Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guest Post: Shared Life of a Detached Catholic

Sheldon's note: The following guest post come into my blog e-mail inbox last week, from someone who is apparently a regular reader of the blog. He said that he wanted to "get this off his chest", and clearly implied that he wanted this to become a guest post on the blog. I tried e-mailing him back, and got no response back.

I wanted to ask him if he wanted this published under his full name, part of his name, or a pseudonym. Since he never responded to my e-mails, and it appears that from his writings that he is not out to his family about either his sexuality, or the fact that he is no longer a Catholic, I didn't want to release his name with explicit permission from him, I wouldn't want to out someone by accident, so I will simply refer to him as "J.C." (and, no that's not a reference to "Jesus Christ", for the record).

The views of this post are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect my views, as you might know, I have a habit of publishing guest posts, interviews, etc of writers whose views on spirituality I may not necessarily agree with, (liberal Christians, etc).

If you are reading this, "J.C", send me an e-mail.

I am a Catholic by "name" only, and nothing more. This is deeply rooted to my sexuality versus the belief system of the church itself. Yes, I am gay. I've always known I was; dating back to my preschool years when I noticed boys/men more than girls/women. Anyway, being raised as a Catholic, I was hammered with teachings about Heaven and Hell, what to do and what not to do, what to become and what not to become. I was being persuaded by my mother to enter priesthood, convincing me that it was "my calling". I was a malevolent young scamp back then. I lied about seeing angels. I guess you could call it scientific curiosity coupled with childhood misbehavior. The following events took place in Brunei, where I was born.

I first noticed the gullibility of the people in church when a priest came to our church claiming he's a "healer". People would line up in front of him, and when he raised his hand to their forehead, they would fall down, only to be caught by lay ministers. My mother and father were one of those people lining up. When it was my turn, I wanted to fall down as well. I wanted to be like my parents, but when he hovered his hand over me, nothing, I felt nothing. I just smiled at him and moved on. 

The second time was when another famous priest came to our church. He was acclaimed for his "life changing sermons" and "Recollection", to which I was dragged to by my parents, along with my brother and sister. The plan was simple, my parents would listen to the priest, while we head off outside to play with the other children of the "flock". Being different and all, I had but a handful of friends, and it was disappointing to me that they weren't there. I was playing alone with bubbles I blew out of a plastic canister, while my brother and sister are talking/playing with their respective friends. Two kids , who  i assumed were related , ran towards me popping the bubbles I blew.

It wasn't long when we found ourselves playing hide and seek. I decided to hide near the church, where the priest was conducting one of his famous Recollections. I was shocked when I saw the church lit only by candle light, and all the grown ups were on the floor, lying on their backs. The church was filled by the sound of a babbling brook, and birds tweeting and chirping. When I walked over to one of the people laying down, I knelt down and gently nudged his shoulder. "What are you doing?" I asked. A lay minister rushed to me and pulled me away gently, telling me not to go into the church. I asked him what was going on, and he said they were praying. "That's not how you pray." I corrected him, being taught otherwise. Praying should be done kneeling, sitting down or standing, never lying down. The lay minister just laughed and sent me off on my way. 

The third time was when they were at this after church meeting. They were called prayer meetings and they were held every Sunday after Mass, and every Tuesdayand Thursday night. These things would last at least 2 hours, where the time wasted could be used in learning a trade, but no, I had to endure the soul-crushing boredom unless there were other kids to play with. Anyway, I was there sitting in the back, quietly drawing on some papers the lay ministers gave me, when i heard the crowd ululating incoherently after singing a slow song. I laughed quietly at them, and when they were finished, they clapped their hands and cheered as they sat back down on their chairs. I immediately rushed to my mother's side, asking her what was that. 

She says they were speaking in tongues, a language that the devil does not understand and only God does because it comes from the heart. For some reason, that answer satisfied my at the time, but as I pondered over it on our way home, it did not make any sense. Why would ululating be a language that God can understand? Why can't the devil understand it? I was taught in Sunday School (yes, we Catholics also have SundaySchool, and I also had to endure that with the after Mass prayer meetings) that the devil can read your thoughts and what's in your heart to use it against you, if he did, why would he not understand what the ululating meant? I wanted to ask her, but they looked tired and eventually, I never bothered to ask.

