To Dwell In Unapproachable Light

November 2, 2010

dante-paradisoToday is All Soul’s Day, or the Feast Of All Souls, which is a name that terrified me as a child, because I imagined that it referred to a sort of buffet of ghosts, which, really, is a discomfiting idea at any age. But it’s not a ghost buffet, thankfully (or regrettably, depending on how dark your interests skew): for Catholics, it’s the rite of The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, which means, basically, it’s the rite of remembering and praying for those we love who have passed and who have not yet – yet – reached what Catholics call the Church Triumphant (Heaven) and the ‘beatific vision’ of God. It follows All Saint’s Day, which celebrates the souls of the just who have reached the Church Triumphant and are, presumably, getting down with some celestial karaoke and partying with the Lord.

This is one of the teachings of the Church that caused me to wander away, confused and frustrated. It seemed to me to make Heaven out to be some kind of super-elite after party to which one could only be admitted if one had made all the right connections and got the invitation and the directions and followed them to the letter and knew the secret password – in Latin, of course – and had their name on the guest list and also was wearing just the right outfit and also probably knew the bouncer. Which somehow just struck me as wrong. What if someone was a good person – really, truly good in their heart and in their soul – and just hadn’t been hip to all the rules? What if someone were really truly good but had become disillusioned by the sometimes very dodgy mortal politics governing entrance to that party and decided to not participate in what sometimes amounts to nonsense and other times to very grave harm? What if someone were really truly good and had just gone about getting to know God in their own way and had really believed that they’d established a relationship with God and that God would totally have wanted to party with them in Paradise, or at least just grab a coffee and chat? What then? Would God just say, oh, hey man, you didn’t get that secret password from those dudes in the robes? Can’t let you in! Yeah, I know some of them were sometimes skeevy and some of them maybe burned some women as witches and maybe some of them launched the occasional violent Inquisition or two but still: they’re my posse. You’re not down with them you don’t get in. SORRY.

I’m not sure that I like that God. And I’m not sure that I want into that party.

But I’m still Catholic enough to pause every year at this time and to wonder about who got in and who didn’t. Last year, when All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days came just months after my father had died, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for hours. What if he didn’t get in? What if he didn’t get in?

I tell myself that it simply cannot work that way, that a just and loving God would not deny souls entrance to Heaven on the basis of technicalities, that Paradise – whatever that means, whatever that looks like – would not be run like a country club with obscure rules and high barriers to entry, that the ‘beatific vision’ would be offered to men who burned women as witches at the stake or who protected child-molesting priests and not to Plato or Gandhi or my dad. I tell myself that the God that I was raised to believe in would have no criteria other than the goodness of hearts, no standard other than love. I tell myself that if that’s not how it works, then I am right to turn my back on it, that this is what so troubles me about organized religion, about the organized religion that I was raised in and that I wring my hands about, constantly.

I am telling myself this today, as I wait to hear the bells from the Catholic church down the street, as I sit and think about death and souls and the beatific vision of God, dwelling, as 1 Timothy says, in unapproachable light. And as I remember my dad, who was good, who was so good, who was so gentle and loving and wise and just and sweetly eccentric in the most beautiful way, and who I know – I hope, I pray – can feel the warmth of that light.

I am telling myself this today. And I am believing it, or trying to.

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    { 61 comments }

    Karen November 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    God is love, there is no doubt. Everything else we make in our own image. Everything we say about God, the Bible and the rules – those things are really just our interpretations of God, the Bible and the rules. I think we – church – get it wrong, most of all when we forget that God is love, through and through.
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Listen to Women =-.

    Catherine November 2, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    @Karen, if we could begin and end at that, things would be much easier ;)
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..To Dwell In Unapproachable Light =-.

    daysgoby November 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    We are all different. Different lives, different passions, different heartaches, different stories.I can’t believe God would toss everyone who didn’t fit a very narrow mold.

    Heaven would be limited indeed if there were only one type of angel.

    Honey, your Dad? Is smiling somewhere. He is.
    .-= daysgoby´s last blog ..the sawmill =-.

