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Author Topic: Another Religious Crisis  (Read 306 times)

Demophon

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Another Religious Crisis
« on: December 04, 2017, 11:38:02 pm »
I'm struggling a bit with where I fit in a religious context, which is really nothing new, and ultimately I know I shouldn't worry about fitting in somewhere, but I'm in a situation where it does actually matter.

As I've mentioned before, I became Roman Catholic a year and a half ago, and before that I was practicing in the Anglican tradition until, for some reason, I thought becoming Catholic would be more authentic and the community would be more vital. I joke about disliking it, but it's not that bad. I was pretty involved at my previous parish, the people were friendly and caring, and the priest was supportive. I haven't been there in months because I was getting tired of the Novus Ordo liturgy and was drawn to the Solemn Mass at a different church, with all the bells, smells, and Gregorian chant. Since going to the new church my enthusiasm for Catholicism is actually a lot worse. The theatrics are beautiful, but there is no real community, and the homilies aren't very edifying. The parishioners tend to be very conservative when it comes to social views like traditional women's roles, and they aren't very LGBTQ-tolerant. I just don't feel inspired to be a Christian, as the emphasis is on anti-liberalism rather than treating others with justice and compassion in the spirit of Christ.

There are other issues, as well, such as not being satisfied with the theology, or feeling much of a connection to God the Father, even though I've developed an attachment to Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and a few other saints. There are some aspects of the magisterial teachings that I love, and some I struggle to reconcile myself with. I guess I'm free to just leave if I wanted, but I'm still in a Master of Divinity program (in my final year), and my partner is a very traditional Catholic, so it would be an issue if I left the Church. Also, if I ended up working in the Church in some capacity, I wouldn't have the freedom to look elsewhere for spiritual nourishment. Anyway, I feel like I can't just do my own thing because of commitments in school and in my personal life.

Being in a same-sex relationship definitely complicates participating in the Catholic Church, and I'm not convinced enough of it's absolute truth and authority to try and reconcile myself to the Church. I'm committed to my significant other and I want to make it work, but the Church is a big part of his life, and that's is fine with me, but I don't know if it would be fine with him if I became an apostate lol. I haven't been receiving communion the past few weeks, partly because my significant other doesn't approve of receiving without regular confession, but that's fine with me lately as I don't feel like I am in a state of mind where I am fully in communion with the Church. It's not the first time I've felt this way, and usually it passes and I eventually see the value in church life, but we'll see.

I have also been feeling a draw back towards paganism, and while I haven't done much in terms of practice, it makes me happier than I have been in a while to research ancient cultures and deities again. I feel a strong connection to pagan deities I used to follow, especially one goddess in particular, and it makes me realize there is a lot missing in Christianity, for my own personal spiritual needs, anyway. I miss the spirituality of pagan witchcraft, and being close to the cycles of the moon and the seasons. I just feel that my spirit resonates more with the pagan way, but there are the situations in my mundane life that are obstacles towards pursuing paganism again, and I'm not sure what to do.

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2017, 12:05:51 am »
I'm struggling a bit with where I fit in a religious context, which is really nothing new, and ultimately I know I shouldn't worry about fitting in somewhere, but I'm in a situation where it does actually matter.

As I've mentioned before, I became Roman Catholic a year and a half ago, and before that I was practicing in the Anglican tradition until, for some reason, I thought becoming Catholic would be more authentic and the community would be more vital. I joke about disliking it, but it's not that bad. I was pretty involved at my previous parish, the people were friendly and caring, and the priest was supportive. I haven't been there in months because I was getting tired of the Novus Ordo liturgy and was drawn to the Solemn Mass at a different church, with all the bells, smells, and Gregorian chant. Since going to the new church my enthusiasm for Catholicism is actually a lot worse. The theatrics are beautiful, but there is no real community, and the homilies aren't very edifying. The parishioners tend to be very conservative when it comes to social views like traditional women's roles, and they aren't very LGBTQ-tolerant. I just don't feel inspired to be a Christian, as the emphasis is on anti-liberalism rather than treating others with justice and compassion in the spirit of Christ.

There are other issues, as well, such as not being satisfied with the theology, or feeling much of a connection to God the Father, even though I've developed an attachment to Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and a few other saints. There are some aspects of the magisterial teachings that I love, and some I struggle to reconcile myself with. I guess I'm free to just leave if I wanted, but I'm still in a Master of Divinity program (in my final year), and my partner is a very traditional Catholic, so it would be an issue if I left the Church. Also, if I ended up working in the Church in some capacity, I wouldn't have the freedom to look elsewhere for spiritual nourishment. Anyway, I feel like I can't just do my own thing because of commitments in school and in my personal life.

