Saturday, October 15, 2005

Pious Ponderings

What is your religion, or who is your God, or what do you believe in? Do you participate in organized worship or do you have rituals of your own or nothing at all? Do you generally surround yourself with people of like religious beliefs? To what extent? Would you befriend someone with radical religious beliefs? What about making them a life partner? What would make you not choose someone as a friend or partner regarding religion?

I am asking not only because I truly am curious what all of you believe in and who you are, but also because I recently read something that left me with a funny feeling. Here is a bit of the letter:
"As far as religion goes, I was raised Catholic but I am not practicing, as they would say. I disagree with a lot of the policies and practices of the Catholic Church, so I don't foresee me actively practicing as a Catholic again. I have thought about pursuing other possibilities such as the Lutheran church, but at this moment, I haven't really pursued any other organized religions."

There's something very lackadaisical about this letter-something very "I don't have time to find direction". Does anyone else get that feeling from reading this? Perhaps I am being unfair to you, as I have read other thoughts and comments from this person and it may be that I am picking up on a trend.

I am also Catholic. I do not agree with everything the Catholic church stands for or teaches, however I still attend mass frequently enough to consider myself a practicing Catholic. I'm just wondering how many of the teachings go against the letter writers beliefs, at what point did he realize it and what was the breaking point?

And if he feels so strongly about not practicing a religion he doesn't agree with, why has he not pursued finding one that he does?

I am in no way a holy roller. I swear, I'm mean, I've been greedy and I succumb to jealousy. Most of the people I love do not attend church on a regular basis-some refuse to go at all. I know that a religion doesn't have to be in a church and my God doesn't have to be yours. But I believe that in order to have balance-in order to preserve a well of hope, it's imperative to have (a) faith.

I suppose what I am looking for is some advice. Am I looking too far into this? Did you get the same impression from the letter?



13 comments:

One who listens said...

I'm a catholic. I've been a catholic all my life. I have been to mass almost every single week of my life (I have missed a few, either through deliberate disobedience or through illness). Some of the parts of catholic teaching are hard to follow, especially those which directly confront the way we want to behave, but in the end, it all comes down to obedience.

Will you be obedient to the rules that God put in place for your well-being, or will you go your own way and be the rebellious toddler who thinks he knows best?

And I would agree with you about the fellow who wrote that letter. It seems like he's encountered something that he didn't like, and has left the church because of it.

It makes me sad when people leave the church. :(

Mags said...

Owl:
I'm not so concerned with the fact that he's not catholic as I am with how strongly he feels about NOT being one-someone how has such strong feelings about not being one thing usually, you would hope, would have strong feelings about what they ARE or what they DO believe it. I'm just worried this fellow, as you say 8-), doesn't believe in much or is too lazy to follow through.

Thanks Owl. What does everyone else think?

aka_monty said...

I'm Methodist...have been since, oh about birth. :)
I have explored other churches (Episcopalian, several different types of Baptist churches, Nazarene, non-denominational, etc) and I find I'm most at home with the Methodists. It's a feel-good kind of place.
I have never been to a Catholic church, although I do have friends who are Catholic~both lapsed and practicing. While I don't 'believe in' some of the things that they believe, I do imagine there is considerable comfort to be found in the rituals that they perform.

I think that perhaps people who say that they've tried a church or two but didn't like this or that are making excuses.
I myself spent more than 10 years away from any church, and I'm ever so glad to be back. It just does something for my soul. :)
I agree with you that people should have A faith, regardless of what it is. We all need something (someone) to believe in, yes?

Mags said...

"I think that perhaps people who say that they've tried a church or two but didn't like this or that are making excuses" -Monty

Exactly.

Incidentally, I did ask the letter writer what he doesn't like about Catholicism-pretty much the same thing that everyone I know doesn't like about it-divorce, pre-marital sex, birth control, etc...it did pique my interest that he mentioned the divorce one first, and his reason was b/c you can't receive. Usually only people who know this are those that are divorced or really Catholic-innnterrrestiiinng...

One who listens said...

Actually, a divorced catholic can receive communion. The church accepts that divorce sometimes happens, through no fault of your own.

What it does say is that you cannot receive communion in a state of mortal sin. Someone who is divorced, and is sleeping with another person is in a state of sin, because in the eyes of God they are still married to the first person, and so committing adultery.

If that divorced person renounces sleeping with other people, they can go to confession and receive communion again.

That is hard for people to accept. It's certainly hard for me. I struggle daily to live a life free from sin, and Lord knows, I fail more often than I'd like.

I can understand why people would wander away from the church if they came across a teaching they didn't like.

It is my opinion that the person you spoke of in your original post still believes that the catholic faith is the only complete one, but as someone who doesn't want to follow the teachings, feels there is no other place to go.