    Catherine November 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    @daysgoby, thank you. thank you.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..To Dwell In Unapproachable Light =-.

    Suebob November 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    I see no reason to believe that God would be as jerky as we humans can be. I think that this earth is ours, to do whatever we want with. And I believe heaven is God’s, where whatever happened on earth is of no consequence and where everyone is beloved like precious children.

    Catherine November 2, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    @Suebob, except for that pesky ‘we were created in his image’ thing. and the god of the Old Testament is MAD intense.

    but yeah – I hear ya. “beloved”. YES.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..To Dwell In Unapproachable Light =-.

    Barnmaven November 3, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    @Catherine, I don’t know how God created us in his image, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people create God in THEIR image.
    .-= Barnmaven´s last blog ..Difference of opinion =-.

    Hamlet's Mistress November 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Don’t confuse Dogma with what is actual truth. I think of Catholism like I think of home and auto insurance. They try to keep it complicated so you don’t understand it on purpose because if it was easy to understand why would you need your agent… or church to help explain it to you??

    Don’t get caught up in what MAN says happens. Focus on what God says happens. It’s all that matters.
    .-= Hamlet’s Mistress´s last blog ..30 Days of Truth – Day 5 =-.

    red pen mama November 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    So far I really like the points everyone is making here, Catherine, and I hope they give you hope. God is love; God is beyond our understanding; Heaven is hardly an insiders’ club — religions posit that to keep people off-balance IMO.

    To be dogmatic about it (just for a minute): Jesus said no one could get to Heaven unless he/she believed in Him. He is the way, the truth, and the light. If ever you (or your father) accepted Jesus as the Son of God and as your Savior — regardless of the “rules” — you’re all good.

    And if not? God isn’t about dogma, and neither was Jesus. They are about love and goodness. Any human-based religious institution is sure to get something wrong along the way, Catholics as much as any other group (and I am Catholic). I am far from offended by this post; it actually breaks my heart because I wish you could find comfort in your faith rather than confusion or heartbreak.

    You are very intellectual, way moreso than I. I tend to let my heart lead my faith, and I tend to stay focused on what I believe to be the center of my religion: that God is love, that Jesus is love, and that Jesus died for my sins and was raised from the dead. I know a lot of people are incredulous that I, whom they consider a pretty rational-type chick, actually believe that last part, but that’s one of the things I love about my faith: its basis in a pure-d miracle, and not the mundane.

    I wish you peace, Catherine.
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..Halloween 2010 =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 2, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    thank you, friend. I appreciate your flexibility on the Jesus thing, because this has always been a tricky point for me – what about those who don’t know Jesus? what about those who have been turned from any religion because of the sins of men representing churches? what about unbaptised children? what about the pre-Christians? what about Jews? what about moral atheists? what about Plato? what about Gandhi?

    This, though: “Heaven is hardly an insiders’ club — religions posit that to keep people off-balance IMO.” That simplifies things nicely ;)

    MarfMom November 2, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I can’t believe that God would turn away those sorts of people. I figure if He really expected us all to follow a very rigid set of rules then He would have made sure the playing field was totally even for everyone from the get go, which it’s not. Instead, I think that matters is that a person is trying their best. If we die and there was a certain religion that was right, I believe we’ll then have the opportunity to do whatever it is that He’d wanted us to. I don’t believe that we’d somehow be punished for not being in the “in crowd,” especially when no person is perfect and people sometimes do terrible things in the name of “religion,” as you pointed out.
    .-= MarfMom´s last blog ..Feature Your Store =-.

    Catherine November 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    @MarfMom, I can’t believe it either. I really can’t. And I can see why it’s a sticking point for some people, why it drives some to agnosticism, or atheism.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..To Dwell In Unapproachable Light =-.

    MarfMom November 2, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    @Catherine,
    I agree. I am religious myself, but with some of the stuff that is said or done in the name of religion I totally understand why people leave organized religion or become agnostic or atheist.
    .-= MarfMom´s last blog ..Feature Your Store =-.

    karengreeners November 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Glad I’m one of the chosen people ;p
    .-= karengreeners´s last blog ..Goodbye- Mel Gibson =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    ;p

    Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points November 2, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    This is much the reason religion does not work for me, period.