Being in a same-sex relationship definitely complicates participating in the Catholic Church, and I'm not convinced enough of it's absolute truth and authority to try and reconcile myself to the Church. I'm committed to my significant other and I want to make it work, but the Church is a big part of his life, and that's is fine with me, but I don't know if it would be fine with him if I became an apostate lol. I haven't been receiving communion the past few weeks, partly because my significant other doesn't approve of receiving without regular confession, but that's fine with me lately as I don't feel like I am in a state of mind where I am fully in communion with the Church. It's not the first time I've felt this way, and usually it passes and I eventually see the value in church life, but we'll see.

I have also been feeling a draw back towards paganism, and while I haven't done much in terms of practice, it makes me happier than I have been in a while to research ancient cultures and deities again. I feel a strong connection to pagan deities I used to follow, especially one goddess in particular, and it makes me realize there is a lot missing in Christianity, for my own personal spiritual needs, anyway. I miss the spirituality of pagan witchcraft, and being close to the cycles of the moon and the seasons. I just feel that my spirit resonates more with the pagan way, but there are the situations in my mundane life that are obstacles towards pursuing paganism again, and I'm not sure what to do.

It sounds like a conversation with your partner is the first thing you need to do. If you two are so seriously committed, something major like a crisis of faith is something you can't keep from him. At the most logical, religion is something important to the both of you, and if you go on feeling the way you do without telling him, when it comes to a head, he may feel as though you were hiding things from him. On the emotional end, if he's your partner and loves you, he'll either be able to help you or offer you shoulder to lean on. Emphasize that you feel a lack of community and tension around LGBT issues. If he's as devout as you describe, he is probably feeling some discomfort. And he may not like or agree with what you're currently feeling, but having that conversation may give you more clarity. At the very least, having to either defend your position or getting support may untangle how you feel.

Best of luck to you, the spiritual crisis you're facing is a really tough one. I've spent about two years in a similar spot myself, so I can empathize. Hope you weather it well :)

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2017, 11:24:49 am »
I'm struggling a bit with where I fit in a religious context, which is really nothing new, and ultimately I know I shouldn't worry about fitting in somewhere, but I'm in a situation where it does actually matter.

As I've mentioned before, I became Roman Catholic a year and a half ago, and before that I was practicing in the Anglican tradition until, for some reason, I thought becoming Catholic would be more authentic and the community would be more vital. I joke about disliking it, but it's not that bad. I was pretty involved at my previous parish, the people were friendly and caring, and the priest was supportive. I haven't been there in months because I was getting tired of the Novus Ordo liturgy and was drawn to the Solemn Mass at a different church, with all the bells, smells, and Gregorian chant. Since going to the new church my enthusiasm for Catholicism is actually a lot worse. The theatrics are beautiful, but there is no real community, and the homilies aren't very edifying. The parishioners tend to be very conservative when it comes to social views like traditional women's roles, and they aren't very LGBTQ-tolerant. I just don't feel inspired to be a Christian, as the emphasis is on anti-liberalism rather than treating others with justice and compassion in the spirit of Christ.

There are other issues, as well, such as not being satisfied with the theology, or feeling much of a connection to God the Father, even though I've developed an attachment to Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and a few other saints. There are some aspects of the magisterial teachings that I love, and some I struggle to reconcile myself with. I guess I'm free to just leave if I wanted, but I'm still in a Master of Divinity program (in my final year), and my partner is a very traditional Catholic, so it would be an issue if I left the Church. Also, if I ended up working in the Church in some capacity, I wouldn't have the freedom to look elsewhere for spiritual nourishment. Anyway, I feel like I can't just do my own thing because of commitments in school and in my personal life.

Being in a same-sex relationship definitely complicates participating in the Catholic Church, and I'm not convinced enough of it's absolute truth and authority to try and reconcile myself to the Church. I'm committed to my significant other and I want to make it work, but the Church is a big part of his life, and that's is fine with me, but I don't know if it would be fine with him if I became an apostate lol. I haven't been receiving communion the past few weeks, partly because my significant other doesn't approve of receiving without regular confession, but that's fine with me lately as I don't feel like I am in a state of mind where I am fully in communion with the Church. It's not the first time I've felt this way, and usually it passes and I eventually see the value in church life, but we'll see.

I have also been feeling a draw back towards paganism, and while I haven't done much in terms of practice, it makes me happier than I have been in a while to research ancient cultures and deities again. I feel a strong connection to pagan deities I used to follow, especially one goddess in particular, and it makes me realize there is a lot missing in Christianity, for my own personal spiritual needs, anyway. I miss the spirituality of pagan witchcraft, and being close to the cycles of the moon and the seasons. I just feel that my spirit resonates more with the pagan way, but there are the situations in my mundane life that are obstacles towards pursuing paganism again, and I'm not sure what to do.

I feel for you as I have had similar struggles including how to discern a sensible and coherent way to engage with an eclectic spiritual life and reconcile that with my chosen religious community.  Unfortunately I was not able to do that in Catholicism which overwhelmed me with the amount of submission required.

