In honor of, or perhaps inspired by, the retirement of Benedict XVI from the papacy, I thought I would write a little bit about faith.
I was raised functionally Catholic. I went to CCD, got confirmed, attended Mass perhaps once a month. I went to a Catholic high school, more to get away from my small town K-8 education than out of religious fealty. I also went to a Catholic college, but again that was about the feel of the campus and less about getting closer to God.
It's more complicated than that, of course. My mother grew up in a dual-faith household, which was almost unheard of post-WWII. Her parents had to drive all over the state to find a priest who would marry them. She and her sister were raised Catholic as part of the bargain. When my mother and father wanted to get married, it was the same thing...with less stress about finding a person to marry them. My brother and I were raised Catholic to appease the Church and my grandfather.
My mother and I had become disillusioned with the Church as I went through high school and college. As a young woman, I was having trouble with some of the rules that wouldn't let me do what I wanted to do. (Like join the Knights of Columbus...I wanted to join the Knights of Columbus. Ovaries and mammary glands excluded me from this.) To be fair, I was also very much going through my King Arthur/fantasy fiction reading stage at this point, and the pagan/Wicca ideas rather intrigued me.
I've never asked my mother why she decided she wanted to "jump ship," as it were. We had trouble when my brother went to get confirmed, as the new priest of our church would not let my brother's godfather be his confirmation sponsor. Four years earlier, my godmother was allowed to be mine, so we were a little confused. I suspect it had something to do with that.
Anyway, when my maternal grandfather died my sophomore year of college, my mother and I decided to take the plunge. We left the Catholic Church and joined the local Congregational church, following in HER mother's footsteps, and that of my father's family.
Now, I don't go to church. When I bought my own place, I didn't relocate to another congregation in the area. I'm not sure why. I rather like church services, as long as they're not too long. Because, let's be honest, pews are not comfortable. And in really old churches, as the Congregational ones tend to be, they were designed for discomfort, because the Puritans didn't want anyone enjoying themselves. Or falling asleep.
But this doesn't mean I don't believe. Some of the more religious Christmas songs make me cry every year, for example. When I think about the beginning and the end of the world, I feel in my bones that there was Something to get the Big Bang going, and that Something will be there to clean up the mess when it's all done. The idea of a vengeful, angry God doesn't make any sense to me. Neither does an overly-involved one, however; The Watchmaker Theory seems to make the most sense, at least to me.
Sometimes I wonder if there's more. Is it just one Him/Her/It, or did the Greeks, Romans, and Celts have it right? The world seems to prefer balance, so I would think there would be more than one Something out there to make things run smoothly. Of course, that flies in the face of a rather substantial book that is supposed to be the basis of my faith. So I wonder if my belief in the other, the female, is left over from my The Mists of Avalon days, or what.
When I read the newspaper or listen to NPR, I am always amazed, disgusted, and awed by the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church. That, perhaps more than anything, is what drove me away. I abhor illogical, unorganized institutions, especially when the fixes are so simple, if the people involved just stop being so stubborn. But with so many centuries behind them, I guess it's tough to move forward.