    There is too much good in too many people who never got the rulebook for me to ever believe in a faith that would put up a velvet rope.

    Your vision is much truer.

    I know this with utter certainty – with as much certainty as I know that gravity is what pulled the coffee down onto my slippers.
    .-= Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points´s last blog ..STOP HELPING! =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    yes, but WAS it gravity? OR WERE THE COFFEE GODS SMITING YOU?

    Karin November 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I believe in a loving, benevolent God. I don’t believe in one who would pick and choose who gets into the after party based on their religious preference and how well they followed that religion. Your dad and my own sweet, wonderful dad are partying like rockstars. I believe it and you should too.

    mayberry November 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I would like to join the Church of Suebob please.

    xxoo to you today Catherine.
    .-= mayberry´s last blog ..A month- or so- in pictures =-.

    P.B. Lecron November 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Beautiful and truthful thoughts. Many of us feel the same as you.
    .-= P.B. Lecron´s last blog ..WAITING FOR GOBLET by PBLecron =-.

    Backpacking Dad November 2, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    It IS an exclusive party. Hitler is not invited.

    Her Bad Mother November 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    You win.

    Melissa November 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I turned my back on organized religion years ago. Yet my kids go to CCD for the sole purpose of giving them the option to marry inside a catholic church if they ever wish to. Some are very pretty, less expensive than other venues and the symbolism is nice. Other than that, no dogma in my house. I love, and through that love I know my father in heaven. And my mother by the way. (not my earthly biological kind) Two millennia of men twisting the words of Christ, omitting the accounts of good people, marginalizing women to boot, in order to reap the most personal benefit? There is nothing left there to want to be a part of.
    I sat in mass the other day, obligated by my son’s Sunday morning ccd class, and it occurred to me how much I felt like I was at a twelve step program, and me without the vice. The entire message of the mass was how hopeless we were without God (read church, as it’s the version they approve and market), how worthless we were, how pitiful we were, how we needed to pray and beg for intervention. Not me buddy. I have joy, love, and self-esteem. I make a lousy catholic.

    I’ll see you on the other side, where we’ll be enjoying the paradise we came from. Love my friend.

    Karyn Climans November 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    My sentiments exactly … I don’t want to be a member of their “club/religion” if I have to jump, dance and sing according to their rules! My God is loving, kind and forgiving and will judge people based on the goodness in their hearts.
    It was a pleasure meeting you at Blissdom! My head is still spinning with all of the info, contacts and leads I gained.

    JustMom420zaks November 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I once walked away from the church of my youth when I asked the question, “What if someone is genuinely a good person, just doesn’t believe in Christ?”
    The Person of Knowledge and Authority started speaking of people never exposed to the Light of Christ and their ability to choose once they become knowledgable in the afterlife, you know, dying whilst innocent.. whatever.
    I got more specific, “Well, what if they’ve been exposed to Christianity, they just don’t believe, or don’t know and they in every other way than that live as a super good person?”
    And he told me that those people who haven’t fully accepted Christ, don’t get to go to Heaven, simple as that.
    I told him that was the stupidest way of going about doing that, and the God that I knew existed wouldn’t be so self absorbed that he would give a flying fuck if everybody worshipped Him, as long as they treated one another with kindness and respect, and his Earth as their home.
    And I left the church.
    I go to church, now that I’m older and have kids.
    But I’m not religious. I take them for the Sunday School and the chili cook offs, and to look good for my family, and because it teaches morals and all that.
    But I try to follow the guidelines and teachings, it’s good stuff, a good life.
    So if the non-believers, or people without secret passwords and VIP cards don’t get to go, I don’t care, we’ll be in good company.
    Maybe there’s a room somewhere, maybe not painted in gold and covered in clouds… but with a small fire in the fireplace and a pot of coffee on the stove. In this place we’ll all feel free to make crude jokes, and read banned books, eat fattening food and drink strong coffee. The non-VIP room.
    That’s good enough for me.

