Thursday, March 26, 2009

I've had a lot on my mind lately, but I'm not sure how much of it is suitable for the entire internet to see. Not that anywhere near the entire internet reads my blog or even knows I exist.

That's one of the things on my mind: No one knows I'm here. Unlike some other bloggers I know, who have several hundred readers after a couple of years of posting, I have an average of 20 visits here each day. I know my low readership is not a huge deal-- after all, who really wants the entire world listening?-- except for the questions it raises about my abilities to write and communicate. It struck me one day that I must be pretty boring, and that is humbling, since all through my school days the one thing that I received accolades for was writing. I think, however, I must have been the best of a bad lot.

I said I have about twenty readers. Half of those are search results from Google. The other half are regular readers. And about half of those are silent. I know you're there. I know you're from my home town (I have a blog tracker that tells me). But I don't know who you are, or why you're here, or if you're friend or foe. I know that anything I say here can (and, very probably, will) be used against me. I know that somebody is probably finding something to be offended by or be critical of-- and sometimes that makes me feel a little paranoid.

In light of that, I'm a little worried that the next things I'm going to say will be misunderstood, or gossiped about. But here goes.

You see, another thing on my mind has been the stuff I've been reading about the Catholic Church. As I've said elsewhere, I've been pleasantly surprised by how many things I actually agree with in their catechism. I read an article last week called "150 Reasons Why I'm Catholic (You Should Be Too!)". I found myself agreeing with nearly everything the author said. For example, he's right about the problems that have sprung up from the Protestant Reformation: thousands of denominations, contradictory doctrinal positions, confusing bible interpretation, and many other things.

That was so interesting that I went on to read another article ("An Open Letter To Non-Catholics") by the same author in which he proceeded to tell me that everyone I have known my entire life is going to hell. Including me. Including my pastor grandpa. Including my missionary uncle. Including Billy Graham and Dr. Dobson and Benny Hinn and Martin Luther and John Knox and Hudson Taylor and Susanna Wesley and the dear sweet woman who prayed for me faithfully all my childhood, and every single preacher I've ever heard. Why? Because they're all protestants, of course! Because all of these people are either "heretics" (those who disagree with the Catholic Church on doctrine) or "schismatics" (those who disagree with the Catholic Church on authority issues).

It's a little difficult to explain why this has bothered me so much. Some of you are saying "So don't listen!" And others will just say, "So join the Catholic Church!"

The problem with that is this: I had just read a long article where I agreed with nearly everything the author had to say. And then he punched me in the stomach. And then I was left wondering, "What if he's right on this point, just like all those other points? But how can he be? That's not what I've been taught. But what if I'm just 'thinking like a protestant' and I'm in deception-- or worse, rebellion?"

On the other hand, I can't just go join the Catholic Church to guarantee heaven for myself. For one thing, my husband would not appreciate it (to put it mildly). For another, in spite of this one article, there are still a lot of things I'd need convincing on before I could vow my undying fidelity to the catholic doctrines (you MUST believe every single point of doctrine or be found a heretic). And for another, there is no guarantee for even good catholics that they are going to heaven. At least that's what the book "What Catholics Really Believe" told me.

With all of that turmoil going on inside my head, the other normal stresses of life have been overwhelming. Our taxes are due, and I'm been procrastinating because I hate doing them by myself, and Hubby has been either sick, or up to his ears in spring work (which-- YAY! Work! Money!) so he hasn't been able to help me. And I have a couple of other projects with deadlines that I don't have done, because I myself was sick for over a week. And DrummerDude is wearing down from his exhausting job, and GuitarGeek did not get the job he applied for, and JD and LovelyDaughter are depending on us for finances, since JD is working for Hubby, and so we NEED to be busy for their sakes, and MB3 is trying to find the meaning of life, and I don't have my garden stuff ordered yet, and I've been tired and ache-y and don't sleep well, and I can't write about it on my blog because I'm afraid of what critical people will think, and I can't ask God for help because He's behind the door of the Catholic Church and I just can't go there!

But I read a psalm yesterday that is helping me find my sanity again. It's Psalm 43, in particular verses 2 through 4:

"You are the God of my strength.
Why have you put me from you,
and why do I go so heavily while the enemy oppresses me?

Send out your light and your truth,
that they may lead me to your holy hill and to your dwelling,

that I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness."

Maybe I can really believe that God will send his truth to keep me from falling into error, wherever it lies, and I can really approach Him on my own (as I've always done) and He'll be my joy and gladness.


Ronda said...

First off, I hope that nobody judges or criticizes or condemns or thinks horrible things about you because you are digging deeper.

Do you suppose that it might be possible that God is enlightening to you that the body of Christ is comprised of people from every single church? And that in every single church He is present, and that all people are human and can make mistakes? Even if they are exactly on in some respects?

As long as you continue to seek God as you always have, approaching him in the manner in which you indicated, He will not let you get too far off, because it is His heart you seek. First and foremost, if that is your desire, then heed the Holy Spirit within you and you will be fine. :)

Jeff'sGirl said...

(Big Hug) I love you and I hope you're feeling better soon. Do you want to go for a walk with me and talk?

NoBS said...

I am, by no means, a "religious" person. I do, however, consider myself "spiritual". I treat people the way I would want to be treated and try not to hurt anyone.

I went to Catholic school for a few years as a child and a few years later, spent many weekends at a place called "Bethlehem Farm" which was a farm run by ex-catholics who still practiced the basic religion but were no longer part of the church. One of those people happened to have been my 3rd grade teacher who was a nun when a teacher, but no longer. Nothing to prove it, but I believe she was gay which probably had a lot to do with her leaving the "church".

In the end, there is a difference between "the church" and the people. Some people can stay with the church and be good people, others seem to use the church as a base of power. In my opinion, that is an abuse of the religion (and contradictory to it).

What's really important, in my opinion, is how you treat people, animals and nature, not what you call yourself.

I picked up a book, many years ago, called "Oneness". It takes the tenents of all the major religions and compares them. It turns out, except for the wording, they're all pretty much the same and really have to do with the previous paragraph.

Wherever your search leads you, just remember, because a person represents themself as a religious expert, that doesn't, necessarily make them one.

Your spirituality is your spirituality.

Ornery's Wife said...

I'm reading it, but not getting a good response. I'll get back to you on this one. Just wanted to comment to let you know I hadn't deserted you!

paladin said...

God bless your journey and your questioning! And I'm so sorry you were "blind-sided" by the thoughtless second article (which claimed that you and crew were "going to hell unless you converted pretty darn pronto"). My reply, in short: you were right to resonate with the first post (so far as I can tell, from your description), and you were right to recoil from the second. I can't fathom what led the person in question to write the second bit of nonsense (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church) for the refutation), but I can only lament it. Trust is a *good* thing for humans to have, despite the fact that our fallenness leaves us rather untrustworthy, at times (myself included, I'm ashamed to say).

Would you be at all willing to chat about your questions, etc.? My wife and I teach RCIA (an orthodox version--not a 1970's-esque "squishy" version!), and I can at least try...

(You also have excellent taste in books... "The Pushcart War"! :) )