I miss some things about my experience of Catholicism, but I could not adjust to the modern liturgy after my initial formation in solemn Anglican liturgies.  I also had trouble with subtle and not so subtle homophobia and hostility directed toward me.  Indeed homophobia was simply a part of parish life.  I know dissenting Catholics, but they know to keep quiet in these parts.

Though it will not help you deal with a potentially hostile community if that is indeed what you are dealing with I know a traditionalist gay Catholic committed to the old Latin rite.  He has made the best and most complete pro-gay arguments I have seen from a perspective rooted in orthodox western Catholic tradition.  The fathers, the scriptures, adherence to the magisterium and the limits of her infallibility and authority -- it is all covered in depth.

I will paste a link after this post to his site, and I can get you in touch with him if you wish -- PM me -- so that you could at least have a sympathetic listener should you need that.

You may not need any of this information and again, it may not help you socially in the Church, but it may give you a measure of peace about that one issue in yourself if you are struggling how to reconcile your status with a Catholic perspective.

I cannot be of much more help I am afraid, but I wish you well in your spiritual efforts.

http://webspace.webring.com/people/up/pharsea/faithful.html

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2017, 12:52:43 am »
It sounds like a conversation with your partner is the first thing you need to do. If you two are so seriously committed, something major like a crisis of faith is something you can't keep from him.

Thanks for your response :)

He is aware that I'm a bit unsettled in Catholicism. I think he would ultimately accept whatever decision I make, but there would be tension. He doesn't even like it when I threaten to go back to my old Novus Ordo parish. It's a big part of his life, and "high" liturgy is one of the common interests that initially brought us together, but I'm not as extreme as traditional Latin Mass Catholics. I guess it's an ongoing conversation that we have to work out as we go. Sometimes I'm not entirely sure I see things working out in the long run with my current partner, but that's something else I'm just trying to discern as I go along.

I was feeling a bit more relaxed about Catholicism in the past few days, and willing to stick with it, but I spent my afternoon today reading the Persona Humana document for a class, which made me want to run screaming away from the Church lol. It's not like these teachings are new to me, and I always manage to reconcile myself to them somehow, but it's a constant struggle.

Though it will not help you deal with a potentially hostile community if that is indeed what you are dealing with I know a traditionalist gay Catholic committed to the old Latin rite.  He has made the best and most complete pro-gay arguments I have seen from a perspective rooted in orthodox western Catholic tradition.  The fathers, the scriptures, adherence to the magisterium and the limits of her infallibility and authority -- it is all covered in depth.

I will paste a link after this post to his site, and I can get you in touch with him if you wish -- PM me -- so that you could at least have a sympathetic listener should you need that.

You may not need any of this information and again, it may not help you socially in the Church, but it may give you a measure of peace about that one issue in yourself if you are struggling how to reconcile your status with a Catholic perspective.

I cannot be of much more help I am afraid, but I wish you well in your spiritual efforts.

http://webspace.webring.com/people/up/pharsea/faithful.html

Thanks for sharing your experience, glad to know other people have gone through similar struggles.

That's actually really interesting about your friend who is a pro-gay traditionalist Catholic. I will have to read the website more thoroughly when I have a bit of spare time.

I can definitely relate to what you said about not connecting with Roman liturgies after being used to high Anglican ones. At first it didn't seem like a big issue to me, I guess because I was really keen on thinking communion with the Holy See was important, and I loved a lot of the people in the fairly liberal Catholic community I was involved with and wanted to be part of. After a few months I became pretty bored and dissatisfied and when back to a Solemn Evensong and Devotions service at one of my favourite Anglo-Catholic parishes and nearly cried because I couldn't believe I actually left that willingly. I try to fill the void by attending the Tridentine Mass in the Catholic Church, but it's not quite the same. There isn't the same depth of spirituality, just anger and bitterness towards the vast majority of Roman Catholicism.

Like I said, I am kind of feeling the draw back towards paganism, and it would be nice if I could practice that and some kind of reverent Christianity alongside it, but I don't think that would be possible in Catholicism. I mean, I think there is a lot of Catholic practice that could be incorporated into pagan practice of some sort, but it would be extremely difficult to be involved with pagan spirituality and still remain faithful to the Church. I also associate paganism with feelings of loneliness, as I felt pretty isolated when I was following a pagan path, and in Christianity I feel like I have a much wider community and support network. It's not easy trying to reconcile which direction is better, or if I can find some kind of middle way.

EclecticWheel

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2017, 02:08:54 am »
I mean, I think there is a lot of Catholic practice that could be incorporated into pagan practice of some sort, but it would be extremely difficult to be involved with pagan spirituality and still remain faithful to the Church. I also associate paganism with feelings of loneliness, as I felt pretty isolated when I was following a pagan path, and in Christianity I feel like I have a much wider community and support network. It's not easy trying to reconcile which direction is better, or if I can find some kind of middle way.

