A MinD in MoTown

The divide only widens.

Warning: This post is a little, hm, heavy (that’s about the best word I had to describe it) and probably more personal than most I’ve written. Read if you wish. Skip if you wish. I just had to get it out of me…

For many, the Easter holiday marks a celebration of Jesus’ life and death. And living in the “Bible belt,” it’s obvious that this time of years carries much significance for Christians as they spend the entire week at various church services, solemnly observing their faith and the beliefs they grew up with. Prayer and family become particularly focal as they recall the sacrifices Jesus made.

And while I’m more than aware of these principles and might even take some brief period of time to recognize them, this Easter holds a certain weight that no other before it ever has.

This marks ten years since I last voluntarily stepped foot into a Catholic mass. Yep, one decade.

I was 13 years old and in eighth grade. That’s a pretty damn young age to feel as though your religious values are crumbling, but I was an intelligent child and began to see the church in a different light than I ever had beforehand. And despite my mother and grandmother’s absolute best efforts, I’ve never been able to regain that same sense of urgency I had during those formative years to attend a service even though I spent much of my childhood in those wooden pews for two hours, or more, each week.

I could sit here and speculate the plethora of reasons I turned my back on “keep holy the Sabbath,” but recalling what went through my mind ten years ago is almost as likely for me as completing a Rubik’s Cube in less than three minutes. Do I remember questioning my time spent reciting prayers with nearly 100 other followers? Sure. I also recount the moments where my particular church seemed to place more importance on money than its loyal believers. And while I’m more than certain all of these memories played a vital role in my disconnect, it baffles me even now to see how I could have pieced those together as a young teen and decided to skip Sunday masses forevermore.

My belief system remains very shaky. I see myself most often as a typical 20-something who cannot help but doubt the majority of standards other Catholics hold so dear. But I’ve never stopped believing – not knowing because truly, how can we ever undoubtedly “know”? – in a power higher than myself. I haven’t once thought that what I do on this earth doesn’t play at least some greater role than even I’m aware of. Yet those two ideals are about as far as my system of faith goes. I can’t just pick up today and be the Catholic girl I was a decade ago. My logic and personal sense of reason and judgement prevent that from ever happening.

And perhaps all of this is the reasoning behind my aggravation when others attempt to push their faith on me – which happens far too often living in the south – or my annoyance when I hear others discussing their beliefs and the importance God holds for them. Then again, maybe not. All I do know, however, is I get this strange, distant attitude toward people when I hear they are “deeply devout,” and it simply could be because I know I will never, ever be like them because of my own personal experiences and reformed relationship with Catholicism.

It was yesterday when I realized that ten years has passed since my eagerness to attend mass waned, and it’s plagued my mind a bit. I love the person I am, anti-ish church standards included, but it remains somewhat bothersome that I cannot fathom the individual I was when my religion actually mattered. And it’s a little sad that Easter means bunnies and candy rather than personal reflection and prayer. Yet maybe there’s some comfort in knowing I cannot be the only one in this world who feels that disconnect. But I wonder if only myself realized it and separated from that world at such a young age.

Ten years. Damn. I cannot believe it’s been ten fucking years. That’s a long ass time to be left fairly faithless.

14 Comments so far
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ok, this is so weird because I was reflecting on THESE SAME KINDS OF THOUGHTS today. I am going through this kind of “faith disconnect” that started about 2 years ago.

I still attend church with my parents but my mind/soul isn’t really there or into it like I used to be. Some of my beliefs regarding my faith still stand but there are some beliefs that I cannot go on accepting.

I don’t want to become one of those convenient christians, yet I don’t want to be thought of as an atheist (because I’m TOTALLY NOT). Unfortunately, people will quickly deem a person an atheist (or something else) if said person doesn’t feel the need to attend church regularly. or at all.

Which is basically what I cannot get behind: the constant judging of others by people who are not perfect.

I could go on longer, but this comment long enough. Thanks for bringing this up.

