In a past life, I would be huddled up on my bedroom floor right now.
You see, it’s the middle of Lent, that time of year when Christians all over the world (Catholics, in my little corner of it) give up something they love to prepare for the reanimation of Jesus’ corpse. I would typically give up one of two things: Dr. Pepper or chocolate. Both are delicious and amazing in their own way, and mildly addictive. Which would lead me to detox on my bedroom floor.
I would even do this after I left the Church. Why? I dunno. Maybe I’m a masochist, or I hate myself. My background is Catholic, so each of those is possible.
Lent was always my favorite church time of year. I liked the challenge. Depriving myself of something in which I would normally indulge without thinking proved to myself that I am in charge of things. Dr. Pepper doesn’t own me! I own Dr. Pepper! I can, indeed, quit whenever I want. It was empowering. So I kept it up even after everything around it had fallen away.
That is, until recently, when I realized that I couldn’t in good conscience continue.
It wasn’t just the painfully retrograde policies toward women (although, it should have been). I simply could not be a part of something – even vaguely and decidedly non-spiritually – that seeks to actively hurt people.
(I speak here of Vatican brass. Not all Christian denominations participate in what I will describe, but in the end, those denominations did not send me screaming into the night.)
Frankly, I don’t even know where to start. There was the implication that condoms would make the African AIDS crisis worse (although, to his credit, the Pope has recanted). There is the seemingly never-ending torrent of sex abuse, and possible cover up.
This would have been enough for most people, but they just keep laying it on. Now, the ordination of women is on par with child molestation as one of the worst crimes in the Church, or “delicta graviora.” And this year – this year! – a North Dakota bishop listed several charities that good Catholics should not support. It’s a list that includes, among other well-respected charities, Amnesty International (full disclosure: I am a member of and volunteer leader in this organization) and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I find the second one particularly upsetting, since I have family who have recently been treated for breast cancer.
Come on! What is going on here? When did the Catholic Church become so pro-cancer and anti-human rights?
All of this on top of its normal hatred of women and gays.
When I see it all written out like that, I’m shocked that it took me so long to eschew my non-religious version of Lent. But I simply cannot be associated with such a group. To even have the appearance of conformity with the group is to offer my tacit consent to activities that actually make life worse for people around the world. My conscious is not something I am willing to give up for Lent.
Photo credit: Brent Moore