Hey. Background time.
I grew up in a very Catholic oriented environment and, despite a slight falling out between me and the big C recently, we still have a sort of weird, half assed intimate relationship. I think that before college I missed about 2 Sundays of church ever. I never particularly liked going to Mass, and I stopped going altogether since I've been at college, except when I go home on a weekend. I just don't really see the point. I just feel like I don't need to get up early after a night of frivolity and pack myself into a crowded little space with a lot of loud noises to be able to claim that I love God. When you try and force people to do stuff they don't wanna, they're gonna resent it, and no one wants it to be like that. Maybe some day I'll learn to appreciate it and want to go. Who knows. My mom would call me a “cafeteria Catholic” for that. In fact, she has before. What she means by that is that even though I'm Catholic, I choose to disagree with certain beliefs that the Church holds, some of them rather major. Which is true. Sorry mom, but I don't like to follow dogmatically. SEGWAY! (cross-curricular)
Let's talk about some of these beliefs that I disagree with (cue controversy). I already mentioned the whole issue of churchgoing, but here are some other, bigger ones. First up is the death penalty. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: fry 'em. Sorry to be crude here, but when a person is so nasty to the core that they rape and kill and do other shit like that with no remorse, they lose their right to life in my mind. Because honestly, life is a blessing and a privilege, and when you no longer have any respect for the lives of others, you don't deserve your own.
Round two brings us to premarital sex. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: all for it, given the right conditions. I'm not saying I feel it's alright to just sleep around with whoever we want, whenever we want. I just feel like if you know someone really well, and you both really like/love each other, and you're both willing to take that step in your relationship, then go for it. And if not, then don't. I just don't think that there's all that much of a difference in the role sex plays in our relationships before and after marriage.
Next up is gay marriage and homosexuality in general. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: let gays be gay. I don't mean to be politically incorrect here, but I don't know how else to say it. I'm not into that, but who cares if other people are? And even if you think it's wrong or immoral, just keep it to yourself. There's no need to condemn people. That's not our place. It's God's. And that's not to say that they should be condemned, because I definitely don't think that.
Finally, let's talk birth control. Catholic Church: against. Brian Malone: for. To me, there's a huge difference between contraception and abortion. After conception, its a different ballpark. But preventing some eggs from fertilizing and producing life is not the same as ending life. I think contraception is really important, especially in today's world where more and more people seem to support my view of premarital sex. It's much better than getting pregnant and then having to deal with that moral quandary, something I think that the Church should be the first to realize. Unfortunately, they don't see it that way.
Now I want to address some misconceptions that a lot of non-Catholics, and even some Catholics, seem to have about Catholicism. Let's start with evolution. WE DO NOT TAKE THE GENESIS STORY LITERALLY. To paraphrase something my priest once said, “We as Catholics aren't supposed to literally believe that God created the world in seven days. It is just a metaphor for God's power and his hand in creation. Science has all but proven evolution to be fact, and religion and science are meant to work together in this sense.” So in other words, maybe we evolved from apes, and those apes evolved from something else, etc. all the way back to the first speck of matter that exploded to create the universe (or whatever theory you believe created the universe). But the point is, we believe that that speck, that first thing, whatever it was, was created by God, who then let things unfold. And I do not mean to belittle or discredit atheism here, but I have always wanted to ask, “Where do you guys think that that first thing came from?” I respect your answer, whatever it may be. I'm just wondering. But yeah, referring back to an earlier statement, Catholics don't necessarily interpret every word from the Bible as solid and unquestionable truth. We get that some things are just metaphors and guiding stories written in ways we can relate to and understand. Also, perhaps the biggest and most frustrating misconception people seem to have about Catholicism is that we're all bigots or something that see other religions as lesser entities to be frowned upon and shunned. Not so. So yeah, the point is that we aren't a bunch of elitist pricks like people often seem to think. We all acknowledge the atrocities the Church has committed in the distant past, but let's be honest. Not to belittle mass suffering, but what religion hasn't in some way repressed other religions at some point in time?
I've noticed that a lot of people I know that were raised Catholic and went to SHG no longer support Catholicism. Perhaps there were other factors, but for the sake of my point, let's assume it was SHG's fault. It really pisses me off when certain more prominent figures in Catholicism fuck up and all of us are frowned on for it, like SHG being super elitist, or that microscopic and unrepresentative percentage of priests molesting children. Not to minimalize the terrible nature of those things, but it's like people think that there's never been a reverend or a pastor or whathaveyou that's committed a crime. People are fallible, and it just sucks that those people who are the worst of us are often chosen to represent a much larger body that is, for the most part, good.
Another thing I've noticed is how taboo talking about religion is these days. People always seem to apologize when they bring up the topic, and I understand their desire to be politically correct and not offend anyone or make anything awkward, but in short, it kind of sucks. Now, I'm not advocating that religion should be integral in politics, because I believe the separation of church and state is for the best. But it seems like our freedom of speech is quietly being repressed more and more as we strive harder and harder to make everyone happy and be politically correct. The sentiment is a noble one, but it's just too bad that the world we live in can't simply have many voices of differing opinions coexist without conflict.
So clearly I'm not the best example of the ideal Catholic. I disagree with a bunch of stuff and I sin all the time. I'll be the first to admit that. I swear like a demon. I even did it a bunch in this post. Occasionally I break some laws. I'm pretty prone to sloth and gluttony. I love watching movies where the bad guys die horrible and awesome deaths, and I laugh my ass off when they do. The Boondock Saints is one of my favorite movies for this very reason. They just go around and kill scumbag criminals, and I love it. Sometimes when I'm eating dinner, I'll just sit and people-watch. In other words, I mentally judge people left and right, and though I do my best to keep that judgment in my head, I still know it's wrong. But I'll keep doing it anyway, because it entertains me and I can't help it. I do my best to learn from my mistakes, but the honest truth of it is, sometimes I just don't. Sometimes I just don't care. I know a lot of the time I'm rather cocky and arrogant and a bit of a douche bag, and I try my best not to be like that, but sometimes I just can't help it. I'm not afraid to admit my flaws, and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that don't like me for them. I wish it weren't so, but at the same time, it doesn't bother me. There's not a person out there that is liked by everyone that knows them, and I'm not trying to be the first. I want people to like me, but if they don't, they don't. That's that.
But despite all this stuff, I feel like my basic morals are what they should be, and I'm happy with that. I'm proud to be me (pride is totally one of the seven cardinal sins, but fuck that shit). In the words of Al Pacino at the end of The Devil's Advocate, “Vanity is my favorite sin”.