Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Misplaced Anger

“A new crime is arising in the world today; be prepared for it. The crime of being a Christian. The crime of believing in God.”
- Archbishop Fulton Sheen

One simple fact is impossible to miss these days. People are angry. There are valid reasons, but as I scroll through my facebook home page, reading my friends’ status updates, I can’t help but notice that the anger doesn’t seem to be focused in the right directions. I was particularly struck by a quote that one of my childhood friends posted, ranting about religion. The quote, which is from a song, is sexually suggestive and disgusting and directed at religion. Below the quote were half a dozen comments, praising the choice of lyrics and then the original posters response, which was that the lyric was about being “force fed blame shame and guilt by organized religion.”

The funny think is that this twenty-seven year old man didn’t grow up in a repressive house being “force fed” anything. He had permissive parents who weren’t didn’t practice any particular religion. Yet he is apparently angry enough at religion to make this public statement…

I was curious, I haven’t talked to this friend since high school, so I looked at his facebook info to see if he had even filled in the “religion” section. He had. It says “God…hmmm…not sure…” Below that there was a quote about agnostics.

Okay, so he was raised without religion and he doesn’t actually know what he believes, but he feels the need to bash religion? I thought about this for a good part of the day today, because midway through writing this post, Sadie woke up for her nap so I put the idea on a back burner in my mind and let it simmer. I came up with a few ideas.

On the one hand I remember being confused when I was attending Saint Mary’s a few years before I converted. I had quite a few “Catholic” friends who partied just as much as any student at the school. There was a small number who, after partying would, from time to time, have long tirades about feeling guilty. I remember being baffled when talking with one of my friends about “Catholic Guilt.”

I didn’t quite get why they would do something if they were going to feel so bad about it later on (if I’d known that they had to go to confession to get rid of the guilt I would have been even more confused… confession is, in my mind at least, a strong deterrent to sin). I know that experiences like this gave some of my friends the (incorrect) idea that all Catholics are racked with guilt.

When this idea is added to the popular secular notion that anything that feels good is good and that the purpose of life is self-gratification the sort of contempt that my grade school friend feels can form. He believes that organized religion keeps people chained down to antiquated beliefs that are relics of past centuries. He’s entirely wrong, but he firmly believes in our culture’s social mores. It’s hard to understand how freeing God’s love and forgiveness can be if you haven’t experienced it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were also bothered by a sort of empty, nagging feeling that there is something more to life, but then again many people are excellent at repressing that sort of thing, so he may not even be conscious of the absence of a relationship with God.

If you add his belief that religion just keeps people chained down with shame, to the popular trend that seems to say that it’s perfectly fine to bash Christianity (particularly Catholicism) you have my friend’s facebook status update. It’s easy to lash out at Christians because it’s so popular! If you applied many of the things people say about Christians to any other religious group the person saying them would be accused of being a bigot. When they say it about Catholicism they get encouragement and even praise.

So those are my somewhat random thoughts for the day. And I managed to stay awake until 9 pm for a second night in a row! I’d celebrate if I weren’t so sleepy!


  1. Hi Cam!

    I've found your blog through CAF (I post under Contra Mundum).

    Your post really reflects my experience. People often have no background or understanding of religion but have very strong negative opinions about it. At best you get something along the lines "It's ok for you but it's not my thing". It makes me especially frustrated when those who are incredibly PC in all other areas feel that Christianity does not deserve the same treatment. I have started pointing this fact out.

    I really enjoy your blog and have started reading it every day. God bless.

  2. Hi Natasa! Welcome! It's so great the meet other Catholics on here and share experiences. Between CAF and the various Catholic bloggers and readers I've met it's been really inspirational! Nice to meet you!


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