Friday, January 4, 2013
I'm a "None"
It made me think about how that happened. I was raised in a devout Roman Catholic household. Along with my siblings, I attended Catholic schools. The family's social world revolved entirely around the parish and the extended (Catholic) family. Daily Mass was part of the school in the lower grades and Sunday Mass was a command performance. There were prayers before and after every meal, while traveling in the car, and after dinner during the months of May and October. All rituals surrounding Lent and Advent were adhered to. I memorized so many prayers and so many answers to life's toughest questions. I even won the local Catechism Bee in 8th grade. As a child, I think it was actually a protective and secure bubble.
The significant cultural changes of the late 60's/early 70's blasted the whole Catholic Church thing out of the water for me. I came to resent the power and control that I saw as the Church. So much power and control over sexuality angered me. Birth control? Really? That's a problem why? Oh, because the one and only purpose for sex is procreation. Hmmm, how about allowing people to enjoy sex would make the Church lose power? And women as priests? And what was/is the problem with that? That's not the gender that was taken into Jesus's circle of disciples? How about that was the culture at the time Jesus walked the Earth? So much else in the culture changed and we survived. Why not allowing women to have some authority? Oh, right, control and power. There are lots of examples I could cite but, overall, I felt (and still feel) as if the Church was all about controlling the behaviors of people rather than encouraging people to think through their choices for themselves. That's when I started checking the "None" box.
Don't get me wrong. I do know some very good people who are faithful members of the Catholic Church. And the focus on social justice issues has always been one of the saving graces of some of the Church leadership. It just doesn't fit for me. Or, perhaps I should say, I don't fit in it.
Along the way, people have occasionally suggested that I try this church or that church - something not Catholic. And I guess I wonder why I would do that. What is it that people who belong to a church get from that experience? Why would a person belong to a church? Many people want community and a church community gives you, presumably, a group of like minded people with whom to socialize. Those of you who know me, know that I am not too big on socializing. I suppose a church also gives its members tools to get through life. Church members know the rules and they know the consequences. Embracing a church means you are privy to answers to some very tough questions - questions that I find impossible to answer with certainty. It also means you really don't have to think too much about the questions because the answers have been provided. You can live your life with confidence, based on your beliefs. I suppose I am choosing to continue to wonder rather than believe.
Checking "None" does not mean that I am an atheist. No, I wouldn't say that at all. It means I am curious and interested. It means I am willing to read and learn about all religions. It means that I am happy for people to peacefully practice their chosen religion for themselves. I don't want to be controlled by the religions of others. I don't want religions to tell me what to do but it's okay if anyone else wants a religion to help guide their way while on Earth. But please don't allow your religion to dictate my life. Again, I believe I am a spiritual person. As the author of this article puts it. "Most "Nones" have a reverence for a power greater than ourselves and crave a deeper understanding of its significance." Yup, that's me.
How about you? Do you belong to a church? Care to tell why or why not?
*** I dont' remember the correct way to footnote but the article was written by Corinna Nicolaou and originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times. I spotted it in the Jan 4, 2013 issue of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.