I definitely find it easier to be eclectic in a lenient denomination with diversity of views and interpretation from the hierarchy down.  But as a single person living alone I do not have to negotiate my spirituality with a partner, and I didn't have good relationships in the Catholic Church -- quite the opposite -- so I just left it behind.

I understand why traditionalist Catholics are upset, though I certainly disagree with many of their views, including the friend I mentioned.

You might find a more uplifting experience among Eastern Catholics who did not have their liturgies suppressed after Vatican II.  Vatican II to my knowledge actually sought to preserve their liturgical traditions, so perhaps you will sense less anger in one of their parishes.

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2017, 08:41:32 am »
The parishioners tend to be very conservative when it comes to social views like traditional women's roles, and they aren't very LGBTQ-tolerant. I just don't feel inspired to be a Christian, as the emphasis is on anti-liberalism rather than treating others with justice and compassion in the spirit of Christ....

Being in a same-sex relationship definitely complicates participating in the Catholic Church, and I'm not convinced enough of it's absolute truth and authority to try and reconcile myself to the Church. I'm committed to my significant other and I want to make it work, but the Church is a big part of his life, and that's is fine with me, but I don't know if it would be fine with him if I became an apostate

and

I feel for you as I have had similar struggles including how to discern a sensible and coherent way to engage with an eclectic spiritual life and reconcile that with my chosen religious community.  Unfortunately I was not able to do that in Catholicism which overwhelmed me with the amount of submission required.

I miss some things about my experience of Catholicism, but I could not adjust to the modern liturgy after my initial formation in solemn Anglican liturgies.  I also had trouble with subtle and not so subtle homophobia and hostility directed toward me.  Indeed homophobia was simply a part of parish life.  I know dissenting Catholics, but they know to keep quiet in these parts.

Though it will not help you deal with a potentially hostile community if that is indeed what you are dealing with I know a traditionalist gay Catholic committed to the old Latin rite.  He has made the best and most complete pro-gay arguments I have seen from a perspective rooted in orthodox western Catholic tradition.  The fathers, the scriptures, adherence to the magisterium and the limits of her infallibility and authority -- it is all covered in depth.

I'm filled with curiosity about both your experiences with Catholicism as gay people, because they're at such variance from mine. Without being raised in it, I was exposed to it early and steadily via a family member (my devout grandmother) and close friends (Catholicism is strong if not prevalent in this region); I also knew I was gay from an early age (about 5). As a result I have a split reaction: I'm fine with Catholics, who in my experience are good, free-thinking, fair-minded, practical people (I know there are many dogmatic, right-wing Catholics out there, but I've never met them); but I find the organization toxic if not criminal, having watched it wield vast political influence here in my region and worldwide to stifle my rights and freedom for my entire life. To this day the leadership of that church preaches consistently that homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered" and that the expression of what is absolutely natural and normal for us is sin.

So the idea of willingly participating in that church as a gay person makes my head spin like Linda Blair. I've never understood why LGBTQ folks didn't just walk away in droves and find a more welcoming spiritual home. Were both of you raised Catholic? If it was ingrained from an early age and feels like "home," I guess I could begin to understand how it might be hard to walk away from; if deep down inside there would always be a part of you that couldn't help but think that Catholicism holds some sort of absolute truth. But especially if you're actively engaged in a same-sex relationship, I would think the cognitive dissonance between the heart and the soul would be a terrible strain. I can't fathom why one would subject oneself to that.

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2017, 09:14:31 am »
So the idea of willingly participating in that church as a gay person makes my head spin like Linda Blair. I've never understood why LGBTQ folks didn't just walk away in droves and find a more welcoming spiritual home. Were both of you raised Catholic? If it was ingrained from an early age and feels like "home," I guess I could begin to understand how it might be hard to walk away from; if deep down inside there would always be a part of you that couldn't help but think that Catholicism holds some sort of absolute truth. But especially if you're actively engaged in a same-sex relationship, I would think the cognitive dissonance between the heart and the soul would be a terrible strain. I can't fathom why one would subject oneself to that.

If you can, help me understand!

Yeah, it's weird. I don't really understand why I participate in it myself. I wasn't raised Catholic, my parents are non-practicing (my mom was raised Presbyterian, my father grew up high Anglican), so I never went to church except on Christmas off and on. I went to a Catholic high school and it was a really good experience that I really missed once I went to university. While I was a practicing pagan from my mid-teens, I liked the community of the church, and I felt like there was a lot of overlap in terms of practice and ethics with some strains of paganism (and also some vast differences, of course). I thought of becoming Catholic in university, but I was well aware of the Church's teachings on homosexuality (and sexuality in general), and I didn't agree with the subordinate role of women.

