A Response to An Article on Christian Theology

A friend of my asked me to respond to this post about Christianity.  The title is “Anti-Human Theology: Learning to Hate Yourself”, and  the author discusses the ideas of humans needing to be saved and never being good enough.  Being raised Catholic, I know that some of this thought patterned was ingrained in me early and probably still affects me today.  When I was younger, I had the idea that the Christian God was all-accepting and all-forgiving.  I didn’t really latch on to the idea of a wrathful God.  I don’t know if this is the idea that my parents and spiritual teachers intended to communicate, but it is what I took away.  I knew teachings of Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross, but I don’t think I ever understood why.  I didn’t take the story of Adam and Eve literally.  I acknowledged the fact that humans are imperfect, but I didn’t understand the need for Jesus’ death.  I accepted it as a child accepts what she is told by adults, but I don’t think I realized until I was older that I didn’t really understand it.  That is probably one reason why I had trouble relating to Jesus.  I saw the usefulness of his lessons, but I just didn’t get the need for his crucifixion.  After all, if the Christian God was all-forgiving, why would He need such a sacrifice?

Catholics have the sacrament of confession.  This is where you confess your sins to a priest.  He tells you the necessary penance and offers the Christian God’s forgiveness.  I have talked to several Catholics that feel uneasy going to confession.  There is definitely some personal shame in having to rehash your mistakes to someone who wasn’t involved in the situations.  I always felt like going to confession was the punishment for your sins, and penance was more something that the priest made up to make you feel better.  I never understood the need to embarrass yourself about something you were already sorry for and had probably already attempted to fix.

I understood the point of confession better than I understood the idea that we were already born with blights on our souls from Adam and Eve, a story that I didn’t believe.  How could a baby be a sinner?  When I was a Catholic, I was raised with the belief that the Christian God was perfect.  I could never comprehend how a perfect Being could hold a grudge.  This is probably why my experiences differ a little from the author’s.  I definitely have feelings of inadequacy, but when I was younger it was more of feeling inadequate for others rather than inadequate for the Christian God.  I felt that a perfect god would accept me as I was.  Now that I’m a polytheist, I no longer see Deities as being perfect.  I see Them as great and wonderful, but not perfect.  I probably worry more now about being accepted by my Deities because I feel like They are not all-accepting.  I don’t see this as bad or wrong, just different.  I do think my Deities accept me more than I realize.

My feelings of inadequacy were probably exacerbated by being raised with the idea of sin.  The idea of starting out imperfect.  I’d rather own my imperfections as my own lessons rather feel like I inherited some blight.  However, I can’t say that I still wouldn’t struggle with feeling inadequate if I hadn’t been raised with the idea of sin.  I don’t blame the Church for my feelings of inadequacy because I think there are so many factors involved.  I see my lack of self esteem as a personal imperfection that I have to work on, not as something drilled into me by outside forces.  My thoughts are definitely colored by my bipolar disorder.  I know that some of my feelings are do to chemical imbalances.  Thus, although I am definitely shaped by my experiences, it doesn’t seem right to blame outside forces for some of my internal issues.  That is just my viewpoint concerning myself because of how I have seen my illness affect my thoughts and feelings.

I do agree with the author that a religion where everyone needs to be saved does promote an anti-human theology.  I cannot agree that it affected me the same way that it affected the author because, as a child, I simply believed that the Christian God was all-accepting, even if this is not what the Church intended to teach me.  I left the Church because I simply disagreed with a number of it’s views, not because I felt that it harmed me in any way.  I left the Christian God because I felt like our relationship was not working.  I considered my participation in the Catholic Church as a way to honor the Christian God, but eventually I began to differentiate between my relationship with the Church and my relationship with that God.  Both did not work for me, so I moved on.  I apologize if this post is a mess.  I just wanted to get it done for a friend.  I hope it suffices.

An Update

I apologize that it has been a while since I updated this blog.  Stress, mental health issues, vacation, school and work were all factors.  I’m starting to regain my footing, however, so I will make an extra effort to post.  Thank you for your patience.

I celebrated the solstice by attending an ADF ritual.  We honored Sunna, Heimdall, and Nerthus.  I am still shy around the group, so I didn’t make any individual offerings.  It was a moving ritual.  It was also nice to talk to some Pagans face-to-face.  I don’t have a lot of interaction offline with Pagans, so I value the time when I get to share my faith in person.  I volunteered to write the next ADF ritual.  I’m very nervous, but at least I’ll have the old rituals to use as a guide.  The two women who usually write them honor the Greek and Norse pantheons.  They wanted to try something different.  ADF is exclusive to Indo-European pantheons, so unfortunately the Kemetic pantheon is not an option.  I would like to eventually cover all of the pantheons available to ADF, but I thought that I would start with the Slavic pantheon.  This will take some research, as I am not very familiar with it.  I am not sure exactly how my Gods will take it, but as long as I keep honoring Them, I think it will be okay.  If nothing else, maybe Hekate can run interference.

I have not been perfect about doing my daily offerings, but I am trying.  Set has come into my life, so I’ll see where that goes.  Our relationship is just beginning.  I still use tarot card and oracle cards as my main way of hearing my Gods.  I did a reading for a friend upon her request, my first reading for someone other than myself, and I was happy with the results after she told me more about the situation.  It showed me, however, that I need to trust the cards and my Gods a little more because I was hesitant about my original interpretation.  My skills are still very amateurish, but I put a lot of trust in my Gods that They’ll communicate what They want me to know.

I have been spending some time on tumblr, trying to get to know the Kemetic community there better as well as learning more about some social justice issues.  It has become more of a personal blog.  I think there are a few people on there that my Gods really wanted me to meet.  It has definitely been an interesting experience.  I will try to be better about taking some of my short bursts from there and formulating them into posts here.  I doubt myself a lot and compare myself to other people (which I am working on), so I am hesitant to posts some things.  This is meant to document my journey, however, so I will fight the fears in the hope that someday it may be helpful to someone else starting down this path.  Thank you all for following me.