28 September 2011

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa

Okay, let's back up a bit. Let's back way up. There's no way I'm going to get into the mystery of the Holy Trinity or any other mystery, or even get into the deeper strains of faith in the church or even in general until I get something off my chest.

Bigotry is the new catch-phrase for the insecure and self-conscious.

Think about it. There is an tumultuous, agitated, pouring outcry in society to be accepted, from kids in the schoolyard all the way to more controversial LGBT community, this not being a defined range, but all controversial within the context of what we see, experience, deal with, tolerate, opine about, etc. that even the honest Christians get the "B" word stapled to their heads when trying to stand up for what they believe. We--society, all of us--in our rants to be accepted, are slapping as many labels on ourselves as we are other people so that we feel recognized and acknowledged, to the degree that we are pointing fingers and looking everywhere but ourselves to put blame and not take responsibility for our hurts, our confusion, our anger. Or grouping good, honest Catholic Christians with the effed up, crazy, fundamentalist whacks. Or, at the very least, the Catholic Church getting the brunt of this societal divorce and becoming a whipping post for anyone who would disagree with her positions. But we don't need to be labeled! We just need to live our lives as we see fit and do the best we can in the light of the Great Creator. As long as we're trying, Our Lord will see this and he is going to have a good, enlightening discussion with each of us at the end of the road. He is the only judge we need to worry about. He knew the insides of our soul before we even thought of labels.

Furthermore, there is a difference between compassion/understanding/love/patience and 'tolerance', also the new throw-around catch word of the day. Dictionary.com defines tolerance as
1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.
2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one's own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.
4. the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.
For the ones crying out loudest for justice, this definition only applies to them, but not of theirs toward the Church. That is also injustice. Or just plain not fair, is it now. Society wants freedom to practice whatever religion, mantra, zen-like thing they want---we want freedom to say whatever the hell we want, and we have that freedom, but we don't give others that freedom, and we certainly don't want to hear it if it disagrees with the feelings and opinions we've taken a lifetime to build. And sometimes we're just mean! Even people in the LGBT community! Not only does this hypocritical thing negate whatever peace-bringing thing we practice (or don't practice) or preach, but there is no respect for another's beliefs. So gay or straight, male or female, rich or poor, tolerance, as lukewarm and apathetic as it is, isn't even being applied by the ones who preach it. Then the word "bigot" gets thrown in there and well, if you're not one, it just gets old.

In some cases, some are just as intolerant of the Church's right to free speech as they accuse of the Church of being. And/or throw the entire intended meanings out the window, losing the context completely. (Like here and here.) When negative cycles like this get repeated, we are revisiting times that do, indeed, seem like the Dark Ages, because we're forgetting the whole return aspect of what you dole out. Like grade 6 logic appealing to the rest of the grade school-ers. The only difference being that instead of fighting a "no, I didn't, HE did" war, the kids have rejected the teacher altogether and so many of the ranks below them are in dispute. But there is still junior high and high school to go. It has become trendy and enlightened to buy every rearranged truth that is said under the umbrella of tolerance. It has become far less than unpopular to say that a homosexual lifestyle is a sin. But tolerance is the easy flip-word, negation to conviction. And it is just as humiliating to read and hear some of the things Christians say, from awkward wording all the way to right out bullshit. Let me be the first to say, even defending my church, that there are some pretty effed up people out there that claim to be Christian.

I can endure listening to thoughts, feelings, and opinions that differ---even greatly---from my own, and love so many walks of life as though they were my own (just ask my Mexican father, my Quebecois boyfriend, my Norwegian mother, my colleagues, my friends), but your freedom ends where mine begins and one of the choices I have in exercising my boundaries (besides abandoning literature and self-education--um, that's a no-go) is to stand up TO the craziness, stand up for what I believe, in a way that is whole-hearted and passionate, not to the point of bashing it down your throat, but not backing down because this aspect IS dying and church is struggling to make people understand her role in the grand role of Love Itself. I am damn near positive I'm not the only one who feels as I do. It is difficult for us to express these things in words and semantics that people will understand and accept, but then again we are only human. I hope there is leeway in that.

If we consider that true faith is a relationship with God, and if we consider that any relationship which you act on love and with regard to perfecting the way you love, it moves the relationship to greater and greater depths. Any good couples counselor will tell you that behavior not concerned with the health of the relationship will only eat at the relationship, and that we must become responsible for our hurts and attitudes which contribute to the health or the demise of the relationship. And that's what we have: a relationship with God. Whether we choose to engage or not, whether we grow up in one kind of home or another, whether we agree with it or not. Both sides must work on it, for the better of the whole relationship, whether the other side deserves it or not. And that is where Divine Law is already working. Agape love. The divine love that precludes any hurt or darkness. That is what God has for us, no matter what we do. (It's just that if we keep doing things that refuse Him, we are closing our hearts to his love, a cycle in which, if not stopped, can lead to eternal death.)

