Monday, November 17, 2003


I was raised Catholic. I went to a Christian pre-school and then Catholic grade school, junior high, and high school. I received four of the seven sacraments and was an alter boy and eucharistic minister in high school. It wasn’t until I went to college that I got to experience a public school. It wasn’t until I graduated, moved to Colorado and met non-religious people that I began to question my religion. For my life up to that point, I was never given to opportunity to really question it, and I had been so instilled with guilt that I was afraid to-afraid that if I did question it that I would be facing “fire and brimstone” for eternity in the afterlife. However, once I met some ex-Catholics turned atheists, ex-Catholics turned agnostic, and religious people from non-Christian religions I felt more secure in questioning the beliefs I had been taught for almost 18 years of my life. I still have not found any real answers though I would like some, but I did find myself lumped into the “ex-Catholic” category. As I’ve expressed in many rants/blogs, hypocrisy is something that does not sit well with me. The Catholic Church’s beliefs along with the way my parents raised me, instilled good ethics within me. Unfortunately, the hypocrisy that I found rampant in the Church forced me away, possibly forever. I would like to sit down with some of the teachers/priests I had in high school, because now I have some real questions that I would like to discuss with a cleric.

Where has this left me? Empty, as far as a spiritual life goes. Although I would like to have one, I have not been able to ascribe to any of the few I have done nominal research on. Maybe it’s the engineer in me that won’t allow me to forgo the analytical nature inside me. Maybe I’m waiting for a ‘sign’, an event that many people claim to have had that would bring out the spiritual-ness I think I have hidden deep in the recesses of my psyche.

Losing my spiritual life has brought forth other questions and doubts. If there is no afterlife, if there is no consequence for what we do on this earth, then why spend so much time trying to do good, to be good. To serve others. To be concerned as to how my actions will affect others. Why not live a purely selfish life-to do what I want, when I want, and if others don’t like it so be it? Guilt is an emotion that was buried deep in me and secured with steel tie rods, that won’t allow me to act on these ideas. The guilt doesn’t want to come out. Many times, it rears its nasty little head over inconsequential events, and I have yet to chip away at it, much less purge it from my system. If I do have only one life to live and once it’s over I am nothing but worm fodder, this guilt complex is depriving me of enjoying this life like I should. Another line of thought, is this-what if there is a higher being. What if this higher being did give us this earth for our enjoyment? Throughout history the type of god above has changed-vengeful, forgiving, blinded to our plights. I look at the world around me and the life I have. I live in a beautiful place. I have the intelligence to learn and get more out of life as a result. Granted, my life is multitudes better than the lives many lead. Why is that? Maybe we are reincarnated. Maybe I was a good person in my last life. What if the better we are in our former lives, the better position we are reborn in. What if this upward rise is based not just on how we treat others, but on the enjoyment we get out of our position in life? What if by denying myself certain pleasures (thanks to this wonderful little gnat, aka-guilt) and not enjoying all that I am privy to due to my situation, I am guaranteeing a step backwards in my next life?

Some say that life is what we make of it. Even in a bad situation, a person with the right disposition can find something positive to take from it. Thus, even though things may appear bleak, they can take something good from it. What if this is what we are meant to do? What if every Catholic who lives by the Church’s rules finds him or herself on a train ride back to a new life, and is told by an amused deity that all that the way they lived their life hurt them? That they ignored the pleasures put before them to suffer, and instead of redemption they set themselves up for further suffering?

I like this idea. I like the idea of enjoying life sans guilt; enjoying the good things that I am fortunate enough to have. However, this also means that I have been hurting my chances of a better rebirth by refraining myself from indulging as much as possible.

I like the idea of helping people, of working to make this world a better place. I like working towards helping the environment. Does my latest theory conform to these previous ideals? Let’s check that out.

Helping people-provides gratification to myself and the person being helped. I feel good for helping them and more often than not receive praise and gratitude in return, which furthers the enjoyment

Helping the environment-again, even little steps such as re-using aluminum foil provides some feeling of accomplishment. Plus, in helping the environment I am helping to preserve something I hold dear and something that provides a plethora of enjoyment to my life. Therefore, it’s a two-fold gain on my part.

Respecting/being considerate of others-being respected by people is a good feeling. Having something be curious about and respect my opinion also adds to my life’s pleasure. If I show a person no respect or consideration, then I can expect none back, and am therefore depriving myself of receiving their goodwill.

A couple of quick examples, but I think I feel that this new idea of mine (though I am sure it’s not an original) coincides with my existing outlook on life.

The challenge becomes knowing when to ignore what you think is a quest for happiness, and waiting out the moments of regret to reap the rewards. This, I think, is what experience is all about. We have to suffer and lose out to really know what it is that will make us the happiest. And if we don’t go thru this process, we will not be as happy as we could be.

I will have to revisit this topic. Not a bad start though, I don’t think.

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com