Many of you have patiently observed and smile-n-nodded as I have taken the dizzy spiral of religious seeking. I could try to give a timeline; it's boring or boggling or both, so feel free to skip to the paragraph after if you want!
Baptised Catholic...lost specific faith definitions at age 12 when they told me you can't get out of hell once you're there...agnostic through adolescence but got confirmed Roman Catholic anyway...Occult for a while...back to Catholic...then Pagan...then Catholic, wanted to be priest...then experimented with EVERYTHING....then Catholic, wanted to be a priest again...then moved to Denver...then Catholic, then Wiccan, then Orthodox...back to Albuquerque...officially became Orthodox via Chrismation...back to Wicca...then Episcopalian (received even)...then nothing for a while...then Orthodox for a month...then nothing again...now lately been going to the Roman Catholic church.
And I'm sure I missed something there. Oh yeah...some time with the UUs and the Religious Science paths...
I look at all of these paths with positivity and love. I think they all work in many ways. I disparage none.
Belief-wise, Episcopalian is for me. This has been the case for some time. But I didn't feel at home without my church of birth. Cradle Roman Catholic here. Raised on Vatican II churches. Great music for a while (yes, folky, with guitars, but they were great songs) though not every parish utilizes the good stuff.
I noticed a couple things coming back to the RCC (Roman Catholic Church).
1. Almost every sermon mentions or dwells on abortion. It would seem there is no other real passion among the church leadership anymore.
1a. Except putting money and effort into defeating any gay rights initiative in civil society, and berating us gays for, well, being ourselves.
2. The archdiocese here is having this men's course. How to be a Catholic man. Accepting the leadership role in the family. (This is Catholic? It sounds so...right-wing Christian) Women should encourage men to take on this strong leadership role.
3. There is a lot of focus among the laity about "error" in liturgy, and how the only real Mass is Tridentine. This is a belief among friends of mine online, many of them.
4. There is still compassion for the individual among the priests.
5. The pope is worse than the one we had before I left. I say that from my own perspective. This one is almost a crusader, "investigating" nuns, forbidding gays to become priests, generally making faces in public that are scarier than Dick Cheney's.
5a. Pope's behavior does not surprise me. Ratzinger has always been like this.
Still, this is my church. The RCC is made of the people, who are bigger than the sum of the parts, and about whom I care more than I do about the Vatican. The Vatican should care more about the people than itself too.
I was so set on sticking around. They aren't gonna drive me out!
(I'm pretty sure the Papacy would like we dissenters to leave, however, if we aren't willing to pickle our brains in the brine of dogmatism.)
Now, we have hypocrisy. That's what this is:
"Yo," says the pope, "you Anglicans who prickle and burn with umbrage over women and gays in the clergy, you are welcome here, for we are a sanctuary for you, who are righteous and intolerant of such evils. And, hey, you can keep your wives too."
See, if you are a faithful Catholic, and want to be a priest, you cannot have a wife. (Hell, even if you want to be celibate, but are gay in orientation, you can't be a priest, because we just cannot have a person who might seduce kids...oh, wait...never mind...).
But if you convert because your underwear is itchy, you can have all kinds of privileges.
I can't help but wonder if this is a way to get more priests in the church without having to change the rules and allow married priests.
The church is growing among the intolerant and conservative (not always the same thing, but usually). It is shrinking among the free-thinking. I'm sure the Pope is gleeful about this, as his creepy visage takes on its sinister grin.
Is it time for me to finally let go of my childish clinging to the church of my youth? Is it time to cut the string for good? Is it possible for my heart to fully grow into a more liberal path and work to make it my home?
Orthodoxy came close, but only in pockets, wonderful independent churches who were very gay-friendly and often shunned by established jurisdictions (especially among those members who converted from something else).
What attracted me to the Episcopalians originally was that people prayed together, took communion together, no matter how they differed in matters of dogma, morality, even theology. The Creed and the Book of Common Prayer bind the people together. And hey, you can intepret that as you do. No pressure to accept specifics. They don't even seem to mind that I don't say the filioque.
If my understanding is faulty, someone please let me know.
But the next service I attend will be Episcopalian. There, I won't be adding funds to anti-gay initiatives. There, I can love God without worrying if I'm taking communion correctly. There, I can accept the Eucharist without worrying if I should have gone to Confession first.
There, see, God and I can have a relationship without some crazy guy in Rome getting in the way.
Peace and all good.