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Friday, February 02, 2007

WHAT MAKES US DO WHAT WE DO?

CHANGES – Part Four
(This may take a bucket of tea/coffee or water
– relax… A Valium... perhaps something else

My boarding school chapel - circa 1956
Just because we are no longer regularly attending church services “en masse” and we have turned away from the traditional Christian churches of our childhood, or all together have become agnostic, atheist or embraced a religion other than our majoritarian Christian (however, that is changing as the fastest growing religion in NA is the Muslim), it does not mean that its theology doesn’t continue to permeate every single aspect of our lives…. (Keep your eyes open; ears tuned, pay attention - as we well know here in Canada, that last year there was a Court Petition in Ontario to allow the practice Shiite Law… which, was denied. So far?)

This is something I have not always been aware of, on the contrary.
Yet, as the years went by I realized how much I was still a prisoner of the tyranny of a church that run my life in insidious calamity… A Christian, righteous church, that imposed great moral/ethical/behavioral/biological-sexual standards which, in my experience,
lived up to almost none.
Not only did not practice what it preached, it broke my soul as a child with examples of blatant cruelty, with it’s sexual abuse and the hypocrisy accompanying the entire set of circumstances (carrying over until the Vatican decides to step up and get real) while in boarding schools;
Where, the well-being and hedonism of the nuns – in general - was translated into physical and emotional/intellectual abuse. Where the “representative of God on Earth” was a degenerate pedophile and the nuns, his heartless/unscrupulous co-conspirators!
That, for me, was the Catholic Church, Christianity – where only one Mother Superior, an another nurse/nun and kind Monsignor Balaguer made life barely worth living to the ripe age of thirteen.
It was also the Christianity of a barbaric History, with its conquests and domination. With its destruction of cultures…I stopped going to church in my mid-late teens. There wasn’t too much to be proud of as a “White Christian” (notice I left out “female”) – I did not want to be associated with such bunch of disembodied, neurotic/delusional derelicts - not that I had the "vocabulary" at the time.

Joined by another angel on Jan. 14
Although, my family was/is Christian, on the maternal side my grandmother was RC, my grandfather a Calvinist Protestant whom in their wisdom, decided that their children if female, would be baptized as their mother, if male, as their father…
So, their only daughter, my mother, married my father – whom has been strongly rumored was Jewish, by a "malicious" (?) sister-in-law – but the Catholic Church wedding pics and my mother “swear” otherwise (this was in the late 40’s!).
Due to some horrendous mishap (as only God knows the truth), with my mother pregnant, they separated seven moths after their union, to make it a lifetime hobby to hate each and consequently me. One in a covert way, the other in an overt one…
which is of little or no importance, as the results after time are one and the same…

My mother being a divorced “hasy” now, was expelled by the (ever forgiving) Catholic Church; ends up re-marrying a Presbyterian, whom, in exile, seeks to find spiritual comfort in his own mother tongue – and forever becomes entangled in the establishment and subsequent preservation of his “ethnic” church.

A typical Sunday for me as a child, would be to attend Catholic mass (as every other day)in boarding school and, if allowed to leave the premises for some fresh air – which was rather seldom, as apparently my behavior did not warrant such privilege (I spoke up often enough – and paid for it!), I would have the opportunity to attend another service at either the Methodist Cathedral or with the visiting ethnic Presbiterian pastor… Whom, later, with the now newly establish church, in the new country, eventually found permanently a place to emigrate from Holland (happened to be living there, also in exile).

Some far more insidious abuse was now taking place at home, the wise new pastor, aware – suspicious of it (as it was soooo obvious!) came himself to “ask me/confirm in person” when I was fifteen… ‘til today, he has done or said nothing about it. Covering up for his “main man”- deacon and “compadre”, and also trying to spare my "churchie" mother - sacrificing the child!

My life was greatly shaped by all these experiences. These same experiences today, made me "return to church", albeit not an RC one, but a Christian one never-the-less, where thus far, I feel I can express myself and I am heard…
Oddly, it was not the services (which are really nice and quiet different) that so much called me, as I always had a great relationship with “God”… and have learned to dispense with mid-management due to the brief account above, but, what this great refreshig/cool pastor said to me during conversation. “People come to church for many reasons”. Ahhhh, by then I've began figuring that one out – as I noticed that not many people spoke about it, but regularly attended services and other activities… (there had to something in it other than…)

She listed for me what else they were doing besides worship, and I volunteered to be the photographer for the “Blessing of the Animals” – can’t be THAT bad I told her, if you welcome animals… (how biased am I ?!), and also to participate in the Social Justice Film Festival Committee, which is more to my liking –
doing, instead of giving sanctimonious lip-service and “beatic” appearances.

