Category Archives: Religion

A Catholic school anecdote…

This is in response to a comment Adrienne left on the last post…

The scene: My third grade Catholic school classroom, under the tender care of Mrs. Dexter, a real authoritarian bitch. We’re discussing the Book of Genesis, and the Creation Story.

Mrs. Dexter: “So, when it says that God rested on the Seventh Day, we interpre… Yes, Monocentric?”

Monocentric: “What about the dinosaurs?”

D: “Excuse me?”

M: “The Creation Story doesn’t talk about the dinosaurs we learned about in science class. Where’d they come from?”

D: “We’ll have to discuss this later, I want to finish this discussion today. So, what we’re supposed to take away from this is that…”

M: “But Mrs. Dexter, you said that the dinosaurs had been in the ground for years and years and…”

D: “Be quiet, Monocentric. We’ll discuss it later.”

M: “But Mrs. Dexter, what about in the Ark? Is that why the dino…”

D: “BE QUIET BEFORE I CALL YOUR PARENTS.”

M: “… eep.”

Now, of course, I know that the Catholic Church is extremely friendly to evolution, and they apologized for Galileo, etc. I’m still not friendly with the Church, but I’m willing to cut them some slack on those issues, at least.

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A few odds’n’ends

Since I’ve been reading a couple of really good liberal Christianity blogs, I’ve been finding links to a lot of interesting content. I’ll be sharing more, goin’ forward. Also, politics.

A nice take on Catholic education, as it should be. I really did luck out with my 2nd Catholic school, even though my father apologized for it. The quality of teaching was much higher, especially in the subjects that still dominate a lot of my thinking – science, English, literature…

This is one of the books I’m reading right now. (Out of… about 4. Maybe 5. heh. I need to organize that better.) It’s going to be grist for later posts about BDSM, masculinity, and a bunch of things, but my oh my is it fascinating reading. I know that not all straight men are like the pick-up artist community, but holy fuck are these guys strange. Then again, I could write a similar book, starting with blog posts, about gay culture. *lightbulb* OK, will keep that idea on file. And I really want to meet the book’s author, who I know lives in Chicago. Maybe some year I’ll get off my ass…

I’m always looking for new music(even though my collection is at… 91GB of music. Which translates to over 39 days, total. And that’s just music, not counting lectures, both audio-only and video, that I’ve downloaded. plus all the podcast novels I’ve listened to, and the podcasts I listen to on a daily basis… There’s a reason I always have iTunes open on my mac, currently named Gnosis. *grin* One of my best sources for new music every year is the best albums list created by one of my favorite web cartoonists every year. I’m just getting to Jeph’s list this year, but it’s got 15 albums, and in the past he’s lead me to some of my favorite music, like Royksopp:

Yeah, weird video – awesome music, though! And if you have any recommendations, please do keep ’em coming.

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Wonder and beauty and awe! (Oh my!) And creation.

One thing I alluded to over-vaguely in yesterday’s post on religion  is one of the things I feel is most important in bringing me back, however vaguely or UU-like(Mulder refers to the UUs as “Principle without belief”, as opposed to his description of the Republicans, “Belief without principles”), is a sense of awe, of wonder, at the beauty in the Universe, an appreciation of the infinities of space and time that science has a really good hold on, but religion generally ignores.

There are occasional exceptions. This is a really crappy version of a hymn I remember from later in my Catholic school years:

It’s campy, but it at least demonstrates my point: this world, this universe, is the only thing we know we have. And it’s fucking amazing. If you can look at stuff like this and not feel awe, there’s something wrong with you. Sadly, though, one of the best places to find a sensawunda these days is still in science fiction – or occasionally in science fact. Although if you have the right mindset, you can still find it. When Mulder took me to Hawaii last year, and we were on top of Haleakalā, and I could see all of the Milky Way spilled out like stardust on velvet… it was absolutely breathtaking, and as close to a religious moment as science can take you.

That’s a point that way too much of the science-vs-creationism debate sadly misses. (Granted, I still think the Young-Earth Creationists are fucking loons, and “creation science” is a fraud as cruel as homeopathy. And if they’re right, and you have a God up in Heaven that would resort to something like blatant lies, maybe I’d be better off in Hell.)

