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God: a Religious Query

Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra: God is dead.

Today, Levi told his preschool teacher that he wanted to kill God. When I queried him much later, when we got home, about this, he said that an unnamed bad person said it first. I do not know if this person was a classmate or a fiction of his imagination. I do not know the context behind the statement, only that the teacher (in this private Catholic school) spoke to Levi about how that sort of phrase makes God sad and it’s not really a nice thing to say.

I relayed the story to my husband who had only sympathetic ears for our 4-year old. My husband is coming from the perspective that, first, we haven’t been going to church regularly. Second, [my addition], we don’t instill a strict Christian doctrine in this household. So, third, Levi is attending this school where it sounds like all problems are fixed by God.

I guess I was taught this growing up. I know many who hold these type of belief now. I also know many who do not.

I believe in God [the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth…]. But, I don’t adhere to the strict Christian dogma I’ve been handed down. I detest when people tell me what God thinks. I detest when people relate sporting events to God-like events. I detest when people blindly put their faith in … well … anything. How can we really know what God thinks anyway? So, how can we know that just because Tebow had a good pass at the 316 that it relates clearly to John 3:16? One is searching for symbolism that isn’t quite there.

So, at home, I loosely talk about God. I want Levi to make up his own mind. I find comfort in believing there is something bigger than myself. I find comfort in believing there is a resting place for my soul. But, I do not find comfort in guilt, brimstone, and fire. [It’s a wonder I willingly go back to my Catholic faith!] I want Levi to be able to think outside himself and find comfort there. I want him to have a quiet place, name it God or whatever, to ask questions his fellow humans won’t be able to answer.

I’ve read varied viewpoints on God, one that God is dead. It gives an open mind pause for consideration. “What if?” Rolls the words along the tongue. What if it’s all a lie? What’s wrong with considering that? What’s wrong with testing one’s faith? Isn’t it more important to be mindful of our day-to-day actions and keep those in perspective with how they hurt, harm, or help people rather than wonder if this being we can barely grasp exists? Or yet, pin every good thing on this being?

But, I am uncomfortable with my son saying he wants to kill God. I am extremely uncomfortable with my son saying he wants to kill anything. But, to kill God, this thing adults don’t even understand but yet we are trained to exalt screams blasphemy in my Catholic trained mind. He didn’t know what he was saying, but he has an inclination that it was bad. What is this good and bad anyway?

Oh Levi, Momma doesn’t believe God is dead. Levi, Momma believes we should respect God and the things we assume he created. And because we assume [s]he created all beauty, why would we want to kill that?

Logic, though, is just beginning. Faith is not logical. This is what my intro to philosophy instructor failed to understand or relay to the mostly religious class of 1998. And, four-year old brains are just starting to grasp logic.

What is becoming clearer, though, is that this private Catholic school, the school of my dreams, is not a good fit for our son. I’ve had the opportunity to confer with friends, increase ideas, and now reality sinks in: we will have to hunt, seriously, for another school for next year. The question begs: what are we going to do over the summer? Now is when I want Grandma and Grandpa around. But, then, we’d slide even more into interesting religious waters that neither my husband nor I want to navigate.

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Routines & Roles

Photo of Christ in Hagia Sofia.
Image via Wikipedia

“The Blood of Christ.”

Amen.

“The Blood of Christ.” Inch up cloth.

“Amen.” Grab cup, turn an inch or two counterclockwise. Next person approaches.

“The Blood of Christ.” Hand off cup. Inch up cloth.

“Amen.” The cup is returned. Turn an inch or two counterclockwise as the next person approaches.

“The Blood of Christ.”Hand off cup, flip cloth over.

“Amen.” The cup is returned. Wait.

The slight of hand involved in this role is amusing to me. Most people don’t notice me turning the cup to offer a clean place to drink. Most people never notice how I inch up the cloth in order to clean off the place where their mouth, the person before and after, sipped. It’s a delicate, quiet role. With one line. Two. I have one, they have the other. Various forms of respect are offered for this Sacred Catholic Rite.

