January 16, 2010

Jack-Catholic

I'm spiritual but not religious. So says the snippet next to my name on the dating sites. I dislike that this terminology somehow indicates my appropriateness for meeting strangers, but I don't mind playing along and abiding by the rules, so long as it doesn't offend my personal philosophy for occupying space and breathing air. Truthfully, I was raised Jack-Catholic, but there's no checkbox for that.

Jack-Catholic means that, while I was baptized with holy water, a Sunday spent nodding off in a pew was rarer than a Pat Robertson reality check. A Jack-Catholic is a bit of a rebel. Explains some things, right? Amen.

When I was four, my nine-month-old sister lingered on the verge of death by pneumonia. The attending clergy in the hospital refused to issue last rites since she hadn't yet been baptized. That pissed my dad off. Thankfully, my sister survived (Amen!)--no thanks to anybody with a presumed direct line to the Big Guy Upstairs. Afterward, Dad turned his back on the church, and thus began my life as a pagan. Let me amend that: a proud pagan, with only thin threads to organized religion. I know, blasphemy in a blog . . . Whatever.

Now don't go trying to convert me. I have a firm belief in the oneness of science and creation, and an open mind to the universe's possibilities. Plus, I'm 80/20 on the benefits of sin, and a smartass. Ask anybody.

I think so many of us thumbing our noses at the church comes down to one thing. The religious rites. So okay, confession time. When people drink the blood of Christ (I know it's metaphoric, no letters, please), I get creeped out. Why not just offer the congregation some wine, in our own cups—no sharing spit? Just say, "Belly up to the altar, folks." Then, we can talk about this Eucharist business rationally, including that snacky-poo thing on JC's body. Um, can you say cannibalism? Why not just add a cheese plate? We could pretend it's from the goat of JC and nobody gets hurt in the making of this sacrament. And what's with the constant sit-down/stand-up pewmanship through an entire hour-long mass? It makes for a lot of grunting and sighing, and who doesn't prefer to do that at work?

As a Jack-Catholic, I'm obliged to fall back on tradition from time to time. I like to call it the Just-in-Case Doctrine. One might say I convert to Convenience-Catholicism on an as-needed basis. Like when I look up, roll my eyes benevolently, and pray, "Good God!" or "God help me!" and the occasional but always reverential "My God, I'm going to kill him!" Is that so wrong? A good poke at the pope and a saint du jour can buy a little time if I ever need it—or get me off the hook. Can I get a witness? Amen!

55 comments:

Expat From Hell said...

Boy, now that you put it THAT way...I am probably a Jack-Episcopalian, a Jack-American, and a Jack-Blogger. Somehow, a strange sense of relief.....great post, my friend. EFH

Irish Gumbo said...

Testimony out there, sister! Can I get a witness?

So says the Zen Lutheran (grin)...

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I get where you're coming from. Our family was Catholic and we went to the Catholic school. Eventually I came to feel that there was too much emphasis on rules and rites, and not enough on actually being a compassionate person. I can't often tell whether my values were developed because of, or in spite of, my religious upbringing.

Sea Witch said...

Me, I'm a Kosher Catholic turned Red Roader. Yea, I like my path. Sea Witch

AirmanMom said...

My sister claims she was born Catholic...I've tried to explain she was born with a blue eye and a green eye...not Catholic. Ahhh...many do have the Catholic-guilt running through their veins. forever.
Not I...I chose to be a Christian who minds my own business. Live and let live!
Nice thought provoling post...as always!!!!
~AM
p.s. just got a kindle and love it!

Kristina P. said...

We use the term Jack-Mormon all the time to describe Mormons in the same situation. Oh, and we do get our own little cups for the sacrament. :)

Sea Witch said...

I love the devil children but believe they are rabbits. LOL

Linda in New Mexico said...

You are so funny and entertaining. I love the irreverance et al. Long live the smartass.

Snappy Di said...

