Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Things Are Not Always As They Appear

Last week, I wrote a post about The GAP. I had no idea that people's sentiments toward this establishment ran so deeply. Rusty was disgusted with a post on clothes, and wrote that he hoped it was a "metaphor...for something." And without really knowing it, Rusty was right. It was a metaphor.

As my husband says, as a post about clothes, it was pretty crappy. As a post about God, it's more up to your usual standards.

Feel free to reread it and draw your own conclusions.

I grew up in a Catholic family. My mother was a Catholic like her mother before her (whereas GAP was only founded in 1969, which would make it an impossibility for my grandmother to have shopped there). When I was born, there was no question that I would be a Catholic too.. For the first several years of my life, religious decisions were made for me. I was baptized a Catholic before I was even old enough to know what it was, or that there were other choices.

I went to a Catholic school, but for a brief period of time, there was one boy in my class who was different. He was Presbyterian. He was excused from class when read the Bible, learned prayers, or went to confession (did any of you actually read GAP catalogues in class?). He was a mystery to us until the day he left. We whispered to each other about him for weeks: sure, he went to church like did, but a different kind where they didn't take communion or believe in the same things.

When I grew older, the alternatives called my name. There was something more than just Catholicism out there, and I wanted to explore it. I liked what I found. Dogmas that fit me better, beliefs closer to my own, prayers that I could get behind. Catholicism, for me, had always been lacking. In my adolescence, I stopped going to church.

My mother was devastated. Her religion comforted her, reassured her. Catholicism was like a family tradition, and even if she didn't prescribe to every tenent of the Bible, she never expected that I would turn my back on it completely. She did everything she could to bring me back. She left religious pamphlets in my room. She openly criticized other religious systems. She even had a priest call me to tell me what a valued child of God I had been, and that I would be missing out on all the benefits of being a good Christian, like heaven and salvation. All of these things just pushed me further away. I'd never liked the snobby church members, the elitist environment, or those pretentious rituals. I wanted to worship where all parishioners were treated the same, who weren't discriminated for what they believed when they walked in the doors, who weren't turned away for sexual preferences or which meats they eat on Fridays.

Some people love Catholicism, and always will. I'm okay with that. I'm fine with whatever way you pray, as long as your choice was made by an informed decision.

Today I don't believe in organized religion. I believe in God, and I don't need anyone's help to do that. I do it on my own.


Of course, this version is largely metaphor too. My mother didn't actually leave pamphlets. But when it comes to religion, I feel satisfied to write in metaphors because though I may not agree with what the Bible says, I have read it, several times. And Jesus was pretty big on speaking in metaphors too. No mention of The GAP in the Bible though, in case you were wondering.

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