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A few witches burning, gets a little toasty…

Sorry I’ve been quiet – a whole week just kind of got away from me somehow… I won’t commit to posting daily, but I will try to keep it pretty consistent, at least. So, I’ll try not to let more week-long hiatuses happen unannounced.

That said, into the meat of the things…

I was raised Catholic – something my father has apologized for. Well, he apologized for the 8 years of Catholic school. I was also Confirmed, although that was purely to keep my mother happy. I’d started questioning the Catholicism I’d been raised with at about the age of 10, and by the time I turned 12 I’d pretty much fully renounced the faith entirely. That, too, was all my mother – she was very good at emphasizing all that’s bad in Catholic doctrine(the utterly punitive nature of God, the fallen nature of all humanity, the ultimate depravity of all women) while utterly ignoring the good parts of Jesus’ message. Of course, that’s due to a lot of the Catholicism she absorbed – pre-Vatican II, still drowned in Latin and incense. She didn’t adapt to the changes very well… heh.

I went from being Catholic to (self-, and only internally) identifying as pagan. Not much of a switch, there… And in retrospect I realize a lot of what was going on in my head then, with these odd self-aggrandizing epics involving titanic, invisible battles between angels and demons, was really compensating for amazingly deep loneliness. At that point in my life, I could count the friends my age I had on one, maybe two hands. And not many more sympathetic adults… It was a bad time. heh.

My 20s were spent pretty firmly towards the atheist end of the atheism/agnosticism spectrum, with a position I would jokingly describe as “evangelical agnosticism”. To wit, “I don’t know, and you don’t, either.”

That, too, is shifting a bit. It’s odd, too – a lot of my questioning of the idea of spirit comes from my grasp of science. Specifically, what the Internets call stellar nucleosynthesis. The short explanation – the most abundant substance in the universe, probably the only thing created during the Big Bang, is hydrogen. Stars are big balls of hydrogen undergoing fusion – getting smashed together to make helium. And when stars explode, they make all the really heavy shit – from iron through and beyond uranium. This means that the carbon and oxygen and hydrogen we’re mostly made from, and all the rest of the stuff we’re made from, was at one point part of a star. So, you, and I, and everybody else, and all the other sentient things out there(since there has to be something out there) are, literally, starstuff. This isn’t really news – Delenn in Babylon 5 said it on TV in the 90s. But it ‘s something that a lot of people, including those on my favorite internet hangout, are increasingly aware of. (And celebrating(that’s been my wallpaper for weeks now.) And that fact, combined with all we’ve been able to learn about Nature, the fact that nature is, to even some extent, knowable, says to me that there’s Something Going On, and that something is greater than we can understand.

I’ve been talking a lot with Shepherd, a priest I know(in fact, the same priest who’ll be doing the ceremony for Mulder and I this fall) about stuff like this, and the position I’ve basically arrived at he termed panentheism. Reading the page, and pondering the difference between panentheism and pantheism, took a while, but it made sense at the end, and the distinction is important.

As far as the afterlife is concerned, I don’t know. I’d like to think there’s something significant, since human thoughts and emotions are a lot of energy, and it’d be an awful waste for that energy to just go away when we die.

One of the more useful things Shepherd has said to me is that reading the Bible and wondering about heaven is like consulting the rulebook for football for clarification on home runs – it’s not the book that’s appropriate for the job. It’s a guide to this life, and how we’re supposed to treat each other. It’s a fault or at least a limitation of mine that, given my still-in-progress recovery from my upbringing that I can’t quite appreciate the Bible for it’s good life lessons right now, and I have to leave it aside. But I know it’ll be waiting for me when I need it.

So, in accordance with the dictates of St. Savage, hallowed be his name, I took what he calls the Campsite Rule of dating and generally apply it to the whole world. He says that boyfriends, like campgrounds, should be left in better shape when you depart than it was when you get there – so, make it better. That’s such damn good advice(that I’ve tried, very hard, to follow – with mixed results) that I’ve applied it to the whole world, and as many of my daily interactions as I can. And really, I think that’s a pretty good way to live, for now.

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