Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My worldview turned on it's head. Some history and a RANT

Okay. I have gone through phases like this before. However they are VERY short lived and usually only happen in the Summer. It is Fall now. The weather is much cooler. I can't get a whole lot happier than the season right now. This is when I am so tuned into God. And you know what? I couldn't be less. What is weird is that it isn't God who I am having a problem with. It's who every person in the world says God is: Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Bhuddists, you name it. Organized religion has got me down, waaaaayyyyyyyy down. I can't seem to reconcile who I am with any other belief system other than say, Deism, the beliefs of our Founding Fathers.
I wrote the above statement in October of 2009. I just found it while looking over my blog posts. I realized that it was still a draft so I clicked 'edit' to see what it was. Needless to say I was kinda stunned because the content of that paragraph is exactly what I wanted to tackle today. I am kind of still in the same place. They tell me Mother Theresa went through this. I have not read the book about it, so I can't comment.

Here's my dilemma. First let me give a little background. I was born, baptised and raised a cultural Presbyterian. We went to church. I loved singing hymns, but that was all it meant. As a kid I was REALLY interested in spiritual things and my favorite book, which I still have, was a National Geographic title called Great Religions of the World. Fast forward and when I was 13, my dad 'Got Saved'. Suddenly he was talking about Christianity in a more personal way than I ever understood it. But he was really confusing, especially since he was talking about being a new creation in Christ and he seemed like the same ole dad to me. Fast forward to when I was 18. I think it was February, and my dad had talked my mom, brother, and me into going to a Billy Graham Crusade. I, being the idealist that I am, was bowled over, and walked down with throngs of people, at the ending 'altar call' to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior. Later that week, I would find a Church, as it turned out I went to Good Shepherd Methodist Church in West Palm Beach, FL. They had a very active and vibrant youth group. I made a bunch of friends there, deepened my new found faith, and even recently have reconnected with some of those folks through Facebook.

So, from 18 to 34, I remain a fairly active Evangelical Christian. As most protestants do, I dabbled in denominationalism. I went from the Methodists to the Episcopalians to the Lutherans- Missouri Synod, to Southern Baptists (where I was re-baptised), back to the Presbyterians- PCA. I tried some fundamentalist churches too, with their hands in the air and speaking in tongues. It scared the shit out of me! I kept trying to find the denomination that fit me. Some were too uptight, too legalistic, too liberal. Gosh, it drove me crazy. I tried to fit in and make friends and sometimes it worked for a little while but I never felt like I belonged anywhere. My parents even found a pastor who was churchless and we set up a home non denominational church in our house for a couple of years. We had 20 people coming to it for a while. (Tho it was just really a glorified bible study.)

At 34, my mother, who I loved more than God (being honest here), was diagnosed with colon cancer right after Mother's Day 2000; the day Autumn was baptised. Autumn was baptised in a Presbyterian church, as was Andrew, Ben was baptised in a Methodist church. Mom suffered for 5 months, the colon cancer had spread to both lobes of her liver...a death sentence....and then she was gone. She died just a few weeks shy of her 54th birthday, in a Catholic hospital (interestingly) with all of us surrounding her.

Okay, so did I pray that my mom, the best grandmother in the world, would be healed? Yes. Constantly. Did I pray that her suffering be relieved. Yes. Constantly. Did I pray that God help me to find a way to help her. Yes. Constantly. Was she healed? No. Did she suffer horribly. Oh yes. Was I able help give her a lobe of my liver? No. Was I pissed? HELL YES! I was so angry at God. SOOOOOOO ANGRY. I joked with really good friends, who are Catholic, during Lent several months later, that I had given Jesus up for Lent (tho, I had never really celebrated Lent as a protestant...not really). Btw, I thought Catholicism was a cult and Catholics poor duped souls. I was always trying to get Catholic friends to leave the Church.

(Let me state emphatically right now...don't trust me...ever....I don't trust myself anymore. Believe what you want, it's none of my business.)