Protestant churches didn't appeal to me because they aren't very sacramental or liturgical, and I wasn't really interested in going to a lecture and hymn sing-along, which is basically what Protestant services are. I started going to church with my grandma at her Anglican parish, and while her current church is pretty mainline, her father was a very high church Anglican priest, who had a statue of Our Lady and stations of the cross installed in his church, and introduced incense, genuflection, and confession. My father grew up going to a similar kind of church, though the family tapered off going to church when he was a teenager. When I heard about all this from my grandma, I investigated their old high Anglican parish, and I really loved it. Since they aren't in communion with Rome they don't have to follow the Vatican II reforms, so they preserved all the bells and smells, plus they had the beauty of the Anglican choral tradition, and it's a pretty left wing place, so they are very welcoming to LGBTQ people.

Unfortunately, Anglicanism isn't as strong of a cultural force as Catholicism, so a lot of the only people remaining are old ladies, so I felt like all the church friends my age that I had were Catholic. I also took a course with a really wonderful and inclusive Catholic priest, so when I was getting fed up with some of the petty conflict in my Anglican church, becoming Catholic seemed like the right thing to do, plus I still had my high school experience at the back of my mind, not to mention the conditioning that the Catholic Church was the true apostolic church and Anglicanism was invalid.

Upon deeper reflection, I think my problems with Anglicanism were kind of petty, and I still profoundly miss the high Anglican parish that I used to attend where I actually felt like I could identify with Christianity. I'm pretty dissatisfied with Rome, both because of dogma and bad liturgy. However, I have a lot of good friends in the Catholic communities I'm involved with, and my partner is very serious about traditional Latin Catholicism, so I feel like a lot of my important social relationships are tied to the Church and it makes the most sense for me to stay, for the time being.

You might find a more uplifting experience among Eastern Catholics who did not have their liturgies suppressed after Vatican II.  Vatican II to my knowledge actually sought to preserve their liturgical traditions, so perhaps you will sense less anger in one of their parishes.

Actually, I have been able to attend some Eastern Catholic liturgies lately. They are extremely beautiful, and I like the people a lot. They still have the same papal dogma, though, and I feel like I still identify the most with Anglo-Catholicism, as far as Christianity is concerned, but I do like attending Eastern liturgies.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2017, 09:18:34 am by Demophon »

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2017, 10:41:00 am »
Like I said, I am kind of feeling the draw back towards paganism, and it would be nice if I could practice that and some kind of reverent Christianity alongside it, but I don't think that would be possible in Catholicism.

That kind of depends on how you look at it, I suspect?

Historically speaking, some sort of dual faith development was common.  Slavic pagans often refer to it as dvoeverie (two-faith, Russian) though I prefer the Polish dwojwierny, myself (and Poland is a Catholic country).  You might also look to the Irish church theologies prior to its reconciliation with Catholicism, as a whole lot of indigenous religious philosophy wound up in there.

For not-modern-pagan examples, also, many of the traditional practitioners of African Diaspora religions also consider themselves good Catholics.  And while the ADRs are not what I would consider pagan (which I file as 'part of the modern pagan movement as a sociocultural phenomenon' personally) they are heavily influential in some portions of that movement and there are individual pagans who practice ADRs.
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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2017, 12:25:11 pm »
and

I'm filled with curiosity about both your experiences with Catholicism as gay people, because they're at such variance from mine. Without being raised in it, I was exposed to it early and steadily via a family member (my devout grandmother) and close friends (Catholicism is strong if not prevalent in this region); I also knew I was gay from an early age (about 5). As a result I have a split reaction: I'm fine with Catholics, who in my experience are good, free-thinking, fair-minded, practical people (I know there are many dogmatic, right-wing Catholics out there, but I've never met them); but I find the organization toxic if not criminal, having watched it wield vast political influence here in my region and worldwide to stifle my rights and freedom for my entire life. To this day the leadership of that church preaches consistently that homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered" and that the expression of what is absolutely natural and normal for us is sin.

So the idea of willingly participating in that church as a gay person makes my head spin like Linda Blair. I've never understood why LGBTQ folks didn't just walk away in droves and find a more welcoming spiritual home. Were both of you raised Catholic? If it was ingrained from an early age and feels like "home," I guess I could begin to understand how it might be hard to walk away from; if deep down inside there would always be a part of you that couldn't help but think that Catholicism holds some sort of absolute truth. But especially if you're actively engaged in a same-sex relationship, I would think the cognitive dissonance between the heart and the soul would be a terrible strain. I can't fathom why one would subject oneself to that.

If you can, help me understand!

Well it wasn't the most rational period in my life.  I was in turmoil and in that time had become estranged from my Anglican community for no particularly good reason.  I thought Catholicism would be similar experientially, and I was wrong.  But once I was in RCIA there was tremendous social pressure to convert, and I did.

