This thread is more of a yarn


I was raised Catholic. I liked it. Jesus was my friend. Church was kind of boring and repetitive, but I wanted to be good, so I prayed to God to strengthen my faith. I didn't know what kind of life I would have, but I hoped that when I died I'd go out as a martyr. God loves martyrs, I thought.

Then when I was 13 I became an altar server. I was not abused by anyone in the Church. That's not where this is going. I hated altar serving because no one ever trained me how to do the job. The other servers knew when to go where and what to do; I did not. If there was more than 1 of us on duty, I could copy the other one, but often I was the only one scheduled. I remember having awful anxiety about failing to do something as simple as be an altar server in front of God and his flock. Once when I was dreading serving alone at an upcoming mass, I tried to get out of it by making myself pass out at home. I tied a few strands of yarn around my neck and pulled as tightly as I could. I kept releasing because my body seemed to want to breathe more than I wanted to knock myself out. I cursed my lack of will power and my cowardice. I don't remember mass that evening, but I remember the choking.
Anyway, then I grow up and become smarter and question the difference between indoctrination and brainwashing, and I feel angrily that faith is illogical, and religion is idiotic.

I wasn't sexually abused by clergy, but I know how rampant that is, and I know I was lucky. And it pisses me off how insidiously the Catholic Church handles that sh*t.
So now I'm an atheist of course. The nice community aspect of Church is the only aspect of it that I have any respect for, and just barely. Hopefully this yarn explains my signature a little. Don't pity my soul, Believers, for the little feeling of enlightenment you may feel over my understanding, I already feel over yours -- so we're both happy enough.

I bought a Catholic catechism and bible a couple of years ago though I'm definitely a lapsed Christian. I enjoy watching videos of men and women living in monastic settings. There is something appealing about such commitment to spiritual practice. Of course, I could say the same thing about Buddhist monks and nuns. Buddhism probably is easier to relate to since all of the buttons that get pushed around things religious were put in place in a Christian church... a Lutheran one in fact.

I bought the Catholic materials after spending a few years immersed in old Zen Buddhist texts. I'm mindful of the story about an American who spent three years at a Zen monastery in Japan. When he decided to return to the United States the abbot gave him a gift. He unwrapped it and found a bible. Christianity is the faith I grew up in and the teachings seep through my being. Yes, I've rejected much of it but I sense there is something of value there for me to consider. I doubt I'll ever attend a church again, but I may... for the community engagement. But it would need to be a very progressive church without much focus on fall and redemption. My redemption work has everything to do with healing from sexual trauma and nothing to do with God's judgment. We each need to find our path Harry. It seems you've found one that works for you. Respect.


Thank you, Visitor. Likewise, deep respect.
I appreciate many good lessons from my Catholic upbringing that I didn't give credit to in my first post.
Hello Harry and Visitor - I am sorry, Harry, for your experience in the Catholic Church. Human beings are imperfect beings. However many of us seek perfection and fairness in this life. A person does not have to believe in a god of any religion to believe in basic goodness, fairness and peace. Believing that there is a purpose to this life is important to me and, I think, to many people. Most people find value in being of service to others - and that service brings them a kind of joy and peace. I think that is what "religion" is supposed to achieve... but you do not have to believe in a supernatural entity to believe that... we are all concious, sentient beings and we communicate with each other in various ways... we long for community... being a member of community and realizing that we and all other beings are esssential to the wholeness of being... and living accordingly - that is religion to me. At any rate, Christianity (Catholicism in particular) was the faith tradition I was raised in and it provides the easiest way for my finite mind to understand an infinite concept - I currently attend a UCC United Church of Christ church... they are an "open and affirming church"... they are among the most progressive of "progressive christianity". They are not perfect either... But I offer that for what it is worth. I, Harry, was abused by catholic nuns and catholic priests... and much of what catholicism teaches is pure nonsense... but, through the centuries, there have been (and continue to be) many "true believers" who have very effectively told of their encounters with God... most notable of them are those we call saints... but ,nonetheless, I have not been to a catholic church in years.... I don t think i ever talked about it on here, but I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a priest and the bishop knew this man was abusing children and moved him from parish to parish... The priest is dead but the bishop is still in good standing with the church... this makes no sense to me. I have written to the diocese about this and they offered to provide me counselling. I am seeing my own therapist and would not consider going to someone they provide. At any rate, I agree Harry, there are many good lessons that Catholicism teaches. But they are exclusive in what they preach... and love is inclusive.

So, to sum up - I don't think it matters what your "religion" is - what matters is what you believe - and what you do demonstates what you believe - and chief among the things that count is the way we treat each other. The concepts of basic human dignity and fairness are vital to me - and I daily fail to live up to my professed values - but I get up each new day to try again. And my presence here is due to the fact that I have experienced numerous unfathomable acts of cruelty and neglect by several people including my parents - including several rapes at very young ages.... and I am not alone... and these deep dark dirty secrets have been kept in the dark for far too long... so being a member of this community is helpful.... but this community, too, is comprised of imperfect people and I have been triggered here many times which is why i have not consistently come here = but I am here at the moment and I hope Harry that something I have said may have somehow helped because I appear incapable of not rambling... so forgive me. Peace
Lovely IA. No you haven't mentioned what happened with priests... at least not so I remember. I'm sorry that is added to the long list of traumas you experienced along the way. As I was reading your post I was reminded of a comment by the Dalai Lama who said "My religion is kindness." That resonates with what you say... being of service is an act of kindness. We could use much more of that in the world. The best to you as well Harry. It seems exploring the spiritual dimension of our existence is an essential element in coming to terms with the trauma we encountered along the way. It is all important work.