Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Disillusionment with Church

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I felt disillusioned at Catholicism, an essence which embedded itself, like tiny shard of the sharpest edge of broken glass, burrowing its way, into the depths of my soul's nucleus. Like the tiniest shard ~ so tiny, one barely has awareness of its sharpness. This tiniest shard, so embedded, that my own Self assimilated it into her very Self-matrix. God lived in me, a vital element of which one gives little thought, until one perceives its absence. And yet, I felt distanced, from the mediocre attempts which clergy appeared to make, in driving home the relevance of the Bible teachings to the daily lives of the populace. I always believed in God, in Jesus, and I had seen and felt the Holy Spirit. But I found it hard to believe in the clergy, and in that collective called Church. I wanted to, but found I never could. I simply lacked the trust required. In my view, I suppose I did not lack it ~ the Church ~ including its hierarchy ~ failed to earn my trust through its betrayal of the trust of many distant others. I had such trouble reconciling the betrayal of trust, let alone done under the cloak of God. It seemed, to me, a special kind of blasphemous.

My heart sunk as I began considering that, really, the average Catholic parish priest possessed little capacity to relate to the average member of his congregation. Could you go to your priest, and ask for his real-world, family guidance? Could he really provide you with any experiential advice regarding a difficulty in relating to a sullen child, or an impasse reached in your marriage? Or, how to survive, as a husband, the bewildering beasts called PMS, post-partum depression, and menopause? Could you go to your priest and ask him how to live again ~ how to release the grip of seething rage and pain from your soul ~ following the loss of your child? How could any priest, in his remote and ivory tower, provide any meaningful advice on any of these issues? Celibacy precludes this, of course. Whenever I have approached a priest, I have always received the same old tired evangelically-embellished phrases. Phrases which really ring hollow ~ because they have no substance. Telling me that a lost child will live again in the resurrection does not guide me, a grieving parent, in the present! It does not tell me how to strip away the rage and sorrow. It does not provide guidelines on how to lift the dead, hardened, rotting part of me that had succumbed to lifelessness, that had succumbed to living in my abject grief and that had, like an oppressive scab adhesed onto my soul, grown to squeeze the life from my Self ... from my soul.

I wondered, then, what's the purpose of clergy? Of the Church? I suppose I had conceived, or expected, that Church existed as a conduit between the congregation members and God. And, so ~ what a responsibility the clergy must shoulder, to light and guide a route to God for each of us. However, clergy and all those who occupy the hierarchy of the Church ~ they're only human! A gaping chasm lies between those who purport to represent the divine on earth, and the actual creator himself. How many of us realize this, when we experience disappointment, sadness, even anger at the recurring ways in which, throughout history, the Church reveals itself as grotesquely corrupt, political and power-hungry? The offenses against humanity which the Church has committed, fuelled, or enabled, and the manner in which the Church hierarchy appeared to view itself as immune to consequences and accountability led me to question ~ what possible guidance and divine wisdom could I hope to gain from such corrupt individuals? What benefit could I derive from association with an institute that has, through the ages, plunged itself into a cultish, manipulative and socially-sanctioned self-idolatry? Can one trust the Church, as vehicle to God, when one has to wonder how much of the Church's message actually represents God's word and will, and how much represents that its own? I struggle with that one ~ always have. Perhaps its healthy for one to possess that level of awareness, with respect to any representative?

As these thoughts and questions wore me down, as I watched the horrors of Mount Cashel, and the like, unfold, I grew angry. I began learning about Pope Pius XII and his indifference during the Holocaust. And, I learned about horrific secrets many clergymen had tried to keep. The world, too, learned, as light illuminated the painful darkness of this sick secrecy. Society's primal seething felt palpable. I seethed, too. At Church ~ the collective, which, to me, always seemed suspect ~ like a false friend who makes all sorts of promises and pledges and then proceeds to honour none of them. I grew angry, also, with God. And suspicious ~ intellectually suspicious ~ of dogma, of things long take for granted, such as the divinity of Jesus. Anger prevents a person from achieving elucidation. Its a thick, and heavy black velvet cloth, pressed against the eyes of one's soul, to the point of pain. Pain that leads one to take quite a hostile and sardonic view the situation. And so I did, take that view of all things religious ~ the institute itself; the corrupt collective called Church together with its self-serving, self-glorifying, and repressive leadership; of the notion of a Supreme Being; and even, of God himself.

Still, try as I might, I failed to flush that tiny shard known as Catholicism from the very matrix of my being. I externalized the suspicion and rage I felt by expressing and sympathizing with existentialist and atheist view-points. I denied God whenever I could, though in retrospect, I realise I did this to spite God, and not out of some transformation within my belief matrix. And ... then I began blogging. That's when I became painfully aware of religion's powerful grip on the psyche, and on society. Religion forms a very important part of one’s culture, even if one calls oneself atheist. We shan't fool ourselves, shall we? Atheism still represents a belief in a concept. Religion influences us all ~ even those of us who choose to ignore this reality. And so, I slowly acquiesced to my Self that, yes, I do believe in the existence of a Supreme Being ~ of a God. I wanted to learn more ... about God. I researched Judaism. I gleaned much wisdom from Judaic teachings and biblical interpretations. I savoured Maimonides. I grew fond of Judaic contemporary poetry. I still felt the question of Jesus and his divinity nagging me. I still felt an intrinsic understanding of the Trinity. So ... Judaic consideration of Jesus as a mere mortal stirred some conflict within my inner workings. How could I rectify this?

I felt like Jacob ~ wrestling angels. I also felt like Lot's wife ~ turned into a pillar of salt. Turned into a pillar of salt by the inertia of looking back ... by the inertia of the rage which I felt when I looked back. I read about binding together heart, mind and soul. I read of struggling against and, ultimately, devouring, the Ego. This struck a chord with me, and I wrote about it in a private blog. Still, I only maintained a shallow grasp its meaning ... of its implication for living, and responding to that living. Intuitively I suppose this drove my search for understanding, for knowledge, for awareness. I felt the seed of a yearning to strive for love, rather than for loathe or scorn. I understood already, the difference between possession of knowledge, and possession of the power to execute that knowledge ~ in the material, corporeal sense. I understood, without knowing perhaps, that, the power of intellect and the capacity to understand, render freedom by increasing awareness, not by increasing the power to execute change.