We definitely think alike here. I don’t want to be Catholic when it works for me only, but at the same time, I don’t want people thinking I’m an atheist because I do have a belief system. But the way some Christians stand against certain things – such as gay marriage and abortion – aren’t really up my alley, so it’s tough to figure out. Glad you can relate though.

Comment by thatShortChick

I did something very, very similar. I wrote it all out though (the writings are somewhere in storage).

I think it is as fair to believe in absolute uncertainty as it is to believe in the absolute certainty of God. Whatever pays the soul’s bills. 🙂

Nicely said.

Comment by [F]oxymoron

See now this is why I’m in the lovely ambiguous “Spiritual but not religious” category.

I fully believe in G-d, and fully disbelieve in man’s ability to interpret him.

(I’m constantly saying that last one).

Me & the hubs hide on Easter like a couple of warlocks. For some reason everyone he’s ever known that has died has died on Easter. It’s hard to ignore the holiday seeing as it does, in part, revolve around chocolate.

Hm, sounds like I sort of fall into that same category. Part of what I question is how human beings can seriously “know” all the things various religions claim as truths. Baffles me!

…People die on Easter? That’s scary. I’d hide out, too, if that were the case.

Comment by Muppet

8th grade is about the time when Catholics begin talking about their “Confirmation of Faith.” Being brought up in a family that attends weekly Sunday mass and going to a private Catholic school with weekly Friday mass and semi-mandatory alter boy & choir rotations, I was a devout Catholic for years up until 8th or 9th grade. (The beginning of my public schooling)

I myself slowly strayed from the bunch and have since found my own way through life.I never completed my Confirmation. I don’t want to say I’m lacking faith, but rather that I don’t quite know where I truly stand. Each religion has its faults, and I don’t want to become a Bible thumper mindlessly preaching to anyone who will listen… At the same time, one can never truly know the “truth” as a mortal, fleshy being.

I guess you and I are very much alike in this sense…
I do believe that I’m fully capable of avoiding the darkness of corruption and evil with or without attending weekly mass.

On the dot! I went to Catholic school through eighth grade, and was confirmed in seventh. But when I moved to public school in high school, so many more perspectives came my way and that made it increasingly more difficult to go back to Catholicism. We can’t know “truth.” We can’t know what’s absolutely right versus wrong. I think living life as morally as you see fit – clearly there are a few definite immoral actions, such as murder, but you get my drift – is about as good as one can do.

Comment by omegaradium

I’m a “devote” Catholic as some people may refer me. To the lukewarm Catholics, I’m hardcore. To the hardcore Catholics, I’m a crazy liberal.

I went to the high school seminary and have always believed. There are times that my faith was concrete and then there are times like now where I really don’t care.

My problem is that no matter how hard I want to stop believing and not try, I can’t. I still go to mass every Sunday. Yet, I currently stand in the middle: the faithful and the faithless. I’m torn and I don’t know where to go.

Like you said,

“But I’ve never stopped believing – not knowing because truly, how can we ever undoubtedly “know”? – in a power higher than myself.”

That’s where I am at. That’s probably why I still go to mass. I believe in the faith, but there are things that I question (better yet, would like to further discuss).

In the end, if and when I have children, I will raise them Catholic. I think faith at a young age is important in developing one’s moral. However, I’m not judgment on those who are not Catholic or non-believing. I don’t force my faith on another. If one would like to discuss, I would love to do that. Dialogue is very important between all faiths.

But in the end, there’s just one question that keeps on bugging me. “If you don’t believe in a greater being, then what do you believe in when there’s nothing else left?”

Like you, I would ideally like to raise my children with Catholicism because I do believe any attachment to religion helps a kid develop some morals. However, some of the things that Catholicism does not agree with, such as gay marriage, are not things I want my children believing, so there’s a fine line there.

I had a friend in high school who was an atheist and thought that “god” or any higher power was simply the human race’s way of losing their fear of death. More or less, believing in heaven left people with more comfort about mortality. Who knows if that’s true, but I can see how it’s possible.

