Yep. I'm going there.
I know I shouldn't. Two topics that are taboo to many bloggers - unless you're Billy Dennis - are politics and religion.
But I'm not here to dis one over the other. I'm just going to tell you how I got to where I am today.
Basically, I'm a retired Catholic. That sounds better than an ex-Catholic. That makes it sound like I divorced Catholicism. Which I didn't. Because they don't believe in divorce. So sadly, I was kicked out of the church awhile ago anyway. But I digress.
I was born to Catholic parents via the rhythm method (as were all three of my siblings), raised by Catholic nuns like Sister Bernice who dumped my desk and a priest named Father Franzen whose icy, arthritic grip I will never forget. I went to church Monday through Friday before school, then Sunday, followed by coffee and donuts (only on Sunday).
Sounds like heaven, right?
At the time, it was fine. I mean, I never knew anything different. All our friends went to parochial schools; in fact, it never occurred to me that there were public schools in the town where I grew up. My parents were strict but not ogres. I loved them and between their spiritual background and the Catholic School system, I grew up with a healthy foundation of morals and values. That and an aversion to incense. But I digress.
As I grew older, I remember hating going to church. Sit down, stand up, kneel down... it was like aerobics for an hour. But that didn't bother me as much as how crappy I felt after a Catholic sermon. Now, keep in mind, I was rather young, so reading between the lines was not yet my forte. All I heard was that I was a horrible sinner, and that I was going to burn in hell for pretty much everything I did, ESPECIALLY if I left early right after communion. I was already an overly-sensitive, literal youth. Now I waited for the devil to descend on me and set fire to my feet for every impure thought that crossed my mind.
On top of that, I'll never forget that in 7th or 8th grade they introduced face-to-face confessionals. What MORTAL IDIOT decided that kids should be put face-to-face with the most feared figure in their lives - the closest thing to God they knew - their PRIEST???!!! I remember sitting there thinking, "Just take me now, Lord. Because Father Franzen's gonna KILL me." And I was sure that if I told him I "used the Lord's name in vain" or "copied off my friend's homework paper" he was going to be ON THE PHONE to my parents before I could say my penance of one Our Father and three Hail Marys.
So when we moved out of my hometown, I eventually switched to a public school. Gone were the religion classes, but I still managed to get my weekly dose of guilt in every Sunday. And it made me sad, because I believed in God, I loved God, but I just couldn't believe that my God would want me to feel so... BAD. Again, it could have been me. My parents are still very strong Catholics and I respect them for that. They get out of it something I couldn't.
In college, now able to make my own decisions (to a point), I fell away from the church completely. It never really occurred to me that there were options out there. I was Catholic, and that was all there was to it. I just wasn't a "practicing" Catholic. Of course, I felt guilty about this, and figured I was going to hell, but it obviously wasn't pressing enough to make me attend church when I was on my own.
For the sake of making this blog a skulldrag to read, I'm going to end this here, and pick up with Part II, which would be the "...where I am" part of "How I got to..." It's really quite interesting. And it really doesn't make me feel that guilty.
In the meantime, feel free to comment on your religious quest and where you ended up. I'm anxious to hear others' journeys.