Friday, May 18, 2007

Hope No One Thinks I'm a Heathen For This...

This post will be a little more serious than what I usually write about, and maybe a little heavy for a Friday, but these thoughts have been rolling around in my mind now for a few days and are begging to be let out. So, here goes nuthin...

I was raised as a practicing Roman Catholic. Um, did I just hear a few sighs and people leaving the room already? I hope not, though this post is about religion, it won't be, shall we say...religious.
Okay, back on track here.
Yes, so I was raised a practicing catholic - went to a catholic grade school, church every Sunday, first communion, confirmation, an altar server for years, confessions, marriage classes - the whole shabang.
I used to argue with my mom when I was a teenager that I hated going to church, why did I have to go? I would always get the song and dance about believing in God, but more importantly, that my mom was the boss so I was going or else.
My best friend lived across the street and went to the same church - and we would often vent our frustrations to each other about the unfairness of being forced to go to church when we so obviously didn't get anything out of it. My dad was raised in the United church, but never practiced after he was about 10 years old - and therefore never came to church with my mom and I. Believe me, I tried using that as an excuse to get out of going too. If my dad didn't go then why did I have to?
When I left home for college at 18 I was a two day drive from my parents. Did I go to church every Sunday? Nope. Did I feel like I was going to burn in hell? Nope. And you know what? Because I wasn't being forced to go - I actually went sometimes. I would grab the other two catholic chicks that lived with me on the mornings that we weren't too hung over and we would bus it down to this beautiful cathedral in the city. And I would listen...and enjoy church. I never thought that would happen.
Once I moved in with Chris I very rarely went. That isn't a reflection on him - it was just the result of me not feeling the need to go. Chris wasn't raised with any religion whatsoever, and though I've asked him his thoughts on God and heaven and all that, he doesn't make it a big part of his life and I don't push him. To each his own.
Now I only go to church when I'm home in Ontario on the occasional weekend. My mom fully expects me to go while I'm there, so I do it to keep her happy. But you know what? I sit there in the pew, listen to the same readings that I've heard a hundred times before, stand up and kneel down 6 thousand times, say prayers as though I was programed for it, and leave without feeling any different. There have been maybe 5 or 6 times in my life when I've left church with a new outlook on something, or felt that listening to the homily made any kind of impact on me.
I think the problem is that the catholic church is stale. They are too set in their ways and aren't moving with the times. I realize that a religion has certain views and opinions that make them the faith they are. But you have to be willing to make alterations to keep with the changing times. Also, the fact that I was forced to go really made me want to rebel. And, the catholic faith has too many rules. For one, they don't believe in divorce. I realize that it shouldn't be encouraged - but come on! Are you telling me that a woman has to stay married to someone who is physically abusing her every day? The catholic solution to divorce is annulment - where you have to plead your case to a jury of sorts, who will decide if, in fact, your marriage can be annulled - ridiculous.
In order for Chris and I to get married we had to take marriage classes. A fabulous idea! You learn about religion of course, but also about married life, money, children, careers, etc. It's a great idea and everyone should do it.
However, in order for my marriage to be recognized by the church I had to agree in my vows to a number of things - but the one that really irks me is this: That we will both promise to raise our children in the catholic faith. What!?!?! How can I possibly promise that? What if Chris was a very devout Anglican or he was Jewish or anything else? How can I promise that my children will be catholic? Of course they would learn about it, as they would about my husband's religion - but the choice is theirs. Whatever religion, if any, they chose is fine with me - so long as it's not a cult.
It's not that I am completely un-religious. I pray, I speak to god on a fairly regular basis, and when I feel like I should go to church then I go. My best friend and I have quite in-depth conversations about religion, and I actually find it interesting.
What I don't like is having it shoved down my throat, and to be forced to spend time attending a church I just don't appreciate.
I guess when I feel that I need religion in my life I'll seek it out on my own...and it will be a religion that fits me and what I believe in.

*That's all for this week's sermon folks - stay tuned next week where I will tell you my views on heaven and hell. I kid you not, it recently came up at work and I feel it's blog worthy.


Blogger Double-A said...

Not being Catholic, but knowing many -- this seems to be a regular routine. Forced indoctrination at an early age, rebellion and then a return to the faith.

I suppose, for that matter, it could happen in any religion. Catholics seem to be a bit more... insistant than most.

7:30 AM  
Blogger John said...

Not a heathen as far as I can see. Of course, some of the things you have written about in other posts might suggest otherwise ;-)

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

From one catholic to another... "AMEN!" I have been saying the same things for years, and am actually trying to get Mark to agree to look at faiths other than Catholic. I think we'd be a lot better off worshipping in another faith, than not worshipping and calling ourselves Catholic.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Logziella said...

