Yep. I was married in a Roman Catholic church and I didn’t even get hit by lightning. Cool.
I have a funny relationship with God. I am willing to believe he exists, but the methods presented in order to learn about him are flawed. The simple fact that I refer to God as a he is engrained by the teachings of the Roman Catholic church. They teach us that Jesus was a white man with long straight blonde or brown hair. I won’t get into a debate over this here, but suffice to say I have my doubts.
All religion adapts the story to the person hearing it. It is religion’s goal to recruit you to their doctrine in order to obtain the donations required to grow the religion. Any religion that doesn’t do this simply does not grow. It’s advertising prior to the invention of the Super Bowl.
So figuring this out early on I never could bring myself to sit through a 45 minute mass that was designed to indoctrinate those in attendance. I always personally felt that RC mourned their religion and thus I was never moved by it. I seldom went to church. I seldom felt guilt about not going to church. Unless my Grandmother knew of course.
I was baptised but never confirmed. I did make an effort to get my confirmation complete prior to my wedding to Felecci. I read the bible cover to cover, developed opinions and had questions about the symbolism and stories within. I was excited until I met the person who would instruct me prior to being confirmed.
See, I didn’t take the book to be literal. To me, it was allegory. That was a bit of a problem for the person teaching me what I needed to know in order to be allowed to be confirmed. Not being able to sit through the indoctrination and because I didn’t want to lie, I left the class. I got married in the church, but I was never confirmed and thus could not take communion.
Fast forward to the day we held the wake and funeral mass. At this point I was angry, sad, and bitter. I was holding it together in order to get through the day. I didn’t want pity. This day wasn’t about me, this was about honoring the memory of Felecci. I acted as the good host and I talked with everyone and I got through the day.
But that day, I took communion. Damn the rules, I earned one day where I was accepted in the house of God as an equal. In fact, damn God. It was His creation that allowed me to be here and have to experience this.
After the weeks went by I started working on putting myself back together. But I didn’t need God in my life. I have always lived with what I consider to be a good moral code and tried to be a good human being. At least when it counted.
I’ve doubled down since the wake. I’ve helped people through charity and through deeds. God had created a world where great suffering is possible. Making it just a tad easier for someone made my own pain easier. It let me bring good to a world in which God seemed aloof.
I also started taking better care of myself. I didn’t want to someday meet someone and be in such bad health that I would risk an early death and put them through what I went through. I have been obsessed with self-improvement. But most importantly, I have been looking for meaning and purpose in my life. I didn’t want to be angry anymore. God was not going to help me, I must help myself and go out and live life.
I started coming out of my grief shell and meeting new people. I didn’t plan on it, but I even met one woman whom I had more than a passing interest in getting to know better. I worked up the nerve to contact her to try to ask her out for coffee. After some conversation, she agreed to meet, but at her church instead, because reasons =).
This wasn’t a RC church though. I have never gone to any other. I was apprehensive at first. It was then that I realized I was a hypocrite. My whole life I made the excuse that I didn’t like church because of the way mass was conducted. Yet here I was chatting with an attractive and interesting woman whom I was interested in getting to know. She was inviting me to her church, and I was hesitating. I was in the midst of a life crisis and trying to figure out who I was. So with apprehension tossed aside in favor of exploring new things, I agreed to go. There seemed to be no downside.
Don’t worry, this isn’t the part where I tell you I was moved to tears and found Christ. And it appears to be likely that the coffee will be amongst two friends despite my interests. Instead, I found a different kind of church, but it was a church that has updated its message since 1412.
The mass was a celebration of faith, and the sermons were held by people who actually get out and live life. As far as a mass went, this didn’t suck. But all the familiar messages were there. I’ve been twice, and been told as fact that God requires me to subscribe to this doctrine in order to be saved. Literal, not allegory.
I respected the parishioners genuine expressions of faith, but it didn’t resonate in my heart. I was and still am an observer. But, I wasn’t so much angry at God as I was pouting while sitting in the same room with him. With all of his super happy friends. Progress is progress.
If you read my first blog article, you know that I felt my wife’s spirit touch my arm shortly before she died. I had other events happen while in periods of great distress that helped me that I also attribute to my wife’s spirit. I do believe in something that can’t be explained. I just don’t yet believe any religion has spoken to my heart.
I don’t know what God is, I don’t think anyone does. Me trying to understand God is like a bird trying to understand a F-22 Raptor. Even more so because at least the bird has a shot in hell of meeting a F-22 Raptor while still being alive. But I had experiences that I know I didn’t imagine. I know there is something else besides this deep down in my heart. This is my belief, my faith.
For me, the spiritual symbolism of religion is useful to understand what binds humanity and how we stopped being a series of warring tribes to building nations. Faith is trickier. I have faith that my wife has a spirit somewhere that is no longer bound by her disease. I have faith that I will have happiness in my life again. I don’t know how, but I will work at it until it does. And I have faith that I am guaranteed nothing, but will find more happiness in life by being good and helping others than by always looking out for myself.
I don’t know how God feels about my views, or if he even cares. I suspect God cares more about the hidden message than the doctrine. How can there be so many religions in the world, yet each one thinks it is right and everyone else is a godless heathen. What kind of asshole thinks they always have the right answer? (shut up people who know me)
So I will continue to go to this church as I am able. Not because I believe fully in their doctrine, but because it is nice to see people who have faith in things they can’t explain or prove. It will also provide chances to do charitable things. And maybe I will learn something unexpected along the way. That is what trying new things is supposed to achieve, right?
And maybe I will learn something from the coffee. At a minimum, I have a new friend out of the deal who brought me back to the doorstep of spirituality. That doesn’t suck.