before i start in on my tirade, keep in mind that when i say "religion" i mean ACTUAL, ORGANISED religion...not just beliefs. organised religion is where all the bad, corrupt, man-made stuff is. beliefs we've all got, whether we want to or not. if you didn't have any beliefs, i'd be inclined to believe you'd been lobotomised. on that note, let me begin.
my ranting career began by slagging on religion from the point of view of a catholic school kid, so this topic definitely holds a special place in my heart. raised catholic and educated as such, in one of the most catholic countries in the world, i learned more about the church than anyone would ever want to...some of it sensible, true, and good, and some of it...well...let's just say some of it would've proven damaging to a lesser man. organised religions, catholicism included, and their legions of respective preacher-people exist solely for the purpose of converting as many people as possible from someone else's side to theirs for their own gain and once attracting followers, scaring them out of any thoughts they may've had of leaving. catholicism, one of the oldest churches, has definitely proven itself better for wear in that area. if you know nothing else about the religion i was baptised into, you know all the stereotypes and the rumours...so let me tell you now, everything you heard? it's all 100%...TRUE! the mainstays of the roman catholic church are as follows :
1. anyone who isn't one of us is going to hell.
2. if you are having fun, you are obviously doing something wrong and will most likely be going to hell.
3. the more you beat a child with a wooden paddle, the less likely he is to go to hell. (except in the case of some kids...*cough* cain *cough*...they'll be going to hell regardless of what you do to them.)
4.how you behave at mass (EVERY sunday, no matter what...miss it once and you're going GUESS WHERE) is infinitely more important than how you behave anyplace else. miserable bastard monday thru saturday, saint on sunday, you probably won't be going to hell.
hmm...notice a pattern here? heh. me neither...
i'll never forget the first time i was told my soul was unredeemable...it's the kind of thing not forgotten easily, let me tell you. i was 6-and-a-half years old and preparing for my first communion. the nun in charge, a woman so old she'd taught my mother and was old THEN, did not like me. the first week we studied with her, she'd informed me my green eyes were a present from satan. i'd thought she was just being playful, but i would later learn that she quite simply REALLY did not like me. unlike her, i did have a tendency to be playful, or at least antsy after three consecutive hours in church, and that particular day did something stupid (don't even remember what...that's how bleedin' DEVIOUS it is) as we practised processing into the church for the 95000th time she dragged me out of the line, all the while roaring, "there is nothing that can be done with you! you are incorrigable! the devil is saving a place in hell for you!" niiiiice. really nice thing to say to a boy not even 7, ain't it? and in CHURCH, no less. i wonder who ELSE is going to hell, hmm...? and she didn't stop there, either. she went on for another solid 10 to 15 minutes about how she'd single-handedly have ne chucked out of school if she weren't such a NICE PERSON. nice person, me arse. she was just afraid if i went, with me i'd take the money my family contributed yearly. she mightn't've been nice, but she wasn't stupid either. there is another misconception flying about that catholics worship jesus. this is false ; in reality, they worship the almighty dollar. or in this case, the almighty punt. anyway...to make a long story...well...less long...this was the beginning of a long tradition of the religious telling me to go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks. i was by no means the first one victimised in such a manner...nor the last...in fact, the longer i was catholic, the more i realised if all they said was in fact true, i WANTED to go to hell. all my friends were going to be there. who was going to be in heaven, anyway? nuns, priests, and other assorted hypocrites? doesn't sound like any paradise I'VE ever heard of...
but, hey...if you still want to go to catholic heaven, i'm not going to stop you. but there are a few more bits you'll be needing to know...
1. eat fish on friday or go to hell.
okaaaaay...that's what they say alright...the older catholics will tell you that you can't eat meat on ANY friday, but the younger, hipper set say you only have to abstain on fridays in lent. at any rate, you're probably wondering – HOW is not eating meat on friday going to make me closer to god? what if it just makes me anaemic? well, first i'll tell ou what THEY'D say...and then i'll tell you the truth. THEY'D say it's cos you have to punish yourself for being such a lousy excuse for a child of god (don't feel bad ; we're ALL lousy)...and if you become anaemic, well, that's just cos god's punishing you further because you're obviously even worse than the rest of us. now for the truth...and this is the truth...it all began in the 1500s when the spanish fishing industry went to pot. spain being a catholic country, the spanish big wigs at the time were great mates of the pope's, and in exchange for a few small favours, they asked him if he could help their business some. so popey passed a church law requiring all catholics past a certain age to abstain from all meat save fish on fridays, thereby requiring them to partake of the services of the previously unemployed spanish fishermen. pretty slick, eh? well, it's all true...you can look it up.
2. go to confession regularly...it's your last and only chance at salvation.
confession is the masochistic catholic answer to therapy...which i don't believe in either. i have two beefs with confession...first of which is that as in most aspects of this faith, we are giving the priests WAAAAY too much power. what we've done wrong is no business of his, and even if it WAS, i seriously doubt if he REALLY has the power to punish or absolve us. remember, this is just a MAN we're talking about here, even if he IS wearing a clerical collar and a fancy sash. secondly, and most importantly, having been raised among catholics and quite literally surrounded by them 24/7 for most of my life, i've noticed that way too many people use confession as a universal pardon. meaning, (and those of you who were around during my earliest, earliest rants will remember this) "sin all you want; there's confession every first friday". so go on! be a bastard! once you've gone into that box and poured it all out to the padre, all's forgotten. pretty scary, especially when it's coming from the same lot who damned you to hell at the age of 7 cos they didn't take a fancy to you. heh. just one more example of hypocrisy in action...
i am by no means done. i realise i haven't even touched on organised religion in general yet, or even on all the other issues i have with catholicism. but you have to keep in mind, this is nearly 23 years in the making. and though i spent several solid years ranting about corollaries to this, it is basically a never-ending complaint. so consider this religion rant installment no1. there will be more. there is ALWAYS more.