I’ve spent a lot of time, in this last week, reading back over my old posts, searching for something that I’ve been told is there. I scan through the words, and I remember the feelings behind them. I pause, occasionally, to wince at the occasional typo that snuck its way in, but I do not linger to make corrections, because that’s not what I’m looking for.
I’m looking for ‘hate’.
I was told recently, by someone close to me, that the point of last week’s post had been lost, buried in my hate for the dominant religions, and in particular, for Christianity.
The accusation shook me, because this blog has been, for me, a labor of love.
There is no room for hate here, and looking back over my past writing, I cannot find any.
Oh, sometimes I am angry, but anger does not equal hate. Hate is unreasoning, born for its own sake, and feeding upon itself. Anger, particularly that which is born from injustice or cruelty, can rise up to shake the pillars of society. Anger gave us a free nation devoted to the prospect of liberty for all. And when we found that the promise of that nation had faltered, anger gave us women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement.
I was raised to believe that one should be angry when presented with injustice, cruelty or bigotry.
I was also raised to believe that we should examine all those things which are claimed to be truth, with a critical eye. I’ve turned that criticism upon the dominate faiths, upon Atheism, and upon those within the Pagan and Polytheist movement, whenever I have felt the need. I will continue to do so.
Faith and belief need testing — otherwise they are mere trinkets we carry along with us from childhood.
I was raised to believe many things.
Some of those I have kept.
Others I have abandoned along the way because they had no value to me.
I have been told that disparaging the things that people were raised to believe is hurtful and insulting. And maybe that’s true, but I’m far more concerned with the things we choose to believe than the things handed down to us from our parents.
Our parents are flawed creatures, just as their parents were, just as we will be in turn.
We are not some isolated tribe, holding on to a knowledge that will vanish forever, if we do not pass it on to the dwindling generations to follow. Those days have passed, perhaps never to return, and we find ourselves in an open land where the beliefs and assumptions of the previous generations can be tested, and when found lacking, set aside in favor of new traditions.
For some, that is a sorrowful reality. For others, it represents an opportunity to grow beyond the seemingly arbitrary limitations society would set upon them. We can correct mistakes that were made long ago, and abandon injustices that have been built into our society over hundreds of years.
This is a time of great hope, and it is that hope that shapes my work here.
I was raised to question assumptions, to feel anger when presented with injustice.
I was also raised Catholic, but I never really fit there, I never saw the same church as everyone else.
This is the church, this is christianity, as I see it…,
A thing both beautiful and deeply flawed.
The edifice was once mighty and graceful, if a bit austere, but is now crumbling into the ivy, and all the more lovely in its decay and humility.
The specific chapel, pictured here is part of Creevelea Abbey, in County Leitrim, Ireland. It was built by my ancestors and their graves are set into the floor, very near to that sweeping, vaulted window. I have visited many churches in Ireland, and when I walked in that space, nearly a decade ago, I felt the deepest reverence for the history in those walls, and in my connection to it.
That connection, to the faith and traditions of my ancestors is part of what makes me who I am. But that church is only part of the story. The ceiling is gone, the stones are weathered with age, and the forest is calling. The path which I walk in reverence, urges me in other directions, along some trails so old they were nearly forgotten when the first stones of Creevelea were set in place, and others so new that no one can know where they will lead.
I may question, or criticize, or thunder in anger. But I cannot hate, lest I despise myself.
That is not what I was raised to believe.