Comment by phampants

My last rendezvous with faith and religion was a midnight mass… I was drunk again and obliged my parents’ wishes for me to attend. When I passed out and fell out of the pew was probably the final straw. I felt no sense of belonging. I was the outcast.

It was years before when I decided I was no longer Catholic. That was probably around 1997-98. But I would get dragged to the masses with the ‘rents on xmas and easter nonetheless.

To me, Jesus is really a fantastic historical figure. And xmas, for what it’s worth, is a holiday with a tree, shitty music, and reindeer. Easter is for bunnies that lay Cadbury eggs.

Do I still believe in something? Absolutely – just not exactly what the church does. I believe that this technically makes me agnostic. I’m not really sure and I don’t really care because I believe what I feel is right. I have morals. And I also don’t believe that spending a week judging people and sinning and then going to confession each week makes for a good person.

My thoughts: Ease up on yourself. Just because you haven’t been to mass in 10 years doesn’t mean you’ve lost your religion. It’s just been redefined and modified over the past 10 years. It will likely change over the next 10 as well. Go with it.

Last rant: Facebook being taken over by religious propaganda. Who are these people I call my friends?

I like your thoughts. I suppose I haven’t lost my faith entirely. It’s just changed to fit my lifestyle and moral compass a bit more. I’m glad you wrote this. Thanks.

Comment by Justin (Oats)

As you know, I was raised as a Southern Baptist and at about the same age you did I turned away from organized religion for the next 6 years or so. You have all ready told me that you intend to raise any children you may have as Catholics and then let them make their own choice. I know you still believe in a higher power, just not in the standard version of Catholicism.

Considering my increasing frustration with the Catholic Church especially now that two more states have legalized gay marriage, I may be on the same road you are.

Maybe because I was raised in a Catholic home and attended Catholic school for so many years, I feel like it helped me form my morals and what I saw as right and wrong. Sure, as I swayed toward the liberal side in high school, some of the standards of religious thought – anti-abortion, for example – were lost on me and I didn’t agree with the Catholic point of view. But I definitely think being raised with a church can help children along.

At the same time, as an adult, it’s not where I go to for my morals any longer. I think it’s better to feel something out for myself and make my own decision rather than latching onto the religious perspective.

Comment by Kendall

Maybe catholiscism isn’t for you…keep searching. Do u believe in one God? If you do then pray to that one God that he lead you to the path your supposed to be on and to keep you safe while you are searching. It’s hard to be in a faith desert. Just keep searching and read if you want to.

I took a class in college that discussed other religions and found some, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, very intriguing. With that said, while it’s a little confusing at times to be “in a faith desert,” I also don’t seek religion. If someone is sick or things are tough in my life, sure, I pray, but in the same fashion as I have since I was taught how to pray.

In a nutshell, I’ll never be the girl who attends church. It’s not for me. I don’t want to devote x-amount of time per week to that. I work far too much and what little time I have is “me time” and that’s that. So I don’t know if there’s really a single faith out there for me anyway. But at the same time, I don’t see there being much wrong with having beliefs in something greater than myself and yet not entirely acting as one religion may dictate.

Comment by crazykites

We’ve had this talk many times. There are many thing with the catholic religion that I disagree about. The pope is suppose to be infaliable(sp?) when it comes to making decisions for the church but we know that’s not true or they would’ve caught a lot of “immoral” stuff that took places in churches long ago. Also I don’t like how a priest is the only way to confess my sins. If there is a God then he knows me and that I don’t mean to bring people harm and have good intentions, if he feels that my lack of giving money to the church or anything like that should keep me out of heaven then I disagree. Way to many wars have been fought because of Gods from many religions. The God I grew up knowing in church wouldn’t want that.

I have been looking into Buddihism(sp?) and have been enjoying learning about that religion just find the reincarnation part far fetch. My favorite day is going to be when the people of the world go to the Vatican and raid the library. Don’t want to be rude but look at the crusades and everything the church has done over thousands of years. They have tried to write the history of times and would love to read some of the texts that they have hidden.