Clearly, religious practice is only one part of Church, and how we conduct life in our communities is another.
Reeeeeeeally? Maybe not!
If you stop for a few minutes and think of it, you will notice that most of our social behavior/actions stem from one or another precept/dogma/theology of one religion, religious sect or another – and they are completely intermeshed with the dark side of themselves (and each-other) – which are the result of centuries old interpretations and attributions we, humans, mostly man – mortals – have given to it all…
Therefore, it is in our hands to change it all.

"Tomorrow" - as the sun of this day goes down - always holds the promise of a better day!

It is not in the “political arena” and with financial grants that societal changes are going to occur. No way – it is within and from our Religious Institutions – educating themselves and the individuals in it.
As ignorance, naiveté or even innocence stemming from illiteracy, contributes to the true huge and “ongoing evil”.


Illiteracy and poverty that are the sources of so much pain and suffering – of so much “slavery” and meager, squalid situations not only around us – yes, around us – and in all lands around the world, in refugees camps… a lot of it, incredibly, cemented in useless tradition dictated by archaic religious beliefs (Keep ‘em ignorant and hungry and you can do as you please – applies well here, as it is also a widely used political tool too).

I call that "Silent Terrorism" - I know... it sounds sooo strong...
We live this, we breathe this - every minute of the day.
The Church, as the seat of the community is as “dictator of social norm”. Be that a Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or any other.

Just as with feminism, we must re-mold, re-new our thoughts and behaviors within our churches, within their theology and create permanent truly “evolutionary” changes. Compassionate, loving changes. Changes for all living beings on this earth.
We women, must "reclaim" the churches.
We must reclaim the churches as “the seat of our communities” our social/political/economic/literacy centers.
There is a reason these places “hold soooo much power” over us.
We must cease that power and create a fully integrated, just society we can be proud of.

PS.: And, do not get me wrong - the mere whisper of the word "Christian" still sends shivers up my spine - and it will for as long as it continues to be used as a shield of aggression and superiority.

A recent Stats Canada survey showed that 50% of Canadians are currently illiterate! Going backwards, are we? Apparently this is "on account" of the recent number of illiterate immigrants and those adults that have never admitted to it! This, speaks volumes by itself.

The Feminist Theology course, of course, is "refreshing" all this history... I have the feeling this will be a remarkably cathartic experience. Last night we viewed the film "Arise and Shine" - The "Educade" film, on the Ecumenical Decade - All Churches (World Council of Churches) in solidarity with Women 1988-98, following the UN's Decade for Women ... I believe produced by the Methodist Church. We had some veeeeery interesting exercises and small discussions, as well as couple more man!

Peace, love, harmony, joy and laughter to you my dear ones

Next post: Religion “everywhere”…. How different Religious Institutions jockey for position in our lives… Subliminal, suggestive - catching flies with honey - ahá - mhmmmmmmm!

23 comments:

trinitystar said...

Great post Angel,
Perhaps we are looking at all religions being like this towards their followers. If you break their way of conduct you are outcast.
Sometimes it is I feel the best to take the creme de creme from all of them.
YOu will find that all what they teach just goes out the door.
Love thy neighbour for one ... do they? No!
Forgiveness, do they? No!
Sharing, do they? No!
One is best following what one feels from within.
hugs for you
Have a wonderful day. :o)

krystyna said...

Hi Angel!
I read this post with a big concern.
You touched- how really religion life look. Thanks for sharing your deep thoughts. True words. You are great writer!
I like your new layaut!
Take good care!

krystyna said...

Your school chapel - gorgeous!
Thanks!

Anne-Marie said...

Angel,
fascinating post, with a lot of food for thought. I am sure that we need to reclaim our churches as much as close their doors more permanently. Faith and religion are two different forces, and the second one has been too destructive in history for me to believe it is anything but a tool of conformity and control. Sorry if that offends anyone.

trinitystar said...

AngelDust,

Perhaps you would like to pop over to this site ... a beautiful young girl of 12 ... take a look

http://sharecompassion.blogspot.com/

"Angeldust" said...

dear Trinitystar

we are in agreement - actually there is a Korean (young, very pretty) Feminist Theologian that suggests just that!
Take the creme...
Also, she poses the question, of how Christinaity would look if, for instance, it would of been born in China instead?

The bottom line is that these institutions "rule covertly" our lives - one can only change them from within!
There is a very lucid small segment - within - that wants that.

For me, to have the opportunity to voice ALL I think openly, to clergy and all - where it matters - not on a soapbox at a corner, makes a huge difference, particularly when these concerns are shared... quiet "revolutionary" I feel.
Who would have thank it? lol!

Love and joy

PS - will check out the young girl's site you suggested later in the next couple of days.

"Angeldust" said...

Dear Krystyna

After sme "serching" around I settled with "remaining" Christian.
That said, it was my brand if Judeo-Christian Spirituality - NOT religion...