The Catholic Church is obliged to uphold these laws in the way that a spouse or lover is obliged to do things for his or her partner--out of love, devotion, loyalty, commitment, and deeply spirited desire. It's not about being God's little grunts and do so out of miserable duty. It's about choosing to love Him back! And doing the things we would do for our spouse/partner out of love. The historical, problematic part of the church is that she is made up of humans and her spouse is the Savior and humans always want God to bend to their will. It doesn't work like that. Whether or not you live by karma, The Golden Rule, cause-and-effect, or any such reciprocal principle, it is about loving accountability to a loving God, who is compassionate, merciful, and forgiving, but not subject to us, our creations, our rules. Right. Now. We are his creation, subject to Him. We are the ones who change, flex, move, bend, not Him. It is us that need to grow into his love, not his into ours. We are the ones who have to split our guts working on the deepest parts of our love because where we work, we grow; where we grow, we have pain; where we have pain, we can more easily identify with someone else; and when we can do that, we are on our way to loving the way God intended us to love one another.This also means trying to help all of our indignant, angry brothers and sisters understand that 1) we love them SO much, we want them to take part in our community of brothers and sisters, no matter their orientation; and 2) rules suck, but because of the Galileo incident, we know the church CAN grow and can fix old thoughts. Who is to say, on this earth, the church can't change and that there is no hope? Your own hope to live your life the way you want to is the very hope we have that if it's meant to be, it WILL happen.

But let it be known that it is not right on either side to get extreme of go full-throttle against the other without understanding and compassion.

Also, remember this addage? "When you point, three fingers are pointing back at you." We are all sinners. Duh. There are more than a few of us living in sin in a plethora of counts across the board. What about the man living with a divorced woman? The woman having an affair with a co-worker? The gazillion couples having sex before marriage? The point? Don't judge. No matter what your creed, your side, your argument. Stand up for what you believe but don't be an ass. What all of us sinners forget as we cry out against perceived injustice is that we all do crap that offends God. All. The. Time. But he still looks at us with love in his heart because he IS love there is a whole order of business of Him waiting for us to love Him back. He wants us to grow. The very definition of love includes growth. But he is not a lazy or trendy god. He is the god of all the ages, the sole creator (via evolution, yes) and not prone to OUR rules. The ones most outraged by the church's doctrines and papal declarations are neglecting to own--because it is very painful to not always live as we would choose--that life in God IS painful because growth IS painful/awkward/uncomfortable; and... that human interpretation of divine-anything is going to be prone to flaw by the very nature of being human. I am NOT saying you can grow out of homosexuality--that is just wrong. What I'm saying is that we can and should try to live in harmony of our choices and God's desires for us side-by-side until we've exhausted our every effort to live a full and holy life. There needs to be the same understanding for each side to any argument or issue, which is never easy and quite often impossible as there are many angles of a heated topic as there are individuals--and we ALL have our own, unique levels of love and of angst.

And so, when truly bigoted people say bigot-ey things in the name of Christianity, it makes me want to puke. But so does taking messages and addresses out of context. It is our job to hold our brothers responsible, but it is important to do so in a way that is in the way that Jesus would. And how was that? Certainly not being a push-over, uber-tolerant, long-haired, tunic-wearing dude that was like "heyyy, I said this was the Golden Rule and these things were the most important commandents, but.... uh.... I'm gonna change 'em." No. He brought the spirit of the law back into the consciences of the crowds and put it in our eyes like a mirror, broaching controversy with a loving message, and not laying down waiting for people to roll over him. Eventually the message he was spreading--the good news--ticked off people so much it got him killed. Do we dare say that he brought it on himself or 'that's what he got for being a revoluationary'. No. They could not accept the new message. And even in all the ignorance to be born of all the ages since, none of the ages before his days on earth can claim to have the kind of growing intelligence and illumination that we have now. His way of thinking revolutionized philosophy.

As more people grow to be more up-in-arms about how the Church fits in or does not fit in to their lives, there will only be more persecution slung out of our mouths. I know, I was critical of church and religion in general in my twenties. I still can't understand some of the same things my straight and homosexual friends can't understand. But I am young, and we are young, and we are all subject to ultimate God-law (the law of love, Divine Law) whether we want to or not, which is not a law of tolerance but of love, forgiveness, compassion, and mercy. And the church is NOT what it was in the archaic past. (And before you go popping off about molestation, just shut your mouth and remember that all of us regular, normal Catholics were disgusted and mortified and wanted to hang and remove those priests ourselves, and that they do NOT represent the real heart of our blessed church.) Part of that law of love is our individual free will on this earth, but ultimately we have to answer to a loving god for why our hearts are so hardened. Both sides of the equation. Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do or to come by but by far the most precious commodity.

(If you could read this, maybe you can try this one: The Gospel of Tolerance.)