Religion Doesn't Have a Prayer - 1
Saying Goodbye to Religion
The following essay has been brewing in my subconscious since day 1 of my life. Back then I was just absorbing the sounds and smells of my environment, not having words or obvious methods to identify or describe my experiences. I was also absorbing something else, something nefarious, the religion of my parents and extended family - the Roman Catholic Religion, French Canadian style.
Over this past weekend I as fortunate enough to read an essay by Jimmy Carter who was announcing the rejection of his childhood religion because of their position on women's rights. This same weekend I saw a rerun of popular TV drama where the issue of the day was a woman's lawsuit against the Boston Catholic Church authority who were refusing her admission into the priesthood.
Enough is enough! This essay is likely the beginning of a new book for me, one that has been writing itself since I first arrived on this planet.
I dedicate this essay and subsequent book to the abused child within me, the part of me that was shamed, guilted and bullied by a religion that claimed to know what was best for me.
As already mentioned, I grew up surrounded by extended family who were equally afflicted with the same disease of which I have spent a lifetime purging myself. I call it a disease because of all the challenges I was confronted with as a child, this particular exposure left me with the deepest wounds which have been the source of my greatest psychic pain.
Since my whole family was afflicted with this disease, there was nowhere for a young boy to turn, nowhere to obtain an outside view. We children were regularly warned about exposing ourselves to the wider protestant community and how their religion was totally wrong. It had to be, because only our religion could be right.
What's a child to do? These adults should know better, shouldn't they? Well, it turns out they didn't. These so-called adults were still children themselves when it came to their religion and they were caught in the same web we, as the next generation, were being dragged into.
I am currently in my late 60s, a trained psychologist with 3 degrees, including a PhD in Counseling Psychology. I also have over 30 years experience as a practicing therapist and consultant providing counseling, consulting and therapy services to individuals, families and corporations. The more education and experience I obtained, the more readily I could see through the lies and fabrications that my religion had steeped me in as a child.
The religious representatives of my day included nuns and priests. We received our regular dose of Catholic exhortations on Sundays as we were force marched to listen to the latest installment of "nothing makes sense but believe it anyway." And through the week we had the more subtle versions that were identified as education. For some reason I have never indicated on my resume that I could rattle off an endless list of questions and answers from the Catholic Catechism.
Catholicism's religious authorities traded on guilt and shame. Most people think fear is the world's most powerful negative enforcer. Not completely true for Catholics. Guilt and shame were the currency of the day, and fear of course played a part after those main buttons had been installed. The Catholic Church operated at a different level, tying fear to guilt and shame for an extra level of control over their flock.
Those two clubs were used everyday to club us children into submission. They had already done their job on our parents, who were now well patterned to sacrifice their offspring to the same unchallenged lies and misrepresentations of God's Holy Truth.
There is a category in Psychology identified as "Learned Helplessness." This comes as a result of constant battering, guilting, shaming and belittling of any of us who wouldn't comply with "the rules" quickly enough. This was tantamount to poisoning the well, in this case, the well of freedom and truth. Once you were saturated with the poison, psychologically speaking, then they would offer you their version of God for your salvation. Great system!
I had the audacity to question why I needed a Savior in the first place? Well, when you're born into Original Sin (read "defective" by their standards) then your whole life becomes a commitment to seeking redemption through the formulas they provide you with. Talk about ruthless compliance. When you sinned, which you did everyday, you could seek some redemption in the confessional. But how do you confess Original Sin?
And that's where this story begins. Original Sin is a lie. And any church or religion based on that foundation is also a lie!
The Catholic Church is a lie from beginning to end. It advances itself as a harbinger of truth when really it is a business run by authoritarian types who use its main tools of guilt and shame as their principal method of subduing the population they want to control. First they make you believe you are born a sinner and then offer you their brand of salvation which includes regular attendance at church, financial support of the organization and compliance with their definitions of sin versus goodness. This is Learned Helplessness in a nutshell. Catholic Church authorities abuse and poison you, then offer you a way out (salvation) that requires you to financially support them, your abusers.
Doesn't that sound like the Stockholm Syndrome? First they take you hostage and then suggest you can have certain freedoms as long as you comply with their prefabricated formulas of seeking redemption and acceptance. Fearing the devil and outright damnation, what's a hostage to do? Especially a child? I did what we all did, accepted their authority and complied.
Let's summarize, shall we. First, you are born into Original Sin = lie #1. Then you must seek salvation, through Catholicism's methods only = lie #2. God, who is perfect, and by that definition should only create perfection, screwed up with you and that's why you need to be molded = lie #3. The Catholic Church, who infected you with this poisonous conception of yourself, now offer themselves up as the key to your salvation = lie #4. You are not to challenge this authority = lie #5. You are never to doubt or question any of their teachings = lie #6. The Catholic Church truly represents Jesus Christ and all His teachings = lie #7. And the list goes on.
