Posts Tagged ‘seminarian’

Outgrowing religion

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I used to be a seminarian but now I have outgrown religion and, although I’m pushing 50 years of age, I’m still trying to unlearn the nonsense I picked up having been raised in a Catholic family, gone to a Catholic school, been born into what was in all but name a theocratic State, and having spent nine years of my life in a seminary.

I’m interested in education and especially in the need to teach children to think for themselves. This is impossible within any school which seeks to ‘inculcate’ (i.e., indoctrinate) faith. By definition, they are not teaching children to think for themselves. They are presenting the party-line and hoping it will stick.

Having been abused myself as a child by a Christian Brother in school, I find Cardinal Brady’s remaining in his post unconscionable, given that he failed to act like an adult and report abuse to the civil authorities and that he hides behind it not being his call. Of course it was his call. He is, and was at the time, an adult. But then again, an adult who believes that Mary was a virgin before, during and after the conception of Jesus, which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly an adult belief to maintain. However whacko the ‘before’ bit, how exactly can a baby be born without breaking his mother’s hymen? And yet that is what, as a Cardinal of his Church, he is obliged to believe. It being a dogma of his Church, one gathers he believes it too.

I am appalled at the emotional abuse of children in Catholic schools, or any faith school for that matter. Rather than teaching children that today is all we have, they peddle lies to children. They inculcate fear and obedience in nonsensical beliefs. They insist on the ‘right’ of indoctrinating children because they know that most adults of sound mind would never for a second believe the gibberish they teach.

I’m angry as hell about the Church, to be honest. Their dogmas are loopy. Why are they afforded such ‘respect’? Historically, they controlled what people could think and say. They usurped rationality. They burned people who didn’t fit in. They laid down, and still lay down, heavy burdens on those they claim to serve. As a recent poster I saw said: ‘Jesus, protect us from your followers.’

If I die without this said my life has been in vain, so let me say it. I do not believe in ‘god’. Today is all we have. Live this day to the full. I abhor that the civil authorities permit people of religious faith to indoctrinate young minds. In time to come, and I hope sooner rather than later, it will be considered a crime to fool children into the lie of any religious doctrine. When I think of the years I wasted, nine years in a seminary, trying to believe the incredible. And the nonsense that somehow those who didn’t believe were morally inferior. Absolute hogwash! I remember meeting a girl at university whom I used to know in a prayer group. She, good for her, had moved on. She no longer believed and it was manifestly obvious that she was in ever fibre of her being a person of conscience and moral courage. Her presence and goodness alone challenged me. Pity my lesson took so many more years before the penny dropped.

And when I think about the ghastly attempts to live celibacy during nine years in the seminary and how unnatural it was. And when I think about the so-called virtue of obedience when the real virtue is in obeying yourself. And when I think about the lie of religious poverty when, in fact, few millionaires enjoyed the financial security of being a priest or member of a religious order and the real poverty was the risk of leaving the congregation and having to find my way in the world. When I think of all that and then see little children today being indoctrinated into a heap of lies as I once was, yes, I get mad as hell.

Children: do not listen to your so-called ‘betters’ if they are trying to fool you to believe in a religious myth. They are not better than you. Most of them don’t really believe the bilge they try to ‘inculcate’/indoctrinate into you. And if they really do believe what they peddle, then protect yourself. Find someone of sound mind to support you. Someone who will tell you not to worry about going to Hell: it doesn’t exist. And not to waste your time praying before a box thinking that the creator of the universe is in it. Don’t let them fool you. Do not let them mangle your thinking with their potty views.

Religious people are quick to shout ‘blasphemy’ because they want to control you. They do not want to expose just how unutterably ridiculous their beliefs are, and how bankrupt their thinking is. They seek to control what people say because they don’t want it exposed in black and white for all the world to see. They are, par excellence, like the naked emperor who for so long has basked in the adulation of a controlled crowd and how dare anyone, young or old, yell that they are naked: unutterably nude, without a stitch of truth.

 

Post-theism when the crowd still applauds the Emperor

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Since ‘coming out’ as a non-believer, a post-theist, a person who has outgrown religious faith, I have had to stop writing two columns I used to write in Reality, published by the Redemptorist Publications.  I have been writing for the magazine for I think about 14 years. I particularly loved writing the Soul Food Restaurant column. I have found it a real challenge. The very fine editor, Father Gerry Maloney, a great guy, had asked me to write it. I found it a privilege and a challenge. Could I write something that was true to me and which also struck a chord and made sense or was even inspiring to people with religious faith? It seems I succeeded as that column ran for quite a while and I presume it would have continued to do so had I not, having completed my book, realised that I really had gotten off the fence and had come down very much on the side of post-religious-belief or unbelief or post-theism or whatever you want to call it. As I came towards the end of the second complete draft of the book I have been writing, I became uncomfortable writing for Reality or any magazine that seeks to perpetuate or propagate religious faith.

I identify with the boy who recognised that the Emperor had no clothes and yet, unlike the fable, when the boy shouts aloud that the Emperor is naked, so many people persist in seeing him as clothed. I, too, of course, was part of that crowd. Like them, I had often heard boys in the crowd shout that the Emperor was naked. Why, I ask myself, did I then go on believing? While I was a seminarian, my livelihood depended on it. If your mortgage and livelihood is tied up in a product and someone tells you it doesn’t work, it’s fake, there’s a better product, a better, truer, way of living, the person dependant on that product for their livelihood is unlikely to agree. Then there’s the herd instinct, the lemmings effect. Sure, a boy in the crowd is shouting ‘He’s starkers!’ But so many other people go on seeming to believe that we disregard the voice of reason. But why? It could also be the seeming comfort of religion. We don’t want to acknowledge that this is all we have. That we won’t survive our own death. That there is no life for us after our death. That death really is the end. And yet matter does not cease to exist. We will feed a tree or the crawly things of the earth. And our work may live on after us, be it in architecture, music, art, literature or the electronic ether. And if we have loved and been a good enough parent, our loved ones will, for a time, remember us and be, hopefully, the happier for having been loved by us. And then there are those whose moralities are so bound up in their religions that they fear there would be no point in being good and no reward system were their religious faith to be superseded by a humanist viewpoint, an adult viewpoint. They fear they might have no reason to be good. Yet goodness is its own reward. Choosing well ennobles us. Ethical living makes life sweet for us as for others.

I do not believe in god. I see the indoctrination of children into religious faith as intellectual abuse. I was so abused. It damages thinking and it warps one emotionally.