Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Catholicism quandary

I'm going to write about a few people I know here, and I know that they read my blog. I don't want to sound self-righteous or as though I'm saying that they did the wrong thing. So, I'm going to start with my conclusion. It is, as follows:

I'm glad that I was never put in their position because it would be too hard for me to figure out what the right thing to do was, and I'd feel conflicted about my decision no matter which one I went with.

With that said, let me get to what I'm even talking about.

I was lucky when I married my wife that she is not a religious person. She refers to herself as agnostic, although she leans a bit more atheist sometimes, but at the time she leaned more toward being a believer in some sort of higher power. The point is, we didn't have any problem deciding that we wanted a decidedly non-religious marriage ceremony. We had a guy from the Unitarian church marry us, and after talking to the guy, I'd probably best describe him as being somewhat of a deist. I could live with that, and even though he mentioned something about "the blessings of the Holy One" at the end of the ceremony, I didn't have a problem with it. There were no Bible verses or references to Da Jeebus. "The Holy One" is so vague that it could mean anything, so there was no problem.

So I was lucky. I had a friend who got married in a Catholic Church because his wife was a Catholic. I know somebody else who got their baby baptized in the Catholic Church because the grandparents wanted it. One other friend became a godfather to his nephew. (I should point out that none of these people are religious at all.) I sometimes put myself in their shoes, and depending on which way the wind is blowing, I have one of two reactions:

1. I do not compromise. I view the Catholic Church as a largely evil institution. No, I don't view all Catholics as being mostly evil, but the institution itself is evil. This could be a blog post in itself, but do I have to go any further than mention not only all the child molestations but the subsequent coverups? Imagine if the same thing happened in the public school system! Anyway, in this scenario I say to my would-be wife: "I cannot take part in anything that goes so firmly against my principles. I will have nothing to do with that institution, and for you to ask me to do it is for you to have absolutely no respect for me."

2. I compromise. While I may have a problem with the institution itself, I don't have a problem with traditions and rituals (so long as they're not something harmful like snake-handling). My wife and her family are not engaged in any of the evil aspects of the Catholic Church. For them it's about tradition. Also, the very nature of marriage involves compromise, and so long as nobody's asking me to believe certain things, I can go along with it. Besides, do I want to throw away my entire relationship based on just this one issue?

In all honesty, the first scenario plays out far more often in my head. Lucky for me, I never had to deal with this scenario. If I did, I'd have to play the non-compromise angle out to its inevitable, and potentially disastrous conclusion. Still, if I went ahead and compromised, I'm sure that would stick in the back of my brain for the rest of my life, and I'd always feel some degree of resentment.

What's the right choice? I don't know. Again, I'll give my conclusion: I'm glad that I never had to actually make this choice. It would have been a real Scylla and Charybdis moment for me.

Oh, and if you'd like to hear some good arguments as to why the Catholic Church is evil, check out this debate. It's a bit long, but it's definitely worth it:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:


Nolan said...

To whom are you referring? I'm confused.

Ha, jk. I'll try to comment on this intelligently tomorrow.

Ingrid said...

In the old days you would have been burned at the stake for writing like this. The church has come a long way. I often wonder why catholics never bother to question, because that would be a deadly sin? People need something to cling to, and it is just as easy to leave it up to the preachers to do the thinking for them.
The pope, since he studied the Bible, must know that he is an imposter, so who sent him?

Nolan said...

Ok, to address some of your points:

1. If my wife believed in a lot of the stuff the Catholic church advocates, she wouldn't be my wife.

2. It is maddening to me at times that she professes to be part of and support an institution that does these "evil" things, as you say. I often jab at some of these hypocrisies. She sticks her fingers in her ears and goes "la la la." She doesn't WANT to stop and examine all the flaws in the church, because the act of going to her church surrounded by her traditions growing up is calming to her and full of happy memories. She is able to completely segregate the warm, fuzzy reassurance she gets from her local church services and rituals from the Vatican power structure. Again, I think that's irrational. But all religion is irrational, as are all women. Sometimes you gotta live with that.

3. Like you, I was raised by a religious woman (what up, Ingrid?!). We tend to marry our mothers. Although I dislike organized religion, there's something that draws me to women who have a strong religious background, esp. a Catholic one (although my mom wasn't Catholic, she was Christian); there's no denying it.

4. I'm confident that had "Wifey" been a Catholic, you'd have done the exact same thing that I did, and drug your feet through the process in exactly the same way, making snide remarks whenever possible about how your priest was gay, etc. Part of it is exactly what you said: Marriage is about compromise, and sometimes you got to paint the room a color you don't like or watch "American Idol" for a while. I know you'll say that this is different, because it violates a deeply held belief against evil. Well, lemme simplify things for you:

You came to my wedding. In a Catholic church. Presumably, you did so because you were my friend, we've had buttsex, and you understood it was important to keep up the facade of our heterosexuality. You sat through all the same nonsense that I did, because that's what you do for your friends.

Now take how much you care for me and my sweet ass and transplant how much you care for "wifey." You're telling me there would even be a doubt in your mind that you'd kneel for 15 minutes and cross yourself a few times? I mean, other than that, what did you and I do that was so different. I was in the play that you went to see. In some way, we were both supporting the institution, at least for that day.

Nah, you'd go with option two. You were right in the beginning that you were lucky, because if she'd wanted you to do it, you'd grumble a little and do it. She just saved you some time and aggravation.

I'll let you know how it is when we start raising the kid, though. That's when the poop may hit the fan.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I appreciate your comments. I really was trying hard not to come across as "these people did the wrong thing" so much as "I'm glad I didn't have to make that choice." You're probably right - I would have gone along with it if push came to shove. Lucky for me, it was never an issue.

(And even though I love my mom, I'm glad that Kirsti is of a completely different spiritual bent than she is! No offense, Mom!)

Anonymous said...

I will not acquiesce in on it. I regard as precise post. Expressly the designation attracted me to review the unscathed story.

Nolan said...

I wasn't offended at all; I understood what you were trying to say. And your mom is hot; if my marriage falls through, I'm lookin' her up.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Anonymous, I'm not following what you're trying to say.

Nolan said...

Was it me, or was there something really creepy about that anonymous post? Sounded like a deranged HAL, or something.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

It reads like something that was written in another language and then translated with one of those online translation programs.

Ingrid said...

Lance, no offence taken. Nolan, you are funny and even right sometimes.
What I would like to say is that at age 36 I felt different about religion and many other things.I also wasn't willing to compromise (to my regret)
Too bad I won't be around thirty years from now to see how you and your wives have changed.

Kaboom32 said...

I, on the other hand, will acquiesce in on it.