Gosh. I think that's the longest I've stayed on topic for ages.

And it's the longest comment I've ever made, too!

Sorry for stealing all your space, Mags! :)

Mags said...

Owl,
This is quite the surprise to me, and has reminded me of the lesson: Don't believe all you hear. When I was divorcing I was told by the decon of my church that I was not to recieve communion until I got an annulment through the church, which I still have not done.

I have gone to confession between that time and now a couple of times and the marriage did not end with my adultery but his. Perhaps the decon was confused and gave me the incorrect info based on that...

I'll now look into that further.

Thank you!

Hamel said...

I didn't get the same impression you did, but I am a bit odd in my religious beleifs. I was born to a Baptist mother and a Catholic father, went to numerous services of both religions growing up,and was immersed in the beleifs of both growing up (both my maternal and paternal lines are very, very religious in their beliefs).

I've heard both sides saying the other will likely go to hell because of the religion they practice. That said, I've taken to believing in god, but not exclusively God. I do not hesitate for a moment to think that all around us is an accident. It's a miracle, plain and simple. But for me to say that something so omnipotent could ever partially, never mind fully, be understood by our peabrains is ludicrous. So I pray when I run, and see all around me that I'm so blessed to be a part of, but to say it's a Jewish or Christian or Muslim god, I just don't know. They seem more interested in telling you what to beleive than how to beleive.

Would I marry someone with bizarre religious traits? Yes, if they agree they would never force their beliefs on me or our children, and if we agreed that we could talk intelligently about one another's beliefs to gain a better understanding of the logic behind them, then yes I would.

To marry someone like Tom Cruise who refuses to give specifics and instead attacks those who don't believe? Sorry, but that's not the way to be a missionary to me.

Sorry for being so long-winded, but I find religions so very, very fascinating.

Regarding the conversation about receiving communion, I remember speaking to a priest (Father Steve) on a retreat I was on in high school. I had not gone through any of the schooling in the Catholic church, so never received communion on the retreat. Father Steve and I spoke about this, and I told him I hadn't taken the classes.

He laughed and said "If you truly believe it is the body and blood of Christ, you can take communion. It's the belief that's important." I loved what this man said, and it strengthened my faith. That said, he was a pariah on the church and was thus relegated to a youth retreat center.

Mags said...

Hamelson,
I wouldn't choose a partner or a friend based on what religion they are but I worry that someone with no religion and no belief would just be floundering around. Perhaps I am wrong, and I am the first to admit I am naive in many, many subjects-and I've never known what it's like to NOT believe in God. I guess that's what it boils down to: that I fear the letter writer doesn't believe in anything, and I suppose I am being very small minded and unfair to make that judgement just because I do believe.

Thanks for telling me you didn't get that impression-it made me think a little more into it and now I can discuss it further with him.

8-) I love it when you visit!

Hamel said...

I wouldn't call yourself small-minded. Impressions based on written words are so hard to make accurately, without inflections, body language, etc.

megan said...

I seriously considered whether or not to post a comment on this topic. I've learned to keep my mouth shut when it comes to religion. Most people are very protective of their religion and tend to get defensive, but all the posts I've read so far have been very positive and very respectful of each other, so here goes... I don't think I can honestly say that I "have a religion". I have a God, I have Faith, I have beliefs. They are my own, they are personal, they do not belong to a group, or a church or a specific religion. I have trouble with being told what to believe, or how to believe or how to practice my faith so I do not go to church. I do however understand that some people feel comfort in being part of a large group in which everyone has the same beliefs. I would just like to think that everyone gets something positive from their faith and that their faith (whatever it may be) helps them lead a good life.

Mags said...

Megan:
Thank you for posting a comment-I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that people don't necissarily need a church to believe in God and they don't need to go to practice. A God, A belief-living your life in a positive, honest way-that's what's most important. And, you don't need a church-you have enough people in your house to make up a congregation!!

Thanks again Meg!

Hepcat said...

I debated for a while whether or not I should post a comment, but figured what the heck. Once I started writing it, it got a tad long so I posted it on my own blog which you can read here. I will continue to check the comments here and look forward to the continuing discussion.

~Hepcat

Mags said...

Hepcat:
Thank you for sharing your experience with me and my readers. It's nice to see you here-I see that you read often and am happy you enjoy my blog. Please also know that I love comments and opinions-no matter what their length. Do not ever feel as though you are writing too much or too little, I am touched when any of my readers share anything, as long as it's their truth. 8-) That being said, I really enjoyed reading your comment. Especially:

"I was living a life of religion, not one of faith."

I think very often the faith gets lost-by everyone.

Thanks again, and I hope you post more often!

Mags