This was one of those photos that spoke to me. I had no idea at the time what I was capturing, I was just snapping away. And then when I was editing there was a kind of funky irony to a street sign indicating a crooked road in front of a church. Are we to assume the path to true piety is crooked? Or am I being jaded?
A friend and I were discussing religion today. More specifically Catholicism. He asked me if I went to church regularly. (We are both Catholic) I said no and that honestly I had not even picked a church to attend in Chester County since I moved out here. He asked me if I missed church and I said, honestly, no. (And understand this friend of mine is a little right of Attila the Hun as far as conservatism and religion go.)
Ok not a nice thing to admit, but I am totally conflicted about the Catholic Church, especially given all the issues in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. As an adult who is free thinking I have a hard time with why it is I should believe in a church that allowed so many predators and pedophiles of children to roam around unfettered. When I was a child I never knew priests like this existed. I went to church, to Sunday school. I believed. Maybe it’s that whole thing about when you are a child you believe with a child’s innocence. (Of course that is why I am glad there are non-profits out there now like Justice4PAKids.)
(Ok so I mean no disrespect for the Mennonite Church. I just like to photograph fire and brimstone as well as amusing religious signs. Just thought I would say that on the record.)
Anyway, we got into this whole deep and slightly esoteric discussion about faith and faith based lifestyles and how people should go to church more and how the world would be a better place if people went to church more.
Ideologically, yes, perhaps. But we live in the real world, right?
So I am a Catholic, I have my faith, but am conflicted by my church and the actions of said church. How do I resolve that? Do I pretend questions don’t exist?
And then there is the whole thing of joining a new church. How do I pick one and will I feel like the new kid transferring into school if I go to mass at one of them? I have already had a couple of years of that new kid in town feeling, and well it was much easier to deal with when you are a kid because I think we are just more flexible when we are younger.
But some days my brave new world is daunting. You know because it’s new. It’s exciting and happy and all sorts of positive and amazing things, but some days it is like being the new kid in school. It took me a year before I actually recognized someone in a grocery store. So the idea of all eyes on the newbie in the church pew is so utterly unappealing.
When it comes down to it, how do I even go about choosing a church? I thought about checking out Saints Peter and Paul on Boot Road. But then, one day driving by I saw all these extremely disturbing anti-abortion signs along their property line facing the road. I might be Catholic but I believe in a woman’s right to choose no matter what that choice
is. What I believe is right for me personally is not something I feel I could foist on another woman. Nor do I believe things like this belong on either a political platform or a pulpit. So to say I dislike these signs is a bit of an understatement. (Don’t even get me started on the pro-life billboards!)
Of course the other thing is the whole idea of living in faith based world. Do we live with faith as part of our world or is it supposed to control our world? When I see websites or articles about “faith based investing” for example, I have to wonder. Will I next see faith based grocery shopping ?
My other issues with religion these days? Birth control and religious beliefs and what are they going to allow their employees to have as far as health insurance related to that? Should we sit idly by while the rights of millions are dictated by the beliefs of a few?
How do I join the beliefs of traditional religion to the modern world in which I live? I still consider myself to be a person who believes in God and has faith. But I don’t know what to do with the rest of it. How can I still be Catholic if I question so much about my own religion, for example?
Of course there is also the whole thing of meeting some people in recent years who professed to be oh so godly, so pious. Quite literally holier than thou. They were as mean as snakes to some and do the whole “bless your heart” thing to most.
“Bless your heart” is basically a Southern Idiom as I know it and considered pejorative. When you meet these official “bless your heart” types they will smile to someone’s face and stab them in the back before they are turned around, and well to me it is a sad commentary on humanity.
So are we more politically correct to be faith based, or is it a marketing tool of lobbyists and way too conservative for me personally political groups (or aspiring politicians)?
Faith based by definition is “affiliated with, supported by, or based on a religion or religious group”. We live in a country founded on religious freedoms, so how does that compute?
What kind of God are we supposed to believe in? Allowed to believe in? Is religion supposed to be gentle and all enveloping or punishing? Is religion supposed to be a private belief system or a political platform?
So many questions.
I know truly religious and pious people who do amazing things and then there are the others who use religious beliefs as judgment, i.e. how people stack up against their moral high road to nowhere fast.