This was a great post Ali. I appreciate your honesty in everything that you wrote and I agree with you on most of it.

If I may take the liberty...(*smile*) I would just like to say that the Bible NEVER said that ANYONE had to attend church in order to go to Heaven. Not at all. Really, when you get down to it, the Bible is actually not full of many rules but rather the 'religions' of our day have put those rules out there.

The Bible simply says that those who believe in Jesus and that God raised Him from the dead in their heart and actually confess it with their mouth are the ones who will be in Heaven. PERIOD. Our actions do not predict our eternity. If it were so, then NONE of us would 'qualify'. The only thing that keeps someone out of Heaven is rejecting Jesus because really you are either accepting or rejecting Him.

I realize I went off on my own tangent here, I hope that was o.k. I just get so tired of people thinking that these rules that these 'religions' put out that are 'do or die' are a representation of God. They are not.

Nobody can be forced to believe in's impossible to force someone into that.

I am excited to hear your thoughts about Heaven & Hell.

9:15 AM  
Blogger zigthiessen said...

perhaps next time you have the urge to go to church, go try out a protestant church. Perhaps you will find something more meaningful to you than the "rules and regulations" of the catholic church! - Hey, I know a good church! The one I go to!!!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

You've been tagged. Go to my blog and check it out:

11:05 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

When I've told people I have no specific religion, they look at me like I have two heads. I believe in God, and I believe in Heaven and Hell.
I also don't think that you HAVE to go to church to be "accepted" by God, or get into Heaven. Just be a good person, and help whenever you can. That's my view on life. Good things happen to good people, that's what I say.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Amos said...

You know that I grew up Catholic too. I too don't like the rules and regulations either. And that was what had me searching once I hit college as well. What Logzie's talk about is where my life turned from being "religious" to having a "relationship" with God. He created us, and he wants us to have a relationship with Him. I finally got all of my "answers" if you will that the Catholic church never provided when I made that relationship with Him. Talk it out girl, it's good to do.

P.S. Hope you are doing well, I still check in on you!

3:24 PM  
Blogger Princess of the Universe said...

I went to Catholic school for the first 5 years of my education. It was interesting, though I was a bit too young to appreciate it.

I actually grew up Anglican and kind of find it odd whenever I go to another church.

You get so used to your own church's dogma and rituals that it's hard to adjust to another one's.

I kind of miss church sometimes, but since I'm still kind of struggling to figure out what I believe I don't tend to go evry often...

5:11 PM  
Blogger Trixie said...

I can relate because I was also raised as Roman Catholic.

When I was younger, I went to an all girls Catholic school and was taught the religion and all that.

On Sundays, I would go to church with my family. I did not really enjoy the sunday mass as a kid, I guess cuz I felt it was hinging on my weekend.

As an adult, I find myself enjoying church as well because I do not have to go EVERY sunday. There was a period of years when I didn't go to church on Sundays but that did not mean my religion/beliefs wavered. I just spoke and prayed on my own time, which was not necessarily during the Sunday mass.

My hubby is not Catholic, like yours, he doesn't practice any religion or make it a big part of his life. That's just his culture.. I've started to go to Church now more regularly after getting married. I go to church on my own and occasionally I ask him if he'd like to go. I don't force him to go with me. He'll go with me if I request him to.

When we have kids, I'd like them to be raised Catholic, DH respects that, when they are older, they can decided if this is the religion that is right for them.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

Fantastic! No one thinks I'm a heathen! John, I have been called a devil at times but for completely different reasons. ;)

I appreciate everyone's comments on this blog - I know religion can be a touchy subject, but I'm glad that you are all being honest.
Teresa - I agree, the bible never said that anyone HAD to go to church to get into heaven. I just find catholicism to be very fear-based. They thrive on the idea of scaring you into church.
I'm a stubborn person, and trying to scare me into something is just going to tick me off, not scare me.

I'm just beginning to toy with the idea of looking for a new faith. It's not that I don't like everything about the catholic church - I just think I might be suited to a more liberal religion. And to tell you the truth, I think I may be just as content to continue worshipping on my own terms.
Ah well, like I said, I'm just beginning this journey - who knows what might happen.
But thank you again for all your comments - I love hearing what you guys think!

12:27 PM  
Blogger Reggie said...

Sorry....I've been out of town. You are a heathen. HAHAHA.

No, I agree with both Logzilla and Zig.

I prefer high order formal worship myself. But I can throw drown with a island or black church too.

4:56 PM  

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