nonionay: (goddesscross)
Today, I was talking to my dad about my school plans, and he asked the inevitable question: "What sort of job do you plan on getting after this?" He's particularly curious about this in regards to my interest in theology. I'm trying to figure out how to explain my desires in this. I'm approaching the idea of being a therapist like being a priest, guiding people through the irrational realms of mind and spirit. I even ponder the possibility of joining some heretical Catholic sect and getting ordained, or maybe even starting my own, unique church.

These are just ideas I play with. Heck, part of the reason I want to study theology is because I like the irony of an agnostic studying it, but in all seriousness, I approach religion (which I define as the external and communal expressions of spirituality) pragmatically. If something works for you (and doesn't hurt anyone) then go for it. Just don't act like your way is the only way.

And frankly, I'm inspired by the Sisters who are speaking out against the Vatican, and trying to reform the Church into a more progressive, social justice-oriented entity. I've been putting a lot of energy into Catholicism lately, and I see at least two reasons for this.

First, I miss the community. Being independent has its perks, but one of the things I lost when I left the Church was the sense of belonging and emotional safety. The lack of that is the main reason I left, and I've been searching for it ever since. I tried a Unitarian service once, but it just didn't click with me, even though they were obviously a great group. The closest I've gotten has been in the sf community, particularly at the old Talebones Live readings, which were basically a church service where our commonality was love of sf, and we made up our own scriptures instead of relying on a single old book.

The gatherings I went to during the fight for marriage equality gave me back that feeling. I learned that there were people out there who shared my beliefs and were part of the familiar world of Catholicism. (Thank you, Stephen Colbert!) The sense that the Christian God would only value bland, passionless women, and would punish those who didn't conform, all that finally blew away, and that leads to my second reason.

I want to help other people like me, who feel isolated and exiled from the land of their birth. I think the Catholic Church is an institution worth saving, and I want to help save it, or at least create a space that is safe and familiar for lost people like myself.

I found that space standing outside St James Cathedral, attending a rally that was basically a mass led and attended by women and gays and people who refused to abandon a Church that neglected them. I stood there, still isolated, but not alone.

And how does that translate into a job that will pay off my soon-to-be-massive student debt? Hell if I know. This is just the direction I'm pointing myself in, because I think it's important.
nonionay: (Default)
I think I just went to my first ever Latin Mass. I thought it was special for the William Byrd Festival, but I guess it's weekly. This means everyone else knew what they were doing, and I didn't. Latin responses aside, there were a few differences in tradition. They bowed in the middle of the Profession of Faith, and genuflected before receiving Communion, not after. (And some of them were very expansive in bowing and making the cross.) And, they didn't touch their heart at the consecration of the Eucharist.
I might check it out next week, just to see what the regular music's like. William Byrd's Mass For Four Voices was beautiful. Also, I think since this week's special, Mass was said by the retired bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand. Latin with a Kiwi accent! I also don't think I've ever seen Mass led by a bishop in full regalia, with mitre and crozier and everything.

Today was full of options. I chose to go downtown, where supposedly a coffee shop held weekly figure drawing sessions. Turns out that this week, it was across the street at a booth in a block party. (It wasn't a nude figure drawing!) The music was a little too boom boomy for me, so I passed. However, since I'd trekked downtown, I figured I'd enjoy myself, and wandered towards the waterfront. That's how I discovered the huge outdoor market they have every Saturday. I found a nice dress for half off, which manages to simultaneously make me look cute and fat. I put it and my pearl earrings on when I got home, for church.
(I love my clip-on pearl earrings. They are instant class. If by class, you mean, the 1950s.

Tomorrow, I plan on going to an open choral concert at the Portland Opera, and possibly the final concert of the William Byrd Festival.

(And what did I do yesterday? Yesterday, I went to the free night at the art museum. Continuing today's religious theme, Robert Crumb's Book of Genesis is awesome. It's a paradox, because it's a reverent depiction by an artist who's very creation of it makes it automatically irreverent.)
nonionay: (Default)
Roger Ebert talks about his childhood in a Catholic school.
I didn't go to a Catholic school, and I've never held nuns in awe (growing up around a post-Vatican II nun will do that to you) but his post encapsulates why I still hold Catholicism close to my heart, even though I disagree with some of the Church's morality. Like Ebert says, matters of sex and so on were only obliquely referred to, and at least in our American churches, hellfire and guilt were never really hammered at (I later learned Irish churches were different!) So the mental bonds I had to break were quite light when I hit puberty and started looking at the world with a broader mindset. The values of helping the poor and oppressed, however, were firmly established.
nonionay: (Default)
A 360 tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I think it's amazing and beautiful. Probably very few stones in that building were laid at the same time. Sometimes, the patchwork nature of churches is distracting, but this one simply illustrates the nature of history. From stones laid (supposedly) in Saint Helena's time, to that weird stylized statuary so popular in the 70s that makes me think of my grandma.


and to cleanse you of your reverence,

Alien vs. Pooh.

Eeyore also makes me think of my grandma.
nonionay: (Default)
Trying not to be bitter today. And not for the usual "Valentine's Day sucks" reasons. An old friend stated that hate is love restrained. So what are we, society, doing insisting on restraining love that isn't even ours?