Oh and Jesus was married with kids, I dont care how the church wants to spin it.

I’ve always found Buddhism pretty interesting. And nobody in the world “knows” if Jesus was married or not. One person says yes, another says no. What does it really matter anyway?

Comment by Jonathan

Dont get me wrong, my own catholic church helped my family significantly growing up with many donations of food, clothes, and making my childhood holidays good ones while my father was sick. I will always love them for it, but I know the people responsible for those donations and will always be grateful to them, but like most major businesses, I don’t agree with the way it’s run from the major headquarters.

Ditto. I don’t agree with the emphasis on donations and money. It’s unnecessary. A weekly monetary envelope should be welcomed and appreciated, but never a vital part of remaining a church member. Sadly, that’s not always the case.

Comment by Jonathan

[…] by Patrick in Uncategorized. trackback This post started as a response to AMinDinMotown’s The divide only widens post. She posted about how Easter led her to reflect on […]

Pingback by The Easter Bunny died for you « Engineering My Life

I was going to give my thoughts, but I guess I had a lot of them. So it turned into a post: http://engineeringmylife.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/the-easter-bunny-died-for-you/

Or you could just wait until it shows up in your reader =P

I’ll take a look – probably via the Reader. I avoid computers on the weekends, so I’m a bit behind today.

Comment by Patrick

“That’s a long ass time to be left fairly faithless.”

Darlin, just because you’re not sitting in a church doesn’t mean you’re faithless… and frankly, I don’t see what’s so wrong with Not Pretending to Know What Happens. I’m an agnostic and proud of it. I believe in myself, the people I love, and the possibility that there may be something more after we die.

And that’s enough for me… but I understand it isn’t for everyone. I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for! xoxo

You have a great point, it really doesn’t mean I’m “faithless.” Poor choice of words, I suppose. I’ve always been hesitant to leave behind Catholicism entirely because I can hear my grandmother calling me a “heathen” (that’s most certainly misspelled), but I shouldn’t stick around either just because it’s all I’ve ever known.

Comment by LiLu

oh, my sweetheart. i hear you. sounds like where i was at for quite some time. i grew up in a very catholic home (my dad was going to be a priest until he met my mom), so my whole identity and my experiences centered around the catholic church and its practices/teachings/etc.

and then my mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

her disease manifested itself in the most unhealthy, joyless, fire-and-brimstone kind of catholicism, and i was terrified. i shut down. i hated it. i wanted nothing to do with church, catholicism, god, christianity, etc. and so for years (oh, about TWO decades to be exact), anything religious was like kryptonite. it killed me, beat me, hurt me so deeply.

and then, in the last year or so, something changed. my mom, after twenty years of being in psych wards, transitional care homes, year-long stints in state hospitals, started to get a little better. after a suicide attempt, something changed in her. i prayed god would take her, but he didn’t. and everything changed. she’s doing so, so well now, to the point where i feel like i have a mother for the first time since i was 10 years old (i’m 32 now).

and the only way i could rectify it all was through the belief that god had something pretty major to do with it. and so, i decided i wanted to start going back to mass. to make my relationship with god “mine.” not my mom’s, not my bible-belt aunt and uncle’s, but MINE. and i cannot even express to you the level of peace i feel. i went to confession yesterday for the first time in twenty years. i don’t agree with everything the catholic church teaches, but i love the lord, i honor mary, and i fully believe in the beauty of the eucharist.

i’m currently reading _being catholic now_ by kerry kennedy, and i love it. i highly recommend it. truly. and i’m also reading _the relationship principles of jesus_, which i’m also really loving. maybe these are two books you could take a look at.

sorry for the long comment, but i just want you to know that you’re not alone in this (as is evidenced by the other lovely comments here). i’ll be thinking of you. and feel free to email me if you ever want to chat. it’s heavy stuff, but it can be amazing. 🙂

with love from pittsburgh,

Comment by laura

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