feel awkward. It’s just how I feel, because I am going for them and with them, but I can’t partake in communion with them, which is the most important part.
I should also say that I particularly enjoy Pope Francis and don’t have disdain for anyone who is Catholic or otherwise based on their religious views. I think religion is here to help people through hard times and unify them. I completed Service Learning at a homeless and womens’ shelter that was faith based, and I think it made such a wonderful difference in helping people move forward with their lives.
The main point in going to church is to take communion, and I will admit that I have not found a speaker that is relateable, symbolic, and can keep my attention. Maybe I plan to leave a service with more information than I had going in, or perhaps It could be that I’m looking for a college professor to be at the podium and I’m expecting that kind of delivery. At the last mass I went to (that is not at the church I will take anecdotes from) the priest made a joke about how people who ride motorcycles are going to hell, and my husband has one, so that was really strange… the main point is : If I can’t take communion even though I believe in the same God, why am I going?
So then you say: Be a good sport and go support the family, regardless, and do good!
I did try, but here is the thing… If you don’t connect with the people in a place of worship, than it’s probably not the place for you. You have to find and worship with people who believe what you do. And this is what I have found over the past few years…
Volunteer kicked out over a dream
Many years ago at this specific church (as we will call it “Church”) a volunteer who is a Judge in her county, was kicked out of volunteering to help the teens in the congregation, because the youth group leader had a dream in which God told her that this Judge was a bad influence. I heard this news outside of the Church, by people who didn’t treat it as gossip or say anything bad about the group leader. They were stating a fact, that is all. I’m sure God talks to some, but my impression is that this is done in a silent voice, more shown than told through miracles, reminders, and joy in life. I don’t know what a dream is, and science doesn’t all the time either, but I do suspect that a dream takes place in one’s head. If that is the case, then kicking a volunteer out of a group on account of a dream is a misuse of power. I’m not sure what I have done as a parent with a child in that youth group.I guess it’s a life lesson than people will abuse power, however, I probably would have pulled mine until the leader resigned.
The Macabre Memorial
There is also a monument in this Church that doesn’t exactly alight with my values as a human being. It is a gravestone enclosed in a glass window, dedicated “to the innocent victims of abortion.” I think the inscription is accurate, but I find the use of the gravestone macabre and inappropriate for the situation. I studied monuments during a course in British and Irish literature from the 1900’s, and we talked about how every detail of a memorial is important. I went to Kent State University, and we had our own (and extremely detailed) memorial to study and learn about. I think a statue of a small child with a religious figure, or an angel, or patron Saint of children, would be more appropriate for the memorial than the horror of a grave stone. I think the statement is insensitive, and a regular grave stone is so generic that it appears only to be there for the shock factor. I made the choice to unfollow a member of the Church on facebook during our 2016 election, because she thought it was appropriate to describe stabbing a baby in the head with a pair of scissors over social media. I just don’t think that is helping anyone… and while this is a whole other issue, I think social institutions should aim to help listen and not speak over people who are going through difficult times. Or perhaps do something positive and hold and adoption drive if they are so concerned? Just a thought.
So by now, you might see how our views don’t line up. Many people tell me that they don’t agree with every little thing their church says. More recently, two more things happened to add to my reasons of why this place isn’t for me. People have their own experiences and loyalty, and if they have different views than mine, that is okay. The main thing is that we are not hurting each other, even if we aren’t exactly helping each other.
Women are banned from volunteering
I wanted to volunteer around Christmastime at the Church, because if I couldn’t be an active member, perhaps I could help out with community causes. Unfortunately, some of the tasks were already full by the time I thought to ask, but I settled on the task of moving donations for people. When I read the bulletin for volunteering, that task was reserved for high school boys and men only. It was as if women were not strong or capable enough to do physical work as volunteers, per the program director. Weight training and martial arts and wanting to be a strong woman didn’t matter to this Church. A more tactful way would have been to add “must be able to lift fifty pounds,” on to the requirement, as to not ostracize anyone based on their sex. If you are running a community organization, attention to word use and the diversity of your community is required.
Priest Makes Political Statement as Part of Wedding Ceremony
The last thing that drove the point home, was a wedding that I attended at this Church. The priest gave the couple a beautiful prism that reflected a rainbow, and in explaining the symbolism of the gift, he brought up an extraneous subject that had nothing to do with the couple being married. The priest explained that “some people misuse the rainbow today,” and if you are living in the 21st century, you will catch that the priest is contesting gay marriage during the wedding of two people of opposite sexes. I found that to be extremely distasteful and unneeded. A wedding isn’t the time to press your own religious or political ideas. People have different experiences, but honestly, this is supposed to be the happiest day of someone’s life, and you’re going on about something completely unrelated?
I don’t suppose I have found the place I belong to yet, but in time, I know that it’s the people that make a place what is it, and if different people come along, I will consider sitting for mass and not taking communion. Until my ideas align with a large group, which probably won’t happen, I have resolved to be content with my own spirituality. I am also trying to be open to attending church holidays with my family.
Many people my age are coming to terms with “religion” and describe that they don’t feel that they belong to religious institutions because they can’t compromise on the things they believe.”Typical” people with typical gender identities and sexual orientations might still be typical, but they are meeting others who are not, and they are met with science and research and are open to learning things because there is a constant flood of information in the world. Accepting diversity opens our world up, and perhaps selfishly, we decide that we don’t want to go to a place that doesn’t align with every single one of our views.
Do you think we’re selfish in being “spiritual” instead of religious? Or do you think this is a movement of acceptance, tolerance, and peace that is here to stay?