Day by Day

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Religion and Politics

At church today, the priest gave his homily and brought up the subject of Iraq. What he said made me grit my teeth, and the theme was echoed throughout the rest of the house. I've been chewing on it ever since the end of Mass, and I think I finally have enough of a coherent thought to write about. Pardon my ramblings, though, because I'm still all over the map mentally.

During the homily, the priest brought up the fact that we were in Iraq, and stated "We haven't been so nice to some people, have we?"

No Father, we haven't. But you're doing both your church and this country a disservice by bringing that issue up without finishing it. Those soldiers from the photographs are being punished for what they did. Got it? While the fifth column press has been dribbling out a picture here, a picture there, making sure that the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was a front page news story for weeks straight, those soldiers who did those crimes are facing trials right now. One of them is already in jail, assured of at least a year in Ft. Leavenworth and a Dishonorable Discharge. He's only the first of many people who will face the music.

But the press doesn't want you to know that. It doesn't fit their agenda. So they try to make you think that these things are still happening. They want America to think that the US Army regularly tortures and abuses those prisoners under it's care. It's still going on, a picture here, a picture there, with the underlying message of it all being hammered home every hour on the hour by leftist pundits and "journalists". America is evil. America is bad. Just look at what we did. We're failing. Failure. Failure. Quagmire. Viet Nam. Failure. Horrible. Quagmire. Failure. Awful. Failure.

Failurefailurefailurefailurefailurefailurefailure.

You just bought in to all the lies, Father. Hook, line, and sinker. And do you know what really bugs me? I haven't heard too many prayers for our young men and women who are currently in harm's way. I wonder why that is, Father? Why can't you simply pray for our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen and Marines, without adding some coda or addition on to the prayer, Father? While you speak soft daggers into the back of every service member, currently serving, discharged or retired by trying to rip the scab off of a healing wound yet again, you are dancing like a puppet to the strings manipulated by people who want America to fail.

If people want to know why the Catholic church is having problems, I think this Sunday would have put it all into perspective. I know I don't normally write about my religious beliefs on this blog, and I try to keep my faith from being broadcast or coloring much of what I write. I do honestly think that religion and politics are best kept separate. But tonight was just a little too much. These are thoughts that have to come out. The service just didn't seem to be quite real. The music was uninspired and quite honestly, cheap. Fake. Empty platitudes set to music that drags along without any life.

The churchgoers themselves were too casual, dressed in street clothes, as if they just can't be bothered to show any respect to God in his own house. I saw one woman there in her gym outfit, from the looks of it. At least, I'm calling it a gym suit, because the only other reason to wear a skin-tight hot pink sweat suit is to try to get laid, not exactly what should be someone's number one priority in church. One man showed up in jeans and an Indy car t-shirt. Would it kill him to put on a decent shirt? You don't even need a tie with it, but a shirt with a collar and buttons up the front, is that too much to ask? You are supposed to be honoring God, celebrating his love and his gifts, would it be too much of a task to clean yourself up a little bit? Seriously, just splash some water on your face, put on a good shirt, and you'd be surprised what a difference it makes! There's a reason that the phrase is "Your Sunday Best".

And then the homily, I'm sorry, but praying for peace is one thing, castigate people for an action that occurred months ago and is being investigated, it's perpetrators punished? That doesn't fly, Father. Associating the crime of a few people onto the entire Army, Father? No, I'm sorry, that doesn't fly either. The moral relativism shown in these matters doesn't fly. Chiding people for defending themselves against a group who's sole purpose is to kill, to destroy, to massacre? That doesn't fly with me either, Father. Pray for peace, but remember that God helps those who help themselves. God said to turn the other cheek, not to allow yourself and your people to be massacred, murdered in your sleep, or in your homes, or killed on a bus. God didn't say you should just sit there and allow every aspect of your life to be destroyed in a flash of murderous religious fervor hunting for seventy-two raisins, Father.

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I grew up in a church that no longer exists. I can remember singing in the choir when I was in Jr. High and High school, and we were singing Latin Hymns in four-part harmony. For Midnight Mass we sang the Mass of the Shepherds, in Latin. I can still remember some of it, if my hum the melody. We actually learned the "Hallelujah Chorus" for the farewell Mass of a beloved priest, who was being transferred. I think that Handel brought Sadism into the Catholic Church, as any soprano who's sang his music can attest.

I can remember looking at the pews and not seeing one t-shirt. I can remember that kids might be wearing sneakers in church, but anyone resembling an adult was in good shoes or polished boots. Even cowboy boots had a fresh coat of polish on them. People tried to look decent in church, even if it meant putting on an old button-up shirt and a pair of worn leather shoes. And the quality of the clothing wasn't really what mattered, it was the fact that they took the effort to improve themselves before walking into the House of God. Church is the reason I first learned to tie a proper Windsor knot.

I can remember praying for the President, for the troops whenever they were deployed, and I can remember when speaking ill of the Armed Forces was considered the epitome of bad taste.

Am I nostalgic? Perhaps. But there is a reason that the churches in this country are having a bit of a hard time.

I do enjoy quite a few of the changes that the church has undergone. Priests with a sense of humor are always a plus. Much of the reforms that the church underwent seem to have brought good results. But how much has the church lost in all of this?

This isn't a crisis of faith on my part. I strongly believe in God. As I jokingly stated many moons ago, I have two unshakable religious beliefs: 1) There is a God. 2) I'm not it. But I wonder how much the Catholic church has moved away from my beliefs, how much they've changed.

I just might need to find a new church.

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