I hear ya. I was raised Lutheran which is what Martin Luther started when the Catholics pissed him off. LOL

My mom was originally Methodist but converted to Lutheran when she married my dad. But then she quit attending when the Lutheran minister refused to let a Methodist hymn be played and sung at her 11 year old son's funeral. (my brother) After that I don't think she ever went to church again and the refusal of the hymn playing along with other idiotic Lutheran ideas just turned me off to religion by the time I was 14 or so.

It all turned me into a believing that religions are all led by Jack Asses.

I claim to be Agnostic.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

injaynesworld said...

Oh, my dear. I think we were separated at birth. I refer to myself as a "recovering" Catholic, but as with any such program, one never truly recovers. Thank God (there I go) that nuns now dress in fairly normal clothes, as the sight of one in a habit used to cause me all manner of nasty rash.

P.S. The Disques comment system that I have is the best for being able to reply. Check it out.

Eva Gallant said...

I refer to myself as a lapsed Catholic. First hubby was a major philanderer and once we were divorced I got very tired of hearing that I was going to hell for getting divorced and remarried. I find it very hard to believe that God would expect me to stay in a marriage where I was treated like crap, rather than move on and find a loving husband (to whom I've been married for the past 26 years.) So I stopped going to church. Then there's that hold priest/child molestation thing....

otin said...

I am often referred to as a "Jack Off"! Is that close? LOL! I never have followed religion. I was baptized Catholic, but I think that I always believed in Santa more than I ever did God.

Vegas Linda Lou said...

Amen to everything you said, sister! I always wondered what kind of god would let innocent little babies rot in purgatory when it's beyond their control whether or not they were baptized. Good God!

Marguerite said...

Love your sense of humor and I see that some of my bloggie friends do too. Thanks for stopping by and for your nice comment!

Pearl said...

My family left the Catholic church for the same reason, only my sister and brother died.

Not to bring you down -- it was a very long time ago.

Pearl

Jocelyn said...

The Pat Robertson reality check line is making me hoot.

Thank you for summing up so much about so much. YES.

Eternally Distracted said...

I feel a little guilty now for thanking God that she didn't send me to the vagina checking mirror room!! ;0)

Wildernesschic said...

I was also raised Jack catholic my mother is Irish with all the trimmings :) My father .. thank fuck as I wont thank the lord .. had sense .. A nicer man you couldn't meet .. my mother and her crew are the most scheming and manipulative bunch I have ever met.. You may guess which path I chose. But I believe my Father was the more spiritual of the two x

Secretia said...

Our religion, whatever it is, changes constantly.

Jack-Catholic, what a great term that is! I went to Catholic school one year and they told us to stay awake in church and "no farting".

Secretia

Anke said...

My dad was catholic, my mom protestant. When they decided to get married, my dad's mother refused to come to the wedding simply because my mom wasn't catholic! She changed her mind later on, but that was only the beginning of her antics... I was raised protestant and I am more spiritual than religious. Too many fake but oh so religious people out there for me...

Mandy's Kidding said...

Having been raised by a couple of agnostics, I can't really relate to the forced Sunday or Saturday mornings at church or temple. I think I'm raising my son to be a Jack Buddhist though, which is cool. And his dad takes him to a Catholic a little more often than could be considered "jacked." I wonder what he'll turn out to be?

TechnoBabe said...

Boy, when you let loose you really get going. You are actually a very good writer. You should either have your own column in an international publication or you should be a stand up comic. And write your own material. Or you could write for TV shows. Because of your talent, you are able to write on a subject that has been known to cause major conflict and your snarky funny writing is humor not disrespect. Good for you.

daisyfae said...

like the 'jack catholic' description... me? militant agnostic - "I don't know, and YOU DON'T EITHER!" - or something like that...

Under the Influence said...

We seem to be "rotating Lutherans" in this house. Right now we are "rotating out" of being involved in church and we have been in that position for a while now. Not sure how I feel about that.