However, "religion" permeates all aspects of our lives, as the teaching of our parents and their parents - post industrial revolution and even prior are a results of too much "churchiness"

Big hug

Thank you for you words. I used to escape and hide in that chapel...

"Angeldust" said...

Absolutely dear Anne-MArie.

What you said should not offend anyone as it IS the truth.

I heard during our last session that even those that have been the strong disident voices - after years, slowly dropped out finding the effort to change way too much to bare.

On the Island, there is a Catholic brake-away faction (?) that is ordaining female priests (I might have run into them by chance - will have to persue blog with time... ah... well you know about that one too!).

Big hug

"Angeldust" said...

Absolutely dear Anne-MArie.

What you said should not offend anyone as it IS the truth.

I heard during our last session that even those that have been the strong disident voices - after years, slowly dropped out finding the effort to change way too much to bare.

On the Island, there is a Catholic brake-away faction (?) that is ordaining female priests (I might have run into them by chance - will have to persue blog with time... ah... well you know about that one too!).

Big hug

"Angeldust" said...

PS: Krystyna

ALL my blogs are now together and All are "sporting a new look".

I am finally accessing some technolology I can manage... the Blogger guys have listen... they are making things user-friendly.

Rauf said...

Hi Angel !
There is absolutely nothing wrong with religion. They all begin with a very simple message, all in good faith. They get complex with passing years. Difference of opinion in practice may be the cause. Different interpretations of the original message emerge. Now you have divisions within divisions and the practice gets more and more complex, so complex that the original message is lost.

There is a very small community of Syrian Christians in Kerala India.
There are over a hundred different factions within themselves. They have been killing each other of late, not on principle or faith but over Church property and money.
Each Church has its own rituals. They follow the same Bible but marriage between members of different Church is discouraged, to put it mildly.

You have the Bible, you have Churches, you have the pope but no Christianity. Same can be said about Islam Hinduism and other religions.

there's lot to write on this subject Angel, perhaps later.

lots of love and Hugs

"Angeldust" said...

Nice to have you back dear Rauf!

Last Wednesday I mentioned they should have left it alone at the 10 Commandments!
(Which are pretty much universal)

That's good enough for me.
Plain and simple - not much room for interpratation.

I'll pass on your comments in our next session.

Lots of love and hugs back to you

Anne-Marie said...

Rauf,
There most certainly is something wrong with religion if the end result is that people kill each other over it. Faith, on the other hand, is a different thing altogether, and that was the point I was trying to make.

Arz000n said...

I was a religous guy couple of years back....but then the level and passion has kind of decreased over the period of time now.

But still I believe in god..and have faith in HIM.

The Church, as the seat of the community is as “dictator of social norm”. Be that a Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or any other.
Lot of things you mentioned is so true in this post...I liked this particular one.

I havent been to church, but there is one very close to this place Ive moved in. Maybe I'll drop by sometime :)

Cheers!!

"Angeldust" said...

arz000n

Thank you for your words and visit

If you chose to return to any church, I’d say, interview the Pastor/Priest/Raby/Iman… - make sure you go to a "progressive and liberal one", no matter what your “faith is”. Another oxymoron!

Ruth said...

I left my church eventually. My dad was a minister (a good one). Even as a child I looked for the underlying spirituality, not the religious forms. Now in mid-life I'm able to follow that to my heart's content. I can't spend too much time thinking about Church, because I get upset. There's a whole lot of energy wrapped up in it that is ill spent.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Please visit the other one, embedded in my name here.

Take care.

"Angeldust" said...

Thanks for your visit and words Ruth...

"there is a whole lot energy wrapped up in in it..." indeed.

I am not sure how long will my "involvement" last.

FInding a source open to theological and social change appeals to me as the fundamentalist churches are gaining such huge momentum in NA... I am deeply concerned about them even further influencing our communitites to an unbearable extreme that would set us back centuries!

It all has to be "balanced"....

Love and joy to you

Annelisa said...

Hi Angel... I was confused with all your blogs, so clicked at random amongst them, and have come in unfamiliar territory. I see from previous comments that you've recently changed the look, which might explain some of it, but I suspect I came into one of your other blogs in the past.

However, I am pleased to have found this one 'by mistake' (if there is such a thing)

I was not reared in a religious household. In fact, the only times I went to church was with the school or for a funeral / wedding.

So, even though religious education was taught at school, I was only interested in the stories, and the general teaching we had a primary school.

On from there, I've never followed a religion, but strongly believe that each person has to find their own way - with or without religion. None are right or wrong. But there is one truth that exists: Treat others as you yourself would be treated. Why would you not??! It is this guidance that is broken over and over again, within and between religions. If only people showed respect for each other, and each other's religions, then the peace that comes from that could be allowed to grow...

