Saturday, August 27, 2005

Deliverance From Evil


Few people know this about me, because I am embarrassed to speak of it openly. I was born into a family that was a member of a secret cult. I was raised blind to the evil of the cult, and was assured that these were good people who only cared about my welfare, and the welfare of the world at large. It is with much consternation that I reveal now some of the deeds of this cult, because they seem so outrageous as to be not credible.

The cult would accuse people of some bogus crime, apprehend them, torture them until they “confessed” to the crime, and then execute them.

The cult would visit wealthy members on their deathbeds, and through fear and coercion have them sign over their property and money. This happened to my great-grandfather in Sicily.

During World War II, the cult was either silent, or complicit with Nazi Germany, depending upon whom you ask.

For centuries, there have been rumors of senior members engaging in child molestation. Indeed, in 1962 there was an internal memo that threatened senior members should they decide to go public with evidence. When the leaders of the cult were informed of any molestation by a senior member, they would immediately transfer the accused to another location instead of turning them over to law-enforcement for prosecution, where the accused would be free to prey upon more innocent children, all because the cult feared loss of financial assets and reputation.

Today, the cult is active in Africa. A campaign is currently underway to misinform Africans who are at high risk for contracting the HIV virus. Against all scientific evidence and the outcry of the medical community and charitable organizations, the cult is telling Africans that condoms will not protect people against the HIV virus. Instead, condoms actually help spread the virus.

***

Okay, so I lied. This is no secret cult. This is the Catholic Church.

***

I was fortunate in many ways. Firstly, my parents didn’t have the money to send me to a Catholic school, so I was spared the trauma that many of my recovering Catholic friends had to endure. Moreover, my mother, while a devout member, did not believe the church or the Pope to be infallible. She had her own views on birth control, ("There are too many people already!") and believed that non-Christians could go to heaven if they were good people. She did see that I attended Catechism in order to make my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation.

One story the nuns told us in Catechism was of two little boys (just about my age) who decided to run away one Sunday morning. Little Tommy wanted to go to church but Little Joey scoffed at the idea, saying, “We are running away, we don’t HAVE to go to church!” So Little Tommy went by himself and met up with Little Joey after mass. They ran down to the river and hopped aboard a makeshift raft and floated away. Soon, they ran into rapids and the raft broke apart. Little Tommy prayed and managed to grab hold of a rock and was later rescued. Little Joey’s body was found days later. He had died and went straight to hell.

The nuns also told about “Original Sin.” Apparently, we are all born with these pure white souls that have a big black mark on them. This mark is “Original Sin” that we inherited from Adam and Eve. Fortunately it can be erased by Baptism. If a baby dies before he is baptized, he couldn’t go to heaven because of that black mark. They go to a little room outside of heaven where they are cared for but are never allowed to see God or anyone else who makes it into heaven.

Anyway.

They told us about “mortal” and “venial” sins. A “Venial” sin wasn’t so bad. It was like a brown mark on the white soul that could easily be erased by confession. “Saying bad words” was a venial sin. “Not saying your prayers” was a venial sin. “Thinking impure thoughts about girls” was a venial sin. If you didn’t confess your venial sins and you died suddenly before confession, you burned for eternity, so you better go to confession as often as possible.

I was 7.

“Mortal” sins however, were different. These were the really bad things that people did. A mortal sin was like a black mark on your white soul. You could confess them and probably be forgiven if you were truly sorry, but if you continued to commit mortal sins, you’d get to a point where you could no longer be forgiven, and you would go to hell. Mortal sins consisted of things like Murder, Theft, Bearing False Witness, and …

Missing Mass on Sunday!

That one really got to me. “Missing mass on Sunday” was as bad as killing somebody? “How could THAT be?” I wondered. I would lie awake nights, trying to make sense of all the things that they were telling me. I knew that I wasn’t going to go to hell. I didn’t want to kill anyone or steal, or lie about what my neighbor did, and I really didn’t like going to church, but compared to burning in agony for eternity, I could go every Sunday.

Safe!

Still, it really bothered me that God thought that missing mass was as bad as murder. I asked my mother about it, and she said that it was okay to miss mass if you had a good excuse, like you were sick or your car broke down. When I asked her, "...you know, what if you just didn’t want to go?" she told me to ask a priest.

That was a mistake.