Back to my story (which I am sure is just riveting) fast forward again. I'm not going to church anywhere. I still mad. It's been a couple of years since mom died. Our Catholic friends (R&K) are over for dinner and K says I should come with them soon to a spaghetti dinner at their Church and after, if I am interested, I could go to this program for people interested in becoming Catholic. Que inner monologue "Who me? Catholic? Ha! Join that Whore of Babylon of a so called Church....Ha! Right? People actually BECOME Catholic? Why the heck would they want to do that? " So, I said, NO. And when they left, I promptly went up and googled 'Protestant Converts to Catholicism'. Needless to say, and another long story, I was blown away. The net of it was I did alot of reading. Went to RCIA, and after some roadblocks here and there, became Catholic in Novemember of 2003. (Note: I have written my conversion story to the Catholic Church and given it as a speech at several retreats. I have never transcribed it here, because it is long, and I am lazy. I am very convincing, very persuasive. I think due in large part to a dad who always played Devil's Advocate and my private prep school education. Word to the wise....don't listen to me.)

Since becoming Catholic I have learned all I can. Starting out, it was difficult not to throw myself into uberCatholicdom so, naturally, that is what I did. I went to all 4 years of a Bible/Encyclical study called FAMILIA. Some of my Catholic friends (R & K) probably thought I was pretty intolerable, looking back they were right. All in all, it was the first time in my spiritual life that I ever felt like I truly belonged. I was welcomed into the Church with open arms and have made truly wonderful friends there. The first and foremost being R & K, who I still completely love and adore. They were our sponsors coming in to the Church (Robert, who was raised Catholic never was confirmed so that is what happened for him, and then our marriage was convalidated).

Fast forward to about a year to 18 months ago. The disenchanment began, somewhere in there. I started to wake up to the fact that God always wins. Not that I want to win, but He always wins. If anything good happens, God did it. If anything bad happens, God allowed it and He will bring good from it (uh, I am still waiting for the good from mom's death...I have become estranged from my father (he went nuts when she died) I have lost both parents and my kids lost both their maternal 'good' is that!?!) Also, if I do anything good, it's Christ in me that does it, if I do anything's all me....all me and my sinful nature rearing it's ugly head. What about the many people I know ,who are really great, kind, generous, caring people who don't believe in anything....or believe in a completely different God, what then? And, again, just being honest here, both Heaven and Hell don't seem all that great to me. One is eternal suffering, the other eternally praising God. One sounds awfully painful and the other painfully boring.

Now, I have read ALOT of theology. I have read Church history. There is no denying Christ existed and there seems to be more historical proof that he not only existed but did what he did and said what he said, than there is historical documentation proving my or your existance. (And I'm not just talking about the Bible here, I am talking about other historical documents of the time). I also happen to believe that the basic celebration of the Eucharist of the Catholic Church (and even the Orthodox Church) is the closest we have to what the original Christians were doing. However, after all the shit that continues to come down in the Church I have become so turned off. And yeah, I know, the standard response (excuse) is that it's spiritual warfare....the Devil is coming against the Church. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or maybe, just maybe, all these so-called leaders of the Church should be more properly vetted? Look, I am no angel, but I am no Fr. Maciel. Holy shit. What evil, twisted mo fo.

But you know, maybe priests should be able to marry. Have you ever looked into the history of how the celibate priesthood came into being? Without any kind of agenda-glasses on? It was for the church to make money and aquire land. Then they tacked on spiritual reasons later. The whole thing with the Legionaires of Christ and their lay apostolate Regnum Christi really sickened me. I got to thinking. How easily I could been duped by them? I went to their study group FAMILIA for 4 years and when you are done with it Regnum Christi makes a pitch for you to join them. I didn't. I'm glad. But how close I almost came to drinking that Kool-aid scares me. But it also makes me wonder how much other Kool- aid have I been drinking?

I'm really over the redemptive suffering thing and the reparation suffering thing. I don't see my suffering redeeming anyone or anything. And what is worse is that I have met people really into that and they dont seem happy or they are really judgemental. They show no love of Christ, no mercy, no forgiving attitude (only to each other in their little club) but for everyone else....just judgement...holier than though CRAP! I went to this Alliance of Two Hearts seminar given by this Fr. Bing dude. It scared me horribly. I mean, I left there thinking, "OMG, if this is Catholicism, what the Hell did I do joining this Church?" I mean, I felt like vomiting. I was so overloaded with a sense of guilt and shame and hopelessness that I almost cried. All it did was solidify what I continue to see all around me everywhere, people love to sit in judgement of everyone else. They want to think they are right and have the right answers and as a result, God is going to reward them and damn everyone else. I mean, for crying out loud, look at the Jihadist Muslims. How crazy are they? And they believe that what they are doing is what God wants of them. And so do so many Catholics, and Protestants, and Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, goodness...the list goes on. For what it is worth, I believe that suffering is suffering and suffering sucks and everyone suffers over something...get used to it....end of story.