    Tracy (Tiny Mantras) November 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Having been raised Protestant (and now being a practicing Buddhist) I generally find myself feeling like a tourist on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. But they never pass without my taking notice.

    Several years back, I made it an intention to be in New Orleans to tour the cemeteries at this, their most glorious time – when people deck out the graves with flowers and incense and toys and drawings and pictures of their lives on this plane. As an outsider, I can’t say that I witnessed the worry over judgment and admittance to paradise in any way that was recognizable to me. What I saw was the living making a point of communing with the dead in a spiritual way.

    Each year, it’s helped me make a point of feeling the presence of my dead loved ones in the place where I know unequivocally that they still live – under my own skin.

    I’m glad you feel the warmth of that light today.
    .-= Tracy (Tiny Mantras)´s last blog ..Solar System ejection blues =-.

    Kate (@katetheowl) November 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Not only am I Catholic, but I am Catholic by choice and was raised in the Unitarian Church, which I still love. I’m telling you this because, well, it confuses people, but it also gives me a little street cred, as it were. I’ve pretty much heard and seen all of the hate that religion can throw at a person and I have come to understand this: you can’t let the hang-ups of earthbound men interfere with the light that exists in all of us. Your dad is totally singing karaoke with God and the Saints. Maybe there is a waiting room after you die. Perhaps it’s a sort of debrief period. I thought a lot about this after my father-in-law died. For a long time we felt he was near. We could really sense is presence. After time passed, it slowly faded. I always thought that if there was such a thing as purgatory, maybe it was to comfort both the dead and the living. We kind of needed him around a little longer.

    So, I think we’ll all go to heaven, whatever that may be. Backpacking Dad is right, though. Hitler is not invited to the party.

    Sheri Bheri November 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I like the parable of bringing your cotton to the cotton gin. There are different routes to take, some are harder and faster, some are less arduous and slower, but when you get there, the Man doesn’t ask you which route you took, he asks you “How good is your cotton?”.

    Also, I believe the bad ones get in to Heaven too. I believe that God takes away whatever was blocking them from knowing their badness and that their Spirit is horrified when it Sees what it has done.

    Suzanne November 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    When I was 8 or 9 a missionary came to our church and talked about how important his work was because if people in other countries didn’t know about Jesus they wouldn’t go to heaven. I turned to my mom and said “what about the babies?” I don’t remember what she said but I didn’t sleep for days worrying about “the babies” that were all going to hell simply for being born somewhere a missionary hadn’t gotten to yet.

    That was the moment I decided I wasn’t so sure about church.

    But I’d be more than happy to join the Her Bad Mother Church of God Loves Everybody Even If They Don’t Know The Secret Password or Wear The Right Shoes. One day I’d love to meet your dad too.
    .-= Suzanne´s last blog ..Giveaway Week Day 7- Phoebe Mouse =-.

    Melissa November 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Following any belief system unquestioningly probably means little, if anything, in the grand scheme of things. I agree that PRACTICING GOODNESS is what it’s all about. And I bet God and your father are up there feeling mighty proud of you for figuring that out. ;)

    Loukia November 2, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    My struggle was with asking for forgiveness – as in, you’re not truly going to be forgiven if you don’t confess to your PRIEST. MY GOD. To my priest who knows me, my family, my parents? To tell him some of the things? Um, no. I can’t do that. So I pray to God and ask for forgiveness that way. I’ll tell YOU my secrets, Catherine, because you won’t judge me and even though my priest is supposed to be non-judgy, he’ll see me in church and he’ll see my parents and so I can’t!
    So I hope I’m still forgiven for my not so horrible sins (in my eyes) and I hope we can all party together in the afterlife. For sure we’re all getting in. I believe that totally.

    zhu zhu pets November 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    You raised some good issues, seemed to have started some good debates in the comments
    .-= zhu zhu pets´s last blog ..zhu zhu pets set to continue being massive through 2010-11 =-.

    April Vance November 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Intrigued by your tweet, I then devoured your blog and shared it with my friends. You so eloquently shared the heart of so many including us. Thank you so much for your transparent insights. April
    .-= April Vance´s last blog ..The Pearl District – Enjoy our Friends to the South =-.

