Please welcome a very special guest to the Extreme Christian, her name is Cheryl Nicholl and does she have an incredible and thought provoking story to share with you.
So sit back, relax and enjoy my friends, and who knows you may just learn something.
Join award winning satirist Cheryl Nicholl in her Kingdom at A Pleasant House, as she chronicles the Elegant Decay of Midlife while dancing at Royal Balls in really expensive slippers, traveling the Globe by private carriage, gardening naked at midnight, making the King crazy, and over-stating the obvious. It’s a gift.
I was raised Catholic.
My mother was French Canadian Catholic (There is hardly a more devout group).
The challenge was, that in our small northeast Ohio village, there weren’t many- Catholics that is (or French Canadians for that matter-zilch). Chagrin Falls was full-up with Protestants, Episcopals, Lutherans and Methodists. Very white. Very proper. Secrets kept.
Our little parish had a Parish Hall, a Church, a Residence for the priests, and a small school.
I attended Saturday religious instruction classes, which were followed by Saturday confession, and Sunday Bible study that was followed by Communion.
Until I was twelve.
At twelve I had had enough- enough with the Nuns. Enough with the blind obedience. Enough with the illogical answers to logical questions:
“Why is it Eve is the one to blame for Adam disobeying?”
“She tempted him.”
“So, why did he eat the apple? Why didn’t he just say he wasn’t hungry?”
“How could Noah know how big to build the Ark and how did he get pairs of animals on the boat that didn’t even live on his continent? Like the Kangaroo? We’re studying Australia in school and…”
Or this gem:
I’m eight. I’m in the confessional. Father Wolfe asks me what sins I’ve committed since last Saturday. I can’t think of a one so I make one up, “Father, I killed a dog on the way to the school bus.”
“Say ten Hail Mary’s and eight Our Father’s.”
No guidance. He didn’t call me out. He was okay with the lie.
I wonder if he crossed himself?
I, on the other hand, drew a sigh of relief. No signs of the cross forthcoming.
And, finally, the last straw:
Our Parish received a new handsome young priest when I was in seventh grade. All the girls were crazy about him, as 12 year old girls are wont to be.
He started weekend camping trips, but just for the boys.
The boys were excited- a camping experience just for them.
It seemed down-right unfair to me.
“What? That doesn’t seem fair. I want to camp too.”
About a year later, on a Monday morning at regular school, I noticed one of my male friends was acting different.
He dropped out of sports and didn’t come to any more dances.
He got quiet.
He stayed quiet.
I never asked him why.
(Over three decades later it would come to light that that very handsome young priest had been sexually abusing boys on those camping trips.)
I believe that all Religion is humanity’s attempt to understand the unknowable, bring calm to fear, and create civil behavior among an aggressive species. I believe it is, by its very structure, always abused, because Man constructs it.
I belong to no Religion but am open to understanding all of them and reserve the right to discard the imposters.
I believe that Faith is necessary to soldier on, to get out of bed, to fall in love.
I believe it is, by its very nature, personal, not something you will always find in a sermon. One must find ‘it’ deep within oneself, but that a longing for faith can be filled with misguided promises.
I have Faith. I carry it close. It is mine and no one else’s.
I believe in Belief that great men (and women) have walked this Earth preaching Love and Understanding, and Tolerance. I believe they have had a profound effect on humanity and I am thankful for them.
I also believe, that there have been far more people who are not in the least interested in forwarding a message of Love and Understanding and Tolerance. Their motivation is power and their currency is Hatred and Fear and Singular.
To know the difference between this dysfunctional relationship we call ‘Religion’ and Sublime Guidance in the often challenging circumstances of life, is through the ability to discern between hearing and listening, between hatred and inspiration, between acceptance and tolerance.
Let’s start by paying attention.
What a story, really gets you thinking doesn't it? What’s right for you, may not be right for someone else, so do what you need to make it through this world of ours and allow others the same respect.