Let me set up an example from my life: Long before becoming Catholic I was having a real problem with birth control. I think it is evil. And not from a religious point of view. Fertility is not a disease. Loading a woman up with artificial chemicals to render her a female enuch just so she is sexually available at all times is the height of mysogyny. And that women have 'bought it' that it is their right to chemically sterilize themselves is even more disgusting. I have been on those pills and shots. You know what they do? They make for a moody, fat, sexually distinterested woman who is prone to stroke and breast cancer. Sounds like the lotto to me! And condoms are no better. I mean, when we used to use them, way back, what differentiated me from any other woman? Sure, my husband loved me, and was committed to me. But, when you have an affair, wouldn't one use a condom? If I, as a married woman, am so special, well then, I shouldn't have to fill myself with chemicals or rubber stoppers filled with spermacide that only makes me itch. Nor should do I have to deal with a piece of synthetic material between me and my hubby. I don't cover the rest of my body in saran wrap when we are making love, so why cover one of the most important parts. Oh, so that leaves me with physical sterilization. Mmm, sounds awesome! No thanks. I have a cycle, I'll watch it. I'll excercise some self control for a bit which will only make it more fun later.

Whoa...did I digress or, my example is this, one of the things I was excited about in regards to being Catholic is that the Church thinks birth control is bad, for most of the reasons I do. I thought that was pretty cool. Robert didn't, at first, but that has all changed. The Catholic Church also highly esteems motherhood (which alot of Protestants say they do, but they act like they don't), and believes children are a blessing. Well, I REALLY wanted another child. Specifically, another little girl, but I would happily take a boy too. I wanted Autumn to get to be a big sister and wanted a namesake for my mama. I was very involved with the FAMILIA program, at the time, and we were reading encyclicals about the merits of children. I PRAYED MY ASS OFF. I CRIED AND BEGGED FOR ANOTHER CHILD. I was using NFP, I knew when I was fertile. At first, I had to sell Robert on it. He wasn't wanting to buy. Eventually, he came around. But I never got pregnant. Now, there are those who never get pregnant. I have, at least, have 3 kids. Who was I to complain? But I know people with 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 kids. Those are all seperate families, by the way. So, did God say NO? Did my body say NO? Why? Why couldn't I have another kid? Am I that horrible a mother ? (Ok, don't answer that.) I wasn't praying for a Porche or a Lake House. I wanted a kid. In a world which considers the conceptus of a man and a woman as something disposable, I didn't (don't), I think it's a person, and amazing one of a kind person. And I just wanted another one. I believed I was being led to want another one. What is so wrong with that? So, it wasn't God that wanted me to have another child? Or it was, but he just wanted me to be willing to have one, it's not like he promised it or anything? Or it wasn't God's idea and that is why I never got pregnant, because it was really 'my' idea. Heck, I almost had a tubal, and it was God (or was it) who prevented me from being able to get it done. Then he fucks with me like that and brings about the desire for another child(ren) only to give me a celestial 'Fuck You' later? Really? Do I want to believe in that God? (Note: If your offended go away. This is my blog. Oh, and I think the Creator of the Universe can handle a little obsenity. So get a grip.)

The bottom line is, I 'thought' God wanted me to have another child. I thought wrong. I have thought God wanted me to do or not do all sorts of things, and I can ALWAYS find some sign that He is guiding me in a certrain direction. When that certain direction turns 180 degrees then I have to find some reason God did that too. I don't know what he wants from me. Any of us could justify just about anything that has happened to us or that we are going through in the light of God's design. I'm just sick to death of it all. Really I am. Do I believe that God exists? Yes. I believe there is a creator. Do I believe that Jesus is the human manifestation of that creator? Yes. Did 'Jesus' ask me to follow all these stupid rules all the time and make myself crazy? No. What did He ask me to do? "Love others, as I have loved you." That's a tall order. I'm horrible at it. So, maybe I should just work on that one for a while, not ask for anything, and leave the rest to those more capable.

