I. Warm Wishes This Holiday Season / “Stay Gold, Ponyboy”
It’s the holiday season everyone, and we’re ending the end of it. For those who have celebrated their pertinent celebrations, if you are celebrating anything to begin with, I hope everything went according to plan and without a hitch. I hope you had opportunities to spend time with your families and/or friends; sometimes, depending where you’re located, you may not have the opportunity to celebrate with those important individuals in your lives.
New Year’s Day is right around the corner, which means it is actually time to start another year. I don’t know how you all feel about the designated “New Year,” because it’s a uniform day where everyone can celebrate however they feel like. In my opinion, our birthdays are a great designation for our personal New Year. I appreciate having this one uniform day for all of us to have, so we can all resort and maybe find comfort in knowing this is every person’s “New Year.”
It’s important to simply play it safe. I am not going all parental on you, because celebrations vary from year to year. It’s just important to make it into the upcoming 2013, of course, without receiving any scratches for scars. This first day in January is a day for resolutions! We strive for clean slates. We get to tell ourselves things we want to accomplish, holding true to our desired procedures toward these anticipated expectations for just a brief moment in time.
The killer in all of this is the simplistic thought that tomorrow is another day. That phrase is an absurd agitator, a banal booster, a crippling conundrum, a dream destroyer, an epic execution, and a fantastic falter…
The best way to over come something is to push yourself–challenge, perhaps, is a better word?–to strive for the best. The strife, for lack of a better term, which is plaguing you can only be overcome by consistency. This consistency is not habitual by any means, because that will only cause you to become bored. Tweak your routine a bit. Add something in there to make an exercise different, but choose a difficult tweak which will cause you aggravation. It will be like the sore, loose tooth you had when you were a child; you love the pain upon touching it, because only moving the tooth more will make it come out faster.
II. Church Gypsies
Coming from two families–if you have not known this already, one side being Italian while the other side being Irish and Czech–whose nationalities are of these backgrounds, it is easy to determine that the chances of me being brought up Catholic is pretty much a safe bet. As a family, we went to church every Sunday at St. Cecilia, and that practice evolved into going every Saturday night. After being baptised at St. Cecelia in Solvay, I received my First Communion at St. Charles in Westvale, and I finally made my Confirmation at St. Michael’s on Onondaga Hill. Due to a shared Holy Staff at St. Michael’s and St. Peter’s, which was a very small church down the road, we frequented St. Peter’s quite often. There were quite a few times where my mom has referred to our family as church gypsies.
There were many times, especially around the holidays, where we would see many unfamiliar faces in church. These so-called newcomers were designated as C.P.E.’s, or those who came to church only for Christmas, Palm Sunday, and/or Easter. My brother and I would share a chuckle at our mother’s comments, which essentially designated these individuals as borderline heathens. Now, my brother and I fall into this category, and we probably have had the opportunity to drive the bus.
We did not partake in the heathen Kool-Aid, or so to speak. Attending mass just wasn’t in our agenda. If we missed one Saturday/Sunday mass, referring to a comment in the first part of the post: there was always next week.
For a few summers, however, we neighborhood boys would actually ride our bikes to Sunday mass at St. Peter’s. We didn’t sneak in to grab a bulletin and take off, which we had done in the past, to prove we did step foot inside the church. Whether or not we stayed for mass… Well, let’s just say God is watching us. Going to mass seemed a bit more appealing when we reached the age where we could ride our bikes to the church. It was great and a crowd-pleaser to admit that we rode our bikes to mass. The 45-minute ceremony wouldn’t cut into too much of our time to hang out.
I think our parents were pleased that we had the incentive to attend mass. We got Steve to go, which was even more surprising to us Malone boys and Dan.
III. The Beginning of Doubt
However, due to financial reasons, something God couldn’t even intervene on, St. Peter’s church closed. The Sherwood Boys had no church to ride our bikes to. We could no longer attend St. Peter’s Christmas Mass, which was my favorite. The intimate setting inside the decorated small, white church was accented by garlands and candles and wreaths. The music provided came from the strings of a harp. It was beautiful. However, good things do come to an end.
Looking back upon this, the closing of St. Peter’s was probably the first point in my life where I began to doubt. Yet, I continued to attend mass. If God cannot save a church, a tiny church no bigger than the houses in our neighborhood, how do you believe? How do you believe when it comes down to the Almighty Dollar? We should not have to pay to worship. Worshiping a God should be priceless. Worship and praise should be a free relief. Step in, God. You want people to believe; well, save this church.
When is it time to face reality?
Vacation Bible School in the summer was one thing, having to attend these day-to-day retreats consecutive summers; however, the older I got, especially to the time of Confirmation. My entire class at St. Michael’s were forced to attend a retreat led by this individual, Justin, who went by the preferred nomenclature: Rocky. Christ saved him while he was incarcerated. Since this retreat, Rocky had his own HBO special, which references his Hard as Nails Ministry. Anyways, it was a bit over the top to get people hyped up about God and religion. I admire his charisma, but it wasn’t for me.