Alix said...

OMG! You absolutely MUST follow the URL below and go visit my friend Ellen Abbot at Stuff From Ellen's Head. Her post today goes hand-in-hand with this one and both are award winning posts.

http://ellenshead.blogspot.com/2010/01/evolution-of-unbeliever.html

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

OMG! That makes me a Jack-Methodist, and proudly so. Spiritual, not religious. Frankly, living where I live Religion can be a big turn-off. Anyway, a big AMEN! to you!

Lorna said...

LOVED this post -- spot on on so many levels...fanned! Thank you for the morning laugh.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

You, a rebel? Can't imagine.

I've always loved the terms - Jack-Catholic. Jack-Mormon. Add personality to a soul, don't you think?

the b in subtle said...

i've had my own Catholic upbringing and managed to survive. and my spirituality (i'm not religious, either) leans toward the Celtic pagan roots of my own Irish ancestors. for me, if there is a God or some kind of creator being, it's manifest in Nature and in the Earth and the universe. no need for four walls and a baptismal font, if you ask me. i believe Catholics have a right to be Catholics and Protestants the same and Episcopalians and Muslims and Buddhists and every other organized religion out there, just as long as they don't go trying to convert everyone to believing theirs is the only path. They all seem to lose the message of their founder(s) at some point when they do that (and so much else). To each his or her own. I think spirituality is a decidedly personal path and no one should be judging or converting anyone on that count. People find their own way and what works for them or they don't. Whatever. Kudos to you for this post.

Captain Dumbass said...

Happily, I'm about third-generation religious free. Thankfully, up here in Canadaland its not a big an issue as it seems to be down there.

Brian Miller said...

i am spiritual bu not religeous...that about sums me up...

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Ahhh, "blasphemy in a blog" has such a nice ring to it. I'm surprised that in today's germaphobic society that they haven't already switched to distributing individual paper shot glasses while the alter boys wear those plastic cafeteria gloves and face masks.

ellen abbott said...

My signature on a couple of BBs I used to frequent for a time was...the only religion I subscribe to is sacreligion. I love irreverence. I think a little irreverence is a good thing. Keeps thing real.

Enjoyed your post and got quite a few chuckles out of it.

sheila said...

Wow. Amen to that sista!
lol. This is my first time here and I was hooked with the first line, lol. SAME here.

I was born catholic, then they booted my mom out of the church when she divorced her husband (my dad) after he beat her within inches of her life.

So I see what you're saying. OR bloggin. lol.

Nice to meet you.!

Bano said...

My in-laws are Jack-Catholics in a way but my MIL was somehow still peeved that their son and I wanted to get married outdoors by an official rather than in the church. Their daughter got married in the church and was divorced 4 years later. We're still married (8 years, going on forever). Go figure.

Debbie said...

I wanna comment but first I gotta go to confession LOL!! Truthfully, I find a lot of beauty in the Catholic faith ... it's rituals and traditions, but, like any organization that involves people, it is riddled with hypocrisy. We know the difference between right/wrong and good/bad and trying to live in the world being a relatively decent is person is very difficult. I went through a real crises of faith when all the pedophile priests were crawling out of everywhere ... I even knew one priest from my own parish who was arrested as he got off a plan at LAX from a holiday in Thailand doing god knows what. Now, I just try to live by the Golden Rule.
P.S. Thanks for your comment on my blog (From Venting to Viggo).

Debbie

Miz Dinah said...

Meheheheh...I love your irreverence, my dear fragrant liar. Does your name have anything to do with farting in the pews? I much prefer unorganized religion to the organized stuff -- everyone for themselves! Religious anarchy rules!

Love,
A Fellow Blasphemer

mo.stoneskin said...

I've often liked the idea of real wine for communion.

Beth said...

Like you, I live in the Bible belt. I don't talk religion (or politics for that matter) because I am seriously afraid I could lose my job over it. People are that rabid about their believes down here.