I went to confession, and at the end of the confession, before he gave me my penance, I said to him, “Is it true the missing mass on Sunday is a mortal sin?” He said “yes.” I said “Is it really as bad as killing somebody?” and he said, “Yes it was,” and he went on to tell me “not to think about it because it was sinful” and I might even go to hell for just thinking about it!”

Now I was screwed.

I would lie awake at night, and think about all sorts of thing. I would think about God and “always was.” “Always was? How?” Black mark. I would think about “missing mass and how could it be as bad as murder?” Black mark. Only Catholics can go to heaven, but other people in other religions believe they are right just like we think we are right. Black mark. Then I would think that maybe there isn’t a God at all. Maybe they just tell us that there is a God so we won’t be bad.

Dum, de dum dum!

“Now I am definitely going to burn,” I told myself, because the more I tried to ignore these things, the more I thought about them. I tried confessing these “sins,” but the priest told me to “grow up and stop thinking about it.” Fat chance.

Well, I did grow up, and I did think such things and many more. I could no longer accept the teachings of an entity that told me to believe things that my mind told me could not possibly be true.

And then I got angry. Angry that I was made to feel guilty and threatened with eternal punishment for mere critical thinking by an organization that was capable of such unspeakable evil acts as torture, murder and child molestation. In spite of all of this, I am supposed to be respectful of the Catholic Church? I am supposed to pretend that they are force of good in the world?

And they continue to condemn the likes of me to hell.

Related Post:

“ ‘Four Small Lives' Again: Part Of My Mother's Story” by Simon Knight

References:

Condoms Don’t Stop Aids

The CDC Disagrees

Vatican Told Bishops To Cover Up Sex Abuse

Church Treatment of Heretics

The Church says “It Wasn’t That Bad”

Photo Ops with the Third Reich

Excerpt from Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World

Papal Infallibility

10 Comments:

Anonymous blue girl said...

The story about little Joey & Tommy is unbelievable. I can't believe an adult would tell a child such a story.

It's always interesting to me to read bloggers' posts about religion. Our family never went to church. (Shouldn't say *never* -- sometimes on Christmas Eve, etc.) But, it was never really a part of our life.

I clicked through the Nazi/Church link. Creepy, creepy photos.

I watched a documentary today called "Kindertransport" - about the groups of German (and other) Jewish children who were able to escape to England without their parents in the mid to late 30s.

A bill died in committee here in the U.S. -- that was proposed trying to rescue even more Jewish children.

The reason it died in committee?

Our *leaders* said that children being separated from their parents was wrong in the eyes of God.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

Ah geez. Being raised Lutheran was bad enough. Don't know how the Catholic boys and girls make it. I've heard so many horror stories from others who were raised Catholic. Pretty touching post, Viscount.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Sister said...

I was raised Lutheran, too. Or, if you prefer, Catholic-Lite.

I always got myself into trouble at church, too. My first question, at age 7 or 8, was, "Where do dinosaur bones come from?" The answer, that God probably just put them here to see what we'd make of them, seemed patently stupid, even to my young mind.

Next was a question about why women were allowed to be Sunday School teachers, but not pastors. Equally unsatisfying was the reply to that one: "God doesn't mind if women teach children." It seemed to me that teaching children was more important, since grown-ups already knew how to be Christians (remember, I was young!).

Other questions followed, about sex and homosexuality and the concept of universal grace, none of which were received very warmly. My Luther's catechism teacher (a minister) told me when I was 13 that I would probably end up pregnant and excommunicated by 16 because of my questions.

The truth is, I never got a very good answer to any of my questions, and eventually I realized that was because there aren't any.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Simon said...

For some reason in Australian when I was in primary school, (the late 70's to the early 80's), once a week Nun's would come in and teach scripture during class time. I always wondered where the teachers vanished to during this time. (Later on i found out our teacher would walk up to the shop for her pack of Benson & Hedges Extra Mild Cigarettes).

In retrospect I find it strange, since it was a public school: What about all the students who weren't Catholic? What were they supposed to get out of the lessons? "Your beliefs are WRONG?"

They had the usual child-bait: little magazines she brought each week with activities like 'colour in the picture of the Lazarus raised from the dead', or the 'Jesus Junior Word Jumble'. (They're as good as McDonalds for targetting youngsters).

