My experience with religion

Until I was about 19, my parents made my sisters and I go to church every week.  They were catholic, which means so were we officially.  I guess I still am according to the church’s records, but whatever.  I don’t know how many of you have had the “pleasure” of sitting through a catholic mass, but I want to take you through a sensory journey into my experiences.

Visual:

The churches I went to were actually fairly visually pleasing.  There are always many stained glass windows depicting saints, which I found fascinating to look at because they usually show a medieval scene, and they sometimes show what that particular saint was famous in the church for.  The stage area where the priest and whoever else makes speeches/presentations is littered with altars and candles and other things that have been used by the church for hundreds of years.  Going to a catholic church is like going to a museum.  The only complaint I have is depictions of a bloody and nearly naked Jesus hanging on the cross, which the catholic church is big on.  It’s supposed to inspire reverence, but for me it just inspires disgust.

Aural:

This means dealing with the ears, though when you say it, it’s hard to not sound like you’re saying “oral”.  Oh well.  When I went to church, it was usually in the morning before I’d properly woken up, and often before I’d eaten breakfast.  As a result, my hearing was quite sensitive.  One of the less pleasant features of a catholic mass is the singing of hymns by the whole congregation, which to the sensitive ears of an aspie is torture.  “WAAAAAAAAAWAAAUUUUUWAAAUUUAAAAAWAAAAAAA”  That’s what it sounds like.  And don’t get me started on the nonsense that the catholic church expects everyone to believe.  It’s so ridiculous, I should include it in the smell category too.

Olfactory:

A catholic mass is full of interesting smells that wouldn’t be bad on their own in small doses, but in overwhelming amounts, they are awful.  First you have the perfume and cologne worn by the parishioners, which is often overzealously applied.  I think they do it so nobody can tell who the person is who put on too much perfume.  When it’s everybody, you can’t really point a finger at anyone in particular.  Then there’s the incense, the worst smell culprit.  I’ve smelled incense that was very good, but for some reason the catholic church has decided that the holiest incense smells like burning tires.

Touch:

Fortunately, I was never molested by a priest.  That is because I was not an altar boy.  But I did have to spend an hour or so sitting still, standing up, sitting still, standing up, kneeling, standing, sitting, kneeling, and then standing up one more time just for good measure.  I don’t remember the exact order of it, but expecting a little kid to play Simon says before he’s really awake is cruel and annoying.

Taste:

The only thing I liked about going to church was that sometimes we would get to go to a different room after mass and have donuts and punch that they provided.  When I was 12 or 13 I did communion, which means eating the wafer that’s supposedly magically transformed into the flesh of Jesus and optionally drinking the wine that’s supposedly magically transformed into the blood of Jesus.  The wafers were tasteless but had a decent texture, and I was never into wine, so I stopped going for that soon after I started.  But really, what a disgusting ritual.  Of course, the catholic church didn’t invent cannibalistic rituals, just like they didn’t invent most of their dogma.  They stole it from pagans.

Of course, it wasn’t any of this that drove me to atheism.  It was when I actually started listening to what the priest was saying during his speech time, or homily, that I started seeing problems with christianity.  We aspies tend to be brutally logical, and when someone stands in front of me and spouts idiotic absurdities, I just can’t help but raise an eyebrow.  A perfect and infinitely merciful being is willing to torture me forever unless I believe that he took human form and allowed himself to be murdered?  I’m not an idiot.  I can’t believe that.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “My experience with religion

      • Ankh, i think that many people might misunderstand me because I am open to many ways of thinking. I don’t conclude a lot as far as how I believe or don’t believe. I don’t feel like I can nor need to.

        If people see a post on my fb that looks like an atheist belief, they may assume I am atheist (like some of my classmates that rejected me based on those).

        If they see a post on my fb profile that looks Christian, they may assume I’m Christian and may start being critical of that.

        The same with any other viewpoint. I just post things that I think are interesting, thought-provoking, helpful and/or inspiring.

        If it has God in it and I don’t feel like I believe in God that day or that year or whatever, I take the word “God” out of the post in my mind when reading it.

        I was raised and brainwashed to be religious and believe in God. I stopped being religious when I was 18 in 1983. I stopped believing in God 12 years ago.

        I’ve been bullied by Christians growing up and bullied by atheists on humanist and free thinking websites when I was on them a year or two ago.

        Due to the bullying, my life experiences in general, and my general nature, I hate obsessions and extremes in any way of thinking. I hate and don’t understand e/o’s preoccupation with these subject matters.

        I wanna go through the rest of my life never having to talk or think about them again. Yet people of all faiths and non-belief keep shoving them in my face and insisting I believe the way they do.

        Why do they insist on doing that? I want them to leave me alone. It’s none of their business and it’s very codependent of them.

        I do understand that some people want to “rescue/save me” and/or are control freaks and/or don’t realize that they are questioning their own beliefs in trying to shove them on me. Otherwise, I don’t get the obsession, extremes, and the pushing.

        I spent Christmas Day this year doing nothing: no decorations, no presents, except from others, no nothing. That’s the way I feel about beliefs, traditions, and holidays. It was one of the best Christmases of my life.

