Tag Archives: guilt

Guilty by Association

I quit the Catholic Church when I was 13. Hadn’t really been into it for a few years at that point.

Just joined a Christian church, which is essentially alternative Methodist, a couple of weeks ago.

How much responsibility can I take for the horrors that have occurred in the name of Jesus?

My mother has been a devout and practicing member of the Catholic Church since she joined as a teenager.

How much responsibility must she assume for the horrors done by the decrees or the turned eye of the Pope?

The guilt of the individual as member of a religious group is something I hadn’t considered until recently.

First let me state the ways in which I feel I myself have been harmed in the name of Christianity (mostly by way of Catholicism):

  1.  soul-crushing guilt
  2.  a very dysfunctional and unhealthy view of sex
  3.  an image of a demented, angry, vengeful God who is an old man bent on tricking, coercing, threatening and bribing people to bow down before him. Or else.
  4.  the fear that truth comes from outside, that one cannot listen to one’s own inner voice, that one cannot trust
  5. the guilt and hopelessness that come from the belief that any negative/bad/unpleasant thing that happens is my punishment for being so wicked
  6. a focus on the negative, hell, the evil one, sin, the essential badness of humanity, etc.

I’m sure there are other effects I haven’t even thought of. But I have lately read enough about Jesus by people who seem to genuinely understand him to realize that throwing Jesus out with the bathwater is wasteful for me. For me. Allow me to emphasize, for me. I do not and will not subscribe to the belief that it’s my way or the highway. It’s my way for me, your way for you. If there is some kind of a judgment day, I’m going to have to answer for what I’ve done, and that’s going to be a big enough task without my having to answer for what others have done.

My goal in aligning myself with a Christian church at this point is to have an outlet for the deep desire I have for togetherness, for observable manifestation of Oneness, for the opportunity to serve the community at large through established channels. As much as I profoundly enjoy my solitary study and communing with the One, I know that I must at some point enter the world and apply what I have learned.

Just this morning I read this in the Hua Hu Ching as translated by Master Ni, Hua-Ching:

“My venerable teacher, should one spend all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation in order to remain above all worldly conditions and maintain absolute mindedness?

Kind prince, one who spends all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation for this purpose is establishing his mind to do something in a certain, definite way. By doing this, he clearly does not practice absolute mindedness, but instead demonstrates the narrowness and partiality of his mind. He cannot reach anywhere or become any kind of super-being. You see, the practice of absolute mindedness is not the practice of stiffness. That which is stiff belongs in the company of the dead, whereas that which is supple belongs in the company of the living. The mind should be like clear water that is always flowing smoothly. One should not designate a specific time or place in which to practice absolute mindedness, but should practice it in all aspects of life, whether essential or trivial.

My venerable teacher, should one intentionally and completely avoid all worldly troubles and activities for the purpose of practicing simplicity and keeping the mind clear?

Kind prince, if there are no worldly troubles and activities, where can one practice simplicity? Simplicity is the key to handling the troubles and activities of daily life. Simplicity is the law; the manifold, multiple forms are the events. Use the law to govern the events. This is the meaning of simplicity in the larger sense.

I want to expand my spiritual studies out from the realm of me, sitting in the early quiet hours of the morning by myself, reading and contemplating, and put them into action in the realm of Us.

Christ Church is, from my current point of view, my best option to achieve this goal.

But I recognize that by entering into association with a group, I am assuming responsibility for things done in the group’s name. Past things I had nothing to do with? Present things that I wasn’t in on the planning of? Future things that my input is not solicited for?

An interesting issue that I will revisit as more insight and information becomes available.

Diaper Guilt

As someone who considers herself a natural, alternative, bordering on the hippie kind of Mama and homemaker, my guilt over using disposable diapers has been excruciating, but, hey, since my last child is showing signs of potty training, it’s almost over.

On Ghost Mountain, Lompico, California, circa 1990 -- Back in my seriously hippie days

I lodge no complaint against the holier-than-thou attitude of the cloth diaperers. I know they are in the right, fulfilling yet another of the requirements of the “Natural Living” standards that gets you in the club. I completely ignore the ECers (“elimination communication,” where apparently you follow your barebutt, legwarmer-wearing child around with a bucket all day) since who even wants to reach that kind of saintliness. I’m only human, after all.

But how many of them have gone totally carless for nine years, like I did? Relying solely on a bike with bike trailer or buses, whether rain, shine, gale force winds… no matter what? (And yes, this was with two, then three kids, not as a single childless person!)

Yeah, I thought so. They toted their righteous poop catchers  home in some kind of earth-polluting monstrosity. (And hey, even the electric cars are tied to resource depletion, so don’t even start with me!) My near-decade of pedal power has to count for something.

I did try cloth diapering for about three months with my third child. This was during the two years I didn’t have a dryer, but had to either use the clothesline in the back yard or, when the Oregon weather would piddle for days on end, I’d have to use wooden racks, shower rods, the backs of chairs, etc. (Yeah, and how many have done THAT? So see, I do have some karma in the bank…)

After the three months it just sucked unbelievably bad. Like not even worth being in your lousy club bad. Maybe if I’d had the money to invest in the fluffy-bunz-smooshy-cozy-ne’er-do-leak covers and the pre-fold-half-caf-double-back-flip-twisted inserts, it would have been a true joy. But with some old hand-me-downs and some stuff I found at the thrift store being the only diapering system within my financial reach, it was beyond craptastic.

So as I begin to wonder which will be the last pack of evil throw-away pee soppers I’ll ever buy, I can also feel myself relax into the possibility of being a real, 100% grade A certified natural human, once I’ve shed this terrible addiction to convenience.

You’ll have to excuse me, now, I think I smell something untoward that’s gonna put another black spot on my record…

AP and guilt

I was raised a Catholic, so I’ve got a head start on this guilt thing.

But I realized yesterday as I was making cookies that AP (Attachment Parenting) and Natural Living has become all about feeling bad.

It’s not enough for me to make my kids a good meal for dinner. That alone doesn’t make me a “Good Mama.” I have to have a treat ready for them afterwards.

And it’s not enough to buy some cookies at the store. A packet of Chips Ahoy isn’t going to win me that “Good Mama” badge. I have to provide a homemade dessert.

And it’s not enough that I make a treat from scratch that they love. In order to feel genuinely good about it, I have to let one of them help me.

And it’s not enough to allow their assistance. I can’t express one tiny bit of frustration, irritation or, heaven forbid, anger, while we make our treat.

I’m not saying anyone in the NL/AP world is trying to make me feel any of this. I’m just saying that these are the words of self-flagellation that torture me on a daily basis.

Does it not defeat the entire purpose of moving toward a better life if along the way (which is all there is) I am going to be a miserable wretch?

Isn’t the point to cultivate a life of meaning, love and joy?

Can you get there by way of constant, unrelenting negativity?