Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bad Religion

I'm pretty sure that most of you know by now that I sing at weddings (I mean, it's in my bio for crying out loud). What I talk about less is that I make my living singing at Catholic weddings. About half of them are nuptial blessings, which means they don't have a full Mass with Communion. But the other half are full blown, bells and smells, gold hat and Easter candle, kneel till it hurts, weddings. And this isn't a problem at all, except that I feel like a hypocrite for earning my living in churches where I don't belong, because the truth is I don't believe in God anymore. I don't think I have in a long time.

This wouldn't be a problem except that my family is deeply religious. I've alluded to this in this space before, but I come from the product of two very Catholic parents who take this stuff super seriously, and confirmation that I've left my faith and THE CHURCH (I have to write that in caps lock) behind me would break them. I live under their roof, they know I don't go to Mass weekly (which they pretend not to notice) but if they knew I didn't believe in God at all, they would simultaneously shun me and pray harder than they've ever prayed for anything. 

I don't know how to have a conversation with them about this one. Ironically enough the conversation probably won't happen unless and until I get married myself and have to explain why I'm only having a civil ceremony. My mother chastises me for blaspheming every now and again, and I don't know how to tell her that you can't have a concept of blasphemy when you don't have a concept of God. She talks about priests throwing their weight around and I can't tell her that in my experience that's the rule, not the exception. She yells at the news when stories of sexual abuse hit the fan as often as they do, and I can't tell her that it's not just bad guys doing it, it's the systemic cover ups the world over that tell me that the people at the top just don't care and looked the other way while it was happening. But I don't say anything, because I don't want to shove it in their faces.

I don't know when I stopped believing in God. I tried for many years to find a form of Catholicism that worked for me. But I do know the moment I walked away from THE CHURCH. It was the day when two news stories were side by side in the newspapers. One story detailed a sexual abuse cover up at the highest levels in Sydney, Australia. The other was about a 12 year old girl in Venezuela who was excommunicated after having a abortion for a conception that only occurred due to a rape. The rapist got off scot-free. 

There are always going to be things I love about the religion in which I was raised. I believe that you should perform good works, and that you can't be saved by faith alone. I believe in service and in charity that you don't shout from the rooftops. I love the music and the outlook on life that comes from living humbly and modestly. 

But it's not for me. I just wish I could be honest with my parents about that.