Dogma Alert

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Voices in my head (or lack thereof)

Reflections of a Pragmatic Gnostic - part one

I'd like to take some time away from analyzing news stories and share a little about my background and experiences with monotheistic religions. I will try and give some history on how being raised as a Catholic has shaped my perceptions of the church today and how I've arrived at my particular unique perception of the world.

My parents weren't what you call "hard core Catholics", as in being dogmatic and rigid with their insistence on the whole family going to church every Sunday. Although in my younger years we did partake in this weekly ritual, I suspect now that it was more an expression of them trying to set a good example for my brother and sister and I, rather than an ardent belief in the doctrine itself.

As we grew older and more aware of the trappings and subtle manipulation of the Church of Rome, our attendance declined steadily until it became an Easter and midnight mass at Christmas kind of event. A kind of public showing of a waning faith, that sat well with the neighbours and all that. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.

My first experience with doubt about the teachings of Catholicism occured one morning in Sunday school. While my parents sat through an hour and a half of boring sermons in the chapel across the courtyard, we sat at desks in the community centre listening to a Nun teach us about the omnisciencient, omnipotent and onmipresent power of the Almighty, and how the good Lord was watching over our every thought and action at all times.

I remember this event clearly as if it happened yesterday. The Nun, in her zealousness of proving her fantastic claims, had every child in the room sit quietly with their eyes closed, and insisted that if we concentrated hard enough, we would be able to hear the voice of God speaking directly into our minds. Being young and impressionable, I wholeheartedly believed her claims and tried with all my might to hear the voice of Jesus in my head. Alas, it was not to happen. Try as I might the only sound I heard was the dull roar of the furnace and the occaisional cough of someone in the room.

After this little experiment was finished and the Nun told us we could now open our eyes and relax, she then proceeded to ask the class for a show of hands of all the children who indeed heard the voice of God speaking directly to them. Well, wasn't I surprised to see that everyone's hand in the class shot straight up into the air. Everyone's hand except mine, that is. There I sat, not more than six or seven years old, believing that for some reason this kind and benevolent God spoke directly to everyone but me.

Although it's difficult to predict now as I approach my 40th birthday, what kind of psychological trauma was inflicted on me that day, as I realized that I was somehow "different" than other folks. What I do remember is from that moment on, I no longer passively accepted what ever dogma was thrown my way. A kernal of doubt had been planted in my young mind that perhaps these adults, seemingly so wise and knowedgable, perhaps were either lying or didn't have a clue what they were talking about.

As time marched onwards, I became less and less enthralled with the teachings of the church, and while our attendance every Sunday would still continue for some time, I won't never look at religion the same way again.



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