Thursday, January 31, 2013

The thing I love about Christianity

I haven't seen it in a while, but I have experienced it a few times in my life.  It's the true love and connection that can be shared between believers. A sense of real family.  There isn't much reason for these random people to care about each other, but the "spirit" brings people together. And often it's a pure and selfless sense of togetherness.

I've wondered if that is just hokey and that I experienced that because I wanted to.  I wanted to love and care and find family.  So, I did. I wanted to be important to others and them to me, so I made a bond, real or not, that made it so.

I have even pushed those bonds to the point of breaking.  I see that I have felt more connected to others than they have felt to me.

If anything, I think it shows how important it is to help children grow up feeling connected and important to the world around them.  I see it when children are left to fend for themselves. They are like leaves blowing in the wind, waiting to get caught on a tree limb, or worse get flushed down the gutter.

Perhaps that is the biggest thing that I am grateful for in regards to faith. It taught me basic morality and virtues.  I do believe that many things in this world are fleeting and many people get caught up with passing worldly pleasures that really do not fulfill at all and can actually destroy your life.  But true friendship, generosity, charity, selflessness, these things have stood the test of time for me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is there a connection between mental illness and spirituality?

I have never been diagnosed with mental illness.  But, there are people in my family who have been.  I do know that I am a very sensitive person.  I have trouble getting intense movies out of my head and I have a very strong imagination.

Towards the end of my faith walk I could feel my intensity in regards to "the spiritual realm" getting out of control.  The Christian faith very clearly teaches that we do not war against flesh and blood but spiritual powers of darkness in the heavens (Eph 6:12). I think, hopefully, most people with religious beliefs are able to keep this in check. But if you are a person who is prone to irrational thinking, Christianity gives pretty good rationalization for delusions.

Here is an example of a popular Christian debater talking about keeping the faith through doubt.  Notice his emphasis on Satan and that he "hates" you and is trying to destroy you (1 Peter 5:8).

This can be terrifying. I know for me, trusting the Church and Christian history, I have had many a night fearing my soul. I have spent countless hours discerning God's will and if something was a temptation of the devil.  What I am saying is that it can go from a healthy sense of evil and bad things in the world, to down right paranoia.

This is an interesting article on the connection between religion and psychosis.

This was another aspect that threw me out of the religious experience.  Once my basic family relations were straining, my marriage was lacking in some basic hospitable actions, and I couldn't seem to embrace friendships in a normal way, I decided it probably wasn't so important what was happening in the spiritual world. I needed to focus on THIS world. But, who has time?   Especially as a Catholic.  There's daily Mass (for devout followers, you know this is actually a goal), daily prayers, confession, examination of conscience, service, community, faith study, evangelizing, and more. Also, there is a level of living a good life as a Catholic that strains the most well meaning person.  All of these things are supposed to help make us better people, but it seems that more and more I see it as impotent.  Or maybe they are more like a placebo effect?

I do think that it is important to consider the lives we are living and to live them well.  Like Socrates asserted, "the unexamined life is not worth living."  It is helpful to strive towards our own well being and that of others.  But we must keep it within reason.  I am beginning to believe that the "spiritual world" is just  a big excuse for believing our fantasies and inflating our self-importance.  At some point, we have got to allow spirituality to accept its responsibility for the unfortunate consequences it has on fragile people.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Elijah! 
I may no longer feel confident to guide you to all existential and epistemological  reality, 
but it's been a fun year full of squishes, laughs, smiles, and love! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Are we just pieces of meat?

On a blog recently I was communicating with a lady who asserted that if there is no God that our lives are pointless, meaningless and we are all just pieces of meat.

I find this disturbing.  Not that it is true, but that people can think this way. Let's just be clear.  The only thing that we can be certain of in this world, is this world and the experiences we have in it. Even Ratzinger confirms that the thing that believers and nonbelievers can find in common is doubt.

I see that as humans, we love, care, think, create, feel, share, hope, and remember.  All of these things seem more than just meat. We learn, study, fly, swim, enjoy, question.  There's technology and imagination.

I think of my trip to Yosemite.  I've only been one time.  It was fleeting. But it was such a beautiful, amazing experience. The depths and scale of the brilliance of nature are almost beyond words.  I enjoyed it. It lifts me up. I am glad I have had that experience.  Even if it was just for a moment.

What do you think?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why do we pray?

For the longest time I have believed that prayer was essential to our daily existence.  I am not really talking about peaceful meditation or contemplation.  I am talking about intercession and requests.  I mean, really.

Whenever I saw an ambulance go by, or a car crash, or I heard of a child suffering. I would pray.  If someone was sick or having surgery, I would pray hard.  Why?

Because we are helpless. We all wish we had a magic wand to wave and make things right.  And, the problem I feel now, is that this sense of magic makers is encouraged by the Church. I have not just been a conservative Christian.  I was a Charismatic Catholic.  Not only did I have spiritual confidence of Charismatic spirituality, I had 2000 years of history of the Catholic Church which reports people levitating, not decaying when they die, raising people from the dead, healing the sick, fighting with spirits, going to hell and back and even..... BI-LOCATING. I mean, really.

Look, I do not blame myself. I was young.  I was hopeful. I wanted to believe so strongly!   I embraced every extreme reality taught by the Church.  It had the Church's seal of approval! The Deposit of Faith.