Tradition states* that today, almost two thousand years ago, a man died who, among other things, committed the crime of performing marriages for a group of people who were reviled and forbidden to practice their faith. (and thereby, get married).

Heaven forbid anyone marry the person they love, no matter what society at large has to say about it. At various times of my life, I've felt required to keep the people I love apart, because of fear and the specter of shame. (I'm not ashamed, dammit. I don't want to act like it.)

So here's a prayer for anyone who's in love with a person--or persons--that someone else thinks they shouldn't love.*** For gays, polyamorists, people of disparate races and religions and political creeds and anything else I haven't thought of.

Thank you for love
for the joy it brings
and the sharing
and caring.

The glee and excitement
that turns dried flowers
into nectar-spilling roses.

Let me share my nectar with all the world.
Let the whole world benefit
From the relationships I create
For are not two more powerful than one?
(And three and four? An infinite net to catch me and my children when I fall.)

Let there be no orphans
Or widowed hearts
Damned to isolation
Because of fear.

Let us proclaim our love to the world.




*No matter how tradition may have been revised.**
** Also, happy Saint Cyril and Methodius Day! Yay Cyrillic writing system! Knowing how humble saints are supposed to be, I'm sure Methodius doesn't feel shafted for the writing system not being called Cyrillmethodic.
***Excepting the pedophiliacs. Sucks to be them. As long as we're praying, we can all pray they manage to be self-aware and in control.
nonionay: (Default)
Local boy's recovery could be final link to Blessed Kateri's sainthood

There's a Kateri Court next to my work, which contains low-income housing. I always thought it was an unusual and pretty name, but only now do I connect it with Blessed Kateri, whose statue I've seen plenty of times at the local church.

This story will probably infuriate some of you and fascinate others. Me, I like to walk the fine line between cynicism (co-opting the Indians, yeah!) and fascination. I'm not concerned with the historical Kateri. Maybe she was the only nice thing in a tribe of muddy savages, maybe she was the sort of self-righteous bitch who would turn in her neighbor to be burned as a witch. I don't care. I'm interested in the entity that people have shaped in her image. People create them, these little Mary Sues in the sky. And while as a fiction writer I hate to see it happen, they do need a few of their wrinkles ironed out to serve their purpose as bridges between humans and the unknowable.

I love the concept of saints. I don't think of them so much as intercessors but as filters and specifically directed pipelines for the vast power of God--however you want to frame your concept of god. I just use the word "god" for convenience. I'm not inclined to believe in a consciously motivated, anthropomorphic god. This is why I like Kabbalah. The concept of the Ain/ Ain Soph / Ain Soph Aur appeals to me in its lack of anthropomorphism. To me, that concept is what I equate with the Catholic God. The Ain Soph Aur is the Limitless Light. There is no motivation there, no morality or directed power. That only comes when its squeezed through Kether into the shape of the world.

Some people look at one of the limited shapes that have been extruded from the Ain Soph Aur like playdough through a plastic star and call that god. I think that's what a lot of Protestants accuse Catholics of regarding saints and the Virgin Mary, but I think that's what they're doing when they get all Creationist and moralizing and self-righteous.

I think I've wandered from my point, which I think was justifying my fascination with Blessed Kateri's possible canonization. I don't know, maybe she was a cool person in real life and not just a tool of the all-devouring Church of the Happy Fun Witch Burning and Colonizing Days. Like I said, I ultimately don't care, but it's nice to pretend. (Hey, I'm of the opinion that reality is such a fluid thing, that the only way we can have a stable life is to pretend and basically live a full-immersion role-playing game in full awareness that that's what you're doing. We're microcosms and Maya reigns. Just remember. Everything is Nothing. We all go back to the Ain.)
I'm willing to accept that the thought of her made some kid feel good, and that's good enough for me. The fact remains that no matter how their ancestors were converted, there are Native Americans who are Catholic of their own free will, and it's nice that they might have a saint they can identify with. Even if, you know, they're from totally different tribes on different sides of the continent.

blah blah blah
nonionay: (Default)
I read the New Advent newsfeed, which, just by scanning headlines, gives me a good idea of what's going on in the Catholic world. It's a place where pro-life headlines are side-by-side with ones about ytterbium atoms. (teleportation!) Apparently some Americans are annoyed at the Pope for not including abortion in his first messages to President Obama. The article then points out this:

"Inevitably, however, the situation also highlights a basic contrast in Catholic culture on the two sides of the Atlantic. Catholics in Europe, even the most ferociously conservative, generally do not have a single-issue focus on abortion. They’re no less pro-life, but perhaps because there’s no prospect of rolling back abortion rights in most European nations, it’s not their signature crusade. In the States, abortion is the elephant in the room during any conversation about Catholics and politics, but not so across the water, and not so for the pope."

Thank God the Vatican has a wider scope of vision than some people.
nonionay: (Default)
Because there are exceptions to every rule...
Bellingham welcoms married priest

He's a converted Lutheran priest, and came with wife and kids attached.
nonionay: (Default)
Is the Hokey-Pokey Anti-Catholic?

And the Language Log post where I found this. -- Note the comment pointing out that Catholics still don't have full rights in the UK.

Now I want to have a hokey-pokey mass. Led by the Pope.

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