the great debate

October 29. 1999

The inspiration for this little rant came from a comment on RDTRN a week or so ago. A person said "Any Christian woman, if following said doctrine, is responsible for repressing herself."

Such a strong statement was bound to attract my attention, and also being that it's a subject that I have a lot to say about, I knew a reply of some sort was coming from me. But rather than post this reply to RDTRN, and possibly incite one of those infamous flame wars, I thought I'd write about my feelings here. Hey, it's my web space. I can pollute it in any fashion I wish. ;)

Before I get on with my opinion, a bit of background about my religious upbringing/beliefs, so everyone knows where I'm coming from. I was born Polish Catholic. My whole extended was very Catholic, go-to-church-twice-a- week-eat-fish-on-fridays-no-sex-before-marriage-or-divorce type Catholics, especially my maternal grandparents and great grandparents. Very strict, in other words. Fortunately, what I view as rather extreme and outdated ideas held by them were diluted considerably when my mother married my father, who is Russian Orthodox (which is, ironically enough, simply an eastern version of Roman Catholicism). My mother often refers to herself as a "salad bar Catholic", which means she's takes what beliefs she likes and leaves the rest go. There are some things about my parents that are completely non-Catholic, like the fact that they're pro choice.

The Catholic Church was something that was a very big part of my life up until I was about 14 or 15. When I was little, I went to Wee School at St. Gertrude's Parish, and enjoyed stories about this guy named Jesus walking on water and healing people. There was also the whole social aspect of church, too. There were some parts I loved about church, like singing in the Youth Choir, going to the festival held annually, and of course, the weekly pancake breakfasts after 9:00 mass.

Looking back, however, even at younger ages, the whole concept of God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit remained very abstract to me. In other words, I felt nothing. No inspiration, no comfort, no peace, like everyone said I was supposed to have when "dwelling with God". Around age 10 or 11, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me, like I wasn't "getting" it. Then came my angst-filled teenage years, and I became further alienated from the idea of God, and managed to antagonize the nuns in Sunday School to no end. To be quite honest, when I rebelled then, I think I was rebelling for the sake of rebelling, not because I disagreed with Church doctrine. It's kind of ironic, because I would go on and on about how much I hated Christianity and the Church and God, when in reality, if someone had asked me what I hated about it, I wouldn't have had the foggiest notion of how to reply.

Strangely enough, I was confirmed in the Catholic church when I was in eighth grade. I didn't want to do it, as I told my parents and all those around me over and over again, but for some reason I lacked the balls to actually not do it. To me, it was a sham, a joke. And now, looking back, I feel bad for mocking the beliefs of other people by doing something I didn't believe in or care about.

Our family continued regular weekly church attendance until my sister was confirmed in May 1998. Then, for some reason, we stopped going to church . I didn't really question why at the time (I was far too happy to not be going) but in hindsight, I think it was because my parents were disgusted with the way our parish was being run and also because they sensed Lauren and I just weren't into it.

It's strange to watch the progression of my beliefs in the year and half since I mentally broke away from being Catholic. For the first time, I began studying Church doctrine and learning exactly what it entailed, and my suspicions were confirmed. It wasn't something I could really live with or agree with. So I went searching for other options. For a long time, I believed in God, the Christian God, and that seemed okay to me. Then one day I was searching on the web for some Tori bootlegs, and I came across this site of a girl who was Wiccan. I started reading, liked what I read, so I wrote her an email telling her I was interested in Wicca, and could she possibly recommend some books for me. She did, and I began reading. This was February or so of this year. I continued reading and gathering information, not really practicing, but just getting the information straight before I jumped into anything.

I was really into Wicca for about 6 or 7 months, when suddenly it just sort of dropped by the wayside when I entered college a couple months ago. I really started doubting the existence of a higher power(s), and the notion that there possibly might not be a God was suddenly not as terrifying as it had been before. I really don't know where I am now with my beliefs. I guess one could call me an agnostic, but that isn't quite correct in my mind, because I believe in an afterlife and reincarnation. I always known I've lived before in the back of my mind, I just didn't know how to articulate it. There are things I know, abilities that I have, especially in art, that I never learned, I just knew. Fears I have, things I feel, that I can only attribute to a life before this one. It may sound completely ludicrous to the reader, but to me, it makes perfect sense.

As for Wicca, there isn't a place for it where I am in life now, but I know at some point there will be. The beliefs make too much sense for me just to ignore it, and I know I will get back to it eventually. I don't have all the answers yet when it comes to God and religion, but then, I am just shy of 19, so I can't expect myself to have all the answers. I was criticized a couple months ago by someone my age for not have all the answers for the big questions. All I can feel for those people who claim they have the answers at my age is pity. I feel bad for people who think they have everything figured out at age 19, because then where do they go from there?

Now getting back to the statement above. Another reason I was attracted to this was the fact that, from what I understand, the person who made it is Wiccan. The main belief of Wiccans is "an it harm none, do what ye will." If this can apply to Wiccans, then I ask, why not apply it to all religions? True, when it comes to women's rights, Christianity, and in particular Catholicism, is severely lacking. But if a woman is comfortable and fulfilled in being Christian, is really another person's right to point a finger at that person and say "You are repressed"? I guess then Christians can point their fingers at Wiccans and say "You are going to hell because you do not believe Jesus Christ is the son of God". The fact that they regularly do is beside the point. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that what that person said is, in a way, in violation of what Wiccans believe when it comes to evangelism, i.e., seeking out people to convert to your religion because any other religion they have is obviously wrong. Wiccans don't believe in evangelism, period. If you want to find it, you must seek it out for yourself, which, when you think about it, is actually a lot better in the end. Another belief Wiccans have, and the thing that attracted me to it, is the fact that other religions are NOT wrong. In other words, a Wiccan will look at a Christian not think that they will be going to hell because they don't believe in the God and Goddess. Wiccans don't even believe in hell, for that matter.

I've learned in my short existence on this earth that there are some subjects you just don't argue about in certain situations with certain people. I really hope I don't get any nasty emails for this entry, but these are strong feelings and words.

music: Dream Theater, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
food: surprising good rice pudding from the cafe
read: my 300 lb. art history book
sight: the awesome cover of the album mentioned above
random: said album rocks so hard.
Song Lyric:
I remember I was told there's a new love that's born / For each one that has died- Home, Dream Theater