The truth is the Romans crucified Christ and the Roman Catholic Church has trampled all over his body. There are many more lies we can attribute to the Catholic Church and these will be well documented in succeeding chapters.
This is particularly hard to write about because my guilt and shame buttons are setting off alarms left and right. Those buttons are still somewhat alive at the moment and are reacting to these words. I'm strong enough at this point to let that happen because I know this purging will be convulsive at times. The inner me, the one who truly knows the truth, is guiding me along and providing all the necessary encouragement to see myself through this process. Each word, each phrase, each sentence touches that wound inside me. As with any infection, I know there will be painful times as I squeeze this religious pus out. I will withstand the pain so that I can finally be rid of this poison.
My steeping in the poison well of Catholicism drove me to Psychology like a dry and thirsty traveler to an oasis. For a time, psychology became my new religion because it offered insights into my pain and suffering, and gave me tools that did not require unquestionable abdication of my own power. I could now choose psychology as a way out of my personal dilemmas. I had no choice in regards to the religion in which I was poisoned.
My first venture into self-help came at age 20 when I read Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking." I didn't know what was wrong with me at the time. All I knew was that life didn't make sense and my parents' view of the world no longer worked. I wasn't strong enough to completely abdicate my membership, but I was strong enough and intelligent enough to begin asking questions and seeking my own answers. It would be another 10 years or so before I could finally shake off those religious shackles and see them for what they were. Outright lies, psychological deceit and abusive control mechanisms!
Dr Peale certainly espoused his own religious flavor, but it never came across as toxic. I felt I could easily reach past that part of his message and retrieve the dominant psychological pointers my aching heart was yearning for. I've read thousands of self-help and personal growth books since then. They each offered their own brand of nourishment that I took to like a duck to water. It felt right. And from that point forward, I trusted that part of me, the inner me, my heart center, to lead me forward on my climb out of the poison well of Catholicism.
My heart is pounding at this point. My whole being is vibrating as I write these words and journal myself back to health in front of all of you who are reading this. I couldn't be any more honest or scared. But that courageous part of me, the still quiet part, says: "move on son, move on, you're doing great."
This comes from my God Self who often speaks on behalf of my wounded Inner Child. He and I know we need this cleansing desperately. We are so close to being completely free, I know this will be our final struggle. My Inner Child and I are coming out kicking and screaming, knocking down the remnants of religious authoritarianism that still carries that original poison. I feel like a young bird, trying to be born, crashing his way out of his shell to reach for freedom and true liberation. This is my final goodbye to Catholicism and Religion in general. I will scrape every aspect of them out of my Heart and Soul and be completely Free of their tyranny. My Inner Child needs this, and my God Self demands it.
The insidious nature of modern Catholicism and all its attending teachings are the venom we must be rid of. Just like an animal who has eaten something bad for them, my inner child wants to throw up everything given to him by the Catholic Church. He is so angry he could easily seek revenge of a physical nature were there not sensible precautions against doing so. I know, I have heard from priest friends and other religious types that at its core, the Catholic religion has a good message. I am also sure that if I rummage through a garbage bin I may eventually find something palatable to eat. Since it is a garbage bin, I simply choose not to eat there.
Our wounded inner child is primitive. When struck by a physical or verbal blow, they immediately want to strike back. That's what you find when you peel away all the layers of indoctrination and psychological defense mechanisms, an angry Inner Child with a serious desire for revenge. Unhindered, that could happen, but most likely not. Why? For the simple reason that we have to develop a sophisticated method of self-assessment guided by our Higher Self to see that damage in the first place. From that vantage point, violence is never an answer.
What does our abused Inner Child want? Just like the animal who vomits the material that would potentially poison him or her, so does this child want to be rid of the lies and manipulations that have kept them a psychological and emotional prisoner all these years. There is life outside of religion and I as a spiritually free individual choose to seek it. I can no longer tolerate the Catholic Church's Stockholm syndrome approach to religious compliance.
This is powerful stuff I write as it comes rushing to the surface. Myself as guardian of my inner world has served notice that all bets are off. "Cry if you must, little child! Scream if you want to! Swear if that helps. Say everything that needs to be said and say it thoroughly. Do not leave one stone unturned." That is my message to him, as his father and main caregiver on this plane. "Your experiences of abuse will be heard and duly noted. Blame for the religious portion of this abuse will be placed where it belongs, on the shoulders of the Catholic Church who, not only sanctioned it, but invented and taught the methodology."
Before I'm finished with this project there will be blood on the floor. There will be gnashing of teeth by the Catholic Authorities and they will want to strike back. But they will do it in a well camouflaged diatribe of intellectual nonsense that will include feeling sorry for such a poor soul as myself. There will be vain attempts at shutting me down. There will certainly be strong efforts to discredit me. To them I say "I've got a PhD, a loving heart and a direct connection to Source who has prepared me for this. Good luck with that."