At our church, at the mass we attend, there are three Eucharistic Ministers to accompany the priest. One who is responsible for the host, the bread, the body. And there are two who are responsible for the wine, the blood. There are certain things that need to be done, some assigned, some not. The assigned roles are who will be the one to take the host from the Tabernacle and the two ministers who will administer the wine. The unassigned roles are who will offer the bread or wine to the other lay people around the alter and the elderly folks in the front role.

It’s a silent play often choreographed without gestures. Only rarely does the parish need prompting that someone forgot their role, like last week when Fr. John had to request another Cup Minister. Otherwise, you silently watch while others take or don’t take the lead and you fill into get the job done. It’s a simple understanding of what needs to happen and who is supposed to execute the plan. More often than not, it is executed so quietly, so well, that nary a soul in the church realizes what is involved, the training, the separation of duties, to get that job done.

The parishioners have their role. Theirs is to approach, wait, say “Amen” and return the cup. Quietly, waiting in the efficient queue created from years of refinement. Yet, each person individualized their role. Each person has their own manner in which they accept the cup, say or mutter “Amen”, and return the cup.

The most entertaining is one parishioner who has this carefree way about him. Recently, our parish switched to these lovely pewter cups from the glass wine glasses. A relief for this lackadaisical manner in which he takes, drinks, and hands back. Usually one handed where I worry, “Is it going to drop or spill?” But, it never does, so I want to giggle when I should be effaced stoically.

Although I often feel a little anxiety over this role, as it is yet another responsibility that I have agreed to accomplish, I find its routine comforting. I like to know. I like to realize how things work. I like to see the inner-workings of a production. I like to participate, to learn. So, this small, quiet, important role satisfies these other needs and desires I have. I can study the mannerisms, and giggle (stoically) at the quirks we each exhibit.

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Subordination

The New American Bible
Image via Wikipedia

I don’t think so.

Repeat.

I don’t think so.

Of all the men in my life that have screwed me over, some literally, and you’re telling me the one passage in the Bible I ought to believe is the bit that says I should be subordinate to my husband?

I don’t think so.

Sorry babe, but I will never trust a man that well. It’s not your fault. I know that. I hope you do. I hope you can understand, but experience shows that men are often ruled by one thing and tend to be the most selfish creatures on the planet. So, you take this book, likely written mostly by men, that has been doctored, by men, and you’re telling me I need to believe and have faith that your male god (yes, lowercase “g”, thank you very much) wants me to be subordinate to him? Oh, with the caveat I am supposed to be thought of well and taken care of and my needs first, blah, blah, blah, de friggin’ blah.

I don’t think so.

It reads thus:

Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church because we are members of his body.

“For this reason a man shall leave his
father and his mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.”

This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

(Ephesians 6:21-33, The New American Bible. 1991. Catholic Bible Publishers. Wichita, Kansas.)

You want arrogance? I’ll give you some arrogance. I am smarter than many of the men I know. I think broader and more inclusively than many of the men I have known. I am more morally correct than many of the men I know. And, now, of course, as a man, you are telling me to believe this bit above all other bits?

I don’t fucking think so.

This bit is one of the many reasons I questioned your view of Christianity to begin with. This is the questioning I did in all of my twenties, and beyond. This is what has driven me away fromĀ Catholicism, more than once, hell more than twice or even three times.

And, then, in the same breath you throw out the Old Testament counter argument, because, oh, that’s the old testament. Sorry dude, you either believe it all, or your recognize there are faults. You can’t pick and choose. Yes, admit that this speaks to you because of your penis prejudice, but don’t tell me it’s from God. It’s from Man.

I believe in the spirit of the bible. I believe in its overall message of love and of hope. I do not believe every fucking literal word that was written by corrupted Men.

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