Now there were aspects of Catholicism that inspired in me acceptance of my sexuality, namely that our human nature is not totally depraved and is capable of divinization including sexuality, and I was well aware of traditionalists' contentions that not everything coming out of the church is infallible or irreformable.  This has become an important point for traditionalists as well as some liberal Catholics ironically.  I was able to accept myself, and Catholics I had known were very accepting.

But my priest who I suspect was gay himself was horrible to me and I was damaged tremendously.  I also had members of the church trying to pry into my private life and asking me questions that were none of their business.  My celibate status did not help me, either, like I thought it would.  It may have worsened matters.

And the prevailing attitude was one of absolute submission to the church such that one in particular loved that she no longer needed to think for herself.  I still find that contrary to traditional Catholic emphasis on reason.

So whatever I was seeking was not there for me or at least not absent from the much more tolerant community I came from, one that is also much more concerned with reverence and beauty which nourishes a need I have for those things both in community and in my private rites.

I still honor the spirituality most Catholics I have known had in their private lives, and I don't judge them or even the whole church by my particular experiences.

But I don't want to be associated with Catholicism anymore, and I am not fond of its politics on some important issues.

I went back to my old community where I knew I was safe, and though it is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, the Episcopal Church has an interesting range of theology, including modern ones, and is much closer to LGBT equality than the Catholic Church, and I expect it to keep progressing in that direction.

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2017, 03:16:51 pm »
I'm struggling a bit with where I fit in a religious context, which is really nothing new, and ultimately I know I shouldn't worry about fitting in somewhere, but I'm in a situation where it does actually matter.

Demophon one of my greatest struggles on this forum is not reaching through the screen -- through sheer force of will -- and punching you directly in the face. You drive me absolutely insane.

97% of that of course is that you and I are photo-negatives. Exactly the same and polar opposites.

The purpose of this post will be to offer the exact same advice I would (and frequently still do) offer myself; the first of which is: drop paganism. Don't bother with it. Leave it alone. You can find everything you need within Christian tradition if you only look for it, and dredging up the ghosts of Beltane past will not help with that. It will only confuse you more. I know this because I do it literally all the time: my current religious practice gets hard for whatever reason so I look back at a former practice through rose-tinted glasses... until I go back and remember why I left in the first place. And so it degenerates into a game of religious pinball as I spiral through the same traditions looking for the one that fulfills me -- even though I have no clear idea of what being 'fulfilled' actually looks like or feels like, I get all too familiar with what it doesn't feel like. The first and most important step is to stop the pinball game. This isn't easy. It requires effort and strength of will and internal discipline, because no matter where you end up 'it' will still end up happening. You'll read something, or see something, or walk past a house of worship, anything which brings back memories of a former path; and suddenly you'll start looking at it like you would an appetising roast.

Pick a path and force yourself to stick to it, because no happiness lies in the pinball game. There are plenty of people who can do eclectic or dual practices but you are not one of those people. Picking up bits and bobs from various aisles at ReligionMart can definitely be fun and interesting but at the end of the day what you're looking for is a one-stop-shop. So let us assume for now that you want to work primarily within the Christian tradition -- you should. It'll be easier for everyone, you included. You mentioned that researching ancient myths and such makes you feel happy and drawn back to paganism. I totally get it. Here's the thing: I'm guessing that, like me, you enjoy religion. Just religion in general. Reading, researching, writing, talking about religion etc. feels good because it's fun. It's enjoyable. You and I view religion like some people view bird-watching, and that's fine. Great, even. But bird-watching is not going to help either of us sleep at night or adequately answer the great questions of life. It's hard to separate that passion for religion from one's own religious life but it is definitely something which needs to be done.

Getting down to brass tacks I want to address a few fundamental points. First and foremost you will never always and consistently be happy with your church. This goes for the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the First Mystical Church of Incense and Rainbow Vestments, etc. Your struggle with Catholic teaching is perfectly understandable. Everybody struggles. Personally I take to the Catholic tradition like a fish to water. One of the reasons I want to punch you in the face is that I **love** Roman Catholicism. Everything about it makes me feel happy and I can move through Catholic dogma, teaching and ecclesiology like a particularly gymnastic canon lawyer. The most important and heavily-graded papers I wrote in high school (not a big deal for someone about to earn an MA but remember that I only graduated in 2015) were exclusively devoted to Catholic dogma: the first was a defense of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the second was an examination of the Americanist heresy in light of American Catholic history. As you can imagine, my teachers were thrilled to bits. But even though I'm so doctrinaire pro-Catholic my heart might actually burst and kill me if I walk past a DignityUSA rally I am very much not a Roman Catholic. I'm a confirmed communicant of a Gnostic Christian jurisdiction and a seminarian at a Liberal Catholic seminary. This is because I cannot jive with religious celibacy. I just can't. I want to, but not as much as I want to get laid so here we are.

