Monday 14 April 2008

Religion, Icons and Idealism

A lot of people would correctly observe, that in one sense, I don't seem overly religious. Lacklustre mass attendance, total rejection of Catholic teaching on most matters of a sexual nature, hesitancy over the divine nature of Christ, asserting that God is NOT to be thought of as personal, as the idea is ridiculous and finding the idea of the devil to be plain ludicrous.

My own theology is decidedly unorthodox, yet somehow, I still feel comfortable defining myself as Catholic.
Why? Mainly because I do compare my own theories, with the DEEPER theological speculations of the Catholic faith, and still find myself broadly in agreement. The theology is bang on, some of the fairy stories, less so, notably the ones involving serpents, stone tablets, seas parting, world's destroyed by floods, etc.

I think the universe, logically, must be conscious, and THAT interpretation, that the trinity is in fact the three parts of consciousness; Reason, Awareness, Memory, yes, I think that is correct. In the moment of the Big Bang, the universe acquired all three, in the first three Planck ticks.

It thinks, it plans. It uses you and I as its tools. It has developed us, as it developed everything else, efficient tools to burn itself out, to die, to end, to be no longer.

And so, believing that, and believing Catholic theology to be the ONLY theology ULTIMATELY reconcilable with the laws of Quantum Mechanics, the ONLY faith that can ACTUALLY adequately explain HOW the divine consciousness works, in that sense, I'm a Catholic. Catholic theology works, Protestant theology doesn't.

Oh, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, angels, it's not real, but the deeper truths behind it are. The rules work. The principles are correct. Work with the universe, it rewards you, work against it, it doesn't.

Karma, basically. Just another crude way of trying to understand Karma.

But Karma is real. And it's quite hard, because it's quite stark. The point about Karma, is that what goes around, comes around, whether you meant to do it or not. In Buddhism, even accidents are punished.

You see, no one religion has a monopoly on truth. In this case, I think Buddhism is closer to truth. Life has a way of righting itself. Good DOES seem to win, Evil DOES seem to lose, overall. Has to have done, we all live a lot better lives than we once did, so the good guys ARE winning, overall.

Now it might come as a surprise to you, given the eclectic nature of my beliefs, that I actually practise my religion very thoroughly.
In terms of attendance, no. But when I'm there I'm as Catholic as a priest. I know the ropes, the lot. I can follow the mass like the back of my hand. I could probably DO a Mass, if they had a TV challenge to do it. I often say a Rosary, I've always liked the current Pope, even when he was just a Cardinal, I value Catholic culture and heritage, I admire everything that it is.

The acts of ritual are important to me, because it's my way of pledging allegiance to serve whatever our Conscious Universe is. I'm declaring my will to serve it unconditionally, to the exclusion of everything else.

Like millions throughout history, that sense that you want to serve a cause, that you want to serve the HIGHEST cause, the only true cause, it's that.
And the belief, ingrained within me, that the place to do that, is on your knees, head bowed before an image of the man who showed exactly where to start.

'We believe in one god'- well yes, sound idea. I agree.
'The father, the almighty', Hmm, well, as an anthropomorphism, I'll allow it.
'Maker of Heaven and Earth', Kind of, he or it, well, it IS everything.
'Of all things, seen and unseen', OK, I'm cool with that. Next bit.

You see, the Nicene creed, it's great really, plenty of room within it, to come to the conclusion, it does actually concur on the whole with your viewpoint, if you don't take it too literally. And it always fires me up. Makes me feel Catholic. The one true Church, by definition, the good guys, because the best of all guys founded us.

Funny thing is- And Welshcakes knew this was coming- I get way more devoted a mass attender, if I'm attached. Something about being attached, makes me go every Sunday. Kind of like, I think I might be in danger here. And I get more traditional in my expressions of Catholicism, attendance at SPUC events, etc.

Thing is, I grew up kind of wanting to be a priest, but then I sort of realised that there are down sides to being a priest. In fact there aren't a huge amount of selling points if you're shamelessly addicted to pleasure.
Plus of course, over time, I think I may well have left safe theological territory for an ordained cleric.
And just REALLY gone too far with the old sinning business.

Still. Somewhere in there lurk these priestly ideals (I've posted on this before). This kind of need to divert my ideals to an all encompassing cause, to the exclusion of all else.
And of course, that's why Catholicism thrives on the Mary cult. It keeps us strongly heterosexually charged devotees, focused on a fantasy woman, a woman really, just a little too good to be true.

So. We're screwed on that front really. Here is a dynamic designed to make you only love a completely unattainable woman, mainly unattainable, because she's dead. And not settle for a woman who can't match these curious qualities. And obviously, it's totally non-sexual. Yet you are encouraged to make it the HIGHEST love, you feel for any woman.

That's the trick that is used, to build the Catholic clergy. Always was, that's how it worked. Encourage adolescents boys to repress their sexual thoughts and focus on the Virgin Mary instead. CLEVER. Tell them, when you're tempted to play with it, just think of Mary looking down and crying.

It's ingrained within me to think like that. Ingrained within me to believe that no Love can be pure, unless the sexual element is totally removed. Not so much to think that you CAN'T combine Love and sex, merely that combined, they can NEVER be the highest love, because that can only be for an ethereal fantasy.

But is that fantasy Mary? No, of course not, not for me. God knows exactly what it is, part Freya, part Liz Hurley, part Keisha Buchanan, anyone wildly unavailable but decidedly sexually alluring. Something that more suits my own style of worship.

And I suppose in your mind, they have a persona. Everything your ideal would be. But that's what they are, an ideal, an ideal of womanhood to worship. You don't want her to be real. Then she would no longer be an ideal. Where are you going to be, without that motivating belief in your idealised vision of womanhood? It kind of has religious significance.

Funny thing religion. I think in some ways, we all have our own relationships with religion. We all see the universe in our own, unique ways.

And I think if we didn't, we wouldn't really be making use of our capacity for thought.

We each have to get to the end our own way.
I don't know the answers yet.
Maybe the bests bits are yet to come.


Anonymous said...

Funny thing religion. I think in some ways, we all have our own relationships with religion. We all see the universe in our own, unique ways.

How true. Although I sometimes think it would be more comfortable to just accept a given creed and follow it. That's if people could actually all agree on one.

You certainly are a very unorthodox Catholic although I still think the Jesuits tried hard with you and certainly left their mark. I could be wrong however.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing religion. I think in some ways, we all have our own relationships with religion. We all see the universe in our own, unique ways.

That is so true, but for me the word isn't religion, it is faith!

Anonymous said...

That's a little scary!!! jmb posting similar thing at the same time...

Anonymous said...

Minor point, not wishing to detract from the general thrust of the post but the Trinitarian concept was picked up from the polytheistic ancient Egyptians who ordered their Gods thus.

Anonymous said...

I like the notion of being able to get at the core of a religious without necessarily following rigid notions of what it is supposed to mean as dictated in a particular historical context. I know I have my own strong sense of morals-- I'm still trying to figure out how they fit in the big picture.

Anonymous said...

These are themes you've visited before, and to be honest, I have no truck with what you believe. Your beliefs are as legitimate as anyone else's in my opinion, and I would have no way of knowing whether they are right or wrong.

My problem with religion is that it almost always turns into dogma and superstitious (in the psychological sense) behavior. But seeking ut spirituality in a mixture of ideas borrowed from religion (as you have done) is probably a wise thing to do. Furthermore, I agree with you about the necessity of ritual, and it's place in everyday life, but perhaps for different reasons.

As they say in the US, keep the faith.