    Kait November 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    A heaven without all those I love (who, according to most church doctrines, will not be admitted) is no heaven at all. I can’t believe that whatever divine controlling body resides in the place we go when we’re done on this earth is going to look at those I love (who will not be admitted) and say “You were hilarious and kind and loved everyone but you didn’t follow the doctrine set out by the church soooo….check ya later.”

    I can’t believe in that. I jut can’t. Because if that’s how it’s going to be I don’t know that heaven would be much of a heaven for me.
    .-= Kait´s last blog .. =-.

    Barnmaven November 2, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I’m a believer in reconciliation. I’m not a bible quoter, but there’s a verse in Matthew in the parable of the lost sheep where Jesus says “it is not the will of the Father that one of these little ones should perish.” That’s the loving God I believe in, where every single one of us is precious and loved and that there are no technicalities. Catherine, I’m as certain as I breathe that your dad “got in.” And that he’s a real presence even now, loving and watching over you from a different place.
    .-= Barnmaven´s last blog ..I do this because =-.

    Her Bad Mother November 2, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    (*deep breath*) — THANK YOU

    Kat November 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    “I tell myself that the God that I was raised to believe in would have no criteria other than the goodness of hearts, no standard other than love.”

    I soooo hear you.

    Try being raised protestant, and having to swallow the idea of predestination. The more I learned about organized religion, the less religious I became.
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..Blasphemous Rumours =-.

    a November 2, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I think any thinking person who truly considers the “rules” will realize that the “rules” were made up by men who wanted to keep people in line. It puts me in the mind of “Undercover Boss” if you’ve ever watched that – in almost every episode, the boss finds a manager who’s taking a little too much freedom in interpreting the view of the company and the company’s rules and becomes a petty tyrant. Keep that kind of thing up for 2 centuries, and voila! Religion!

    So, maybe there is a purgatory – a place to think about what you might have done right or wrong in your life – to visit your living loved ones and make sure they’re OK – to wait for the people you want to spend eternity with. Who knows? But heaven is definitely not exclusionary. Our old dog is hanging out with my imperfect (but pretty damn good) dad who is playing trivia games with my aunt and grandparents. And they look down on me and shake their heads, and applaud, and send help my way when I need it. I’m not sure what your dad is doing in heaven, but I’m sure he’s enjoying himself, and keeping an eye on you.
    .-= a´s last blog ..Complete =-.

    Angela England (@AngEngland) November 2, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Just remember – Jesus told the thief on the cross beside him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” TODAY. Did you catch that? The thief’s single moment of belief and trust was enough to undo a life of wrong-doing. No special rites. No magic words. No fancy robes. No bribes. Just a moment of belief in the one true God. That’s all it takes.

    “Today….”

    Angela <
    .-= Angela England (@AngEngland)´s last blog ..Green and Eco-Friendly Celebrations Made Easy with Celebrate Green – A Review =-.

    Marcy November 2, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    I feel much the same. I refuse to believe in a God who is spiteful and would place certain pledges and stated beliefs over the goodness in someone’s heart or the good works they did. I refuse to believe that the only way to get into Heaven (as I was taught as a child) was to declare Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, the ONE AND ONLY WAY. That just doesn’t make any sense to me. It seems to me the spirit and essence of christianity, of Jesus’s teachings, are to be good and just and loving and forgiving. IT shouldn’t matter who you pledged your life to, if you lived that life well and helped others and loved fully.
    .-= Marcy´s last blog ..New Montessori Post- Montessori and Play =-.

    Meagan @ The Happiest Mom November 2, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Oh Catherine, you know I understand. And not only was my dad a lapsed Catholic (he had apparently not taken Communion in decades because he refused to participate in confession, though he did attend church) but he was NOT always sweet and gentle and kind. He was flawed, he could be selfish and difficult. But somebody’s death always gives you a nice sort of excuse to look back at their lives with a little more depth, and I can see the many ways in which my dad tried, and was as uncertain as I am…and I just have to believe that the God I believe in, or want to believe in, just…wouldn’t be so jerky as to overlook that.