I know I'm not being thrown to the lions here. I'm being trotted out with all the tools, information and spiritual protection one needs to deal with the coming backlash from the current establishment. If these religious authorities were truly comfortable with their position they would simply ignore me. But they are not, so they won't. They are on tenuous ground that keeps shifting beneath their feet with every move they make, and with the advancing knowledge base the Internet is now offering the entire world. They are off balance in a serious and dangerous way and they know it. Their livelihoods as pretenders to a self-erected religious throne is threatened. Their way of life is about to disappear.
No wonder the Catholic Church is behind open borders in the United States. They need new recruits. And the only place they can get them is from impoverished countries whose population is largely uneducated. An educated population, tired of self-appointed gurus and self-promoting religious authorities, is keeping a watchful eye. The Internet pounces every time they open their mouths, so they retreat into their well developed denial systems to lick their wounds and regroup.
I am no longer concerned about how my opinions affect others. I am not out to harm anyone, only tell the truth as it rises in my heart, a heart that was once held captive by the Catholic Religion of my youth. I trust my heart now, more than ever in my life. And surprise, surprise, there's my God Self. I just want you to find yours and open up to that. That was Christ's message to all of us - "The Kingdom is Within" "Trust Your Self!"
Organized religion will get what is coming to them from every direction imaginable. As mentioned earlier, this past week former American President Jimmy Carter announced he was severing ties with his religious organization after 6 decades of loyal compliance. Others are decrying religion as a virus. Just Google "Religion in Decline" and see for yourself.
As the religious ice age of our times, they are in full retreat. Their end is upon them and they are clinging to the marginal underpinnings of their belief system. They will be called to answer for their abuse of children, their disenfranchisement of woman and their outright fabrication of so-called religious principles that were designed solely to support their false claims.
"I am mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" (from the movie - "Network")
If you are reading this and the message resonates with you, then repeat the above phrase three times out loud to begin the process of purging yourself of the Catholic brand of religious venom. Be prepared for some shaky and tumultuous times ahead while you express your way to spiritual freedom.
Speak your truth! Blog your truth! Join a support group! Find a way to rid yourself of this poison and begin the journey. This website, YourSpiritualOasisCentre, has every tool you need to engage that process and move from entry level personal awareness to final liberation from all the untruths and false premises you were inculcated with. What is final liberation? When you know that you're being God Incarnate is the same as "To Thine own Self be True."
This New Age that has come upon us and is gaining momentum every day needs clean vehicles in which to anchor God's incoming Light. The Christ within us needs to feel safe in order to open and receive it. She/he needs to know that you are ready to take care of them, a task you could not undertake when you were a child being victimized by your family's religious authority. The God in you is done with that. She/he never wanted to be associated with the pornographers of faith who operated in His name.
The Christ that is now being revealed to us is sickened by their behavior, as am I and most of you reading this. Yes, He speaks through me, as He does through thousands if not millions of souls who are opening to His word right now, none of whom lay claim to any organized religion, including Catholicism.
Are you prepared to journey with me and the many way-showers who are paving the way into this new millennium? It may get rough for a while. We ex Catholics who have been simmering with the toxic effects of shame and guilt for years, if not eons, are ready to boil over. The poison in our systems will be evacuated once and for all. The shame and guilt buttons installed by these religious authorities are being disconnected as I write this. This religious ice age is now in full retreat. You certainly don't need to be an ex Catholic to apply this strategy to your life. If the shoe fits, wear it. Then take care of whatever business your heart reveals as needing your immediate attention.
Such inner work does not benefit from intellectual banter. You must move straight to your heart and adopt all the tools necessary to beget a proper cleansing. The God in You and in All of Us wants to be FREE. So let us do whatever is necessary to bring that about, and let us support each other in our individual endeavors.
Are you ready for this journey? It's going to be exciting. And it will be the most liberating experience of your life. This is your chance to learn what Christ wanted to teach us from the beginning. The Kingdom is Within and We are Gods just waiting to be found.
NOW IS THE TIME!
QUESTION: I WAS ALWAYS TOLD THAT YOU NEED TO BELONG TO A RELIGION IF YOU WANT TO DEVELOP SPIRITUALLY. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
While the support of like minded people in a community of faith can be helpful, in practice being 'religious' in itself does not necessarily mean being 'spiritual.' Religion means attending religious ritual and services, obeying creeds and religious instructions. Being spiritual means being loving tolerantly, and unselfishly helping others who are in need. There are many people who are not religious and still do great spiritual work.
The effect of being spiritual is the increase of the vibrations of the 'soul' or 'spirit.' A religious person can also be highly spiritual if he/she develops love and compassion and is unselfishly serving others. Being spiritual does not depend on wealth or education or profession or status or religion. One could be atheistic or agnostic and have a higher level of spirituality than the highest religious leader in the world, who may be highly religious but not necessarily spiritual.