#MondayBlogs – Rants on Faith: What Went Wrong Pt 3

So a few weeks back, I began my explanation on why I left faith and belief in a supernatural being altogether, and embraced what can be proven, explained but more importantly, what was right for me.

I was very much the Catholic zealot at one time. I envied those who gave more of themselves for the greater glory of God, was fearful of eternal flames and so on, I followed the lessons given me, and kept up with the schools of Christian thought. There was what was right and wrong, seen through the rose shaded glasses of the Vatican, and tried my best to follow the tenets. But there was always something that was dissonant between what was taught, and yet what was actually done and what I felt in my gut.

As the years past, there were little things here and there that changed my views ever so slightly. But what made me start on a new path were a few things here and there…

I’ve explained about how science fiction and how the concepts embodied within had put some nagging doubts I’ve had into some form of perspective. The story “Dead Run” especially resonated with me much later in life, that is the concept that I was taught, and the Vatican confirmed after the new Pope’s recent comments, that atheists are doomed to eternal damnation no matter what good they did in life. Add the fact that I had just started dating a non-believer herself, I was getting especially pissed if anything.

That thought stabbed deep in me, as I couldn’t believe a loving God would just gladly damn my then girlfriend to Hell, especially someone fundamentally good as she was.  Worse, there was the thought that at any time since the founding of the Catholic faith, something between 99.9999% (the beginning of Christianity) to 5/6 (modern days) of the world’s population has been doomed to Hell because they were not of the correct faith or by the simple fact that they would have never even had a chance to even hear of Him let alone convert. If God was all powerful, forgiving and loving, then what the HECK was casting the majority of the world’s population to Hell in the last 2000 years. That’s the act of a spiteful child, a cruel sadist and an outright sore loser.

Add my doubts in regards to abortion/women’s rights, women priests, the treatment of the LGBT community, the questionable politics, the ever expanding rape of thousands of children and women by priests and deacons the world over and the resulting deplorable actions and cover-ups by the so-called leadership in the Vatican… and I found that I was on the wrong side both as what I believe to be moral and as a simple human being.

As each scandal went by, each news headline, each action by a bishop, each reply from the Vatican and more, I found myself questioning why was I a Catholic? More so, I have always believed in a modern form of chivalry, whereas defending the right and the weak was what mattered.  This was my state of belief, one foot out, one foot in right into my early-30’s.

What tipped things over was the election of Pope Benedict, the former Nazi pope. With his election, and his dedication to bring the Church back to the 12th century, I found that my membership in the Catholic church completely untenable. I broke off completely, and started to look for a Protestant option. Yes, I still believed in God at that point, but just refused to have anything to do with His chosen agents.

And in this modern age of YouTube and the internet, I would be soon introduced to even more ideas that I never had access as a child, a teen or a college student, that shed more doubt about the Catholic faith, but this time from a roundabout way via the unlikely combination of minds, South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Monty Python’s John Cleese. A particular episode covered the origins of the Mormon faith, which was all founded upon the story of how Joseph Smith found these mystic plates telling of the New Adventure of Jesus in the New World and so on.

South Park – Joseph Smith and the Creation of Mormonism from swingitjack on Vimeo.

I won’t go into it, but it was so incredulous, that I just shook my head in puzzlement for the absurdity of the premise. But not long after, I caught a chance argument between John Cleese and the Catholic Church in an old documentary. In this, Cleese made a key comment about how ridiculous it was for the Catholic Church to follow the books of the Disciples, seeing as they were (go ahead and verify this… won’t take long):

1) Based on scrolls from various ages in various ancient languages, that contradict one another with translation problems galore;

2)  Based on INCOMPLETE knowledge as thousands of other scrolls were deliberately discounted and destroyed by the leaders of the Catholic faith in the 15th century

3) Many of the scrolls and books were written centuries after the original subjects lived, in an age where documentation and recorded history was spotty at best. Virtually all of these were written based on stories told time and time again each generation. Ever play the game Broken Telephone as a kid where the original sentence changes radically only 10-20 people down the line? Now imagine THOUSANDS of people down the line over hundreds of years. I would definitely say there’s some poetic licence involved here.

4) Most of the early scrolls were written by various factions, each who had their own version of the stories involved, and all around the 4th century. It was for this EXACT reason why Constantine convened the Nicean council to get everyone on the same page!

4) Books and scrolls were cherry-picked in the 17th century in what would become the King James Bible, of which the 49-54 or so writers apparently had very specific instructions to make it politically acceptable, and then was “Shakespeare-ized” by Sir Francis Bacon to make it more reader friendly.

So… the modern bible we all were taught with was a translated book, written under various political and personal rules dictated by King James to be acceptable, fluffed up to be easier to read, based on scrolls written in ancient languages in the 4th century, based on retelling of oral stories by hundreds to thousands of people over 400 years, all written by various competing factions with their own agendas, and still cherry picked for what was convenient by the (then) modern church.

