November 3rd, 2005


Now here's a thing

A conversation earlier today go me thinking about catholicism and how it's always equated with guilt and feeling bad about yourself. I can't for the life of me think why. Apparently, growing up as a catholic, you are encouraged to make a 'laundry list' of your sins to confess each week and do penance for. "I swore, I was mean, I had impure thoughts.." whatever. So you focus on the bad stuff. Right, I get that.

But then you go climb in a little box, blurt it all out, some guy tells you to say hail marys or our fathers, you do that and you're sorted. So you feel bad and embarrassed, then you get given the 'fixer' for your feelings. Confession and absolution. Also, the whole Christian thing teaches that we can't help it - we're born sinners, and no matter how hard we try we are sinful, yet God and Jesus forgive us those sins. We're not responsible because we're born that way, and some deity is going to forgive us for our mistakes. OK, so where's the guilt in that?

Now let me tell you how it goes for those of us who accept personal responsibility. There is no 'sin.' There is conscience, however. There is no confession and absolution. If you do something that is 'wrong' (bear in mind that morals, ethics and conscience guide non-Christians too), first you suffer the consequences. If you're mean to someone, you lose their friendship and you know you lost it through something -you- did. Then you have to live with that. No God to shoulder your responsibility or forgive you. You are responsible, because you know you are capable of deciding for yourself how to behave in any given situation. If forgiveness is what you want, it's a hell of a lot harder than saying "Forgive me father for I have sinned" and saying some poetry.

And of course you have to forgive yourself. Because when you know that nobody is responsible for your actions other than yourself, and your actions have done something that hurts others or makes you feel bad, there's no passing the buck. You have to live inside your own head knowing that it was all you, baby.

So tell me, where did the catholics get the monopoly on feeling bad about themselves?

Traffic lights. There are four kinds of pedestrians. The ones that push the button and wait for the green man, the ones that jaywalk, the ones that push the button repeatedly thinking it'll speed up the lights changing, and those that think it's automatic and the lights will change even if they don't push it. Which one are you?