Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage."


Been thinking about my childhood in Trinidad and been wondering where my distrust and dislike of the church comes from.

They, my dad’s family were quite a crew; dad had 3 sisters living, Auntie Evelyn, Auntie Verna, and Auntie Josephine my favourite Aunt and my dad’s favourite sister and 6 brothers of which I only met two Edgar and Hugh.

The other brothers had long left Trinidad and had lost touch with the family; three were believed to be in America and 1 in South America.

Auntie Evelyn had 3 kids and Auntie Verna also 3 and Auntie Jo had 8 living kids, she had 4 girls Maureen, Doreen, Aileen and Coleen and 4 boys Angus, Mark, Desmond and Vincent.

After early mass we would quite often drive over to St. Fernando where Auntie Jo and Uncle Keith lived for Sunday lunch and lime with the whole family.

Church was as usual abit strange as the priest seemed to always greet my father in a slightly odd manner never looking at him directly.

He was always by the door greeting everyone as they walked in and I observed that it was only my father that he greeted without looking him in the face.

The same priest was very cold to me after I asked him questions in catechism classes, first he invited all us kids to ask anything we liked and when I did he got very frosty.

Very strange, as a kid I did not understand that at all, why I couldn’t ask questions when first it was encouraged.

After all I was only asking why things were not fairly distributed and why we as good Catholics did not seem moved by the poverty and injustices around us.

Surely it was written in the teachings of the church that you helped each other so why was that not happening why were so many others suffering.

I really believed what I had read about caring and sharing, surely as good Catholics we should be doing something, with hindsight realise now this was all too much for the poor priest.

So he resorted to ignoring me or he would ridicule everything I said and would treat me rather unkindly.

On top of this my poor dad seemed to be being treated strangely and when I asked him he would not talk about it.

One time the Bishop was there to do the First Communion and he called my father to him after the ceremony and spoke to him on his own.

My father never mentioned what the Bishop said and we knew, my mother and I, better than to ask if he said nothing.

Not talking was what my parents were experts at; well not talking about the things that mattered like the stresses each of us experienced settling into life in England.

I was only when I was fifteen that I found out why the priest in Trinidad had been strange to my dad.

One day my dad called me to him, my mum was in Germany visiting her family, and dad seemed desperate to talk.

It took him ages to tell me what was on his mind, first he alarmed me as he was muttering that what he had done was a dreadful sin.

And just w hen I thought here it comes I am adopted he said ‘’ that he hoped I would be able to forgive him some day’’

Was really alarmed thought that I was about to hear something really bad and instead heard that he had been married before he met my mum.

He told me that he had 2 girls from his first marriage and one of them, the older Yvette, would be visiting us the next day.

I was amazed, more so that he had thought it was a sin, but of course did not realise he was only repeating the official church line.

Divorce was seen as a huge sin by the church and marrying again the worse thing you could do and my dad had done both.

It is only now years later that I understand the situation for my parents.

Dad was excommunicated and although they would not physically stop him from being in church he could not receive communion.

The time the Bishop spoke to my dad, he told him that he was surprised that seeing as he was such an embarrassment that he was still living in Trinidad.

The Bishops advice was do everyone a favour and leave the Islands, which is what we did do in 1962 when we moved to England.

I had huge question marks about the church and its teachings and did not believe what they said.

It seemed hypocrisy to me and hearing my dad’s story convinced me that my gut instincts had been correct.

Once I left home I never went to church and decided that I did not need any big daddy figures telling me what to do.

I did not like the hypocrisy that I had seen and felt that I could and would take control of my own life.

I would make my own decisions based on principles of justice and equality and human compassion and not based on any superstition and prejudice.

I would take full responsibility for my life and my actions, which I have done, have also never insulted or abused anyone for their beliefs.

As far as I am concerned everyone is free to believe what they want as long as they do not force me to join them.

I like to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve as human beings, and believe that everyday we should carry out random acts of kindness on the principle that what goes round comes round.

We human beings need each other to survive.


JC said...

I grew up Catholic too ...
I had too many questions. The head Nun even called my Mom about it.

I was told to 'just believe'.

As i got older, I still questioned about 'some guy in Italy' telling me what I could and could not do.

I quit going in High School. I've popped into one every once in a while on travel ... just to take a peak at the old churches ... but I am an offical Vacationing Catholic.

That means, I took the best and threw out the worst .. part.

Religion can sure do a number on people ... that's just my thoughts .. I know others live and breathe by their religion ... I don't.

robert said...

Good morning Herrad,
once again night and time to see what's happening in the life outside my appartment.
Being original from Germany, moving to Greece less than five years ago, brought much problems with it. One of it having a different 'believe' at least upon the papers, as I'm not allowed to have my son baptised within a Greek church, as I'm not orthodox...probably time to invent a peoples church, such as all these blogs, bringing together what bureaucracy wouldn't be able to.

Webster said...

Me too. Catholic.

A recovering Catholic, that is.

On the rare occasion that I go to Mass (for a funeral, or wedding) I will take Communion - because I believe in the holiness expressed in the sacrament. I also believe it's between me and god to decide - not The Church.

I went through ten years of Catholic school before I began to let it go. Too much hypocrisy for me to take.

Now I just try to believe in the good in the world, in all its many wonderful forms.

I hope you stay cool and comfortable today.

Herrad said...

Hi JC,

You are right religion can really do a number on folks.
Shame that here we are in 2009 with all kinds of wonderful technology and yet we are also still in the Dark Ages because people have been seduced by superstition.

Hi Robert,

It is not until it is late that you can function in this heat and you have this alot in Greece.
Was there once in 1990 stayed near Volos at a friends house.
During the morning you could do things but after lunch it was best to not do too much then shower at 5 or 6 and then you could enjoy the evening.

For sure time for a peoples church with no hiearchy and no set belief apart from a belief in humanity.

Organised religion is to me just various franchises struggling to be the market leader.
Was reminded of Baudelaire when I saw his name in your profile.
Forgot that I read a german translation when we lived in Bonn 1966 to 67 .
There were three of us who thought it was cool to read him and to carry his poetry book around with us.
Funny remembering this recently thanks for stimulating the memory.

Hi Webster,

Way to much hypocrisy in organised religion and all about jostling for position and being the nr 1 religion.
Do understand for alot of people the only place they can express themselves safely is their church because there are no other community based activities.

Thanks for coming by and commenting on this post really appreciate your feedback.
It is not easy, would not want to upset anyone but feel people would be better off if they were allowed to think freely and take responsibility for their actions and their lives.
I know that for many their social and political thoughts can only be expressed safely at church.
Can't help myself wondering if all the energy that is put into churches went straight into our communities whether we would not be alot better position now?
There is alot of good in the world and it can be even more if we nurture it.

Have a good day.

Living Day to Day with Multiple Sclerosis said...

I too have the same issues with church. I was born and raised Catholic. And it was when I was 19 and pregnant with my daughter that I was told that I could have her baptized but I would have to pay a fine to "be forgiven" and If I wanted to get married I too would have to pay another fine "to be forgiven". I told my Dad this and he told me that he had to pay a fine because he divorced my Mom. and GET THIS ONE... My Mom told me that one day when I was younger my Dad came to her and asked her to sign a paper saying basically he was not my Father so he could be buried with his new wife in the Catholic cemetary. Well, I gave that religion up in a heartbeat. In my opinion if I sinned then it is between me and God to deal with my "punishment". Oh, and that was the beginning of me realizing how my Dad was too. Years and years later my Dad and I worked out our differences.