Thursday, December 08, 2005

Catholic Indoctrination Rituals and Me

As has been previously mentioned, I'm getting married in the Spring. But, since I wanted a real ceremony in Colombia, it has to be a Catholic wedding. I'm ok with that, except it involves one little detail that it's becoming a thorn in my side: I'm not confirmed. In the US, you can get married in the Catholic Church without being confirmed, but in Colombia, it appears I'll have to be confirmed. That's an obvious problem as confirmation usually occurs on Easter (for adults) and...that's when we're supposed to tie the knot. Conundrum.

Even with that knowledge, I've been a diligent little boy and joined an RCIA course at a local church. (RCIA stands for Real Catholic Indoctrination Action.) The first session was Wednesday. Let me say from the start that the fact that I'm attending the course and attempting to get confirmed is testimony to just how much I love my future wife. This is a very great sacrifice - essentially frontal lobe genocide of the worst kind. Before I get into gory details, I want to provide a bit of background.

I was born and raised Catholic. My parents diligently took all of the children to church every Sunday, had us follow the traditional rituals, and emplaced us in all the indoctrination courses. Over time, natural attrition took it's toll and the whole family (with the exception of my Mother) quit the experience at some point (although some have returned to the Church). I was no different from my siblings in that, while I liked to be high and mighty in my objections to the Church, I was mostly just bored witless with the inanity of it all (high and mighty came later). Thus, I dropped out of the confirmation process prior to joining actual confirmation courses. I had had enough.

My primary objections at the time (in addition to be bored, annoyed with the other students in the class, and having a greater desire to play video games) were:

- That if confirmation is such a "big deal", then why ask a 12 year old to make a commitment? I was barely capable of selecting my underwear in the morning, not to mention able to opt for a lifelong commitment to a church that had mostly annoyed me.

- The teachers were, shall we say, less than adept. I felt strongly at the time much like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction when he uttered the immortal phrase, "If my answers frighten you, then you should cease asking scary questions," (except that it would have been, "if my questions frighten you, then stopping raising scary points"). In short, "teachers" who barely understood the basics were unprepared to address an analytically minded 12-year old with a penchant for pedantry.

- They don't want you to ask the big questions because they don't have the big answers. In fact, it's my feeling that the Church asks the most basic and simple questions because they hope to mask the big ones that essentially don't have answers (or have answers they don't like).

For example, in Wednesday's session, the "teacher" read a passage from Genesis, and then asked us why God created us. The answer they wanted was "out of Love," when clearly the correct answer could have included: "because he was bored" or "because he's a scientist and wanted to conduct an experiment" or "because he wanted to piss off the angels and start a holy war" etc. Another example, there was a discussion of God creating "man in his image" which, to any analytical person, sounds incredibly silly. Man has always desired to appear more "Godly", which is evidenced in the spat of Renaissance Era paintings that depicts a European God, which is sort of funny since if Jesus was white, he would have spent most of his life peeling off itchy and painful sunburns being that he lived in a desert and all. Not to mention that the word "image" is most likely translated wrong which is why everyone thinks "image" refers to physical characteristics. I mean seriously, if you were an all powerful being that could do anything, would you want to be stuck in a body of flesh, bone, and gristle?

Anyway, as you can see, not much has changed for me or the Catholic church in the interceding years between when I quit and present day. I'm still asking/thinking about tough questions; they're still dodging them. Which is where the sacrifice comes in. As much as I want to riddle the very nice, but totally simple people who run the courses, I can't because I want something they can give me...and that's a certificate enabling me to get married in Colombia.

All of which, as some may clearly understand, reveals just how meaningless and unspiritual the entire process is. In fact, I'm fairly certain there are very few individuals that could ever make me interested in this process. I have a distinct and pronounced aversion to "lifelong" affiliation with any organization, not to mention one such as the Church whose dirty legacy goes without saying. Further divorcing myself from the Church is that I'm quite far from their politics, which I see as mostly silly, naive, and unproductive.

None of this, however, should indicate that I am not spiritual or an atheist. No, I certainly believe in God, I just increasingly feel areligious because I get absolutely nothing out of organized religion and I question their agendas. As I abhor lying, this pretty much puts me in a quandry during "confirmation", doesn't it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your memory is a little faulty. Confirmation was during your junior year in high school. You were 16.


4:43 PM  
Blogger SJH said...

But I didn't join RCIA, meaning, at best, I was 15.

4:50 PM  

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