I finally applied my scientific curiosity. Being "inspired" as they were, my parents and their "group" would hold "pray-over meetings" where they stand in a circle stretching their arms inward, and a person with a sickness or an emotional problem would sit in the middle raising his arms in prayer. It was about that time when the movie "Angels in the Outfield" was shown and we as a family had just watched it. For some reason, I too wanted to see angels. I tried to be much like that boy in the movie, but I turned out to be the opposite. As they held these pray-over meetings in the church, I watched them quietly while by siblings were playing outside. When they finished and we were on our way home, I told my parents that I saw two angels in the inner circle praying over that woman having problems with her husband....or sickness I forget which. Anyway, my mom was so happy and that's when "It's your calling to be a priest" started. 

For about half of my childhood, my mother successfully convinced me that it was my calling. The lie I told came back and bit me in the behind. I paid attention more in Sunday School, acing every test, becoming the teacher's pet, but the call of the flesh was too loud to ignore. I have this schoolmate, childhood best friend, and we would always play after school. We would play tag, hide and seek, and more childhood games with other kids while waiting for our rides home. This one time, we were the ones left and we ran out of games to play. I don't know, but for some reason role-playing came into the fray. We had recently watched Aladdin. he said he'll be Aladdin and I be Genie, but I refused. I said I'd rather play Jasmine (you can laugh if you want. i'm laughing now as I'm writing this). Long story short, we ended up kissing. We never spoke about it again. There was also this thing with a teenage boy, but I won't go into detail with that.

Eventually, we had to move because of money problems. My dad was fired and we had to go to the Philippines, because everything was cheaper there for some reason. I was enrolled in a Catholic school named Dominican School under the Supervision of nuns (my previous school was just a public school where Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Catholics alike were mingling without prejudice. ironically, that school was St. George's). It was there where I was submerged even deeper in the Christian/Catholic teachings.

It was there when I learned that the 10 commandments were just general stuff and that every commandment had its own meaning. What struck me most was "Thou Shall not commit adultery." The nuns then explained that "Adultery" includes pre-marital sex, bestiality, homosexuality, masturbation, etc. I was dumbfounded. I first looked up "Adultery" in the dictionary. It clearly states that Adultery is extramarital sex. Nowhere in the dictionary says that it means sleeping with another man, having sex before you're married etc. it just dictates a phrase about extra marital sex. It was then when I realized that I was a horrible, horrible person, and that I did something that displeases God. 

Before our first communion, we had to go to confession. I knew I had to tell the priest what I had done in Brunei, but I was too ashamed of what I did, so I did not tell him. I just said that I can't remember all of my sins, even though we were instructed to list them down. The priest smiled at me and said all my sins were forgiven. I felt like I got off scot free.

As the years passed, I found myself joining Christian Youth Organizations (under the Catholic Umbrella) to hopefully suppress and erase who I really was. I hopped on the bandwagon doing the praise and worship things, listening to self-indulgent talks about a powerful force greater than me who only cares about me, and yes, ululating as well. But Wolverine was right, Sometimes when you cage the beast, the beast gets angry. My true self sprung leaks out of my shell i made with religion, forming another me outside the shell.

I secretly delved into other avenues where homosexuality was not an abomination, where being the real me was not an issue. I found Wicca. I don't know why, and I don't know how, but the spells do work. It freaked me out and I had to stop. I do not know the scientific approach to explain why it happened, but I guess it was purely coincidental. The power of the mind conceives what is not there to be there. That part of me seeped back into the shell where I hoped to plaster the holes with more Christian teachings as I entered college (enrolled in a Catholic University). But as I came back, coming from "Outside" Christianity, the teachings started to raise red flags. 

Leviticus 20:13 "If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense."
Capital offense? Isn't that something out of the government? It was then when my eyes were opened. This Bible is written by prejudiced men who were "inspired" by a "spirit" (probably a spirit of prejudice).

