I have long been in a struggle with the Catholic religion, and at times organized religion in general.
I encourage the practice of faith. I encourage the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the teachings of any other enlightened and introspective being that can offer insight, understanding, compassion and comfort on our spiritual and physical journey as a human being.
My husband was raised in the Southern Baptist Faith.
I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith.
His father was a deacon.
My mother was a nun.
Unfortunately the message I got growing up inside my faith was one of fear, guilt, and suppression. Ask most of my fellow piers how they experienced their faith and the majority will tell you the same.
How is it that Jesus and the teachings of his benevolent message was so far from our experience of our faith? Organized religion has a long way to go I would say in inspiring a love of his teachings and in understanding how to put his enlightened teachings to practice.
This morning my husband Brad came in from a business trip clutching a New York Times, and thrusting it disgustedly in my direction.
On the Front Page of Tuesday's February 10th New York Times is a story about a new escape from hell that the Catholic Church is granting it's sinners as a way to increase popularity, and re- establish lost ties with it's members who have strayed from the flock.
It's called an "INDULGENCE" - I'll say.
The basic premise is that the catholic church can grant an amnesty from punishment in the afterlife.
RIGHT. Kind of like a "get out of jail free" card from purgatory or hell.
Dear people - where has our common sense gone? Do we really believe first of all that the loving God in its many forms that so many respectfully believe in would create a "waiting room" of penance for our sins to punish us for our transgressions on earth? If the answer is yes...I say we are missing the point of the entire journey here. Secondly- Do we believe that a church or institution has a direct line into God and can grant us PARDON from having to spend time in the Big House? GIMME A BREAK. Life is not a driving record where the your fines can be waived at the pearly gates.
The article goes on to categorize the various "flavors" of indulgences you can receive from the church as if sitting in a booth a friendlies ordering an ice cream sundae. There are "Partial Indulgences" in which you may "reduce" your time in purgatory by a certain number of days and years, and there are "plenary" indulgences which eliminate all of it until another sin is committed. Although the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in the 1567 - charitable contributions combined with other acts can help you earn one. WHAT?! Oh- and there is a limit. Only ONE plenary indulgence per sinner per day...and that sinner will be pardoned at the bishops discretion. PAH- LEASE - I feel like I am reading the directions for the MONOPOLY board game.
The return of Indulgences began with Pope John Paul II, who authorized Bishops to offer them in the year 2000 as part of the celebration of the churches third millennium. I'm sorry- is someone screaming "MARKETING!!!!" The offer appeared prominently on a website of the Diocese of Brooklyn announcing that any catholic could receive an indulgence at any of the six churches on any day by fulfilling some basic requirements: going to confession, receiving holy communion, saying a prayer for the Pope, and "achiveing complete detachment from from any inclination to sin." Basically what the church is selling is a "happy incentive" for confession and to attract sinners back to the church.
So why would I post this on the Earth Savers Blog anyway?
If we are to challenge and change and transform the way we relate to the planet, and believe in our own capacity to make a difference to impact the future- we have to also challenge the dogma's, institutions, and belief systems that keep us in the DARK, and that insult our intelligence. We need to excercise our own common sense as human beings. It angers and upsets me to read of the abuse of power of institutions of like the Catholic Church and the transparency of it's motivations. As human beings, we have the right to explore our intellect, our spiritual identity, and our physical experience of the world, and our journey here.
At the very core of my anger and indignation is NOT an opposition to the teachings of Jesus, and the many wonderful things organized religion can provide for people- but the manipulation of the human psyche and the suppression of our quest for meaning and purpose in this lifetime.
INDULGENCE - yes. That is in fact what the church is doing in this case. Indulging in it's power and in it's reach and influence, and I'M NOT buying it.
I encourage your comments- PLEASE.