        My husband (now ex) ex and oldest no longer live with me and my youngest and I didn’t have any money for presents or a little fun (which I would have done for her, not for me).

        I am thankful every day (even as grumpy as I seem). If I want to celebrate something or give someone a present, I’ll give it to them. I don’t want society imposing things on me.

        Ironically, because growing up, my kids wanted to do some of the holidays and because I was weaning off of having been brainwashed, I did fun things for the kids and explained the holidays to them so that they’d be aware.

        Ironically also, my oldest (an atheist) hates me because I didn’t do enough for Thanksgiving and Christmas when she was growing up and she says that she felt embarassed in front of her friends and also missed out on stuff.

        I never liked nor understood the Catholic Church, though in 8th-12th grade, I did like a retreat team and being in the choir for the social life, the singing, the protection from peer pressure, and the discussions about feelings. The church was trying to keep up with the liberals, the hippies in a positive way to keep the youth.

        I’ve written on my profile about the priests and their hypocrisy when they came out to our house in the country to “let their hair hang down”. I was writing about that long before the public scandals but no one would believe me.

        Basically, my thinking is: “I am one little teeny tiny person/thing on this planet that just arrived 47 years ago. Everybody believes in something different (religion) and swears that it is true.

        Science has “proven” things before, but then has turned around and “disproven them” (found flaws or bias, etc.) in the study years later.

        So my attitude is: “What the hell do I know? I would be arrogant and foolish to say that I know anything for sure in regards to what I’ve just written.

        The only thing I’m sure about is that I have had experiences with loved ones who have passed on and no one ever locked me up for being crazy (knock on wood really hard ; )

        When I brought these things up to my siblings regarding experiences that I had with my mother who died when I was 12, my siblings heartily agreed that they’d had similar experiences also.

      • Ankh, maybe based on your life experiences with people, you expected me to fit into a mold of people you had known in your life. If so, you may have “seen” things that weren’t there.

        I’ve never fit into a mold.

      • I keep saying that I’m not against your opinions. Your opinions are not that different from Stephen’s.

        I’m against what feels like your opinions being shoved on me constantly and intensely when you are my friend on FB. You choose to do that or not and I’m not asking you to change because it’s important for you to be yourself, not change to get me to be your friend on FB.

        I was keeping in touch with you on FB via the Aspie Discussion Group and also otherwise via this blog. You chose to block me. I did not choose to block you.

        If you choose to believe what is not true, that’s your choice, and you get to decide what you believe. I don’t force beliefs.

  1. I was brought up in Presbyterian churches, and like all mainline Protestant denominations, the interiors of Presbyterian churches are much more austere and basic than any Catholic church. No incense, no crucifix. My Presbyterian church used an actual loaf of baked bread that parishioners tore chunks off of to consume. I think the sheer batshit insanity of Catholic dogma keeps many Protestant churches afloat, who can always point and laugh at “those crazy Catholics” instead of critically examining what their own pastor is saying.

    As far as positives, our minister was very socially liberal/progressive (as much as he could be within a scripture-based faith tradition, anyway) and quoted from the bible only sparingly. He was big on just urging people to be good to others, treat others with love & respect, etc. Very little talk of heaven, hell, afterlife, etc. He eventually stepped down to do counseling worth with drug addicts, more direct action type of mission work, etc. The pastor who replaced him was also a nice guy, but lacked the charisma and experience of the man he replaced.

    I also liked the way the rumbling pipe organ would make my insides giggle and vibrate; I always thought that was a cool trick. Later I learned this is part of the stagecraft of religion and is calculated to evoke awe in the congregation. Perhaps some of the more suggestible parishioners are actually fooled into believing they’re being “moved by the holy spirit”, etc, when in fact it’s just the vibrations caused by the low notes of the pipe organ.

    Fast forward to today; I find I just can’t stand to sit through any more sermons, no matter how well intentioned or mild. The pastors seem inevitably to make some false analogy, or misstate basic science, or state some other painfully stupid absurdity and I can’t let it go. I fidget and want to argue. I roll my eyes, groan quietly to myself, etc. The last time I was roped into attending a religious service was when I was visiting family in Missouri and a friend of the family’s adult children were prepping for a foreign Mission trip. It was a Christmas service as well as a special “good bye & good luck!” send off. It was a moderate, United Methodist congregation in rural Missouri. The pastor seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and he was bending over backwards to be ecumenical, and I think he was genuinely frustrated when my butt remained firmly planted in the pew as he called all the congregation forward to take communion; more than once he urged “We accept all Christians here”, trying to feel me out as perhaps a reluctant Baptist or Catholic (who typically will not take communion outside their home church). I said nothing but to myself I muttered “You don’t get it, bub; I’m not a Christian at all.”. I sat through his sermon, and he tried to have a message of sorts about courage and sticking it out through tough times, yada yada, but in the process he framed it in such a hopelessly (and cluelessly) misogynistic way I was just revolted. It’s not as though he were TRYING to be offensive, he just simply WAS offensive and oblivious as to why. Sort of role-reversal for an Aspie, eh?

    I think I’ve mostly been a nonbeliever & atheist for most of my life; but I hadn’t been a confident atheist until I reached my 30s.

Now you may speak.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s