Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Feministe's Church Lady

UPDATE, 5/9/12: Welcome, Feministe readers! If you would like to learn more about my new book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, watch this video to hear me speak about it. In the video, I also talk more about the regrets I expressed to Jennifer Fulwiler over having used my blog and other media to engage in personal attacks.

Original post:

Blame The Da Vinci Code.

Suddenly, everyone wants to be Catholic — if only so they can retain their politically correct credentials while bashing the Church. It's sort of like Jews' using their religion as an excuse to tell "Abe and Sol" jokes (a pet peeve of my sister the rabbi), or black rappers' arguing that the n-word's not racist when they use it.

Now, Feministe's Zuzu writes in a post titled "Converts' Zeal" that she, as an "officially apostate" Catholic, is infuriated when new converts like myself claim to express the Church's teachings:

Um, folks, I was raised Catholic. I’m of an ethnic group (Irish) where I am presumed to be Catholic. My aunt is a nun. Anyone who hears that there are six children in my family almost invariably mentions Catholicism. Even though I am officially an apostate now (ask me how!), I still have trouble not thinking of myself as Catholic, and I know that others assume I am still one. ...

But I have been subject to anti-Catholic bullsh-t in my life, including in law school, by a professor (who not only let a role-play exercise on the Church’s AIDS policies devolve into Catholic-bashing, he participated with cracks about the wine during Mass, complete with “drinky drinky” hand gestures, which I took as a slam against Irish Catholics, because nobody gets on the Italians or Latinos for drinking). . . .

So, yes, it sticks in my craw when people who f---ed around through their 20s and then found the Catholic Church swan around telling everyone else — including lifelong Catholics — that they have found the One True Way. These are people who idealize the Church because they have no institutional memory of the way things used to be. [Click here for the full post.]
She then quotes a comment referencing me from another Feministe blog entry (there's a cottage industry in angry-feminist Dawn Patrol retorts), which reads in part:
The main reason why I no longer attend a Catholic Church and now attend our lovely Episcopalian Church is because of the nature of recent converts. They have all but destroyed our parish.
The commenter then brings up a few of the Church-connected horrors which I have unfairly escaped as a recent convert, including the Magdalene laundries. The message is that I, knowing only the "nice" Church, have no right to assume that the dogmas I learned in the Catechism will lead to a world of niceness. In fact, according to Zuzu and her amen corner, the Catechism points to drunkenness (apparently that professor wasn't so far off) and white slavery.

There's a recognizable pattern to many of the responses to Zuzu's post, but I'll leave it to you to discover it for yourself. Here are some excerpts (or you can read them all):
Hear, hear. I was raised Catholic and also lapsed. I grew up in an extremely conservative small-town and there was a strong undercurrent of anti-Catholicism. Before I rejected Christianity altogether I was always proud that my fellow Catholics weren’t nearly as g--damn preachy and in your face all the time as the protestants were.

* * *

I too am I former Catholic, Irish, though I was part of a very liberal family, wherein we were always taught the spirit of kindness and giving and love and understanding rather than the bullsh-t preaching and condemning that goes on these days.

* * *

thanks for this, Zuzu. Also lapsed Irish Catholic; and adopted, so I’m Polish Catholic too. And still after being lapsed for more than 12 years, it’s really, really hard to not think of myself as Catholic, or to not get bent out of shape at really inappropriate Catholic-bashing (my personal favorite was the Jehovah’s Witness who came to my door and told me my mother, being a Catholic, was an idol-worshipper). Or not to hope that one day the Catholic church (as theocratic entity and international politico extraordinaire) will become what it could be as opposed to what it is.

* * *

I was raised in a village where 92% of the town is Catholic and I would guess about 80% of us attended the large Catholic Church a block from the high school that could seat/stand 5,000 on Christmas. I did religion class every Tuesday from k-8th grade, then two years of 8 weeks of two hours every Wed night seminar confirmation prep classes. I’ve been Baptised, I’m clear to take communion, and I’ve done Reconciliation. I quit a year before Confirmation, however three of my five good friends from high school I still keep in touch with are Catholic. And when I realized that Catholicism wasn’t right for me, I did more studying into the religion then most kids who were raised Catholic or converted. I wanted so badly to make it right so I could make my mother and grandparents happy. It didn’t work, but I still consider myself kinda culturally Catholic. It doesn’t matter what religion I am now (neo-pagan actually), a part of Catholcism will always be with me.

* * *

I call RCIA converts “magisterium Catholics.” I used to be one. My mom made my brother and I go kicking and screaming to our very first mass when we were 11 and 13 respectively. Having no religious references at all we thought the Lord’s Prayer chanted by the parish sounded a lot like the borg assimilation speech.