Sunday, December 08, 2002

Rant Warning: You’ve been duly warned, this blog contains angry ranting of the name calling variety. If you’re uncomfortable with such, don’t read it.

There’s a certain brand of idiocy in the world, which masks in religiosity to justify itself, which makes me perhaps angrier than anything else. I’m not an anti-religious person, but it took me a long time to figure that out. See, I grew up in fundie country, and when you grow up a non-fundie in fundie land, you grow up thinking you’re anti-religious.

I’m not at all anti-religious. I love religion. I enjoy reading scripture and prayer books, and I get my jollies fumbling my way through Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross; I’m inspired by Mother Teresa and Perpetua and St. Francis. I love religious art; some of my favorite paintings are religious in nature. So, I’m not anti-religious, and I’m not, in particular, anti-Christian.

But I grew up with an unnatural hate for anything I thought was religious because, from my very earliest days, experience taught me that anything religious was blind, stinking ignorant. I remember my freshman year in high school, I overheard two kids talking, two best friends. And one said to the other: “You like Marilyn Manson? You’re going to hell! I can’t talk to you anymore if you like that!” I recall going to an amusement park shortly after I graduated high school. We’d waited in line forever to ride a certain ride, and right before we got on, it broke down. My friends insisted God was punishing us for having used naughty words too often during the day.

I remember having religious debates with people who swore they were right, even when I had solid, incontrovertible evidence right in front of them, that they were wrong. They would insist, for example, that “the apocrypha” was added to canon in the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century. I would find the full-text of earlier Councils, as early as Laodecia in 313, which upheld the deuterocanonical texts. They would sputter and insist I was wrong. On what grounds? I was just wrong that’s all; I didn’t understand faith. And it’s true, I certainly don’t understand a faith that goes smack up against fact and insists that the fact is wrong.

It’s only recently that I’ve found that it isn’t Christianity which insists on being so stupid. It’s low church Protestantism. Oh, there are ignorant Orthodox, Catholics and high church Protestants, etc., too. But this is primarily a low church problem. Catholics may justifiably receive some teasing for tracing themselves back to St. Peter’s keys to the kingdom of heaven in Matthew. But they don’t deserve a thousandth of the teasing that Baptists deserve for claiming to have descended straight down from John the Baptist himself.

When I originally encountered Christian theology, the very first time anybody ever walked me through anything, I was warned against Catholicism. I was directed to read anti-Catholic tracts which criticized the “antichrist” Pope, the “worship” of Mary, and more. I believed it at first, because it was all I knew. But from the first I had reservations in hating Catholics. After all, for every three Protestants I knew, I’d heard five opinions regarding the most minute points of the end times; at least the Catholics agreed with each other. And you know, praying to Mary couldn’t be okay, but still, I wasn’t comfortable with all the trashing of God’s mother. And the Pope seemed to always be supporting what was right and condemning what was wrong and the antichrist wouldn't be about that, would he?

What really shifted me was that I started investigating ancient Christianity on my own. If that "extraneous" Catholic stuff was so wrong, why had it always been there? Why didn’t the Protestants have the perfectly valid scripture that the Catholics had, when they accepted so much other scripture and doctrine just on the witness of the Catholic Church? The Protestants had some points, I’ll give them that. But it was like G.K. Chesterton wrote (though laziness requires that I paraphrase only here): “Reformers are nearly always right about what’s wrong, it’s just that they’re nearly always wrong about what’s right.” I find very, very little redeemable about the modern low Protestant church. What I do find that’s worth saving is already found in Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

I’m drifting here. Back to my original point. I spent a day in a Christian chat room today. I should know better than to ever go, since they always make me mad. People claim to be experts on Christian theology because they know their Billy Graham. There’s endless idiotic speculation on "Revelations and the end times"; it’s enough to make a person vomit. But, through all that, what shines through are two main themes: Idiocy and Anti-Catholicism. I hold that they go hand in hand.

I will always love the Church, if for no other reason, than that I will always hate her enemies.