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Monday, January 27, 2014

Those topics you're not supposed to discuss at dinner parties?

Politics and religion, right? Two definite hot buttons that should never, ever ever ever be discussed. With politics, I don't have enough of an informed opinion (in my opinion) to form a valid argument either way. And you know what? I am okay with that. But religion? That's a different story.


16 and I were at a class this weekend at our church, because she and 14 are preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation. Yep, we are Catholic. Well, they are Catholic. I'm sorta neutral. Disenfranchised, if you will. I'm all sorts of messed up from 12 years of Catholic school. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. It's the Catholic church and it's ever-changing policies, rules, edicts, etc. that I have issues with. Growing up Catholic, the nuns truly did a number on me.

Let's start with my sophomore year of high school. Our theology teacher, Sister Mary Hitler, came into class one day and taught us that if you HAVE an abortion, HELP in an abortion or have anything to do with ANYONE getting an abortion, you were considered excommunicated from the Catholic church. She didn't pull the 'you're gonna go to hell' card but she did make things pretty clear. I always had that in the back of my mind. Fast forward to the beginning of my time working in Atlantic City. Someone I knew when I was growing up contacted me because a. I knew Atlantic City because I worked there, and b. Atlantic City was where most of the abortion clinics were back then. Anyway, this person was in a bad way and in no position to have a baby. It's not my place to judge anyone. That's God's job. And Judge Judy's. But I also know that there are way too many babies brought into this world who don't get adopted and spend their lives in the system. So I helped out a friend and drove her to the clinic, waited until she was finished and drove her home. BOOM: Excommunicated. Sr. Mary Hitler said it, and she's got that direct line to God, being a nun and all, so it must be true.

After that, I really didn't think that the Catholic church wanted me, so I really never went back. Sure I went for the big 2, Christmas and Easter but that was pretty much for my mom, whose a completely devoted Catholic. We all want to please our parents, don't we? Mom was divorced and wanted to remarry some years later. The hoops the Catholic church made my mother jump through in order to remarry within the Catholic church rivaled that of a circus monkey. She had to have her first marriage (also performed in the Catholic church) annulled before the Catholics would allow her to remarry in their church. Now, let me say this: her first marriage was to an amazing and incredible man. I loved him like he was my own father. He and my mom differed on how much control members of the extended family should have, but they never for a moment didn't actually love one another. So custody of my brother was never an issue and when mom's ex would come to visit with my brother, he always included me, which was a wonderful thing. I loved him so much. So when the Catholic church told my mother that she would have to have that first marriage annulled, I have no doubt it hurt her but it also bothered me tremendously.

Dictionary.com defines the word annul this way:   to make void or null; abolish; cancel; invalidate; to reduce to nothing; obliterate.

That's what the church wanted my mother to do. Obliterate all ties to a man she once loved, a man with whom she shared a son. That's pretty damned harsh.



Don't even get me started on all of the sexual misconduct that has been revealed to have happened over the course of the last hundred years by Catholic priests. And don't come back at me arguing that NOT ALL priests did that. I'm not stupid, I know that not all priests are perverts. But the Catholic church hid these findings for so many years, that to me, again IN MY OPINION, the church itself is perverse for allowing it to continue.

Ok so all that being said, 16 and I were working on this questionnaire on Sunday. One of the questions was: Describe your faith. My answer was this: LACKING Her answer was: strong but it could be stronger. Then came the doozy.  The question was: what I could do to help my children in dealing with obstacles in their faith. I left it blank. I explained to 16 that I want both of them to be informed enough to make their own decisions about their faith. But I was overlooking something. How would they be informed if I don't actually give them the tools to make those decisions. I take them to mass when they have a mandatory Youth Mass in preparation for Confirmation, and then we do a church pot luck afterwards. But if we have something else going on, I really don't mind skipping church to do that something else. But that's not really helping THEM make informed decisions.

I've told them before that I don't want to make their choices FOR them, but in reality, isn't that exactly what I'm doing? They're not going to walk to church by themselves. So I thought about it for a minute and told her that I guess I really do need to make more of an effort to get them to church so that they CAN make those choices for themselves. At that point, she took my questionnaire and filled in the answer to the question I left blank: Do it for the children

She and I looked at each other and just cracked up because it really was funny. I said it sounded like a telethon or something. But the reality of it is, I DO need to do it for my children. How can they make informed decisions if I don't open the door for them to explore? So I'm going to swallow my pride and make the effort to get them to church as often as their schedules will allow. I feel like a hypocrite when I attend mass and go through the motions, reciting the prayers like singing my A-B-C's. But they need to decide for themselves what they want to do with faith in their lives.




32 comments:

  1. You know this is exactly why I went back to Church. Abby was starting 1st grade and naturally came CCD for me. Then I felt well, if we were doing CCD we should at least do Mass, right? Four years in I am glad we made the decision. Okay, I made the decision because like you said what kid is going to say Hey let's go kneel!

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    1. I am glad that this was the right decision for you, Kerri. I hold no judgement against those who practice their faith. I feel at this point I'm too jaded to go in with an open mind after all these years. Would you say a prayer for me? :)

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  2. Good luck saying "and with your spirit" instead of "and also with you" and not verbally tripping over "consubstantial with the Father." Sounds like you and I could have some very fun discussions on this topic. Over wine, of course. (The church would approve of that.)

