Some people really liked my Jesus-y blog post and everybody else didn't mind it, excluding any people who might have hated it but didn't comment which is fine by me. So I thought I might start another blog--this one! But I don't want anyone to feel like I'm trying to sell something or use the Raptor Jesus Christianity Attack.
The other day I realized that I'm about as comfortable talking about Jesus and the Holy Spirit in common conversation as I am talking about masturbation--aside from mockingly saying "the Holy Spirit" in a Scooby Doo ghost voice, which I used to do quite often. Whereas, some people seem overly comfortable and tout the Holy Spirit as some sort of magical genie. I recently heard one woman saying that when she hears people speaking in foreign languages she "opens herself up" to the Holy Spirit (what the heck does that mean??) and He helps her understand what they are saying. Well okay, this conjures up all sorts of warm, fuzzy images of the first Pentecost, but this is a testable hypothesis and I'm not so sure the lady would pass.
Would the Holy Spirit bring her any information that she couldn't gather from tone of voice alone? Isn't this what psychics get paid to do for a living? "I'm sensing anger... those men are having some sort of disagreement." Or would this lady get some real sense of what the two people were arguing about? If I had to put money on it I'd go with the former. Not that the Holy Spirit is necessarily "the made up one", but I think this sort of unreasonable expectation does not help His case.
I remember the first time I purposefully went into the religion section of Barnes and Noble in Newington, NH. I think this is when I bought the Catechism of the Catholic Church. At this point I wanted to know what it would be like to be one of "them" so that I could interrogate this sort of Catholic guy I was dating. And I wanted to know what reasons he had for believing all of these weird things.
So anyway, I walked into Barnes and Noble and into the Christianity section and was terrified! I felt like I was skulking into an Adult Section without even having the protective curtain to shield me from disgusted stares. I had to give myself a little pep talk (come on, nobody's going to assume you're a Christian just because you're in that section). I felt so embarrassed that I probably would have been more comfortable looking at pornography. Every so often I'd peak down the aisle in each direction to see if anyone had noticed me.
When I found the Catechism, I bolted. I sandwiched it between two other books that normal people would read and paid for them, slightly panicked that the cashier would question me about my purchase. I thought about telling him that it was for a friend but who gives their friend (even a Catholic one) a copy of the Catechism?? Or maybe I could tell him that it was for a class? No, I decided to play it cool like when I buy tampons from a tough looking guy at the gas station. Not surprisingly, the cashier didn't care at all about either me or my purchases. I guess that's a lesson in humility.
So I read the Catechism and the first section (of four) on doctrine was interesting, I liked the idea that things in the New Testament were foreshadowed in the Old Testament and that Catholics see Mary as sort of a new Eve whose offspring crushes the head of the serpent (poor snake!). Protestants criticize Catholics for reading too much into these links between the old and new, especially when it comes to Mary, but to me it makes the Bible seem more coherent, rather than just the Old Testament with some Jesus stuff tacked onto it. Anyway, so far so good.
Then I read the section on the traditions of the Church including all of the Sacraments and that was fine and good. It doesn't really bother me that women can't be priests and that priests can't have sex. That probably has to do with the fact that I'm not a priest and don't want to be one. But to me, one obvious reason for celibacy is that the priest is suppose to serve all people indifferently which is hard to do when you have a wife and kids and are trying to balance family duties with being on call to rush off to dying persons' bedsides at any and all hours. (And I don't see how not having sex gradually turns somebody into a pervert or how having a wife would prevent someone from becoming a pervert if they were at risk of that. But anyway...)
The main reasons that only men are priests seem kinda weak to me. Essentially, since the priest serves as a proxy for Christ when bestowing the Sacraments, it is more appropriate for the role of Jesus Jr. to be played by a man AND why break tradition? AND women have their own special roles in the church; i.e. men aren't allowed to be brides of Christ. ;o) And blah blah blah. Yawn! I can't say I feel the outrage that some people do, again, probably because I don't want to be a priest.
Then I read the forth section on prayer. No surprises.
And finally, I read the third section on "Life in Christ". NOT okay! I'm not even Catholic and I felt completely demoralized when I finished reading that section. This part is basically a detailed discussion of all of the sins that can be committed, which includes pretty much every single thing I do (or don't do when I should)! AND freaking out about my sins is also a sin since being a drama queen is a lack of humility! My sort of Catholic boyfriend accused me of blowing things out of proportion but I could not understand how these people even get themselves up in the morning!!
He tried to console me by explaining that only mortal sins prevent a Catholic from communing with God and are the ones that MUST be confessed. This means that the sin is grievous (for example, falsely accusing someone of rape versus giving some skeezy guy a fake phone number), that you have full knowledge that what you are doing is a sin ("Isn't that just encouraging spiritual cluelessness?" I thought.), and that you willingly consent to it (you didn't do it by accident or under duress).
I became obsessed with where that line between mortal and venial sin lies. The location of that line seemed highly subjective and I'm a serious person. I was convinced that if I ever became Catholic, which wasn't a real possibility yet, I would have to go to confession every single week and even then, since confession was held on Saturday, I may not be able to make it through the night and the morning without committing some sin that would prevent me from taking communion at a Sunday Mass. What if somebody made a crude joke about Jesus at dinner and I laughed? What if I went to a party Saturday night and got tipsy or flirted with some guy? Or gossiped? I would be lucky if I received my obligatory one Communion per year! I started looking at all the people taking Communion at Mass as though they were dirty, lying hypocrites, surely most of them had committed some mortal sin recently!! And having this sort of Catholic boyfriend tell me not to judge did NOT improve my mood any.
He did mentioned to his priest that I was learning about Catholicism and reading the Catechism and he said, "Oh no, don't have her read that!" probably anticipating this sort of freak out. Since then I've learned that most Catholics go to confession a few times a year at most. So I'd say unless Catholics are all WAY better behaved than me, or the vast majority of them are taking Communion when the Church says they shouldn't be (entirely possible), then the situation is probably not as desperate as I thought it was. But now I know that if I had been with Adam and Eve when they ate the apple, I too would have covered my nakedness and rushed off to cower in hiding because sometimes ignorance is bliss.