That's fine. Some issues are deal-breakers on either a doctrinal or personal level and you have to move on. But if you ever find a church where you agree with every little thing you're probably the only member and the bishop was ordained by a drunk in a garage. It's important to struggle and be challenged by our faith -- and the church which represents it -- and at some point one just has to accept it and get on with it. So what I'm personally challenging you with is this: find a jurisdiction and stay there. Is it hard? Hell yeah it is, even I, your challenger, can barely accomplish it. Do you want to know what doctrinal point I struggle with in my church? The same as you: homosexuality. Harking back to the photo-negative however I struggle with the fact that my Church accepts homosexuality -- probably because our presiding bishop is a happily partnered gay man. My deal-breakers do not include homosexuality (clerical celibacy and the ordination of women is where I draw the line) but it's definitely something which I struggle mightily with. In my life I've had three serious boyfriends and a number of ill-advised encounters on Grindr and I don't have a trace of self-loathing --well, I do, but not about my fondness for men -- but I have an instinctual reaction against gay rights and the acceptance of non-celibate homosexuality in a Christian context. Always have, no real idea why. But I move past it. I struggle with it, it makes me uncomfortable, but ultimately that's on my head and not on the Church's. It's not the job of the Holy Celtic Church to bend to my whim, nor is it the job of the Roman Catholic Church (or the Anglican Church of Canada, etc etc) to bend to yours. Sometimes our church does something or says something that we don't like and it is worth pausing first before immediately fleeing elsewhere.

That all having been said, let us take a look at your options. My criteria here are: liturgically conservative, theologically liberal. So here's who I suggest you checking out:

-- The Roman Catholic Church -- Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter (Deanery of St John the Baptist)
I'm surprised the Anglican Ordinariate doesn't seem to come up on your radar? Of course doctrinally speaking it is still Catholic as the day is long, but if ultimately you decide to stay within the bosom of Holy Mother Church I definitely recommend checking out the Ordinariate. You're eligible for membership and you'll feel right at home when assisting at Mass.

-- The Anglican Church of Canada
I'm... honestly I'm not entirely sure why you left the ACC to begin with? It is painfully, egregiously liberal and apparently you had no problems finding an amenable liturgy. So just throwing this option out there.

-- The Eucharistic Catholic Church
Good folks here at the ECC. I was in their seminary for a bit and still keep tabs on them; and the Archbishop is gay (and married?) so I doubt you'll have issues on that front. There is a particular emphasis on being rooted in wider Roman Catholic theology and tradition -- whilst remaining true to one's 'authentic self' that I suspect you might like. I'm not entirely sure how the ECC does liturgy but they're worth checking out purely from a doctrinal standpoint.

-- The Community Catholic Church
The ECC broke from these folks and they're definitely pretty liberal, plus they're Canadian! Probably pretty... lax... liturgically though.

-- The Liberal Catholic Church (Province of the United States)
At this point, having been involved for a little over a year in a heavily Liberal Catholic jurisdiction I myself am a sucker for the LCC. The history and doctrine is fascinating and I won't say much except to heartily encourage you to check it out!

Two I don't really know anything about but a cursory look reveals promise:

-- The Ontario Old Roman Catholic Church
-- The Charismatic Catholic Church

I'm quite certain there are plenty others but I tried to find ones generally-ish in or around Canada. Liturgically conservative and theologically liberal isn't a hard-to-find combo if you're willing to look at the 'Independent Catholic' movement. I seem to recall you taking issue with how small most of the jurisdictions are though, and the possible lack of community, so I'm going to talk about something else I feel strongly about in re you: for the love of God become a priest already. You're intelligent and honestly, at this point in your academic career you're better educated than most indy Catholic clergy -- very much including myself, and my ordination to the diaconate is on the horizon, fingers-crossed. Personally I think you would make an amazing priest and I urge you to consider the greatest benefit of all: you get to run your own damn parish. Given the flexibility of indy Catholics I guarantee you would be able to run a parish of such high churchmanship that your congregants would get dizzy at Mass. Obviously the priesthood is something you should only pursue if you discern a calling, but it would be remiss of me not to point out that you would literally be in a position to create your perfect parish -- or even just maintain an aggressively Anglo-Catholic oratory if you don't feel like public ministry. You would be eucharistically self-sufficient and have a huge amount of latitude, and I guarantee you'd practically sail through seminary, if they even made you go through an in-house programme to begin with. I'll attend your ordination mass and harass you lovingly <3

So, to wrap this up my points are as follows: stop wheeling between religions and just pick Christianity even though its hard, stop wheeling between Christian jurisdictions and just pick one (of which I've presented a few options) even though its hard, realise that you'll never find a faith community that you won't at some point disagree with, and become a priest.
“Many a searching, although blind, mind has mistaken religion for some philosophical system. Too irreverent and profane handling of religion often makes of it a science, a pastime study. Now and again we come by the way of such who make religion a speculation; yes, and a speculation without a question as to its nature. Do you not know that religion is one of the qualities of your soul? An essential substance, I might say, to be plain, of your self-recognizing, self-satisfied, living spirit? Those who are convinced of this fact are not indifferent to religion. Indifferentism has no place in the serious life of one who seeks to be right-minded.”

