Jump to content
Goodbye Jesus

Ex-catholics: After You Walked...


marie

Recommended Posts

I'd prefer to hear from ex-Catholics on this issue, because there are a lot of key differences between that and the Protestant fundamentalist experience many of you describe elsewhere. No hard feelings, though, know what I mean?

 

I was just wondering about your journey into other spiritual beliefs (or even just philosophical practices or meditation alone) after leaving the church. How did it go? Where are you now? And what particular practices, dogmas, rituals etc., of the church made things difficult after you'd formally left? How did you get past them?

 

Thank you so much for your thoughts, in advance. I'd really like to have this kind of conversation here. Being neither an ex-evangelical nor a hard-line atheist, I don't totally fit in on most threads, nu?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest eejay

Well, I was born into a catholic family but for practical purposes I don't know if I qualify for your answer because I actually stopped attending church before my teens, initially without my parents knowledge. My mom met a neighbor who converted her to fundament protestent x-tianity just as I approached my teens, and she eventually got my dad converted, so I know both sides of the coin. After leaving catholicism, I did try some of the protestent denominations, but found them to be too extreme for my liking. As an adult I did experiment with other religions as I wasn't so sure I was comfortable with the title of being a total athiest. I even had a short bout of studting JW. Hate to tell you Marie, I never really found any church that said anything that I felt like I really wanted to belong. I did run into quite a few pagan/wiccan people over the years, and funny thing is, unlike everything else, I had an interest and no one tried to bring me into it. That is not their style. So I did the research on my own, and I everntually did become a pagan. It is a belief system that worked for me for quite a few years. I really liked a lot about it like having only one basic rule "Do as you will, but harm none". I iked the respect for nature, and celebrating the cycles of the earth. All this made a lot more sense to me then some ficticious creature. Only thing is they do believe in spellwork/rituals, and truthfully, I've had about the same luck with that as prayer. It just got me thinking even more that I coud still respect nature for what it is, without having to apply myself to any real belief system. I don't need to get weird and expect things happen in my life differently because the moon is in a different position. I guess even though I liked being pagan, I realized that since I didn't buy it all either, that I really just don't believe in anything. It tool a whikle for me to reach that conclusion, so don't feel that you need to give up all. Just try to find something your comfortable with and if you do or don't it really isn't a big deal. The Unitarian church is also a very laid back, not so fire and brimstone church, if you feel the need to belong to something.

Regrading what actually made me uncomfortable in the catholic church to begin with? I would say their oppression of women was probably the biggest factor. First it started with the fact that I could never serve mass, (I think they can now), or ever become a priest. I thought confession was wrong. I don't agree at all with the catholic views on sexuality, that basically a woman had to become a baby machine or remain celebate. Sorry, couldn't do either. Of course there were other things. I never felt different after communion than before. Like I said the whole thing begin to appear quite ridiculous to me at a fairly young age.

Where am I at now? Well, at almost 50, I have been around the world and back a few times, and experienced a lot on life. I have done a lot of reading, and have approached things with an open mind. I hinestly do feel that religion in general was created by people and not genuinly inspired by god, so I have decided to abandon it all. Through the years I have studied various views and different religions, and came to the same conclusion. What make this one the word of god, and this one not. My feeling was that if god wanted me to be in a paeticular faith he would make it known to me. Sorry, but I tried and I was always left on my own. God never showed up. That was the biggest problem. Someday you will make your own conclusions, but so far, I haven't found a true church and I'm not looking anymore. Science makes sense, religion is superstition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi again, Marie. My own progression went like this:

 

Stopped attending church, decided I had a problem with the Church but not with god. (~2 yrs)

 

Thought for some months about deism, but after more research discovered that it wasn't a good fit. (~ 6 months)

 

Became functionally atheist, but publically mum on my thoughts b/c I didn't know how to express them. Started reading some philosophy but life concerns (job, relationship) pushed further progress onto the back burner. (~1 yr)

 

Worked through a lot of residual issues surrounding the church and what I had been taught about the nature of god. Became okay with claiming atheism. (~6 months)

 

Currently working through some more books (string theory and secular humanism, I've more or less given up on classical philosophy as anything other than an intellectual exercise) trying to develop a coherent understanding of myself and my place in the universe. (~4 months and ongoing).

