Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Strange and Winding Roads of Believers

I apologize to my non-religious readers if I’ve been too “Christian” lately.  I promise to write more secular things, especially once school starts.  In no way do I wish to force anyone to believe anything.  And I apologize to my religious readers if I am too blasphemous.  I don’t really fit into any category too easily.  And so, I will attempt here to explain the labyrinth of believers and unbelievers and approximately where I fit in.

I’m more religious than people who are totally non-religious and I’m less religious than most good, practicing Catholics or Christians.  Like Anne Rice, I can’t be anti-gay, or anti-Democrat, or anti-anything else that you’re supposed to be against to be a good Catholic or Christian.  She renounced Christianity in the name of Christ.  I renounce all of that stuff as well.

It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t been around the Christian block what the differences are between Christian, born-again Christian, Catholic, non-practicing Catholic, Catholic/Christian, Christian but not Catholic, Bible Christian, real Christian, Cafeteria Catholic, Orthodox Catholic as separate from the Orthodox Church.  Indeed, I don’t even understand all of it myself.

First of all, you have to distinguish between Catholic and Protestant.  Think it doesn’t matter?  It matters a lot to “believers.”   Let’s start with Protestants.

“Real” Christians are not Catholic or Orthodox, but they expect universal conformation to their orthodox beliefs.  They may be Baptist or Church of Christ or Pentecostal or non-denominational mega-church or some variation therein.  You know somebody’s a “real” Christian because they denounce those who aren’t.  And if they say, “They think we’re narrow-minded,” that’s a sure sign that they’re narrow-minded.

Then there are Fundamentalists.  Fundamentalists are sometimes also known as born-again Christians, Bible believing Christians and “real” Christians.  They may or may not be creationists, but try to adhere to what they believe to be the fundamentals of the Protestant Christian Faith.  They’re the gun-toters.  They speak gibberish in tongues.  In other words, you cannot dialogue with them.  Ironically enough, most Bible Christians have barely read any of the Bible.  They memorize a handful of verses and make up “moral” rules as they go along.  They “believe” in a book that they have not read.

Mainline Protestants are usually fairly normal people who can’t much be distinguished from worldly people.  Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I do not know.  Mainline Protestants would include Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians.  And within these groups, you will occasionally find Fundamentalists and real Christians.

As complicated as the splintered world of Protestant Christianity is, you’d think that the Catholic world would be a singular refuge from such pious disagreements.  But no.  The Catholic Church easily matches the Protestant Churches for disordered beliefs and holy infighting.  The Catholic Church goes well beyond the infighting among the laity and has factions and groups who are ordained or vowed either licitly or illicitly, traditionalist or non-traditionalist.  Groups such as Opus Dei, Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and many others.  There are many other “good” Catholics who are better versed in these groups than I am.

As a (long ago) convert to Catholicism, I am not entirely familiar with all of the various Catholic names that different “believers” are called.  The most common derisive name for “other” Catholics is Cafeteria Catholic.  Invariably, this and other names are always attributed to other people.  You never hear of Catholics announcing to the world that they are Cafeteria Catholics and that others are so much holier.  Cafeteria Catholic refers to the fact that people pick and choose only parts of the faith to practice, and not the whole thing.  It’s what everybody does though.  It isn’t, in actual fact, limited to a group of heathens or sinners, it’s a fact of humanity.  I guess I’m a bit of an unbelieving, non-practicing Cafeteria Catholic.  I don’t even go to Church on Sundays.

And within the Catholic Church, certainly, the vowed and ordained have a very real contempt for the laity.  They view the laity as things to be used to push their various agendas, just like real politicians.  So that makes them more Christian than the laity.

And do all of these wonderful groups and factions love and respect each other?  No.  So the Catholic Church has this system wherein different people and groups of people who essentially hate each other can supposedly be united.  And that is through the Pope.  Ask what that means and you’ll get many answers that don’t agree with each other.  Ask a Presbyterian what that means, and you’ll be denounced for being a Papist.

In all, Christians, on the whole are no holier than anybody else, sometimes especially those who consider themselves holy and wrap themselves up in ten tons of religion.  The one thing that truly unites most Christians and Catholics, isn’t the Lord Jesus, it’s their love of money.  The Pope lives in a castle.  Does he share with his brothers and sisters in Christ?  No.  Poor people really aren’t welcome at Catholic Church.

Even though I’m not a “believer,” religion is clearly something that torments me.  The hypocrisy, the selfishness, and everything else that can be found in religion.  When I tried to practice religion according to their rules, I was only made a mess of.  And then, in confession, the priest blasted me.  He announced, “You have no peace.”  He couldn’t have been more giddy.  This is one of the worst problems with religious people, as I see it.  They are delighted to cause other people’s suffering and to see other people suffer.  I guess, like Charlie Sheen, it proves that they’re “winning.”


ima girl said...

It is something you believe in and that is ok. I just don't like believers who try and tell me I am going to hell if I don't believe.

It is your blog and I like the way you write :)

Adult Student said...

Thanks so much for your comment, ima girl. I don't like those kinds of believers either.

The Manic Chef said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog, I caught glimpse of it through 'BlogUpp!'. I enjoy your straight forward approach in your writing. And I understand your dilemma on how to regard the term, "Christianity". It is in this day and age to discern it properly. But I shall with this one phrase to sum it up "you'll shall know them by their fruit". There is a great gulf of difference between reading the Bible and memorizing verses and knowing the author of it. Religiosity kills, it is the very essence of violence against the truth of Christ and what He represents. Christianity is not obtained through the 'practicing' of principals, or laws followed in perfect obedience, for all those things lead to religion which produces hypocrisy,persecution, to make others suffer, and ultimately death. No, all life is in Christ and through Christ, the Law of Grace is a gift of Faith through Christ and by Christ in His faithful trust in and towards God, His Father, whom grants all things pertaining to His perfect will. Man has nothing to do with it. I shun all things that pertain to death and religiosity, my faith is in Christ Himself and nothing more. Peace to you and keep shunning all the falsehood, for that is precisely what it is. Thank you for the honesty of your perceptions.

Adult Student said...

And thank you for your comment. :)