-- St Sebastian Dabovich

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2017, 11:52:20 pm »
So, to wrap this up my points are as follows: stop wheeling between religions and just pick Christianity even though its hard, stop wheeling between Christian jurisdictions and just pick one (of which I've presented a few options) even though its hard, realise that you'll never find a faith community that you won't at some point disagree with, and become a priest.

Lol thanks for your very detailed post. There is a lot to respond to, and I'm just as long-winded, so I'll try to be concise.

You are definitely right that it's impossible to be completely satisfied with everything in any tradition. Nothing is perfect. It would make sense for me to just stick with Christianity. As much as I love some of the philosophies of neo-paganism, I can't relate to the liturgy at all, especially after attending both Roman Catholic and Anglican versions of Solemn High Mass, and I never find I have much in common with most people in the pagan community. Despite that, I still mainly relate to God/the Divine/Higher Power as Mother, and I think I still have a very animistic worldview. That's hard to reconcile with Abrahamic monotheism. That said, I don't dispute the Trinity, or even want to feminize the understanding of the Triune God, as it would not make a lot of sense in the context of historic Christian tradition. I may be one of these airy fairy people who thinks all religions are different manifestations of understanding the same Mystery, but I prefer to work within the established system and structure rather than tailor it to be a one-size-fits-all hodgepodge.

This may shock you, but I'm a proponent of preserving traditional theology, for the most part. It's just that some of the attitudes around it can be really unnecessary. For example, I absolutely do not think the Roman Catholic Church should change its theology on marriage to allow same-sex couples to marry. It just doesn't make sense in the context of its teaching, but at the same time, the outright condemnation of homosexual activity doesn't make sense in the modern world where the scientific community no longer considers it a disorder. When the Anglican Church of Canada voted to change the canon to allow same-sex marriage rites, I was pretty annoyed that they would change millennia of church teaching for modern political correctness, yet I completely support civil marriages for same-sex couples, and I think religions in which same-sex marriage fits into their worldview should absolutely be able to perform them, it's just hard to reconcile with Judeo-Christian scripture and tradition, specifically.

I actually used to spend a lot of time at the Anglican Ordinariate, and the priest there follows me on all my social media, for some reason. I did really like the liturgy, as it's basically Anglo-Catholicism but in communion with Rome, but again, it's a small fringe community that I often found to have a much more extreme way of thinking than I do. I decided to be received through a regular Novus Ordo parish instead, where the people seemed more normal, generally speaking. Ironically, now that I attend the traditional Latin Mass, the Ordinariate seems pretty mild. I keep meaning to go back and visit them.

Thanks for saying I'd make a good priest. When I was an Anglican I was actually discerning a call to the priesthood, and I was actually pretty serious about it. When I became Catholic, that desire just died. Partly because of the celibacy thing, and partly because the vast majority of Roman Catholic liturgy is not very inspiring. Sometimes I still imagine what I'd do if I were the rector of an Anglican parish, and I figure I would want to use the Book of Common Prayer as traditionally as possible, supplemented with Roman Catholic devotions, and I would have a statue of Our Lady with a votive candle rack, and of course use incense during liturgies. Independent Catholics may be worth looking into. I know Old Catholics are in communion with the Anglican Communion, I'm not sure if Indy Catholics are part of that.

I'm not sure why I left the Anglican Church, either. It's kind of a long story having to do with conflict and resentment towards people in my Anglican parish and school which led to me feeling pretty alienated, and feeling very welcomed and appreciated within the Roman Catholic communities I was involved with. The idea that Rome was more authentic and valid also played a part, but even now I'm not sure how much I really buy into that.

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Re: Another Religious Crisis
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2017, 05:38:38 pm »
Demophon one of my greatest struggles on this forum is not reaching through the screen -- through sheer force of will -- and punching you directly in the face. You drive me absolutely insane.

*** MOD HAT ON ***
Castus,

I realize this is meant rhetorically, not as a literal threat, and that Demophon took it as such. BUT, it's still personal-attack language, and not cool.

This will be your third strike, which means it comes with a week's vacation. Given that your first was some years back (though your second was just a couple of months ago - and only a bit over a week ago I issued you a warning but refrained from making it a strike), and that Demophon took this instance as rhetorical, I thought of waiving it this time. But you have a habit of coming dangerously close to the rules line; perhaps a weeklong gag will convince you that just because I personally like you, I won't hesitate to ban you if you rate it. I won't enjoy doing so, but I'll do it if necessary.

Keep in mind that, once your week's vacation is done and you can post again, just one rules violation is all it takes for you to be permanently banned.

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