Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Catholic Church Goes Old School

Tom's post on church got me thinking about religion. Just like him, I'm a card carrying member of the bad Catholic society.

I go to church when either the parental units talk me into it, holiday, or funeral. Otherwise I don't go. A couple of years a go I experimented with the Episcopal Church.

I have to admit I enjoyed it. The problem was that I didn't want to convert. I know conversion is just a word, but the implications bothered me. Would lightening strike me if I turned my back on my religion? What would my parents think? Could you ever escape Catholic guilt?

The Episcopal Church in my opinion is a more relevant, progressive version of the Catholic Church. It even follows the same format except that things are in a different order, priests can marry, women can become priests, and there is this odd acceptance of gays.

I remember thinking, "You mean these dudes who are into dudes are not going to hell?" Strange. This goes against everything that those celibate white haired men told me.

All joking aside, I enjoyed hearing a priest candidly talk about marriage and family matters when he was both a father and husband. He even sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

I know many fine Catholic priests, but I think it would be a challenge for them to pull off a good sermon on love and marriage. Sure, they might have studied in-depth about marriage. They might know many married couples. But I doubt they know what goes into a marriage on a day-to-day basis. That's a big disconnect.

Then there is topic of sex, which the Catholic Church views as being both shameful and sinful. Sex is natural and by nature we are sexual beings. Why is something to be feared and despised? Are we not despising ourselves?

Suppressing a natural urge in order to preach on religious matters appears illogical. The two are not necessarily connected. I can buy the argument that celibacy is the ultimate sacrifice offered up to God, but it appears to create many issues.

Besides celibacy conflicts with early church history. Most of the apostles were married and I'm pretty sure that most of them had children too. If they gave up sex after becoming followers wouldn't that make them horrible husbands?

At some point in time in church history, marriage and sex became a huge negative. The justification that a priest/nun is married to the church and marriage would strain the relationship with God or distract him/her from their religious obligations seems flimsy.

There are plenty of "unholy" distractions in the world. A marriage could be a distraction, but so could alcohol, television, sports, food, video games, etc...

I refuse to believe that there is a priest alive who doesn't partake in some or all of those activities. It doesn't make them a bad priest; Just a person who isn't focused solely on God 100% 24/7.

Priests are a lot like people. Some like a good drink; Others like to play basketball, and some like to cook. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those activities.

The Catholic Church currently is on the fast track backwards. Nostalgia can be a popular retreat, but it does not solve the church's current problems such as the priest shortage, the relevancy of the faith, and so forth. Pope Benedict should try to address these issues or he risks alienating a generation.


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