Sunday, 28 October 2007

Who to be wary and women of the cloth...

This morning I woke up naturally at 5am and I did something that I never do. I reached an arm from under my duvet cover and hit the on button on my radio. The first words I heard were 'to be effective one has to be forthright'. The comment referred to a man called Sir David King who is the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office of Science in England. This statement got me thinking about whether I would be more effective if I were more forthright but then again for me to be any more forthright would border on aggressive so maybe not.

Because I am still not allowed to do the class on Sunday morning I decided to go to mass again. It was a good feeling last week. My friend called me and I spoke to her about my fears that this blog might be taken off the internet if what I write becomes too controversial. She reassured me that there is no way that this would happen. It would only happen if it was illegal. But lately I have read of video clips being taken off You Tube and thought it could happen to this blog. But she told me that to do that I would have to be contacted beforehand. I was delighted to hear this. Thanked her and hung up the phone. I got myself ready to go to mass.

This blog entry is going to be a disjointed while I go back over some history before I get to today so bear with me. One Sunday a while ago at mass the parish priest was speaking about the need for tolerance for and acceptance of other faiths. I was inspired by this. I had the idea to hold a meditation course so I called the parish office and explained to the lady that I wanted to rent one of the rooms in the parish centre. I explained that it was for Buddhist meditation. She said that she would get the parish priest to call me. This was the same parish priest who had preached tolerance of other faiths and philosophies from the altar.

He called me and when I explained that it was Buddhist meditation said 'that I couldn't have the room if it wasn't for Christian meditation! My immediate thought was 'you hypocrite' I tried to explain that Jesus had said 'the kingdom of heaven is within' and that Buddhist meditation was a technique to make real what Jesus said, to discover the truth that everything is within one, there is no need to look outside of oneself' . To this he said 'that isn't what Jesus meant'. I asked to meet him to discuss it? But he said 'no' that he had nothing further to say on the matter. I then said to him 'OK but do me a favour, the next time you are on the pulpit don't be such a hypocrite. I heard your sermon about tolerances for further faiths and practices but when it comes to it, they are only words'. I said goodbye and then hung up.

I have made no secret of my distrust of religion and its institutions and this man to me represents the damage that religion has done. When I reached the church I saw him standing outside and to my relief he had the robes on. This meant that he had said the mass before and wouldn't be saying this one which I was delighted about because I really dislike the man. He just oozes superiority and arrogance.

The music started up to signal the start of the mass. To my horror the priest saying this mass was none other than Shrek, the same man in the green robes. My inner voice was on a rant as he walked piously up to the altar. I have a deep distrust of both men and women of the cloth. My favourite episode of Father Ted is where the old man Jack is in a wheelchair. He pushes open a door and seeing a nun shouts 'nun, reverse'. I love this clip because it is exactly how I feel. It is why I decided at a young age to follow a spiritual and not a religious path. Today again I was reminded of that decision and recommitted to it again.

One of the readings was the story about the tax man and the pharisee. In a nutshell it's about the pharisee who is very pious and congratulating himself for how full of faith he is. Then there is the tax man who is beating his breast and begging God for help for being the sinner he is'. The moral of the parable is that it is the tax man who gets close to heart of God and not the pharisee. I think it is similar to if a man who drives a 4 x 4 gives it up and gets a bicycle. If when he gets the bicycle he congratulates himself for being better than those who are still driving 4 x 4s' then the man who continues to drive the 4 x 4 is technically closer to God because he is more honest. He is driving a 4 x 4 and is happy and proud and thus is honest. Whereas the man who did drive a 4 x 4 and gave it up for a bicycle feels himself to be more superior. I know from experience that this feeling superior because of being on a path less travelled is severely punished. I really understood this parable when it was read today.

Then it came to the sermon. This is the priests' 10 minutes of power when everyone in the church is trapped in the seat at the mercy of a short or long sermon depending on the ego of the priest. The nightmare in green drew himself up and leaned over the pulpit and said in a deadly serious voice 'who are you sitting in your seats, are you the tax man or the pharisee'. I could feel the hackles rise on the back of my neck and my inner voice upped the pace of its rant. A rant that went something like 'this is very close to bullying', horrible man', insult to God' Then he produced some words from a Brendan O'Reilly. I've done a search on Google but can't bring up anything that might have been vaguely connected with the sermon that was given.

Looking and sounding very smug he spoke about 'the good old days when everyone knew the difference between a practicing and a non-practicing catholic'. He continued 'nowadays it's not so clear cut because there are a couple of new breed of catholic. First there is the lapsed catholic. This is someone who has survived a catholic education (even when there were no nuns -his words!) and then declared that they are lapsed catholic but that doesn't mean that they no longer are a catholic and dare anyone to tell them that they are not a catholic. They are just lapsed'.

Then he launched into the second category of the new breed of catholic. He spoke about the 'shadow catholic'. This is someone who 'has decided that the quality of the experiences he/she has do not fit with the catholic doctrine and dogma and decide not to practice but he/she has children so going to mass will be good for the children. So they go to mass but it is 'only for the children'. They take the children until such a time that the children can make up their own mind and then leave it like he/she did. It wasn't so much what he said but the tone in which he said it that irritated me. I felt that he was sneering down at the congregation. At the end he said 'maybe God is more merciful than me' - santimonious prig I can't stand the man. I'm not going to run the risk of having to suffer him saying mass again so it's great that I'm back to the gym next Sunday.

It is no secret that if a parent wants to get their child into a catholic school being seen at mass is a must. A friend of mine used to live in London before moving to America and when we met for coffee after mass every sunday she would tell me how she hoped that her kids would get into the local catholic school which was why she took them to mass. I think that the clergy should look a little closer to home and ask why Catholics are desserting in droves and do something about that. Not stand up at the altar and make people wrong. This is inexcusable and is an example of what religion has done to people down through the years. No-one challenged what he said today and this is exactly how religion has done the damage it has down through the years. It's never challenged. Religion has put spirituality in a straight jacket and the clergy are the guardians to ensure that the straight jacket stays in place. But we are heading for a shift. It began with the exposure of paedophilia among the clergy and will continue to breakdown as people begin to have those inner experiences that don't fit with the catholic dogma and as a result find their own way.

I'm writing this waiting for the guy from the gym to arrive. Integrity to time is definitely not his strong point. I feel myself irritated and this is just as a friend. There's no way I could deal with this if a relationship was to develop. I still make integrity, keeping one's word and doing what you say you will do so significant that it causes me to suffer when it breaks down. I'm aware that it's only me who suffers and I suffer because I make lateness mean that the person doesn't want to spend time with me, lateness acts as a trigger for my insecurity. When this has happened in the past I have got upset and totally blamed the other person. Now I know it is because of the meaning I give to it which was hidden from my view in the past. Now I know that what I am upset with is the meaning and as the meaning is only a story I can give it up and be upset for the fact that he didn't show up when he said he would without making it mean anything else. In this way I have power and don't revert back to victim mode like I would have done in the past. By dealing with it like this I weaken the ego personality and strengthen the soul.....

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