Catholic School: How Did I End up Here? (Pt. 3)

"I am an atheist, and that is it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for people." ~ Katharine Hepburn (American actress)

"It's simply just need to believe." I wonder how many kids, either from my generation or the kids of today, would accept this as an answer. I mean, it's not like I was asking when the next bus was coming - I was asking how the world was created and how humans came into existence!! In my mind (both past and present), questions like these need to be answered with more depth than a simple faith-based, Creationist perspective on life; however, this might have been be a tall order for a Catholic nun to fill at the time.

As most of us know, the basic concepts and premises of most religions of the world have fundamental differences and similarities. As part of today's blog, I wanted to examine the differences between two religions that have gained enormous popularity over the past 2000 years (one more recent than the other)......

I. Scientology: billions of years ago, a galactic overlord named Xenu needed to control overpopulation. So, he gathered up all his enemies and froze them. Then they were packed into spaceships, flown to volcanoes in Hawaii (and other places on Earth), where they were hit with nuclear bombs. Then, the spaceships vacuumed up all the dead alien souls and took them to a movie theater, forcing them to watch violent and confusing movies until they forgot who they were. These souls wandered off, clumped together, and landed in people. These are called Thetans. People need to get rid of these Thetans and, therefore, engage in different spiritual practices to accomplish this. In doing so, people live a better, more spiritual life with a clear mind and heart. That's the basics.

II. Catholicism: just over 2000 years ago, two people named Mary and Joseph birthed a son through immaculate conception. Mary was impregnated by a spiritual being that lived in the sky, beyond the clouds, in a place called Heaven. The baby produced by this pregnancy, a boy named Jesus, was born as the saviour of the entire world - as well as a carpenter. His purpose was to spread the word of God, his father (spiritual being in Heaven) and to save the people of the world from their sins by dying an excruciating death. All people were considered to be sinners, as people are born with "original sin" (the sin that occurs when the baby's parents had sex in order to create them). If these sins (and other sins) are not confessed and forgiven by God, people will burn in a terrible place called Hell, which is ruled by a very scary and evil spirit named Satan, for the rest of eternity. Jesus is said to be returning to Earth (called the Second Coming of Christ) at an unknown time and place, to judge the living and dead for their sins. This day will be called "Judgement Day." When Judgement Day occurs, the entire world will be destroyed and, as the inhabitants of Earth, we will know this day is coming because there will be fires, floods, hurricanes, resurrections of the dead, and the Second Coming of Christ. That's the basics.

As a grade 7 student, I distinctly remember thinking, "wait a minute....what???" as I was introduced to a higher level of learning around the Catholic faith (similar to the time I went to "mass" at the Church of Scientology when I was Now, as an adult, the idea that young people would not be encouraged to question these stories is absolutely preposterous to me. But, that's me. I also clearly remember being totally confused about the story of Creation because it just didn't make sense to me. How woman was made out of the rib of man, how a talking snake warned this man and woman about not eating apples from a specific tree, how when they ate the apples they suddenly realized they were naked and this was problematic, how a spiritual being called God made everything in the world in seven days and nights. How. How. How.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: if you are going to ask people to believe in stories as ridiculous as these, some questioning should be encouraged, whereas "blind faith" might be discouraged. Now, I am declaring these stories to be slightly ridiculous from the following perspective - if I was to land on Earth, not knowing anything about religion and these stories were passed on to me, what would I think? Ridiculous. However, I am noting that perspective from a 33-year old mindset; I don't remember thinking it was ridiculous in grade 7....I just remember being confused and not having my questions answered in a way that made me less confused. In fact, it made me more confused.

Ultimately, the most confusing aspect of this entire business was that my teacher, a woman married to god, didn't have the answers. As I've grown older I've come to realize that no one does - not my mother, father, mentor or priest. If I was to ask any one of these people, "how is it possible that a woman came to be made out of a man's rib" (particularly given the scientific fact of evolution), the answer would be simple: it just is. That's where faith comes in, I guess.

FAITH (n):
1. Confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing.
4. Often faith Christianity The theological virtue defined secure belief in god and a trusting acceptance of god's will.

My teacher had faith. For sure. She did not, however, instill faith in me.

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