 

There is more I'd like to say, but I have to go to the doctor's now and hopefully get something for this sinus infectio. :wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi again, Marie. My own progression went like this:

 

Stopped attending church, decided I had a problem with the Church but not with god. (~2 yrs)

 

Thought for some months about deism, but after more research discovered that it wasn't a good fit. (~ 6 months)

 

Became functionally atheist, but publically mum on my thoughts b/c I didn't know how to express them. Started reading some philosophy but life concerns (job, relationship) pushed further progress onto the back burner. (~1 yr)

 

Worked through a lot of residual issues surrounding the church and what I had been taught about the nature of god. Became okay with claiming atheism. (~6 months)

 

Currently working through some more books (string theory and secular humanism, I've more or less given up on classical philosophy as anything other than an intellectual exercise) trying to develop a coherent understanding of myself and my place in the universe. (~4 months and ongoing).

 

There is more I'd like to say, but I have to go to the doctor's now and hopefully get something for this sinus infectio. :wacko:

 

 

Hi, grad! I hope your sinus infection doesn't stay around too long.

 

Thanks for the thoughts. I guess what I'm really trying to get at is, What happens next? I've noticed that there are very few ex-Cs on this board- mostly ex-Fundies from Florida and its neighboring states. And I feel like leaving Catholicism is a really different ballgame in a lot of ways- and that life after it might go a different way, too. I don't know if that makes any sense, but...

 

The thing is, though, that I can't logically rule out any possibility of a higher power, and I admit that I have a big emotional need to take peace and comfort in something, because this world, and mankind in general, can be horrible. And I crave something above and beyond it.

 

I guess I'm wondering if anyone's journey has taken them to New Age or paganism or Reform Judaism or Hinduism, etc. I find George Harrison's journey from Catholicism to Hare Krishna to be pretty interesting, as an example. Out of all the well-known ex-Cs of whom I've heard over the years, he seemed to be one of the sincerest, smartest and sanest seekers among them.

 

There are parts of Catholicism that I have to admit that I miss. I miss shrines, grottos, Adoration chapels, and some of the less-dysfunctional Lives of the Saints. I miss the smell of the candles, and the thing with St. Theresa and the roses. Sometimes, when I was a kid, I used to pretend those saints were there with me, especially the ones whose big, overriding virtue was their kindness. The story of St. Maximilian Kolbe could move me to tears.

 

It's so incredibly painful to know that someone like me stands absolutely no chance of ever really belonging to that church, even though they've harmed me, even though they've harmed others, and even though I couldn't, and can't, believe what they insist, no matter how many times I repeatedly tried.

 

I never chose to be a questioner or a skeptic. Never chose to have the kind of mind that early-childhood educators like to brand "gifted and talented" (another concept I question...) Never chose a sexual orientation that would bring me no end of grief. Never chose to be an intractable obsessive-compulsive with no ability to cope with things everybody else can manage in life. Never chose any of this shit, despite what the church would say about my supposed "free choice".

 

I want answers that don't crush me. I want to be safe and protected by a Higher Power that isn't playing a cruel game of Musical Chairs with our lives and eternities. I want peace.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Marie,

 

I responded to your other main post but figured I would repond here too. I am an ex-Catholic. Not wanting to reiterate my entire story from my other reply I will say that it has been a process. I am trying not to jump into another philosophy before I rid myself of the old dogma. I too will miss some things about the RCC. The adoration chapel at my former church was beautiful and really a meditative place...and at first it made me so sad to think I would not pray there again. Now I realize I can still have that same feeling without church. I have been studying Taoism and Buddhism, not to become that, but more as philosophies that can be positive influences in my life. I am more at peace about my existence than when I was a Christian. The first fear I had to overcome, and once in a while still fight, was going to hell. Is there a higher power? Maybe, maybe not. I really don't know but am not closed off to the possibility, nor am I willing to put all my effort into church hopping to find out. Every church claims to be the true way to Christ, to God. Maybe we are all God and we have to start looking within.