    Her Bad Mother November 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I know you understand ;)

    And yes, wouldn’t a loving God do exactly that? Consider a person’s soul in all its complexity? In which case, maybe everybody does get to go to Heaven, whatever that is, and manifest in their very best form.

    Or something.

    gingermog November 3, 2010 at 8:45 am

    In some respects, I think those of you who grew up with a more structured outlook of the afterlife and how to get there are fortunate, (not if it scares you though. I’m interested in the dogma of Catholicism but do not understand it, but it could be convenient way to assuage your conscience in a tight spot. My own religious upbringing was a bit fast and loose in the terms of actual Bible learning (not on how to behave and think like a Christian), in a language I couldn’t understand (17th century Welsh Bible), 19th century service formula and questions were not encouraged- if I could have framed my thoughts. I don’t remember heaven or hell coming into it, listening to your conscience was a large part of it. As a 7 year old in school RE class I couldn’t see how only ‘we’ the Christians could only be right, wouldn’t that be leaving out of heaven all the Buddhists and Hindus, Jews etc who thought they were right? I ended up standing outside the headmaster office for that one. I try and be a good person, sure I could be better, I’m not Baptised or Christened so I guess I’m heading for limbo. I picture it like a Norwegian wood by a lake. Hang on a moment, didn’t Pope Benedict cancel Limbo?

    Her Bad Mother November 3, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I’ve written before about feeling fortunate in this regard, for a lot of reasons, but, yes, it involves some baggage. ;)

    Her Bad Mother November 3, 2010 at 10:33 am

    (and, yeah, the cancelling Limbo thing doesn’t make sense to me at all, unless we’re thinking of Limbo in terms of the party game/dance, in which case I could see how God might have been all, ‘yeah, this game sucks, let’s ditch it.’)

    Karen Sugarpants November 3, 2010 at 9:45 am

    This: ” I tell myself that the God that I was raised to believe in would have no criteria other than the goodness of hearts, no standard other than love.”
    Thank goodness.

    Vanessa November 3, 2010 at 10:00 am

    It’s always nice to find one’s exact thoughts and beliefs expressed by someone else. Makes me feel a little less lonely in the world.
    Thanks for expressing it so eloquently.
    I can’t believe God and Heaven would be “Clique-y!”

    gingermog November 3, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I’d like to think that the God I believed in as a child would pet me on the head as a silly, inconsequential little thing, a kindly father who realised I tried to do a lot more good in life and help people than bad, but fell a few times as I’m only human.

    But on the other hand I do get surprised at people who express frustration that God “let’s bad things happen”. I tend to lean towards that God is a consciousness between us all, and not actually a physical being.

    Me confused?

    I freely admit though, I know very little and am horrendously ignorant of all major religions. I’m not boasting about this, I know my spirituality is something I should work on – not that I’m scared of going to hell, I never think of hell as really it was never mentioned in my Chapel. Evil, yes, temptation, yes, but not hell or oddly heaven – I would like to understand people more and be a better person.

    I always think Bill and Ted expressed my feelings succinctly, “Be excellent to each other”.

    P.S. I also studied very little grammar, I went to one of those schools which didn’t like to repress our creativity ummm.

    Her Bad Mother November 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    “Be excellent to each other” –> YES. Theology at its BEST.

    A Daddy Blog November 3, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I grew up Catholic as well. I’ve been exposed to many paths and have never really been able to accept (and so I didn’t) that if you’re not Catholic or Baptist or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever that everyone else who didn’t believe what you did was damned to whatever your respective faith says you’d be damned to. I also cried A LOT when my dad died, but it wasn’t because I was worried he might not have gotten into heaven. If there is a God, and I certainly hope there is, then “It” [surely God is beyond sexual classification] most likely is beyond the scope and scale our little minds can comprehend… ineffable as it were. I doubt God is focused on condemnation… we do more than enough of that to each other and to ourselves as it is. All we can do is live the best lives we can, helping our fellow man whenever and wherever we can, and trust that this is good enough for God. I kinda think it is. The rules were written by men… whether inspired or not, they were still just men. Some of the rules, like the Golden Rule, seem pretty good. Some not so much. Let’s all just love each other the best way we can. And if we are wrong, and if there actually is no God and this life is all there is, well then at least we lived the best possible life we could. Still, I do hope there is a God, and I hope It’s kind, warm and loving. I think so.
    .-= A Daddy Blog ´s last blog ..Daddy Needs New Wheels =-.