So one day around Easter the Nun takes us through the story of the crucifixtion and resurrection. You could hear the silence in the room as she finished the story, expecting us all to be awed beyond belief.

I shot up my hand. "But how do we *know* Jesus existed?"

There was no discussion. I was dragged from my seat before I knew what happened and was locked in the Art Supply closet until the end of the lesson.

I still think it's a fair enough question.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

HFR: I'm STILL locked in the Art Supply closet! But I kinda like it in here.

SS: A fellow Lutheran! Yowzah! Just buried a 98-year-old aunt yesterday and got to hang with the old Lutherans. Sunshine, cemetery. Aunt Nancy was concerned because she and her husband had bought four plots but they didn't know who was going to use the fourth one. I told her, "I suppose you could leave it empty." To which she replied, "But that just doesn't seem right." Can't let a good hole go to waste! God, I love Swedish Lutherans!

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Kevin Wolf said...

I'm catching up on things from the past few days. Another good post, Viscount.

I am a product of 8 years of Catholic grad school. I learned enough about Catholicism to know, once I was let back out into the real world, that it made no sense, explained nothing - indeed clouded every issue - and was of no use whatsoever. (Maybe one exception - I've seen it offer solace to the grieving - even though I don't buy any of that myself.)

There are enough years passed now that I've expanded how I feel about Catholicism to pretty much any organized religion or belief system based on faith in this, that or the other - that is, based on faith alone.

I like being free.

3:44 PM  
Blogger fuckstick2020 said...

Strangely I was "raised" Catholic.

What that meant is that my family members converted so they could teach in Catholic Schools and my cousins who lived in STL could go to Catholic Schools instead of Public. My mom converted so she could get married to a Catholic guy whom she never married.

So I went to Catholic Kindergarten. Not because of the religion, mind you, but because it was all day where the local public school was half day. Also, my aunt was the teacher. I went to public school from 1st on, the same district.

I remember being afraid of the nuns, the priest smelling of booze, and having a boyfriend named Joe Thompson "Home Video" (because his family owned a video store) becuase we had the same Thundercat shoes we wore with our uniforms.

I think I maybe went to churh 5 times after kindergarten. (Other than Weddings and Funerals)
My whole family, as little religious as they are, are Protestants in Catholics clothing. They don't really like the Pope, enjoy birth control, and gosh I guess this list could go on. They are a bit liberal.

My mother, I think, is a pagan. Though she won't just step out and say it.

Additionally, out by me in the sticks, is a priest "reform" center. For years and years I couldn't figure out why they were being reformed. I thought maybe it was "camp." Now I know.

I also have a friend who is about 33. She was a nun. She isn't anymore. I have never been scared of her. When we drink we talk a lot about why she went in and why she left. It is always very interesting.

Enough from me.

10:03 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Thank you all for your kind comments and sharing your personal anecdotes.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just ran across this and it sure brings back memories. I have a Jewish surname, but was being raised Episcopalian (Mom's religion) in St.Louis. My parents let us read any book in the house; one day while in 5th grade I was reading my Dad's old college geology textbook and encountered a US Army pamphlet tucked into the book.

It was a pamphlet given to soldiers in the European theatre during World War II, to prepare them for what they were about to encounter at the concentration camps. Photographs that still stick in my mind - a lampshade made for a camp commandant's wife from the skin of a prisoner, because he'd had an interesting tatoo. Mounds of dead, naked women and children, larger than the house we lived in. Gold pried from the teeth of victims. More and worse.

I asked my Dad how Christians could do this to people - he could not explain. He had been an 18-year-old rifleman in the infantry during the fighting across France, Battle of the Bulge, across the Elbe River, etc. He wept as he told me about guarding a camp after liberating it - at least the people were finally fed and cared for.

Less than a month later, at church, the minister's son asked me "what the goddamn hell a fucking Jewboy was doing at HIS church". I began to understand the evil in some people that day. It was, to say the least, interesting when I told my parents at that age I would not go to church anymore. My Dad made me explain my reasons, but I never went to a church again.

Hey, "lostnotfound1980"...sounds like you're still in Missouri. I live maybe 50 miles from the retreat you refer to.

1:40 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

>Just ran across this and it sure brings back memories. <

Thanks for the personal story. Come back often!

2:22 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home