 

I will say since leaving the church I am much less judgemental and for the first time feel like I can love people for who they are. I no longer feel sorry for people who are agnostic or atheist, or some other non-Christian religion. I feel connected to humanity..realizing that we are all just here on this earth for a short time and should make the best of it. You have to give yourself time. It is hard to stop being something that you have been your whole life. Just imagine now that you can be "you"...without judgement, hell, confession, anxiety about your salvation, etc. Instead of "you are free to move about the cabin".... you are free to move about your life. Embrace it with everything in you and see where it takes you. You can now spend Sunday mornings meditating, hiking, sipping a coffee at Starbucks, in company of a good friend, or hiking in nature.

 

Colette

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ex-RCC here, abandoned it long long ago, went to agnostic, then finally heaved it all in the trash as BS.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, grad! I hope your sinus infection doesn't stay around too long.

A week later and I'm feeling significantly better. Thanks for your thoughts. |=)

 

Thanks for the thoughts. I guess what I'm really trying to get at is, What happens next?

Everyday life. Tiny, tiny steps. No guarantees as to how long it'll take to feel like you've 'arrived', or to what extent you'll be able to go. The good news is, the potential is always there, and no one can stop you if you decide you need breaks along the way.

 

I've noticed that there are very few ex-Cs on this board- mostly ex-Fundies from Florida and its neighboring states. And I feel like leaving Catholicism is a really different ballgame in a lot of ways-
I think so too, as the culture, especially in heavily ethnic Catholic areas, is so very different. Not better or worse, necessarily, but different. There's different beliefs, emphases, traditions that need to be expunged.

 

and that life after it might go a different way, too. I don't know if that makes any sense, but...

I'm not 100% on what you mean here. Are you suggesting that a different background might prompt a different focus in recovery and a different direction in the long term? I'll go with the first, but I think that individual variation would probably rule out any trends for the second. I'd be interested to hear more on this.

 

The thing is, though, that I can't logically rule out any possibility of a higher power,

Well, I am a big fan of logic, but I also think it's important to pick your battles. No, you can't prove a god doesn't exist, but do you need to?

 

and I admit that I have a big emotional need to take peace and comfort in something, because this world, and mankind in general, can be horrible. And I crave something above and beyond it.

Okay, so you have determined it is important to you. The next step, seeing as how proof is going to logically stymie you, would be to ask why it is important to you. That may help you to figure out how to pursue it. (Forgive me if you cover this later down--I am going through line by line b/c your post is dense with info).

 

I guess I'm wondering if anyone's journey has taken them to New Age or paganism or Reform Judaism or Hinduism, etc. I find George Harrison's journey from Catholicism to Hare Krishna to be pretty interesting, as an example. Out of all the well-known ex-Cs of whom I've heard over the years, he seemed to be one of the sincerest, smartest and sanest seekers among them.

Personally, I don't. I'm an atheist, and most of my friends just simply stopped practicing and are more lapsed Catholics than Ex-Catholics. If they have a particular personal spirituality that differs from the Catholic god, they haven't shared it with me.

 

There are parts of Catholicism that I have to admit that I miss. I miss shrines, grottos, Adoration chapels, and some of the less-dysfunctional Lives of the Saints. I miss the smell of the candles, and the thing with St. Theresa and the roses. Sometimes, when I was a kid, I used to pretend those saints were there with me, especially the ones whose big, overriding virtue was their kindness. The story of St. Maximilian Kolbe could move me to tears.

