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Why atheism?: Part I, Catholicism

March 8, 2008

I was raised Catholic.

So many secularists begin their story of how they came to have no belief in god(s), that it’s become one of my favorite cliches. First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Advent, Lent, giant horrifying statues of the crucified Jesus, the whole bit. That was my life for at least an hour every Sunday for about 14 years. 728 hours is a real long time to deal with boredom. Wait, I forgot about CCD, which was another hour once a week from age six (I think) and we have a grand total of 1114 hours or ~48 days wasted.

Catholicism didn’t cut it, as you may have guessed, but the road out of religion didn’t finish there. I would love to say I was the type of teen that had ethical issues with Catholicism, like I didn’t think I should be paying the price for an apple I didn’t eat, but the reason was much more pedestrian. Church was boring. And I don’t mean watching The View with your wife boring, but listening to a nerd quote Monty Python boring. I’d try to go to the bathroom as many times as I could before my mom got pissed, just for relief. Not urinary,but mental relief.

Aside from the bathroom gambit, there were many other ways to pass the time as the priest droned on and on about apostles and lambs. One thing I used to do was stare at a light hanging from the ceiling long enough to get a good afterimage going. Then I would try to hold that afterimage over the faces of the priest and deacons for as long as I could. This was surprisingly difficult and required a practiced eye, as your eyes would always wander. At other times, I would go into a trance-like state of boredom and try to say in my head what the priest was saying at the same time. This produced mixed results, though I always scored high when the priest was reciting some creed or prayers that I’d heard a million times.

Another way to pass the time was to arrange for a friend to stay the night on Saturday, then he would go to church with us the next day. We’d have fun trying to make each other laugh out loud, which meant that we were separated after approximately 15 seconds. But those 15 seconds went fast.

It was also unfair that my dad never had to go! What the fuck was that? While we were off for a lifetime every week, getting bored to tears (yes, that’s why Catholics cry) by the monotone priest or the incomprehensible, but very nice Polish priest, our dad stayed at home, listening to music or other things that seemed unimaginably fun compared to an hour of sitting/standing/kneeling.

Only slightly less boring were the weekly CCD classes. My first experience with CCD was when my older siblings were old enough to go, but I wasn’t. I’d go with my mom to drop the poor bastards off, then we’d go to the local CVS and I’d get candy to eat while we waited in the car for CCD to end. Obviously at that point, I had the highest regard for CCD. Unfortunately, I got older and rather than getting candy I had to attend CCD.

At first, this was exciting as it was a new experience. It was like school, but we got to learn pretend things like god, prayer, and transubstantiation. The excitement eventually died, as each teacher was about as interesting as mass; droning on for an hour about crap that I didn’t care about and could only be bothered to remember enough to pass the tests. I have only onw clear memory of CCD, and that was the time I accidentally shot the teacher in the face with a rubber band propelled paper clip. The teacher looked like MoeHoward anyways, but when I saw how pissed he was, I just knew he was going to pull on my nose with a pair of pliers or poke me in the eyes.

Well, CCD lead to First Communion, then to confirmation. The only real memories I have of that are:

  1. Keeping time for the Bishop with his own watch during confirmation practice and contemplating stealing watch, because how goddamn cool would I be then?
  2. Doing my community service for confirmation at the local metaphysical bookstore. I cleaned the shop and read books that would probably be decried as satanic by the people who forced me into free labor. Interesting note, even though I wasn’t supposed to, I did get paid for my work. Wonder if that means I’m not really confirmed?

Once confirmed, I stopped going to church. I didn’t renounce my religion or get excommunicated (though I may do that one for funsies one day), I just… stopped. This did, of course, create some tension with my mother, but allowed me to spend a little more time with my dad, which turned out to be far more enriching than church ever was.

In the next part, I will tell the tale of how Catholicism lead to Wicca. Yes, I was one of those.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2008 8:31 am

    Ah, another recovering Catholic. Your story is all too familiar and could have come from any other RC.

    I was an altar boy and got to see far too much of behind the scenes of the rituals. My priest was an alcoholic who was unable to get back to the rectory on his own power after the fifth mass because he hit the wine so hard. Enuf said.

    I left that church after an incident that took place during the weekly “confession” when I was 12 or 13. I had just had my first sexual experience with another boy and while I didn’t think it was a sin, I figured I’d better come clean and tell the priest. Big mistake.
    He came screaming out of the confessional, yanked me out of the little closet (no mistake, that), threw me to the floor and began beating me.
    When I came to my senses, I punched him in the balls and yelled back that I had come to confession for forgiveness, not judgment. I got up walked out and never crossed that doorstep again.

    My journey has been an interesting one. Seems that yours has been as well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. March 9, 2008 11:08 am

    TC,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad my experience with Catholicism was nothing like that.

    I honestly don’t feel that I’m recovering, though. Catholicism meant literally nothing to me, and that feeling persists to this day. It was in no way a part of my search, except as where my feet were before I took the first step.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post, there’s more coming 🙂

  3. Apentroll permalink
    March 9, 2008 4:34 pm

    The Roman church started it all and they should be the first to go.

    The Catholic Religion is absolutely absurd. Act like an asshole all week and get redeemed on Sunday or tell your lies to the priest
    a t the confessional. Lately it has been the priests who are on the other side of the confessional telling about their sorties with the choir boys. And the rot goes a lot deeper than we can know. Even the Mafia are good Catholics because they contribute a lot of money to the Vatican. I’ve heard that a lot of the loot taken from the Jews by Hitler (also a good Catholic) and his bunch of thugs is still in the basement of the Vatican. So shoot me if I’m wrong.

    Christianity took a turn around after Henry the 8th lopped the head off his last wife and started the protestant religions. There must be a kazillion religions out there now all claiming to be the best and wanting your money.

    It seems to me that it’s best not to be a part of all that crap .Live your life as a decent human being rather than like a sheep wanting slaughter so as to attain some kind heavenly benefit from being a jerk all your life. If religion and belief in the “guy in the sky” is true
    then we’ve got big problemos. No one here on earth will ever make it to their heaven and hell will be overflowing.

Trackbacks

  1. Merit-bound Alley » Why Atheism?: Part II, Wicca
  2. Outside the Perimeter: Up to PA Version « kavips

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