Peace out


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MO MOM said...

I just read your post, Wow! You are one hurting, confused, angry-at-God person. But guess what? God can handle that! He can handle all your questions, frustrations, and doubts. He's a mighty strong God.

My mom is Catholic and was angry at God when my little sister died. And actually she didn't return to the church until after 2 more daughters and 3 husbands passed away on her. Her biggest lesson she learned was from John 6:68-69 Simon Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

My mom learned she had no where else to go, Jesus is the only one with the words of life. She had no choice but to run to her Savior's arms. It's the only place she found true peace. I pray you find this peace too.

Jude said...

Eep, a lot of bloggers will end up hating me, but I don't have much of a religion. I think that all religions have very good ideas and morals and...very very very weird ones. I just take those philosophies and mesh them together to make what's best for me. :)
I'm really sorry for your loss and I bet she was a great person. I hope that you find a religion (or in my case, a philosophy) that fits with you. But I don't think you should blame anyone for anything. Things just happen and the world deals with it and everyone helps each other in different ways. :)
Good luck~

Emily said...

Random reader: I just wanted to say that this post echoes a lot of what I have thought through the past 3 or 4 years... I'm supposed to be a Christian (by my word, don't worry). But... (and I'm gonna get hate mail or something) I don't really wanna do anything for God. I know He exists and I know Jesus did and what He did for us and all that, but... I don't know. Maybe I'm lazy. That's probably it. Anyway. Point is that a lot of what you wrote about seems extraordinarily similar to parts of my thoughts. Thanks for writing.

One Womans Life said...

Hi, Thanks for such an honest sharing of your journey. I wish you peace. At the end of your life, if there is a God, I believe that your honesty in your journey will be very important to the outcome. Many people who think that they have a pass straight into heaven will be surprised by having their true ignorance and prejudices exposed. If there is no God and all that comes is oblivion we will never know but if there is a God I have to believe that he has left a deposit within us that makes us seek an honest answer and helps us to reject the evil and the crazy parts of organized religion in favour of a higher truth that is love, compassion and truth.
Good luck in your journey!

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Anonymous said...

Just wondering. Have you considered adoption? Have you considered maybe God does want you to have another child just not give birth to one?
I lost a baby neice some months ago to a chromosome disorder. We prayed for healing and held to promising scripture. Mad at God, you bet. But that little girl is in heaven. God gave her the ultimate healing. She will never suffer in this world. Do you think of your Mom that way?

Anonymous said...

I have always believed that Religion is like tons of people went to a campfire and sat around listening to who God is, and what to believe. I myself am Catholic. I think everyone left the campfire and later got together in groups to discuss what they heard. Each group of course had a slightly different interpretation. So, many Religions were formed, all accurate and mostly similar in their beliefs. At the core, all Religions hold the same good values! Some believe Jesus is our Savior, some believe Our Savior hasn't come. They all believe in Abraham and Moses. Some believe in Mohammad as the Great Prophet. Some believe in Saints, some don't. All believe in treating others good, being tolerant of other faiths and living to Gods rules. There are a few in all Religions that are radical, and have a real problem seeing the good of God, and only see God as an excuse to not forgive, give love, patience and follow his word in whatever book it is written according to their faiths. Most faiths teach "Judge not less you be judged" in some form or another. God sends us all tests, yes we get mad, he understands that as we are human, he even understands those who don't believe; and in my opinion (which isn't much); he will give them a second chance upon their physical death and say to them, I am here, do you believe now? You are a good person, He believes in you! It is not what Church you attend, it is what is in your heart and soul and how you are as a person. Even in our short comings he forgives. God Bless You! Trish.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered that maybe God doesn't "do" anything good in our lives or "allow" anything bad to happen to us, but that rather, He's supposed to be a guide for how we can best deal with all ths shit that does happen to us?

I see God as just a really smart teacher. Like a professor who genuinely cares about his students and who's been there and done that. So...He knows how to make the learning process less painful. If you keep with that analogy you see that He's not as evil/cold as we sometimes think He is.

I don't think it's God's fault we go through the things we go through - (Cancer is part of nature and a method of population control. AIDS is also a method of population control. If we didn't die of something we would all starve to death.) - but I do think it's our fault we don't deal very well with some of the things life throws us because we don't listen to Him when He's trying to tell us the least painful path to take.