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    1. I constantly mess that up and roll my eyes. Then I just shut my mouth because I know I will never, if I live to be 2563 years old, will remember that it ISN'T 'and also with you' anymore.

      I'll bring the red, you bring the cheese!!

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  3. I am going through the same thing. Hubby and I joined a church so our children could have the option... but that means we actually need to go, right? I don't want religion to be as complicated fot them as it is for me, you know?

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Synnove. Honestly I never got anything out of going to mass every Sunday. And while I didn't want to subject the girls to sitting through drudgery if they didn't want to, who's to say they won't get something out of it that I didn't?

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  4. Sooo...... as you know I jumped head first into a church after growing up agnostic, and then exploring world religions. It was when I was fostering my Teen Nephew and he wanted to go that I joined. now after almost 20 years I have been reading/ practicing from those world religions that I had once found comfort in, Interesting that the place that you write about feeling like a hypocrite really hit home. I have recently been questioning how christian doctrine fits into my beliefs and I'm just plain confused. Its always nice to see/hear that those we love are struggling/thinking about the same things we are... XXO

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    1. Franni I always felt a little envious of the warmth and comfort you felt in your church. Growing up I didn't ever feel that sense of warmth and community at our old church, and I didn't really feel it much when we moved to Mays Landing. But I know that religion is more than just community, and I just haven't found it yet. I've found community here, just not the spiritual peace everyone else seems to have.

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  5. I also think I'm not informed enough for either topic, however I think your openness is admirable. You do have to take them for them to understand enough to make their own decisions, but if they show interest in another religion, then what? If they said hey, my friend Sally goes to a UMC church and they're having a festival, can I go? Would you let them? I think you would, but I've only followed you for a little while. Not to get the Catholics after me, but if you all went to another church together, you may find a spot where you fit in and feel better about it. Just an idea, and no, I don't attend a UMC church, I just used it as a simple acronym for the example. :D

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    1. I definitely get where you're coming from Jolie. And yes, I would definitely let them explore other avenues if that's what they wanted to do. We actually have been involved in several other churches here where we live, and I'm totally open to other religions to be perfectly honest, but I just haven't found one that makes me say "WOW this is the place for me."

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    2. I get'cha. Keep looking for the WOW! :)
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY

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  6. You're not alone... my mother is catholic and my father is protestant so my sister and I grew up confused. When I was 16, I was kicked out of my confirmation class for asking too many questions. Questions like; why does the church frown upon unwed mothers when, technically, Jesus was a bastard? and Why, when according to the bible, Jesus hung out with 11 other dudes wearing dresses and open toed shoes, does the church not like gay people? I feel like the Catholic Church needs to iron out it's consistency issues before they'll get me to buy in completely.

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    1. Sounds familiar, Bimbolinaho, my mom is Irish-Catholic and my dad was Jewish. My dad wasn't religious in any way, shape or form, so my mom did all the molding. And I agree 100000% about them ironing out their inconsistencies before I'd consider going back as a full faith Catholic.

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  7. We'll be there this Sunday for exactly that same reason… Trying a different Catholic church though. :)

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  8. My husband had an anullment with his ex wife, she's catholic but we thought it was terrible too because of the affect on the children and then the special stuff they do to cover the children etc. It's all so stupid.

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    1. Sorry you guys had to deal with that, Molley.

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  9. I used to be super involved in our church, for years. And my kids were involved, too. But being an insider to all the politics that go on in a church actually turned me off from it. I haven't been in YEARS, but my kids go on Christmas Eve and Easter---by their own choice. I think I just haven found the right church family and hope to get back into it. Great thought-provoking post, Teri!

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    1. Thanks Marcia. We'll keep looking, won't we?

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  10. One thing my old man told me was that the fastest way to lose friends and make enemies is to discuss politics and religion!

    I guess you can call me a fallen Catholic, Have not been to church in years, and not happy with the direction they have taken. Yet, I do like the new Pope.

    Great post. I think the church's position on divorce and such is archaic and very unrealistic.

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    1. Your old man was pretty smart, Phil. And I'm with you on liking the new Pope, but sadly, he's got far too many minds to change. He may not be able to change them all during his time as Pope.

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  11. My husband is Catholic. I am agnostic. He views his faith as an all you can eat buffet. You take what you like and you leave what you don't. He struggles with the Church, but, not his faith. And, I admit...his faith is admirable. One of the things I've always loved about him, but, he knows it will be a cold day somewhere if I ever convert to Catholicism.

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    1. LOL I love your candor about things, girlfriend.

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  12. I soooo get this. Was Catholic, left, came back bc of the kids, left, and now…might shop around. For all the reasons you list. Catholicism is in a sad state of affairs, and although I like the new pope I might not be able to accept that so many Catholics truly believe that many things are evil that I believe are acceptable.

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    1. I agree about the new Pope. As much as he is a breath of fresh air, I don't think the old boys are ready to change that much.

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  13. Thanks for hooking this one up! I loved it.

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  14. It's so hard to see how people and religion can mess up what could be such a pure simple FAITH, you know? You've been through so much and I love your openness to introducing it to your kiddos. Keep rocking it, Teri.

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    1. Thanks honey! Your words mean so much to me!

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  15. Great blog post, Teri. I have been struggling with this in my mind lately... but not Catholic!

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  16. "And Judge Judy." That cracked me up. And, also can you add me to that list so it will be me, God & Judge Judy judging everyone? Thx!

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