With the Easter holidays rapidly approaching I am once again moved to acknowledge the people who, in my youth, gave me a conscience – a moral compass. I probably won’t be going to church again this year however.
At this point in history any mention of the RCC, the Roman Catholic Church, brings condemnation from many quarters. In its more then 2000 year history the mother church has weathered scandal after scandal yet stands, not as a testament to the people who built it or ran it, but as a testament to its irreproachable founder – Christ Jesus.
Just mentioning the fact I went to “Sunday School” to receive the catechism in childhood makes me instantly hated regardless of the facts. Some people never let facts get in the way of their bigotry.
At age twelve I was given leave to decide for myself whether to continue in the church or not. I left and I never looked back.
But that fact doesn’t trouble the bigots and hateful hypocrites who call themselves Christians (and many others) who openly equate the Pope with Satan or condemn the church as the Great Whore of Babylon and use many other even nastier characterizations. Those who condemn the whole for its parts paint with a very broad brush.
Simply stating aloud that I was brought up in the church brings derision and even condemnation upon my head even to this very day.
Even if you do have an issue with this or that religion, it is wrong, it is illogical, to condemn the child for what his parents chose for him. But who ever said humanity was logical?
Currently the church is, once again, rocked by scandal; but I testify that I was never a victim in anywise to any of this. I’d neither heard of nor witnessed any abuse on the part of members of the church.
The priests, the nuns, the brothers (monks) and missionaries who taught us the catechism were all dedicated, sober, and utterly in ernest in their mission to educate, illuminate and inculcate the commandments of God and the tenets of the Christian Catholic faith.
I’ve often wondered what I’d be like if I had never been exposed to Gods’ holy presence in childhood. To be told that God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent – that he bore witness to my every thought, word or deed – it shaped my character – it gave me a moral conscience – as opposed to those who have never heard the word of God?
In competition with an amoral world a conscience is a very real handicap – but I could also describe it as a cultural, functional superego that kept me from doing such things that are much worse than those things I’ve actually done.
Is it not true that there are those who lie, cheat, steal and even kill, who were never actually told in childhood that it was wrong?
On the one hand I am forever grateful for their dedication and service. God wants for nothing, it is his children who need help. They were there to guide me past the many perils and pitfalls encountered in life wrought by egregious sin.
On the other hand, and given that I was drafted and sent off to war, is not my guilt and shame all the greater, the burden all that much more onerous for having a conscience built in? It surely seems so.
Given their cultural mission and their religious zeal, their very lives dedicated to the service of God – the priests, the nuns, the brothers and missionaries who taught me did me no wrong.
Where are we? Where do we stand, on the time-line of human history? The imperfect religious teaching imperfect doctrine to imperfect children, all within the walls of an imperfect church.
I don’t attend church and I haven’t since I turned twelve – but it is still very much a part of me. The seeds were planted.