There are only a few things I have nostalgia over. The smell of the candles, and the quiet at midday when you are the only one there. Again, I would go through the process of asking yourself why it is important to hold onto these things...what they mean to you, what influence (good or bad) they are having on you, and what you will gain by keeping those feelings from them. Going into Church history might be helpful, too, as learning more about some traditions might change how you feel about them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's so incredibly painful to know that someone like me stands absolutely no chance of ever really belonging to that church, even though they've harmed me, even though they've harmed others, and even though I couldn't, and can't, believe what they insist, no matter how many times I repeatedly tried.

Do you really think that anyone really belongs? I would really question that assumption, b/c it seems to be an "if only" statement (i.e. "if only I could have been X,Y,Z they would have loved me"). This is something that is common to hear in therapy when dealing with a survivor of childhood abuse (which I am).

 

Receiving unconditional love from one's parents is a necessary part of normal psychological development. It teaches the brain the lesson that "I'm okay." From there self-esteem can be built. However, when a kid doesn't get that love, she will start to try to 'earn' it. But you can't earn something that is supposed to be freely given. And ultimately, when love is not forthcoming, the child decides that she is just not good enough. She didn't do enough to deserve being loved. Unlike those other lucky people, she will never really be loved.

 

Now replace your biological parents with the Church, and do you see what I'm getting at? The Church promises the same as parents do--unconditional love, but from God and not mom and dad. Then it goes and places a bunch of stipulations on your thoughts and behavior so that you can earn god's grace. But you can't earn unconditional love The idea itself is a contradiction.

 

I had to do a lot of thinking about my assumptions of being loved and how I went about trying to be loved (by both my father and god), and in the end I had to come to the terms with the fact that it was not my fault. You can't make someone love you. And when that someone is the Church/god, no one is ever good enough. It is not that you are so bad that you can never belong; it is that no one can ever really belong. They count on you (and everyone else) to keep blindly trying to earn belonging, trusting that you will never question the nature of the game in the first place. It is a psychological trap, and a very effective one. It will probably take you a long time to process this in whatever way you choose to approach it. But recognizing the inherent unfairness of the game they told you you had to play is a big first step. It is not you!

 

I never chose to be a questioner or a skeptic. Never chose to have the kind of mind that early-childhood educators like to brand "gifted and talented" (another concept I question...) Never chose a sexual orientation that would bring me no end of grief. Never chose to be an intractable obsessive-compulsive with no ability to cope with things everybody else can manage in life. Never chose any of this shit, despite what the church would say about my supposed "free choice".

You sound bitter (not saying that's a bad thing). I was bitter for quite a while. At times I still get flashes of it. Do you feel you have any control over your life? This is an important topic to you, clearly. How did the Church tell you you were 'choosing' such things, and how did it make you feel?

 

I want answers that don't crush me. I want to be safe and protected by a Higher Power that isn't playing a cruel game of Musical Chairs with our lives and eternities. I want peace.

No one can promise that, unfortunately. I wish I could be more helpful on this point, but one of the best things I have done for myself is to give up the assumption that there is safety and love (from a deity) out there if only I could (1) find it and (2) earn it. I figured that if the god I wanted to exist DID exist, then I wouldn't have to go searching. I would already feel loved. Since I don't (feel unconditionally loved by a deity), I am not going to spend my all-too-short-life pursuing one, b/c that sets a condition for being loved, and that already disqualifies a potential deity from being something I want love from. Does that make sense?

 

Have you considered what it might mean to you for there to be no god? There would not be the love you are seeking, but there would also be no one to blame for bad things and no wondering why bad things happened, wondering if you deserved it or if it happened just b/c the deity wanted it to. I find I have less resentment and anger now that I no longer personify bad things as things that someone wanted to have happen to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd prefer to hear from ex-Catholics on this issue, because there are a lot of key differences between that and the Protestant fundamentalist experience many of you describe elsewhere. No hard feelings, though, know what I mean?

 

I was just wondering about your journey into other spiritual beliefs (or even just philosophical practices or meditation alone) after leaving the church. How did it go? Where are you now? And what particular practices, dogmas, rituals etc., of the church made things difficult after you'd formally left? How did you get past them?

