I am writing this because at this moment and for the last four months, pretty much constantly, I have been extremely troubled and well, guilt ridden about a choice I have made in life relating to being an ex Christian / Catholic.
Image via WikipediaI was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic School. Mass every Sunday, communion the whole works. When I was younger, I believed it all. I remember thinking that I wasn’t good enough for Heaven and not bad enough for Hell, but I’d probably make it to Purgatory and that sort of thing. I also remember lying in bed at night worrying because my dad or my gran wouldn’t get to Heaven (my dad was Protestant, but non religious or lapsed or whatever you would call it) and my mum was quite a strict Catholic.
Anyhow - when I got to my late teens I just sort of stopped going to mass. My mum didn’t say much thought I knew she was disappointed in me. That was pretty much how it was until my early thirties when I was about to get married.
I just thought - well I must get married in a Catholic church and we must raise our children as Catholics. My wife was pretty much non-religious and she didn't have a problem with getting married in a Catholic church at all. So I started going back to mass. I still had all the time considered myself Catholic, although I had rid myself of my childish fears and anxieties. I remember sitting in church at this time thinking there’s a less than one per cent chance that there is some sort of heavenly after-life where I will be re-united with all my family who had gone before me. I still believed in God though - although I wasn’t really sure who or what God was, but I definitely was a true believer in a supreme being who watched over us. I also really quite enjoyed having a quiet hour in church on a Sunday. Call me old fashioned but I thought it really quite nice having a contemplative time once a week and sitting on an old wooden pew listening to somebody warbling on about Jesus.
Then I read ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. It really opened my eyes to the realities of religion. I stopped believing in God and I became convinced that all priests and holy men were nothing but charlatans trying to hoodwink their congregation in order to control them and keep them in their place. When younger, going to church had always seemed a bore - suddenly it all made sense. The elaborate rituals now seemed so ridiculous and I was scornful of all things religious. And this was the way it was for a few years. Until it came time to send our youngest to school.
I live in the west of Scotland and there are Catholic schools and ‘Non-Denominational’ schools. So we had to decide which sort of school we would send our child to. It was a real dilemma for me personally. On one hand, I was scornful of all things religious, on the other hand, I knew it would break my mum’s heart if we sent him to anything other than a Catholic school. I should at this point point out that we also had both of our kids baptized in Catholic church. In the end, we decided to send our kid to the local ‘Non-Denominational’ school.
So we had him registered at the school and I thought nothing more of it for a few months. Then four months back, something clicked inside of my head. I suddenly panicked about sending our boy to the non-Catholic school. I should point out also that the local Catholic school had an excellent reputation and is a really nice modern building in a great neighborhood. The non-denominational school is an old building, quite ramshackle and not that well maintained and the neighborhood, while ok, is not as nice as the Catholic school even though they are only half a mile apart.
As I said, ever since this issue cam to the fore of my mind about four months ago, I haven’t been able to think of anything else. I really now regret not sending our boy to the nice little Catholic school in the nice neighborhood. I have also sort of changed my mind about religion. I don’t believe in the Christian God from the bible, but I believe in something.
I do think there is some sort of weird life force out there, call it Karma, call it God, call it Kismet and all world religions are just basically trying to explain this to lay people. So I now am truly sorry that he is not going to learn all the hymns and prayers that I learned as a child. If it wasn’t for the schools issue, I could just walk back into a church any time I felt like it, but I feel like I have drawn a line in the sand between me and my past. Ok so religions aren’t perfect but the thought of my kids growing up without any kind of religious framework to their lives now seems kind of weird and scary.
I have mentioned this to my wife but she has just called me an indecisive loon or words to that effect and said there’s no way we’re changing schools now. Someone help me please! This has been on my mind now every minute of every day for four months now. It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing at night.
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