This was totally and absolutely absurd. Now every lesson, parable and reading is now called into question, and Christianity as a whole is in some way centered around this??

This was a HUGE hole in my belief in Christianity. Corrupt and vile leadership was one thing, but to know that the documented heart of the religion was so fundamentally flawed was another. So now I was spiritually rudderless so to speak… or was I.  It was then I finally was introduced to Christopher Hitchens.

End of Pt 3

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Rants on Faith: Why Are We Celebrating The Wrong Person at the End??

For any Christian family members who may read this, you may want to look away because I know I’m going to upset you.  You’ve been warned.

A week ago, I attended the funeral of a friend and co-worker of my wife. I didn’t know her very well, but she was a kind person, one who believed in her friends and family.  She was one who was overjoyed about her new baby, her civil law husband, and the community that she contributed to as a whole.  And most importantly to her, and many of her friends and family, she was a devoted catholic, almost to the point of zealous.  As I understand it, she was someone who had been looking for something that would fulfill her need in something greater than herself.

All of that is fine and well.  As those who’ve read my rants about faith in the past, I have found that faith in a higher being is something that brings happiness and comfort to a lot of people.  It’s something that I myself was once apart of, before I started to see past what I perceive and believe are simply illusions and parlour tricks.  But no matter my own feelings on the matter, if people want to still believe and follow mythology, it’s their choice.  I just refuse to support the illusion anymore, and will simply remain silence when encountered in situations where I’m surrounded by the needless ritual.

It was in this exact situation, that I found myself accompanying my wife at the funeral.  That in itself is not unusual, as this was supposed to be a celebration of her life despite disease and adversity.  Instead, I literally found myself getting angrier and angrier as each moment passed.

First, there were a number of speeches about her.  The first was a fairly straightforward retelling of the points on her life bit by bit.  A bit dull, but at least you get an idea of her history.  But then came the next speech, and a video and so on… and so my anger rose.

Each speech, the music theme for the video, the little mentions of her history and the highlights of her life, were not so much celebrated as almost ignored and even belittled.  And worse, virtually everyone in that room saw that that was absolutely natural.  You see, the event ceased to be a celebration of her life, but a great thank you to the God almighty for afflicting her with a fatal disease and to just casually take her life just after having given birth.   There wasn’t really any mention on how she was a loving mom, or a good friend, just praise be to Him for giving and taking life away for what seems to be totally arbitrary reasons ranging from “only He knows” to “what the hell, why not.”

I was reminded by my wife that this was her friend’s belief, and that of her community, and as it wasn’t my place to say anything, I just sat and remained quiet the entire time.  And as I was watching it continue, moment by moment, I just couldn’t help but look at this as a travesty and a disservice to the memory of her friend.

It’s been days since then, and as I looked back on my own life, I started to think about all of the funerals I’ve been to over the years and realized I was looking at a mirror.  Both my grandmothers’ funerals.  The odd teacher and so on… and I wonder, was I that oblivious?  And I really have only one answer… probably.  I was quite devout as a kid, and still had some modicum of belief even 3-4 years back.  But now I’m also ever more determined to reject religion altogether as well.

After a few years of being lazy, I’ve begun to rewrite my will, as well as a living will for once.  I’m also going to have to explain this to my family later this year, as they’re very much the devout Catholics.  If anything I’ve done since my rejection of religious faith is going to upset them, it’s probably going to be this…. that should there ever be a service of some sort because something’s happened to me, I don’t want a priest of any sort to get 1,000 miles of me unless he’s a personal friend.  I reject the Catholic Church, the Christian faith as a whole in life, and I see absolutely no distinction in that in death.  If there’s any service of any sort, it’s going to be a celebration of my friends and family, and bits of their interaction with me, but anyone who even thinks of praising God or Jesus instead of themselves, for the people they are for making me someone who believes in civic duty and familial love, they had better keep it to themselves.  I would honestly find that someone thanking God for me being in their lives, or for the way I believe in my family and friends as God or Jesus’ way, as a complete and total insult to myself, and to everyone I love.

Why the hell are we passing the credit to some mythical being that may or may not have ever existed?  We create the world we live in, and we are the ones who interact and love and live with one another.  Why do we want to strengthen the image of that greater being and a Church or faith of some sort, instead of giving credit where credit is really due, that is with one another.  There’s a classic saying, it takes a village to raise a child,  I find that so much in line with my own beliefs and my causes.  And at the end, it’s those people who made me the person I am who I would want celebrated, not God, Zeus, Odin or The Easter Bunny.

After all, in the end, wouldn’t you want to be remembered for the person you are, and not that you were some mindless automaton that just followed a faith blindly and that every action you’ve taken of note was of your own undertaking?  That every one of your triumphs was because you had the drive, the spirit and the guts to achieve it?  Stop giving credit to some unknown spirit of the sky,  Give the credit to whom in belongs to… yourselves.