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Organized Religion

Church represents two things for me: tradition and guilt. 

I went to Catholic mass every Sunday of my life until I moved away from home at eighteen. My family and I were there with bells and whistles on to hear the same stories from the same dusty, outdated book every week, even while dying from the flu or a bacterial infection because momma didn’t raise a bunch of bitches. I even went twice a week on occasion once I transferred from public to Catholic school. 

Church was always a nuisance to me. I love to sing, and I tried to get joy from the interruption of song every ten minutes, but when you sing songs from the same set list over and over again they start to lose their luster at a certain point. And the organ was always a half step behind because of the acoustics of the tall arched ceiling, which made my OCD brain melt with frustration. The incense smelled like burnt dead bodies, and the wooden pews were SO uncomfortable in the either burning HOT or FREEZING setting (no in between, it was either one or the other). The ancient scripture was completely unrelatable to me and the old, white men with halitosis and hearing aids doing the sermons gave me all kinds of stranger danger vibes (hmmm, I wonder why?). 

Here are the nice things about church: a sense of community and constant reminders about the peaceful, though potentially misguided, promise about the afterlife. 

But children wearing shit they don’t want to wear, drawing in coloring books, fucking with their siblings, and being shushed every ten seconds does not have the desired affect on them that most parents hope for. When you grow up hearing antiquated stories that you don’t understand, my instinct was to choose to NOT have that be a part of my life anymore when I had the freedom to do so. Because I was never GIVEN a choice. Religion has to be chosen. Some people maybe find the comfort and joy in it automatically. I don’t relate to those people. Some people maybe turn away from it to then circle back eventually. Or find it on their own volition. That I can understand. And some people like me find some kind of value in it but don’t need it to be so organized. Maybe there is a higher power and there is definitely a vibrational, science based energy to this universe. I don’t need to prove anything about what I believe to anyone, let alone only worship what I believe inside of a church with other like minded people. All religion is a cult. You can decide what that word means for you however you like. Not every cult ends with its members in new Nikes, covered in a purple sheet, dead in a bed by suicide or poisoned by their leader in the middle of a jungle in Guyana.

I had a man say to me recently that we wouldn’t be a good match for each other because of our religious differences. He was Christian, which isn’t that far off from Catholicism, and it confused me. Just because I wasn’t a practicing Catholic anymore didn’t mean I was into burning Bibles and tattooing myself in upside down pentagrams. I wasn’t going to block him from attending worship services on Sundays. Plus I wanted the D so bad that I was willing to soften my cynicism for him. 

But then one day he said in causal conversation that he was a “follower of Jesus” and that he “loves Jesus” un-ironically and I realized that he was right about our assessment of us. I would not be able to be in a relationship with someone who spoke about Jesus like that literally. 

The words God and Jesus trigger me in a way that is very surprising. I mean, I think I believe in a higher power of some sort so who cares what word is used to describe it? I attribute everything in my life to “the universe” anyway so I guess it’s tomAYto tomAHto. It’s all semantics at a certain point. But the energy of the universe doesn’t hold the same overbearing weight and doesn’t make me feel like I’ll suffer eternal damnation if I don’t hold up to a very strict standard. 

Jesus DIED for MY sins? What does that even mean? I never asked him to do that! 

The Bible is not just a wacky book of fairytales aimed at simple minded sheep as I like to think of it as, since I know many highly intelligent people who are believers. However, and I’m no scientist or anything, I don’t understand how these highly intelligent people use those fables as their proof of God’s existence. They’re relying solely on stories from long ago that begin with the very first man and woman eating a forbidden apple because a talking serpent told them to and their being cursed for all eternity as their evidence. That’s some Lord of the Rings make believe shit. If a book mentions talking animals within the first couple of pages you’ve already lost me.

(Not everyone uses the Bible literally, of course. And symbolism often works well with children, so I’ll allow it, I guess.) 

I think most people subscribe to any sort of religion or higher power to help steer their lives and not feel like everything is TOTALLY random. Because we’re all control freaks deep down. But the real sticking point is what happens after we die. Because that is the area of life and existence that holds the most mystery. And for me, the idea of living multiple lives is what gives me the greatest amount of comfort. Not thinking we have one shot at being a human and then our soul either goes to a utopian fairyland or to a torturous nightmarish abyss. So, you could call me a Buddhist now, or you can just fuck off with your labels and let me think and believe whatever I want. I don’t want to feel so restricted anymore to subscribe to one rigid set of rules. 

People cherry pick their morals anyway! Even the most devout, rule following people you know are probably fucking their neighbor’s wife or about to commit murder on their spouse because DIVORCE is such a forbidden act in the eyes of the Lord. Cheating and murder? Objectively way worse crimes. But they can potentially GET AWAY WITH THEM. It’s the judgement from their peers that is the scariest part and that is where we’ve fucked up as a God fearing society. 

And then you have these religions where their whole purpose on earth is to get to the afterlife. And on their way there they are going to follow whomever and whatever they are told to do by whomever and whatever they have decided is going to be their leader in the physical realm. Religion preys on the most susceptible people at their lowest points looking for someone to lead them. Not ALL religion is destructive but all religion comes with a certain amount of brainwashing or at least brain “influencing.” Oh, your God told you that you were supposed to fly airplanes into two buildings? That’s pretty dark. 

Nobody knows who is right and who is wrong in these beliefs. I don’t feel superior for believing or NOT believing in the way that I do. But I certainly feel free from the Catholic shackles of behavioral oppression and shame and want to celebrate that any chance I get. 

If heaven does exist, I hope that God sees that at least I tried to not be a piece of shit and will let me in. I haven’t killed anyone (*yet*) and I try to love my neighbor as best as I can. If I need to go to Purgatory first to get my mouth washed out with soap then that’s understandable. 

But if heaven doesn’t exist and none of this is real and we’re in a simulation then I’m going to go rob some banks immediately because I deserve a billion dollars for going to church for eighteen years.

Published by loverlo

Actress, writer, lover.

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