    Diane November 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Very heart-felt blog. I agree with Angela England’s comment. My only additional comment is this: If being good is all that is required to get into heaven, why did Jesus die on the cross?

    Her Bad Mother November 3, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    To atone for human sin? To teach humanity how to be good, to strive for good/for God? I guess it depends upon how we understand the relationship between goodness and sin and atonement and salvation. Can we meaningfully atone for sin, wrongdoing, in the absence of embracing Christianity? Is being good the critical step, or is claiming membership in the Christian church the critical step?

    And as I asked before – what about all those who never become aware of Jesus? Or those for whom the teaching of Jesus has been obscured by the abuse of those teachings by mortal men?

    I was raised Christian (Catholic). I went to bed every night asking that Jesus put my name in his Lamb’s Book of Life. But the asking – doesn’t that, shouldn’t that, come a distant second behind real worthiness? Is the better measure of the worth of a soul the goodness of that soul, or whether that soul believed story x or story y about God and Heaven?

    I don’t know the answers. I just spend too much time thinking about them. :)

    Diane November 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks for your response. It all hinges,I think, on what you believe about Jesus and if you think that you can rely on the Bible’s teachings about Him. It seems that you are a person who is sincerely searching. I personally like the writings of Philip Yancey, a Christian writer who wrestles with the hard questions of faith. I recommend The Jesus I Never Knew.

    girl nextdoor November 4, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    You know an odd feeling? Sitting on the toilet eating a chocolate candy bar.

    Her Bad Mother November 4, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I know this too well.

    Anna November 5, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I am a lapsed Catholic and what got to me the most was Limbo…unbaptised children / people went to limbo and lingered there forever. In Southern Italy poor mothers who miscarried stillborn children or didn’t have time to baptise their newborns had to bury these “heathen” children in a SEPARATE cemetery and these babies would NEVER GO TO HEAVEN …can you imagine these poor mothers’ pain?

    After travelling to Ethiopia to adopt my child, what little God I believed in died there.

    Her Bad Mother November 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Exactly. EXACTLY. *heart/sore*

    EmilyInCocktailLand November 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    @Her Bad Mother,

    I know my lost babies are in heaven. God loves me too much to do otherwise.

    EmilyInCocktailLand November 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I am enternally grateful that I don’t have to decide who does and does not “get in”. And, personally, I think that God would always choose LOVE and ACCEPTANCE over hate and rejection. Don’t you? I just try to live my life in a way that I interpret (from the Bible) to be pleasing to God…I fail everyday but I really believe that God chooses to LOVE me and that in turn means forgiveness.

    I too am Catholic and I take most of its doctrines with a grain of salt…humans made the rituals and humans are flawed. I do like the idea of honoring the deceased, regardless of their spiritual destiny, and I think thats the take home message.

    There is so much unjust suffering- you know this too well, I have no doubt- and I’d like to think that God is there to support us and love us through that pain; rather than think he caused the suffering.

    Catherine November 15, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    skipping the comments here.

    every time you say “it seems to me…shouldn’t it be like this?” well, yes, it should be like that, and it actually is.

    don’t rely on your childhood remembrance of Church teaching – since when do we remember anything from our childhoods correctly? – read a catechism. read anything by JPII. read an apologetics book.

    it boils down to, if you want in, you’re in. if you don’t want in, you don’t have to come in. quite simple, quite loving, actually. of everyone.

    convert, catholic writer, know what I’m talking about.

    Her Bad Mother November 16, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I’ve read quite extensively – JPII, catechisms, apologetics, the entire works of Augustine, and so on, and so on, and so on. I used to teach at a Catholic college. I know my stuff. The issue is, reconciling all of these things with Church politics, and with my own heart

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