Friday, January 13, 2012

Faith and Truth

When I heard about the changes that were being made to the Catholic mass, I was troubled, sad and a little angry.  As a person who doesn't like change very much, I was more than a little peeved that there are changes to prayers, changes to responses, changes to things that have been the same for a long time.  The changes are being defended, hailed as a way to bring solemnity and glory to God and to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that they're a more literal translation and intended to bring us spiritually closer to God.

Okay.  I'll give 'em that.


I still disagree with the changes.  I know some Catholics who tell me that I'm either Catholic or I'm not.  I've joked for years that I'm a Low-Calorie Catholic.  Catholic Light!  Whatever.  I suppose according to their standards, I'm not Catholic.  I've come under fire for my belief that people wrote the Bible, not God.  And I believe that things in the Bible have been lost in translation over hundreds/thousands of years.  It's not just about me, though.  I read last month--and I don't remember where, though I would like to so I could cite it here--that the only way people can be "saved" and enter the Kingdom of Heaven is to verbally profess their faith and declare the Lord as Savior.

I work with people who are mute.  I work with individuals with developmental disabilities who are unable to speak because they function at roughly the level of a 6-month old.  I work with individuals with severe mental illnesses who are actively psychotic and completely incoherent.  And I don't believe for even one second that any of them can't make it into Heaven or be saved simply because they can't say it.  What about babies that die?  What about children who are too young to understand?  I've never believed that un-baptized are banned from Heaven, but now if a kid can't profess faith, they're doomed?  Who makes up that stuff?

I also work with people who are violent and have committed horrible crimes against others.  Is such a person more worthy of forgiveness, more worthy of a relationship with God, more worthy of entrance to Heaven just because he or she can verbally profess faith and contrition?  And an innocent person is not worthy just because he or she cannot speak?

I am not good at fancy, flowery, solemn prayers.  I talk to God like I talk to anyone.  Pretty direct, asking questions when I need to, expressing thanks when things are good, asking for help when things are not so good.  Why should my relationship and how I talk to God change just because that's the direction of the church?  Because they say it's true?

What is the truth?  Well, I suspect the truth is that none of us know what the truth is.  Not the real truth, anyway.  Because everyone's ideas of the truth is a little different--and that's part of the issue.  We only have ideas of truth. 

A former friend of mine belonged to extreme Baptist church that told everyone that only 13,000 souls get into Heaven.  Once she got hooked up with them, she stopped being friends with me because I was a heathen.  According to her, my beliefs are wrong.  Another woman makes fun of other religions, tells people they're un-Christian, teases Mormons, bullies people about their beliefs, (and very troubling to me, makes sarcastic jokes about Casey Anthony and saying that it's not a big deal if she did, in fact, murder her daughter--because it's just a late-term abortion and people are saying that women should have choices about what to do with their bodies and their babies), talks about how impatient she is and how frequently she spanks her kids even though (by her own admission) it doesn't seem to help deal with the issues...and goes on to condemn and judge others based on the fact that she's Reformed and believes everything in the Bible.  According to her, too, my beliefs are wrong.  And I'm pretty sure they'd think each others' beliefs are wrong, too.  I've been told that I'm going to burn in hell for wearing shorts to church--and they weren't obscene shorts!  I've been told that if I don't subscribe and fully believe the edicts of one religion or another, I'm not going to be saved and I cannot get into Heaven.

What truth is in that?  Where is there any truth in any of it?  Why is it true?  Because they say so? 

Well, I also say that holding off on my kiddo's formal religious instruction isn't going to make her a faithless sinner.  I say that eating too much bad fat is bad for the body.  And I'm pretty sure those things are true, too.

I also think it's true that we're all sinners in our own way.  When we say unkind words (guilty), make fun of politicians (guilty), when we tell white lies (mucho guilty), when we roll our eyes (not too guilty, only a little) and judge people with different beliefs (um, duh, yeah, guilty if you've read this post)...all sins.  And I also think that Jesus already died for our sins.  I don't think that's free reign to just do whatever we want that's evil because HEY, WE'RE SAVED!  I think that we're called to live good lives, but not perfect lives.  If God wanted us to be perfect, He wouldn't have made us humans.  If God expected us to be perfect, then what is the reasoning behind sending His only Son to us for eternal redemption?

And maybe that's the key for me: Losing my religion to find my faith.  And if I have my faith, well, then I suppose I haven't really lost anything.