 

Thank you so much for your thoughts, in advance. I'd really like to have this kind of conversation here. Being neither an ex-evangelical nor a hard-line atheist, I don't totally fit in on most threads, nu?

 

hello.

 

i was raised in a traditional roman catholic family, and though i always had my doubts, i never really decided to leave the faith until i was 16 and facing confirmation. i was going through an agnostic period, and i felt...just not right and kind of ashamed. but i had to go with my gut feelings and tell my parents i was not a christian.(i did drop lots of hints, as they are ver conservative. didn't want to spring too much info on them at once)

 

so...i eventually came to believe that there was something out there...i researched buddhism and liked it for about...two years. then i realized it wasn't completley for me.

 

so i gave up on religion.

 

and just formed my own little belief system.

 

but then a little while ago, i realized i was a Pagan, and so i still am.

 

and quite happy ^_^

 

so, i hope that answers all of your questions

Link to comment
Share on other sites

gradstu, that's...interesting. I'm really not sure what to say to your reply, honestly. It almost reads like you're insinuating that people who believe in anything spiritual at all, or even feel any need or desire to do so much as remain open to the possibility, are just a bunch of needy, abuse-surviving psych cases with Daddy issues. What can I reply to that, except to say that, no, you don't have me pegged very accurately at all?

 

If I'm way off in my understanding of your intentions, then, I apologize. But that's how it came across; and, as I said on my main thread in Ex-C Life, I just don't do the militant hard-line atheist thing. It's just not me, just as religion simply isn't in me, either. If anything, I'm the one wondering about the psychology of the hardcore atheist- anger issues, black-and-white thinking, rigid personality traits, etc.

 

All I really wanted to discuss on this thread was other spiritual paths people have found post-Catholicism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

so i gave up on religion.

 

and just formed my own little belief system.

 

but then a little while ago, i realized i was a Pagan, and so i still am.

 

and quite happy ^_^

 

so, i hope that answers all of your questions

 

Interesting- what sort of pagan; and what practices do you do now, if any? What benefit do you get out of it in life- peace, comfort, something bigger than self, etc.? And what's it like?

 

(By the way, I am a conservative, myself- we aren't all hardcore religious believers ;) )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A conservative what?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A conservative what?

 

 

Politically conservative, Gramp. HTH.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Colette:

 

Thanks for sharing your story. It did help. I had previously studied a little into Zen, Taoism and a few other Eastern paths. I didn't get very far; but I did like what I found there. I still practice meditation on occasion, but not nearly often enough. I've found that there's a lot of New Age silliness thrown in with many guided meditations produced in the Western countries, and it's hard to find ones that don't resort to this. I have a few favorites that keep things strictly secular, though.

 

I miss my local Adoration chapel, too. It felt like the RC equivalent of a Native sweatlodge. It was a cleansing place, when I had a lot on my mind and spirit. I'll always miss it.

 

Thanks again for the thoughts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

so i gave up on religion.

 

and just formed my own little belief system.

 

but then a little while ago, i realized i was a Pagan, and so i still am.

 

and quite happy ^_^

 

so, i hope that answers all of your questions

 

Interesting- what sort of pagan; and what practices do you do now, if any? What benefit do you get out of it in life- peace, comfort, something bigger than self, etc.? And what's it like?

 

(By the way, I am a conservative, myself- we aren't all hardcore religious believers ;) )

 

oh, i didn't mean to imply that all conservatives are hardcore christians. i didn't even mean politically conservative. that was probably the wrong word to use, i was just trying to say that they weren't...open to the idea of me not following the path they set for me. i didn't mean any offense ^^;

 

so, right now, i am still exploring all sorts of different paganism, i haven't chosen one particular practice. i'll probably end up ecclectic though...