Madame DeFarge said...

Liked this, good to hear something about religion that isn't all god-fearing stuff. More power to your elbow.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Sherman Alexie was the keynote speaker at a writing conference I went to one time. He had a schpeel on how native americans look at the cannibalistic aspect of blood and body of christ.

Me too. spiritual and not comfortable with a lot of organized religions.

Jazz said...

Amen indeed as a jack-catholic myself (brought on with run ins with the nuns - some of whom, I swear are truly evil), I completely agree with your post.

fingers said...

If the world hadn't grown up with this fairytale, written at a time when it was a little less sophisticated than it is now, I'd like to see them sell the idea from scratch today.
'Hello, can I interest you in the idea of imaginary friends who demand unconditional belief by way of the threat of eternal damnation...'

Miz Dinah said...

@fingers: Wow, that's the best perspective I've heard by far. Love it!

powdergirl said...

Sounds familiar.
I was raised in the Old Colony Mennonite church. I guess you'd call me a Jack Mennonite. But you know why you'd call me that?

Because I don't know Jack about what I really believe. I don't know which is bred in the bone, which is steeped in the blood, and which is indoctrination. And that just pithes me right off. You know?

I'd love to be an atheist, I really would, but life has occasionally heard me screaming for the grace of God, or damning God for abandoning the work of his house. So I guess I must believe in God.

The whole Virgin birth thing though, haha, yeah, you've gotta hand it to Mary, if she was real? Holy shit! Hell of a performance, good job saving yourself from the public stoning, Mary. Seriously.

I'da done the same thing.

Whatever it is that I may believe, at the end of the day, The Bible's the best book I ever read. Thats some intense shit.

Alix said...

I linked to this post at Casa Hice today. Hope that's okay?

Brutalism said...

Love this post. We auditioned several different churches with my parents when I was a kid (Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Mormon, Protestant, Lutheran, evangelical...their idea not mine.) Either because of or in spite of that, I have no use for organized religion. Yet, I always dated Catholics (and ended up marrying a non-practicing one). So I'm all too familiar with the "Catholic workout" during mass. It's exhausting. I have also entertained myself at many events by holding up a peace sign during the "peace be with you" segment of the festivities.

Jeanie said...

For a Bible Belt (or maybe lower) livin girl, you've got your head screwed on pretty straight.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I dutifully came over from Casa Hice, following the instructions of Alix. I love your candor!

Suzy said...

Count me in the Jack Catholic pile. In our house that meant my Dad drank Jack while we went to church.

Pat said...

Wow - pretty funny stuff, yet I feel guilty reading it, being a good Catholic girl, and all that!

I was raised Catholic, raised my kids Catholic, (my husband was Lutheran), got divorced, remarried a Catholic. Went to church and the priest told me that I was going to hell with all the other divorced people. oookay! Here I was, married to a Catholic man, we were raising my kids Catholic, going to church every Sunday, and I'm condemned! I know that priest was the one with the problem, but it kind of turned me away from the church for awhile. I still feel comfortable whenever I go into a Catholic church, but I think that's just because that's what I'm used to.

mac said...

I love to blaspheme,
you could say it's my theme.

I hope that is not as mean
as it may seem.

Not just Catholics, I confess
All religion is a mess

jules said...

I "used to be Catholic" too. Don't you hate it when people try to convert you?

Sin said...

love it! I was raised Lutheran, by age 9 I was so disgusted with the lack of answers and the bs that I stopped going...when I was 13 I embraced paganism and haven't looked back.

Margo said...

I guess I'm a Jack -WASP. I'm in the middle of a theist stage right now. Have you ever seen the movie, "Saved?" It's kind of a black comedy about a fundamentalist from birth hs girl who gets pregnant. The first half (esp. the first 10 mins.) is better than the second, but it has some really poignant points in it about spirituality vs. religion.