The story of Joshua and the wall of Jericho
If God loves all his children, why does he favor one form the other? Granted that's a given flaw for parents, but, we're talking about God here. If he is perfect and does not do any wrong, why does he take sides? Shouldn't he be unbiased?

The story of Job. (Which was well depicted on South Park
Why would God make Job suffer just to prove a point to Satan? Why would he destroy the life of a man who did nothing but please him, just to gloat to his enemy that he has a loyal follower?

Exodus 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.
Funny. I thought Jealousy was a sin. Well, I guess because he's God, he can do whatever he wants so his rules don't apply to himself. Kind of petty if you ask me. Very unbecoming for a Supreme Being.

The bible is nothing but words written by man. Why is it holy? Why does it have such an impact? 

It was then when I got more detached with the church. Their teachings, their prejudice and especially their closed-mindedness to progress. Just an FYI about this, Philippines is fast becoming an overpopulated country and the church has ties in the government to stop this RH Bill that would help control the population. Their slogan, "The more, the merrier." Quoting Sheldon Cooper, "That's a false equivalency, more does not equal merry. If there were two thousand people in this apartment, would we be celebrating? No, we'd be suffocating." Good thing the bill has passed, but the religious are still griping about it. (Note: the author is referring to this controversial bill that would expand access to birth control in the Philippines, Catholic clergymen have been doing everything they can to fight it, I love the Sheldon quote, btw, 

I found myself joining a Church Choir (for extracurricular purposes and for the love of singing). This was where I was awakened by the hypocrisy of the clergy and non-clergy alike. The priest speak of humility, and detachment of worldly possessions, but look who's talking on his new iPhone and driving a black sedan. 

The Choir Master was worse. At least the clergy had the decency to hide their hypocritical tendencies, but this guy takes the cake. He goes on and on about how the old women who pray the rosary are stupid mouths just babbling the prayers over and over again only to find them gossiping outside the church,  well look who just told us gossip. He sets up activities to make an "impact" on the lives of the youth, well he did, we KNOW who set up the activities seeing his face and name plastered everywhere. So much for "Doing it for the Lord".

Recently have been hanging out with a friend of mine who is also a hardcore Catholic/Christian. She gives talks, and goes to France as a Missionary there. She managed to get me participating again with the whole Christianity stuff, but I stopped when I learned what was going on behind congregations like this. The people themselves are hypocrites too. (I think it's a staple in Christian congregations) The people are gossiping about the Head of the congregation about his debts to fuel his luxury. The head of the congregation asking fro money from the people every chance he got as a sign of "Detachment" from material things. Where was the money being used? To fund Missions and charities (which was quite noble) but what about the rest? It was then when I learned that the Missionaries skim off the top to buy stuff for themselves. 

Thankfully, my friend was Old Money, so I had faith that she wasn't one of them, which turns out, she really isn't. The final blow landed, shattering my shell, ultimately freeing the Real Me from that prison of prejudice and hypocrisy when the congregation's building was sold off to a Real Estate Company, and during the prayer meetings, the Sales Representative even had the nerve to ask that the praise and worship session be cut short so he could pitch about selling the condos that would be erected on the ground we were standing on. I was so disgusted and repulsed, not at the Sales Rep, but at the people hanging on his every word after saying that each person would receive a large commission if they referred someone to buy one of their condos. Truly, the real god was present that night, and it's name is Money. I stormed out of there as fast as I could. I told my friend about it and she and I both left the congregation. I was free, she on the other hand still believed in the "goodness" of the Religion and continued on as a Missionary in France

I have detached myself from my religion except by name. I love my parents, and it still means a lot to them that I "practice" with them. So, I do. But only when they come back here in the Philippines as they are living abroad now. My mom keeps pestering me about going to church every Sunday, I just don't and say I did. I still believe that there is a universal force out there keeping all our lives in balance, I just don't believe that that being is as crude as depicted by the Christians. Free will? More like Forced Choice. You have to be good and believe in him to get into heaven, or else you would go to hell. Merciful God or Vengeful God? More like Vain God. You have to love him or else you will be sent into hell. And the people, ah the people, you speak of humility; why don't you sell those gold altars, use the money to help needy? 