But for someone like me, and perhaps many more people, it became overwhelming. It was very hard to determine what was "spiritual attack" verses flawed character traits.  What was the result of a stupid choice and Satan toying with our family?

I literally saw and sought the hand of God in all things. That was, until I woke up.  Literally, my life became almost unmanageable with this light of faith.  I thought I had figured it out, God's call for my life!  This was definitely it.  The peace, the assurance, the good will, it was all there.  But, my choice was rejected. The door was shut. This was NOT God's will. Well then, what was this voice, this longing, this inner-peace?  Wishful thinking perhaps?

 I have a friend who is such a smart and sweet girl.  Her parents divorced and her mom raised them in Brooklyn, NY.  She got into trouble and did dumb things kids can do.  Her mother responded by telling her that she was possessed by the devil and going to hell. Does anyone else see a problem with this?  These are the kinds of things Catholic spirituality encourages.  Her mother, to be fair, was extreme and unstable. But, this spiritual war is specifically mainstream Catholic doctrine. So, how's one to know?

Back to prayer.  Why do we do it?  I think we want to have some sense of control over the uncontrollable.  There have been scientific studies done to see the result of prayer.

It reminds me of James Randi.  Ever heard of him?  He has made his career going around exposing fraud and con-artists.  Some interesting investigations I have seen involve healers and Christians.

James Randi exposes faith healer

I still am tempted to pray.  I still wished it worked.  But I've lost my faith.  At this point, I see it as goofy and unfounded in reality.

Do you really believe that you can telepathically send messages to an unseen God who can send warrior angels to effect change on a particular situation?  Do you see anything odd about this in regards to actual reality?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Questions I would like to ponder on this blog

Why are christians, all believers, afraid to not believe in god?

Why do we turn to god?

What are the benefits of belief?

What are the losses of belief, or neg consequences of believing?

Why should people not believe?

What should people do instead?

What are the consequences of faith in world?

What are the consequences of not having faith in the world?

Songs for God

Some of my original Christian music.  

Little Flower



This is not my song, but I love it and put pictures to it.  It's Andrew Peterson.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Me with some of the beautiful gifts in my life.

This picture kind of captures our reality I think. 

 Fun times full of exhaustion!

flagging or fanatic Catholic?

To the worlds standards, I had become somewhat of a fanatical Catholic.  My faith influenced what I wore, ate, drank, who I hung out with, what music I listened to, how I spent my free time and what I taught my children. More and more over the years I felt a chasm between my lifestyle and that of most other Americans.  I am a convert to Catholicism and so the very extreme differences in how Catholics live is very obvious and divisive when it comes to gathering with my family.  Even on my husbands side, his mom, dad, sisters and brother are Catholic, but none of them devoted themselves to living out the official teachings of the Church like us.

On one hand I was out of touch with most of society, and on the other, I felt like a flagging Catholic.  It seemed I could never pray enough, love enough, sacrifice enough, be humble enough, be joyful enough and so to actually live in that peace which surpasses all understanding.  Towards the end, my life of Catholicism felt like a war for reality. On one hand, I knew I was a wonderful person, imperfect yes, but doing well.  On the other, I felt guilty and selfish and unholy.

Many people who are ardently Catholic will say that God loves us unconditionally and that we are just trying to purify ourselves from our sinfulness.  And I do believe that is the teaching of the Church. But, there is the reality of the constant examinations of conscience, the penance, the prayers, the pondering on the holiness of Christ and our personal unworthiness.

For me, the dichotomy between these two extremes became overwhelming.  It's like a perpetual cycle of pride and humiliation, each feeding into the negativity of the other.

*Update* The politics issue was just the last straw of many things, I did not make this choice because of politics.  I see my comments below are confusing.  It was just the final thing. I will try to give a better picture in a new post. 

What finally spit me out of the loop was when my perspective on politics changed and I was standing in contrast against what most Christians and Catholics believe is the moral decision in this country when it comes to politics.  I became a libertarian.  For me, my conscience could be completely clear as a Catholic and promote libertarianism.  I could see the evil in American Republican mainstream politics. I could see the deception and lies.  But when I tried to bring these thoughts up with Catholics, often I would get a mind numbing look that what I was saying did not compute. And, what's more, they did not CARE to even consider it. They were happy in their world view and it fit.  They were content to not consider it.

I saw Church leaders supportive of either major political party, but none supported a third party. This for me became a final straw that lead to my decision.   How could I devote so much time and energy to trying to live  for Christ the way that the Church teaches when it seems that they could not offer another option to the mainstream dilemma? For me, this was a very big deal because my husband is a Army Officer who has deployed twice to Iraq. I have seen first hand the suffering of military families.  I have seen the insane waste of military budgets.  As a Catholic, all life to me is precious, but most seem to be blinded by Abortion to not consider the overwhelming damage made by illegal war.  I disagree with abortion and I disagree with murdering and destroying innocent lives through military might.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Catholicism on the Rocks

Ok, here it is. Catholicism on the Rocks.  My new blog name.

I have not completely given up on Catholicism, but the door is shutting.

This is my first post as a non-practicing Catholic.  I never thought I would end up here, but here I am.

There are so many things I would like to explore in this space.  I want to gain insights about the possibility of morality without religion. Is it possible to take the goods from religion, and bring them to society without the supernatural aspects?

Until next time!