And that peace starts within the person (it can be religious, or not, it just has to be...) with the developement of love for oneself, for those around, and those not around....

What I find hard to understand are experiences such as you had growing up. The abuse. You are the third person I know who has experienced this in the RC enviroment. This turns my stomach... and turns me mentally and emotionally from such 'religion'. And this sort of abuse and misuse can be found in virtually all religions... but it isn't the religion itself, but as was said earlier, people, and their interpretation/ misinterpretation for their own purposes. This isn't really religion, but abuse of religion... just as so-called religious people abused you!

I'm so sorry to hear you had such a childhood - no one should. No-one!

(((Big hugs))) Angeldust.

ps - Great thought-provoking post. It's got me thinking!

"Angeldust" said...

You are such a darling Annelisa - my all time favorite action word IS "Respect".

That is all we need to exchange with one another - a little loving word would be the icing on the cake - I totally agree with you.

The advent of political correctness and the enmeshment of all these sick so called "religious practitioners", we must go back to some basics and all has to be spoken about out loud and brought to an end by a different kind of compassionate/loving force/power.

(((Big hugs back sweetie )))

Rauf said...

Anne Marie. quite true, I blame religion for all the bloodshed, destruction and confusion. But the problem is not with religion but the way it was followed and practiced. The problem lies in every one claiming the right to ultimate truth.
'I am right he is wrong' is the root of all our miseries Anne Marie.

VallyP said...

Hi Angel, it seems you have provoked quite a debate here, although there is nothing I can really add to what Anne Marie has said. I am totally with her in that faith and religion are two different things, and that faith has suffered under the blight of religion. Indeed, Christians everywhere must surely realise that christ himself deplored the practices of the religion of his day and was actually trying to teach the principles of pure faith. What a mockery his followers have made of that ethic over the centuries!

"Angeldust" said...

Amén!

Annelisa said...

Ah yes, Angeldust. This was the blog I was re-looking for... I wanted to catch up on this debate/ discussion :-)

The reason being that, after I left here last time, I was thinking about two people in my life that had been deeply affected by religion in a negative way.

I know this conversation is about religion in general, but I'd like to bring it to the bible itself... that book that is in a huge number of homes, whether it's read or not.

For the two people I mention, they both had problems in life, which they were unable to deal with, so where do they turn for answers? The bible... it is told to us that the answers are within there, and that's where they looked.

The first person got caught between the 'good and evil', gave all his possessions away, tried to kill himself (believing himself to be 'evil')

The second became fearful for his own and everyone else's souls. Entered a huge quandry, that he was fearful of believing what it said (in that it was damning most people he knew to everlasting Hell) and fearful of disbelieving it (of damning himself to the eternal flames)

The particular part of the bible that got both of them was, of course, the Book of Revelations. It is scarey, and threatening to those who are looking for help. What kind of religion is it that scares the bejeesus out of the people who are most vulnerable? I must've spent hours with the second person arguing why the Bible is not believable... believe me, that is a hard job when someone has 'faith'

... And I resent unquestioning faith... Really? Faith is the answer? 'Don't question, and then you'll be alright'..

Phew, the points I had to repeatedly cover:

1) Was there, in fact, someone called Jesus?
2) If there was, was he the son of God?
3) Did he do what they say he did?
4)Did any of the people that were with him actually document the events at the time, or were they written by other people at a later time?
5)If they were written at the time or later, were the events recorded accurately?
6)Even if the events were recorded accurately at the time, by people who were there (and not word of mouth... chinese whispers), when the book was re-written/ copied to distribute - was it an accurate copy, or were there interpretations?
7)We don't even understand much of the written language from 200 years ago (open to interpretation), so how can we be sure that what was written 2000 years ago was what was intended? Social beliefs change, as do interpretations from different cultures
8) Even if all was accurate up to this point, there is then the translating across languages... how can one be sure that what is said was what was written, translation from a different language usually brings mistakes, even with 'expert' (human) translations...


All these questions (and more) I had to ask... to try to get a reality check on what is, when it comes down to it, a book collaboration, written for purposes to be guessed at... so long ago, by people who were interprating mouth-to-mouth stories...

To start with, most of the answers given were 'it says so' 'the bible is right' 'I have faith..' etc It took a long while, and a lot of examples from the present day (as to human interpretation and error) to put a chink in the faith, so that a reality could balance it...

There is just so much human interpretation in the Bible (at the time, across the years, and across cultures), so much room for human error, that I wonder if any of the bible can be based in reality... perhaps it should be seen as an interesting work of fiction, based on a character, who may (or may not) have been someone 'special'...




Hope you don't mind me putting these ideas here, Angel... I just feel that the faith angle should be looked at. Faith is a scarey thing, when there is no questioning.