You speak of truth and justice, I guess those raped altar boys were lying after all. You speak of kindness and peace, I guess the Crusades were justified then. You say that occult rituals are evil, I guess that hour long ceremony doesn't count because it's derived from a religion that itself was derived from pagan tradition. The system itself is corrupted, the people are corrupted, if they're looking for the Devil, he's the one running the system. I believe that there is Good and Bad, but I do not believe that not believing and accepting the Good makes you part of the Bad. I've seen more good deeds from the Wicca than from the Christians/Catholics, who are complacent because they can just say "sorry" and everything is forgiven. If you think about it, the pagan religions make more sense than Christianity, after all, Isn't the whole Christianity thing just a throwback from old pagan religions? Immortal Father heralds a Mortal Son via a Mortal Woman, where the Mortal Son also becomes immortal. Kind of similar to the story of Perseus, don't you think? 

All is relative because we want to believe that there is a power greater than ourselves governing us, judging us and who will ultimately reward us. It is Human Nature to believe in an after life because we want to live forever. We are conscious beings and we want our consciousness to continue on after death, and weather or not there is a Heaven or a Hell is irrelevant as long as we continue to live after death, because we are vain creatures. I believe that there are some things that cannot be explained by science alone, a lot of people do, that's why we choose to believe in something that works for us, something that would let us rest easier at night. If bigotry and hypocrisy works for the Christians, so be it. If carnality and earthly pleasures work for Pagans, why should you stop them? In the end, all belief systems are nothing but a pass to not think about the after life. We're all afraid of dying because we fear the unknown, and the belief in an after life, whether or not an after life exists, does not matter; what counts is how you live your life now.


  1. Some do find their way out of the labyrinth thank goodness. I think the Aladdin/Jasmine part was so cute :)

    1. My favorite part is when he added the Sheldon quote to his disucssion about the birth control law, that was so funny, especially in that context.

  2. I am glad JC made it out of the church. What surprised me most is that the Catholic Church JC went to did the whole clapping in church and speaking in tongues. I only went to a catholic church once, but it was like a morgue. Interesting stuff.

    1. There was a movement in the 70's and 80's in the US called the "Charismatic Catholics", they were practicing Catholics who added elements of Pentocstal belief and practices to their services, it died out in the US, but apparently found some roots there in the Phillipines.

    2. Generally (from my experience of Midwestern Catholicism), Charismatic Masses are considered to be "too Protestant/crazy/non-traditional" by parents and older priests, while teens and youth pastors like to do Christian Rock music (or really just any music with an instrument besides an organ or a Gregorian choir) as the liturgy songs. Speaking in tongues happens, there are stories in our homeschool group of girls who levitated or glowed while in adoration before the Eucharist, a group of homeschool moms believe that have contact with Mary/Jesus and that they can heal the sick, and my friend went to a retreat where apparently a lot of people fainted because they were so "filled with the holy spirit." Apparently it literally fills your chest up and you can't breath and you're knocked out. Nevermind that it was over a hundred degrees in the room they were in and that the food was really crappy so a lot of people hadn't eaten in like two days. No, it was the goddamn holy spirit, okay!?!

    3. Of course, there can't be any other explanation than the Holy Spirit, right? ;)

    4. It's really SATAN! Yes, the Dark Lord! LOL

    5. There's some extreme elements of Baptists that actually do believe that speaking in tongues, etc, is a Satanic ritual or deception.

      I'm serious, unfortunately.....

  3. This was great, and quite a bit raw, reminds me in feel of some of my old journal entries from when I had just left my faith and was still quite angry about the whole thing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It does sound like he just recently de-converted, I wish him all the best.

      I wonder if maybe he didn't stick around after he sent that e-mail, he just stumbled across the blog, and moved on, wanted to tell somebody what was on his mind.

  4. Very powerful stuff. I sat rapt in front of the computer reading it. I think a lot of people can identify with this persons story. Thanks for sharing it and I wish the writer all the best.

  5. Even though he came from much different cultures than many of my readers, so many elements are there that anyone can identify with.

    Thanks for stopping by


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