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Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down 17 February 2010

Posted by The Inimitable M in Culture, Society, Religion, Diplomacy.
Tags: , , ,

Did I ever tell you that when I was 15 I tried to be a Catholic? My parents were appalled. Maybe that’s why I thought I’d try it.

My best friend was a devout Catholic, and she coached me through the principles. I had a rosary, a St. Christopher’s medal, a Catholic Bible, and I got the hang of the routine of when to kneel and when to say the right things. She started teaching me essential catechism, but when I started asking questions, I frustrated her a great deal. “I don’t know. You just do it. That’s the way it is.”

I was a bit too sporadic for Suzanne’s tastes. She insisted that you couldn’t be an occasional Catholic. That didn’t sound any different than my father telling me I couldn’t be an occasional Methodist, or at the time we moved over, an occasional Presbyterian. I would go to mass on Saturday night and spend all day Sunday doing the Methodist bits or the Presbyterian bits: Sunday School, church, choir practice in the afternoons, and youth group at night. I finally failed as a Catholic because of family pressure to make sure I did everything on Sunday that we were required to do as a family.

At that age – and this was just about the time I found myself bending the rules at school – it wasn’t easy to be a rebel and stick with so many religious responsibilities. I also wanted to be Buddhist and had a keen interest in Native American religious practices.

One cannot be everything to all people, whether in a religious sense or some other way. It was then I realised that God was not religion, but that religion was all sorts of different manifestations of the perception of faith in God. My biggest issue was that in each religion, there were too many things that didn’t ring true and were clearly Man’s rules, not God’s.

It took 40 years to glean My True God out of the many manifestations I studied. It also took a long time to get over my frustrations with people’s blind belief that their religion is the only way to get to Heaven. It’s an encapsulated life they lead with that kind of blindness.

I was gobsmacked today to find a friend of mine, who does not adhere to any religion, criticising those who do by saying they aren’t doing it right, and if they want to practice it the way it should be practiced, they should do thus and so, and began explaining their own religious tenets to them.

We can all pretend to be experts regarding the laws of mankind written down somewhere, and perhaps we know all the changes in the rules that each civilisation and each manifestation have gone through.

It boils down to this.

We are individuals. Our interpretations of what the “rules” mean to us remain our interpretations. No one is better than anyone else in that regard, and we would do well to understand this.

And, by God, no religion is better than another in any respect. Period.



1. James McShane - 17 February 2010


I no longer consider myself Catholic anyway. I gave that particular ghost up some time ago. What exactly I am now, I couldn’t tell you. But I’m happier that way, trust me.

theinimitablem1 - 17 February 2010

I believe you. My membership-on-paper is to Methodism, but in reality I practice what I understand to be a more real and logical approach to God and His universe. This requires faith, but not any man’s religious rules of faith.

2. mary avery - 17 February 2010

I did the same Catholic thing! My mother told me, as I entered the teens, that I needed to start looking for whatever it is I believe in. I went to CCD class, but when the rulers came out and I saw how despicable those nuns were, I quit. Catholicism wasn’t for me if that’s how they treated folks. The rituals and incense intrigued me in the first place.
Now I make my own incense. Ha!

I went on to try out many churches and married a Jew for a minute. Meanwhile, I found myself in the woods relatively often and eventually took a very different path.

I have a tainted view of religion in general, as you, and find myself most comfortable with those who don’t have a word for their path, but simply know that it is correct for them and tolerance is involved.

theinimitablem1 - 17 February 2010

I think we grew up in an era that promoted, to some extent, exploration of new ideas and thoughts. Yet, at the same time, we came across the first reaction to explore other religions, rather than explore what is inside ourselves and work outward.

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