You have more power over your life than you probably realize and you have all the power over your happiness. But you have to stop thinking like a victim (not trying to kick you while you're down) in order to see how much power you really have AND you have to stop playing the role of victim before you can really see what God has to offer your life.

For what it's worth?

bwsmith said...

I read your blog post and send condolences for the loss of your mom -- and I understand your confusion. For what it is worth, Ruth Tucker, who wrote _Walking Away from Faith: living with Doubt & Unbelief_ urge readers to doubt their doubts as often as they doubt their faith. And to pray the best prayer in Scripture: Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief.
Also, someone suggested adoption; that's a great suggestion. Psalm 13

Mary's slave said...

Your thoughts are very interesting to read.

Rachel Ivey said...

Hi Rachel- I know it's been a while since your post, but I came across it today and was absolutely intrigued. You are not alone. Also, I am praying for you during your struggle and searching. I went through a period of doubt in what I thought I was supposed to believe, and I periodically will face questions about my beliefs, but I spent time researching just like you did. Plus, I lost my Granny three weeks ago and was burdened like you mentioned. Ultimately I found my answer in the Bible and in my own experience. My personal relationship with Christ is something no one can refute, and I pray that you will find the same peace and hope in Christ that I have. Keep digging, God will reveal Himself to you! Matt 6:33-34, 7:7-8, James 1
~Rachel :)

Anonymous said...

I just read your post. Interesting. I really do not know what to say. I know that everyone goes through times of questioning. That's part of what faith is all about.

As for parents dying. My mom went to the hospital and 3 weeks later was gone. My dad got his diagnosis on Halloween and was gone by Valentines. Mom's passing was tremendously difficult for most of us kids because it was so sudden and unexpected. Dad's passing was a little (marginally)easier, only because we had more time to accept it. But death is a part of life.

I hope you get peace, for what I get out of your post, is that peace is missing from your life.

Best to you


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Susan said...

Stumbled upon your blog today. I'm working on love these days, too. I think that it's the base for life and at the core of God.
One of my favorite verses several years ago was: the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians).

By the way, my daughter just got into Game of Thrones - how fun!
Love to chat sometime.

Files4Share said...

I came across your blog, it's nicely written! Feel free to check mine out if you want. Maybe we can follow one another? :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I just wanted to say I'm sorry about your mom. Mine passed away when I was 23 also from cancer, just after she turned 54. Then my soon to be husbands dad died 6 months later at the same age. Of course for me, had I not given my life to Christ a year before my mom's situation, I would have been in the nut house. I do hope and pray you find God. You sound so much like me at various points in life. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Try not to confuse Him with plain old mankind :).
Merry Christmas~

Anonymous said...

I too am an on the fence kind of Catholic. I too have struggled with guilt and godhate over the years. I too have a story of personal tragedy which is too long to share here. But lately, in my older years, I have come to realize that it's not about me and it's not about you. It's about Us, all of us human beings. All faiths, all denominations, all kinds of people, that's what religion is about. We need to get it together and quick. God isn't going to raise his hand and send famine and flood, war and destrution against us like so many of the fundies would have us believe. We are going to destroy ourselves if we don't get it together. He gave us free will so we could make the right choices. If he handed us all the answers on a silver platter we wouldn't have learned anything. Now I thank God for everyday that I'm alive. Ithank him for the good things and the bad because I trust Him Implicitly. So don't get discouraged when life gets you down because even in death we will find life in Christ. God Bless, Bill

passion4jesus said...

wow, I am so glad to have run across your blog. you may not think it or see it but I feel that we are a lot alike. I don't know without looking back over my blog everything I have written but I can say I have wrestled so much in my walk with the Lord as well. Im still wrestling. but not as much lately. im sorry you have had so much going on but I am so glad for your honesty so I can see at least one person on this planet is like me.

Vroomfondel said...

Wow! Nice rant. I'm glad I don't have religion, never had it, never wanted it, don't see the point. Life is so much simpler - no heaven, no hell, no guilt, no obligations gleaned from old books via countless of self-interest groups. You'd be better off ditching all that, although I suspect that the reason you're in it at all is because of your family and friends - culturally submerged in belief systems. Good luck inciting their understanding and compassion from outside of their social straight-jackets. No, I mean it, good luck!