The entire class had to go into the church one evening. I believe it was for confession, but we had to wait our turns, sitting patiently in the pews. An object was put on the altar, symbolizing–if I remember correctly–as God’s eyes and/or ears. I’m not sure. Although, I do not remember the idol’s purpose, I do remember our inability to talk. A couple of us were asked to keep it down or hush. I thought God was ready and available whenever. What is the point of a statue?
IV. Obsessing About Religion and Social Issues
The fact that people are very particular about religion is beyond me. There are several religions out there, and each one of these religions have the same background/underlying story. Do the research. One person’s religion is no different, nor is it better, than another’s. Because of these believed differences: turmoil and war. There is no used in getting into this, because this post is would be a hell of a lot longer than it is going to be.
I cannot understand the street corner preachers ranting and raving about God and religion. In my opinion this preaching and proclaiming falls under the category of sinning. Before I get into my reason why, let’s just point out the obvious: these street corner preachers are spewing hate and disgust to others.
If God created us in his own image, God must be a pretty diverse character. Not only is this monotheistic idol showing itself in other religions, taking on different names, this God has the ability to break into paganism and mythology; after all, God has the ability to take on different lifeforms, splitting its being into several different Gods, signifying an array of single characteristics.
So, God created us in its own image. That’s why people are harsh and people are sensitive, varying extremes. This is why people are serious and people are sarcastic, varying extremes. This is why people are varying in skin color. This is why people are easily excited and easily depressed, varying extremes. This is why people are optimistic and why people are pessimistic, varying extremes.
God is all about equal opportunity.
I am a bit more conservative than I am liberal, and I tend to vote Republican; however, I do not go against mankind. So, let’s talk about homosexuals. Being raised Catholic, I do have the viewpoint that man marries women, and vice versa, and they have the ability to procreate. I was not for same-sex marriage, initially, but for civil union. However, I have relatives and close friends who are gay. I love these people to death, and I am not going to look at them any differently than they were before. They are human beings. It’s not like they are putting chemicals in the water to turn everyone gay.
However, as a resident of New York State, it pisses me off when I hear/see ranting and raving about equal rights. Gays have the ability to marry in this state, so bringing up and living in the past is a bit extreme. The high horse should be left to run wild.
I digress… Going back to the extreme.
So, those ranters and ravers trying to preach God’s message. I believe their obsession and insecurity should be considered sinful. Here is why:
The Seven Deadly Sins are:
Envy: unattainable desire. Gluttony: the over-indulgence/consumption of food. Greed: the pursuit and want/obsession of material possessions. Lust: excessive sexual wants. Pride: desire to be more important/attractive than others. Sloth: excessive indolence. Wraith: uncontrolled rage, hate, and/or anger.
All of these deal with obsessing.
Obsessing over everyone else’s wellbeing is sinning? Obsessing over God and preaching God’s word and motivation when it does not need to be reiterated? There should be a sin for that. I know who God is. I understand his teachings. I can do without the asshole(s) on the corner of the street yelling in my ear and handing me propaganda.
I don’t think your–and possibly our–God wants you to do that.
God does not want you to obsess over him; God wants to be simply recognized and praised. God wants you to be happy worshiping him, not angry at the rest of the world and at humanity.
V. Thought Experiment
In college, one of the Ryans that I lived with introduced me to a book called God’s Debris (2001) by Scott Adams (yes, the same Scott Adams who is the genius behind the Dilbert comic strip). The book–it’s very short for all of you non-readers–is definitely thought provoking. I would get into the description of the book, but (a) it has been a long time since I have read this; and (b) although my researching for a brief synopsis of this book proved successful, I still could not summarize the summary, doing justice.
Looks like you’ll have to read it yourself. Avoid being slothful.
While I was kneeling in a pew at St. Cecelia Church, contemplating my disappointment in not having to throw down against a fellow C.P.E. due to their saving spots at Christmas Mass–those jackasses!–I felt compelled to be there. The altar at St. Cecelia is the old set up from Downtown Syracuse’s Cathedral. It’s gorgeous. The garland, the lights, the candles, the pointsettas–everything came together beautifully. It’s as mystical as one can feel about indulging in religious practices. This year’s mass, for some reason, seemed so much better than in years past.
I don’t know if the feeling was situational, or if it was reflective of my state of mind at that moment in time, but my being present seemed absolutely right. I was in the zone, let’s say. The simplicity of my childhood came into fruition. My family would attend mass with my grandmother, and we would see several extended family members and family friends present. Every Sunday literally felt like a holiday. It felt exponentially plausible to think that I can start this religion thing back up. It’s not that I found Christ, because I definitely have not. He has always been there. He is like Wilson on the show Home Improvement, peering over the neighboring fence.
Do I believe there is a God? I believe there is a higher being/power; however, there is no proof proving or denying existence of God. That’s why I consider myself an agnostic theist.
However, I have decided to go to church more often. Catholicism has been a significant part of my life. I cannot deny it, but embrace it even if I don’t completely agree with it. If I feel this good being back at church, I must be doing something beneficial.
To hell with it. I am converting to Dudeism.
One thought on “God Forbid I Speak of Agnosticism”
Interesting stuff, as someone who was born and raised catholic I'm always interested in the journeys others take in and out of religion. I consider myself to be a non-theist. I don't call myself an atheist because it has become a pejorative term in many cases.