The G word

The G Word

Hi! My name is Francisco and writing this post is probably a bad idea 🙂

In case you don’t know, I was born and raised in Spain. My country’s history is tightly entangled with the Catholic church. It’s a relationship that started many centuries ago but has been very important until recent times (and still is). When I was born my parents decided to not baptize me. At the time it was kind of a big deal in the family. I’ve been told that my grand parents on both sides weren’t happy about their decision. But my parents had a very clear idea. Let him grow up and decide by himself, don’t force anything on him.

I remember when I was like 10 or so, all my friends where going through the holy communion. I wasn’t and to be honest it made me feel weird. I still remember how I felt. I felt excluded. I wasn’t “part of the team”. I seriously thought of asking my parents of getting baptized and going through the process like everyone else. I don’t remember asking them so I’m just gonna say that somehow I was mature enough at that age to realize it was a silly reason to be baptized.

When I started high school at 12 my parents made me go to the optional (not for me) religion class. I went to that class for the following six years. We talked mainly about Christianity, Judaism, Islam. I think we scratched the surface on some others, but I don’t remember. The focus was on Catholicism,and we regularly read parts of the bible. But for me the stories of the bible were just that, stories. I think by the time I finished high school I was considering myself an atheist. The main reason is probably my aversion to organised religion.

Did I mention that even though my parents didn’t baptize me they took me to a million churches (approx.)? When I was a kid we traveled a lot and visiting churches was a big part of what we did. I came to hate it but now, with age – and wisdom, some at least – I truly appreciate it. Those churches and cathedrals are true art pieces. They are also a display of what the Catholic Church is and has been over the centuries. An organization that has done a lot of good – that is undeniable – but has done a lot of evil too. Wars and massacres in the name of good, the use of religion to attain power and riches, the hiding of horrible acts by members of the church – yes, I’m talking about pedophilia and others.

We find different cases outside of the Church. We have imams that have supported acts of terror, used their influence to radicalize young believer or even be active agents in terrorists organizations. In India there is a recent history of religious violences, mostly between Hindus and Muslims but it has also affected Christians and Sikh. There are many stories like these around the globe. None of them start with the faith of someone in God(s). They start with someone that is put in a position of power, a place where they can poison the minds of people that are looking for answers or the confort of faith.

Where was I? Oh, yes. So, after finishing high school I can’t say I thought much about God. But recently I’ve found myself thinking about It more. It’s gonna sound like a joke but I think what triggered it was flying. I’m clearly scared of flying and moving to a country that is 7,000 km away from my family has made me get on a few planes. I’ve seen myself asking God for a safe arrival a few times (damn turbulences). How do you ask for help to a being that technically you don’t believe in?

That made me think of the concept of God itself. I asked God because that’s the language tool that I have. But it’s not the religious god – the supernatural being that I was asking help. It’s more of an ethereal concept, a force that might or might not exist. There are things, there are questions I have that I can’t answer. And I don’t think anyone can. How did it all start? The universe is expanding? Cool, but expanding through where? There are many things that science can explain; but there are as many that can’t, at least for now.

I don’t like (and/or believe) in the idea of God that has been popularized by religion. The omnipotent “man-or-woman” that has created everything. It is too much of a human idea to be the truth. At the same time I can’t discard the idea that there is a force that gave origin to the universe we live in and that is a concept beyond our comprehension. It could be a force with a will or something closer to the idea of Mother Nature – something that balances itself but it doesn’t have a will. In the end I don’t have proof of anything, so I can’t discard anything. I guess that makes me an agnostic more than an atheist. To be honest I don’t care much for the title.

Photo by JAVI ARJI on Unsplash

The humility of the Catholic Church

On our trip through Spain we’ve seen a lot of liturgical art. Spain is a country deeply connected to the Catholic Church. For centuries, their influence on the people, the kings and the governments was huge. That makes for an extensive collection of architectural work, sculptures and paintings, that is either in the hands of the church or has religious motives.

Throughout my life, I’ve travelled all around the country with my family and seen countless examples of this type of art. But never before I felt so profoundly offended by it. It is not only the fact that for centuries, we’ve wasted the time of our artists with religious work. But the fact that all this art, specially the one seen in churches in cathedrals, is in direct conflict with what the church preaches.

The intricate work seen on these buildings is full of gold, marbles and other expensive materials. The grandiosity of these very same buildings. The extremely complex altarpieces. All of them are nothing else than displays of greed and arrogance.

This is an institution that says that killing is a mortal sin. But at the same time, in the 12th century, they created a group inside their organization to hunt, judge anyone they considered heretic. That lead to a countless amount of killings. Probably most of these people were innocent.

In recent times, the church has been involved in a  number of scandals. The most notorious being the alarming amount of cases of pedophilia inside the church. Instead of denouncing, the church decided to hide these cases, becoming a partner in crime. That’s just horrifying.

This type of attitude seems to be the normal for an archaic institution that has done a lot of harm to mankind. And we’re still waiting for an apology that we can truly believe. As I found out while writing this post, the pope John Paul II apologized for a bunch of things the church has done in the past. And to lot of people too. But how can we take his word as the word of the whole institution? They keep lying and hiding the atrocities perpetrated by their own people.