Thursday, August 13, 2009

Worshiping Bread

This entry was written while I was away from home on a Catholic mission trip and subsequently placed in its correct timeslot. Line breaks generally indicate some amount of time between the writing of the paragraphs, as I penned these thoughts over the course of the day. I have not changed the content of this entry, save for minor spelling and grammar corrections.

I didn’t write much yesterday, primarily because I was really busy. It was our distribution day, which means we had to hand out all the food, clothes, and supplies we’ve been organizing all week. I saw a lot of great things from the students (leadership, patience, etc.) and of course the warm fuzzy feelings you get from helping people were also nice. And again, let me stress: No faith necessary. It’s just me, the human. I’m looking out at a world that will someday fade, but for the time being it’s here, it’s now, and I’m part of it. And no matter what happens, the fact that I existed will always be true. I live my life by a guiding principle similar to the one held by the faithful: what we do in this life is what matters.

On an unrelated note, I now find it very funny to put “sin” in perspective. Why would the creator of the universe care one iota about what we, mere insignificant specks on an insignificant speck, do with our time? “But God wants to have a personal relationship with each of us,” you say. Is that so? God’s idea of a personal relationship is pretty fucked, then. “I’m going to silently watch you everywhere, at all times, and if you screw up even once, I’m not letting you back into Heaven until you say you’re sorry. And mean it. Cuz I’ll know if you don’t.” For Catholics this means you must tell a priest your sins. It’s not good enough to say them to yourself, even though God is everywhere and in each of us. We’re all with God, but some people are more with God than others.

I sit now in the presence of “Christ”. “He” is locked up safe and warm inside the golden tabernacle here in the church. Did you know that tabernacles and dishes for Mass are supposed to be made of gold? After all, we must show proper respect to our God. Can’t be keeping him in any of those other metals he created, no sir. Only gold is fit for God. Anyway, looking at this situation from an outside perspective reveals just how ridiculous it is. I’m sitting in a special room designated for one purpose: to house a golden box in which is held, under lock and key, a few pieces of unleavened bread. I’m supposed to genuflect to this box when entering and exiting the room.

The other day I heard someone say, “Christ is really, physically present, in the form of bread and wine.” What? This is nonsense. It can’t be both ways: either the bread changes into some other physical substance, or it doesn’t. It if does, that’s testable. If it doesn’t, then the implication is that the bread and wine have immaterial/spiritual properties. But that’s absurd. Wheat and grapes don’t have souls. This is why they call it a “mystery”.

There’s no mystery. You’re worshiping a piece of bread.

We celebrated Mass at the migrant camp today. It made me a little sad. These people put up with the horrible state of their lives partly because they believe that they’ll go to paradise after death. Sure, maybe the thought of that gives some of them the hope they need in order to keep going. But at the same time, it cripples their drive to fight for change and equality. They stay where they are because they believe God will reward them for their suffering.

False. There is no God. Heaven is a logical impossibility under Catholicism. These people have been brainwashed, and they’ll stay that way until something drastic occurs.

I feel bad sometimes, thinking this way. In our group, I find myself placing people into one of several categories as I stand among them: too young or na├»ve to truly believe; indoctrinated by their parents; not smart enough to understand the arguments against their faith; intelligent, but unwilling to search for the truth; set in their ways and unwilling to change; and so on. Is it wrong of me to think this way? Every single one of these people is deluded in some way. Each would require a different style of argument or piece of evidence in order to convince them otherwise, assuming it’s possible to do so.

But that’s not my place. They may believe as they wish. All I ask is for the same privilege.

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