Being raised a Catholic is a comforting thing. This is especially true if you win the catechism prize year-in and year-out. If you have a dangly bit, you might consider becoming a priest. If not, a nunnery is always an option.
Fleeing a horrific world of bullying unfairness is not only a comfort to the ego and superego (forget the id, chum, unless you have an archbishop+ covering for you), it is a sacred duty. It all fits so nicely into the disinfected world of the naively disaffected. At 40 now, there have been many times I wished I could have continued to believe as I did as a child. I did not, however, and was not confirmed in the faith.
You see, the answers were too glib and when the answers started to run dry, I was told by the parish priest that unquestioning faith was a prerequisite for getting on the guest list for the party of all time. Something in me had and has a problem with this… a big problem. So I opted out. As many know, surely, this is not an easy thing.
I was lucky enough to have the support of Cardinal McCann in trying to explain my position to my parents. A good man, he recognised that it was impossible for me to reconcile my young experience and the dogma of the Church. He hoped I would return later in life. I never did.
As a teenager of 15 or so, I started theological arguments with my father. I ended them too. He just said I was too young, too inexperienced to fully appreciate the truth he believed. For a long time, I was too young to understand what was really going on in his belief-structure. I continually argued with him.
I prodded so many holes in his belief system that a sieve would have seemed watertight. I stopped arguing with him when, one night, cornered by my argument, tired after a long day’s work, he simply grumbled “It just makes me feel better to believe this. Ok?” I replied “Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?” I never argued with him about religion again.
This is my problem with many of the atheist arguments on News24 and other forums. This problem is particularly acute since Dawkins picked up the cudgels. My father was not a bad man. He was clever in some ways and stupid in others… like all of us. He did not deserve my angry vitriol.
He just wanted something to believe in. I see the disdain that Christians are exposed to on the net and I wonder… where is your compassion? By all means, argue your points. By all means, point out fallacies. But please, try to realise that life is hard at times and that some people need to believe in a justice that, I believe, does not exist.
Please, try to phrase your criticisms well so that they don’t seem like personal attacks.
Life is for the living. My mother, a Christian, knew that. What comes next, if anything, is not certain. She had fun at the party and made many friends. She lived well and died well. Does what she believed really matter in the end, except that it helped her live with compassion?