 

as for the benefits i get out of it...well i guess i feel very much relaxed and at peace with the world. i love how it doesn't act like any religion i've come accross in that it lets you form your own opinions and never says any conclusion you can come to would be wrong. i love how it's an earth based path...protecting the earth is important to me. i could go on...but basically i just feel complete knowing that there is a religion out there (though i know that "pagan" can mean a wide variety of things, most of which i have yet to scratch the surface of) that fits me perfectly and allows me to think for myself and encourages acceptance and diversity, which was pretty much the exact opposite of what i was brought up with. it is truly a breath of fresh air to me every time i pick up a new book on pagan philosiphy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

gradstu, that's...interesting. I'm really not sure what to say to your reply, honestly. It almost reads like you're insinuating that people who believe in anything spiritual at all, or even feel any need or desire to do so much as remain open to the possibility, are just a bunch of needy, abuse-surviving psych cases with Daddy issues. What can I reply to that, except to say that, no, you don't have me pegged very accurately at all?

 

If I'm way off in my understanding of your intentions, then, I apologize. But that's how it came across; and, as I said on my main thread in Ex-C Life, I just don't do the militant hard-line atheist thing. It's just not me, just as religion simply isn't in me, either. If anything, I'm the one wondering about the psychology of the hardcore atheist- anger issues, black-and-white thinking, rigid personality traits, etc.

 

All I really wanted to discuss on this thread was other spiritual paths people have found post-Catholicism.

 

I'm sorry it came across that way, and it was certainly not my intent. I would appreciate if you would point out what, exactly, put you on the defensive so I can clarify. You seem to have taken it almost exactly opposite how it was intended. I was trying to make the point that to find your best path, I think you (general you) need to remove as much of the old baggage as possible in order to make a free and informed choice. B/c my own path was atheism, perhaps that was taken as a criticism of other paths? Everyone is different, though. I tried to make that clear but apparently did not succeed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, I think being involved in christianity gives a person daddy issues as a matter of course. It was not a direct jab at you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Born into a catholic family (maternal unit formerly a non practicing muslim who converted to please fundy granny) in a catholic country (El Salvador - translated it means "The Savior"). Communion, church on sundays (even as a kid I was the one insisting my parents take me to church), religion classes after school, the whole shebang.

 

I can't remeber exactly how I came to doubt the faith, but it began early. Even as a kid I was somewhat skeptical of prayer and disliked the idea of others praying for me (I was sick for a time age 11 and I would get irked for some reason when one friend of the famiyl said she would pray for me). I even got annoyed when people said "bless you" after a sneeze. Long story short, I had a lot of silent doubts that I kept private until I was in my teens when I realized I no longer believed in the catholic faith, plus that I was angry about it all.

 

I abandoned faith for some time with no problem, but I was drawn to some pagan ideologies. I considered Wicca for some time, but was almost immidiately turned off by how far a bunch of people take the belief (not unlike xtians actually) and think its okay to act out. Besides, I did not beleive in gods at all and many (epecially the goddess worshippers) took issue with that. The only part I really agreed with was the respect for nature.

 

So now I would call myself an athiest, though somewhat of a closet pagan. Nobody knows except anyone who reads the description of the left.

<----

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
Guest BaylorBear
There are parts of Catholicism that I have to admit that I miss. I miss shrines, grottos, Adoration chapels, and some of the less-dysfunctional Lives of the Saints. I miss the smell of the candles, and the thing with St. Theresa and the roses. Sometimes, when I was a kid, I used to pretend those saints were there with me, especially the ones whose big, overriding virtue was their kindness. The story of St. Maximilian Kolbe could move me to tears.

 

It's so incredibly painful to know that someone like me stands absolutely no chance of ever really belonging to that church, even though they've harmed me, even though they've harmed others, and even though I couldn't, and can't, believe what they insist, no matter how many times I repeatedly tried.

 

Though I was never formally a member of the RCC~I can definately relate to the above paragraphs. I once seriously considered conversion, but could never believe in transubstantiation and other RC dogmas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.