Ditching the Cult

For those who’ve read some of my previous blogs, you know that I grew up with a fundamentalist faction of Catholicism, complete with glorification of the 1950’s and a worshipful view of the Latin Mass.

Those from the outside probably think me an idiot for not leaving sooner. I’d had my fill of the tyrannical guilt that parishioners freely threw around by my mid 20s, but since I had attended a college and had a degree, I was convinced by anyone that my doubts stemmed from the “modernist infiltration into [my] thinking.”

Linked to that was the ingrained desire of every human being to be loved. Commitment to the “Traditional” church was required in my family, to the extent that I was threatened with disownment for missing Mass a few times.

For me, it wasn’t enough to walk away. The whole thing held my attention like an impending train wreck. I felt confused and violated. I wanted some sort of revenge and for the world to make sense. Everything I knew as reality was anything but reality.

So I started trolling Trad Catholic sites, listening to podcasts and reading or rereading the books upon which the movement was founded.

As the factual evidence stacked up against the Trads, I grew more angry, eventually targeting certain authoritarian personalities on the Facebook pages. Not ironically, most were men who implied and sometimes directly called me a hysterical female when they were left no other recourse to win the argument.

As far as they knew, Trad Catholic World was perfect and impervious to all flaws, and I eventually realized I was wasting my time trying to convince them otherwise. They didn’t believe a dark side could exist in any person or family that belonged to their exclusive group.

Obviously, reality is much more complex. Even some saints were once sinners, and just having membership in the Catholic Church didn’t magically redeem them.

My dad often commented that all the problems in the world would be resolved if everyone just converted to the one true church. Of course he meant the rendering of Catholicism which he believed and taught as being solidified in the 16th Century.

If his theory were true, why had there been so many wars and disagreements even in the Middle Ages? Why had the Protestant Reformation happened?

He didn’t appreciate my challenge on that point and basically told me I hadn’t been receiving the Sacraments faithfully enough to understand what he was saying.

I finally got my fill of that attitude and cut ties with all sources of Trad Catholic rhetoric including my family. I can understand why many people lose faith in religion and even God, or belief in any higher power, when faced with illogical arguments like that.

Every religion has lunatics in one variety or another. Even atheism has a fundamentalist version. Ignore those people and study what the religion actually and officially teaches.

I’m finally starting to internalize the fact that I can’t rely on armchair apologists for guidance. They have so distorted my understanding of reality that I have to rebuild my own understanding and sense of the spiritual, and hope God forgives my mistakes.

That may sound bleak, but after nearly 40 years of being told there’s no way I can ever go to heaven, that’s very optimistic.


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