Friday, March 20, 2009

The constant struggle.

Christian and I have already started talking about schools for Viv.  I went to Catholic school, he went to a free school in Seattle and then public grade school and high school in Bellingham.  I believe the education I received at private school put me ahead academically of my peer group in public school, and, as I spent a year and a half at a public junior high and was years ahead of my classmates in math and English, I had a good basis of comparison upon which to make that judgment.  

We agree so far that Viv should attend a private high school such as Blanchette, as their academic, extra curricular and sports activities are exceptional, and by that age, she'll be able to form her own judgments regarding the things she's taught, and we'll have had ample opportunity to instill in her the values we find important. 

However, grade school has become a bone of contention.  I want Viv to have the greatest opportunities for academic success, but I'm just not sure I can send Viv to a school that teaches the things the Church taught me while I was growing up.  I don't want Viv to think that gay people are sinners and that their love is less than that of straight people and that they can change if they choose.  I don't want her to be taught that condom use will exacerbate the AIDS pandemic in Africa.  This pope is supposed to be God's representative on earth?  I find the current pope to be a reprehensible, arrogant and spiteful old man, and refuse to pay money to any organization who takes his orders as handed down from God, and am deeply ashamed that the administrators of the Church have chosen to continue to cloister themselves from the needs of their flock.

These issues chafe on a painful and long-worrying problem I've been wrangling with since I was a teenager.  My objections to the Catholic Church and its dogma make it extraordinarily hard for me to remain a member.  I've stayed because I've always believed that the Church is defined by its members and not its leaders, much as America wasn't defined by George Bush when he was in office.  However, Catholics lack the ability to make their dissatisfaction heard by voting their appointees out of office.  We are beholden to the entrenched, conservative bigots who continue to appoint individuals who forward their agenda, and those who disagree are marginalized.  I have remained a Catholic because of individuals like our parish priest, a devout, kind, welcoming, intelligent and compassionate man, but a man who is on the verge of retirement.  Who will the Church appoint in his place?  Surely not another one such as him, the man who founded the gay ministry at our parish and who jeopardized his own position by viewing it not as a career in need of advancement, but as a means to do what was right.  The direction will likely be one of revisionism, a reversal of all that I value in my congregation.  I've also always believed that change can only come from within, but if those within continue to try and downplay the importance of progress, love and tolerance and instead push the doctrine of exclusionism, judgmentalism and all of those things I find so contrary to Christ's teachings, I cannot see how those who wish for change will find a willing ear.  

I'm often surprised at how heart-wrenching I find this conflict.  I was raised Catholic, yes, but that's not why I feel a strong attachment to it. It's the fact that the Church has survived in spite of itself, in spite of the terrible deeds and injustices and greed and baseness.  It has survived because members believe in something far, far greater than themselves, and they only find that greatness in each others presence, in the sharing of that sense of love and wonder, in the ability to more as a group than as an individual.  Whether we believe that Christ was human or divine, he was a really, really great guy who came to us to forge a new relationship with God and with each other.  So much beauty has come of that message that, even though the worst kind of ugliness has resulted from it as well, I'm not willing to give up the quest to find the means to have the former without the latter, to keep the beautiful rituals that bring comfort and hope and community without having those rituals take the place of enacting real good.  Attending Mass on Sunday doesn't free one from applying the lessons of that service to the rest of the week.  Giving money to help Catholic Charities doesn't mean that you can conveniently forget that charity starts at home, or at work, or at school.  We understand the Mass, we feel that it gives us a sense of continuity with our forebears, we can go anywhere in the world and know what is being said, even if it's in a language we don't speak.  I would be loathe to give that up, I would hate to not hear the music I so adore in a context I value, but I'll do it.  I'll do it because I don't want my daughter to have a hypocrite as a mother.  

1 comment:

that chick said...

have you seen this? i get nauseated just thinking about it.