Friday, April 07, 2006

Once a Catholic...?

The greatest trial in my life has been trying to accept that my life can be changed in a single second. It’s the hardest thing to come to terms with, this crap shoot of the world, but it is the absolute truth. There’s been a lot of changes for me in the last year; I’ve known quite a few people who passed away, some with reason, some without. When you see so much happen, when you see all kinds of people floating through life, only to meet an abrupt, sometimes brutal end, it shatters the things you base your life on. When one can go from a loving, passionate, strong, living, breathing person to a dead bag of bones and blood in a minute…what’s the point?

When I was younger I was a Catholic; between the Irish and Italian in my family, that was certain. I went to Catholic school when I was younger, and went through all the sacraments that one is supposed to in order to get into that strange cult that is organized religion. Maybe I never really believed it, even when I was young; the whole thing sounded pretty far fetched. I used to think, “This guy can turn water into wine? He makes bread for the homeless and starving out of one loaf? There’s lots of homeless around here, and they can’t get a dime from the rich prics who walk by on their cell phones, wearing fur coats, who forgot what it was like to struggle. Where’s Jesus now? Did he get lost on the backroads, or what?”

That was how I thought as a little kid. Yea, I was always a little bitter at the way life turns; complete strangers have told me many times that I’m an “old soul”, as if I’d been here and lived this all before. I was always angry about things that I didn’t understand, things that I had never experienced. I was pissed at things that I knew nothing about, with the cynicism of an old man coming out of my young mind….its like I had seen this all before, on some newsreel in a previous life.

Either way, as life moved on, I had those death experiences that life just wouldn’t be fun without. My grandfather died when I was around 11, and that had a profoundly deep effect on me. By 12 years old, I’d turned completely away from organized religion, and had nothing to believe in. It felt like when you were six or seven and someone telling you that Santa wasn’t real – “Sorry kid, there ain’t no God. We die for no reason, all the time, and there’s nothing that you can do.” Needless to say, by 16, I was drinking, smoking, and had embraced the works of Nietzsche far over the Bible. At least Nietzsche, with all his mad rants, never used smoke and mirrors to make me comfortable…

Eventually, like all good Catholics I guess, I started coming back around a couple of years ago. Church didn’t seem to evil or oppressive, and I was older, a little wiser, a little more together. I didn’t so much believe in it as much as I just didn’t berate those that did believe, which was quite a step for me.

When my buddy died last year, that all changed again. He died in a flash, his life was over as quickly as one could strike a match, in the same fashion as my grandfather- a freaky medical problem where something just blew inside him and there was no saving him. Its ironic I think, because just before he died, my friend seemed to be looking for God again (I used to break his balls, saying that he should worship that Norse Gods of old, being as they were by far the most badass). He was in the midst of a tremendous breakup with his girlfriend, and he felt some kind of calling to get back to thinking about God. Its funny how people always go back to God when life gets difficult, and even more ironic that I turn away completely.

So where do I go with this God business now? I still think most of it is ridiculous, and that the Bible has about as much truth in it as the Bush Administration (that’s not a compliment). But what about God himself? He’s got to be there, somehow, pulling strings, flinging levers, a cigarette in his mouth, ashes in a big white beard, working out the world’s problems, taking this person so that this one will live better, or get stronger, or go insane. It can’t all just be this random.

Depending what day you ask me, I still call myself a Catholic. Most days, I just call myself a philosopher, as if that lets me slink away from having to declare a religion or any belief system. If there is a God though, I’m in deep shit; unfortunately, I’ve gotten ragingly drunk enough times that I’ve cursed off God in ways that would make Cain cringe. Still…sometimes I still wonder if I could curse at Him in Latin, would he actually fucking hear it? Does speaking in the old language make me more important? Because it seems to me any prayers I’ve ever said in English have fallen on deaf ears…..

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