For Gods sake, this is going to be contentious and I’ll probably upset a lot of people, which is kind of my MO nowadays but I felt compelled to write about this topic which is often untouched and delicately skirted around.
What am I talking about? Religion!
Let me state that although you may be surprised to hear what with my pre-marital coitus and consistent swearing, I am in fact a Catholic. Don’t let my Instagram fool you. And no, I don’t mean I’m one of those ‘Catholics’ who only turn up to church the once so I can get my kid into a Catholic school because my limited intelligence means I think faith-practising schools are somehow better ultimately never to set foot in Church again, oh no. I’m talking about an active parish member, book sale/cake making rotary club going every Sunday communion evangelising hypocritical hymn singing god fearing and sanctimonious Catholic!
You know, a proper one. I go to church religiously! (see what I did there!?). Well actually I stopped going for a while, and this post explains why, let’s carry on here…
I also know, (rather hypocritically – that’s the core ingredient of Catholicism you know!) that the Earth probably wasn’t made by a beardy vague muscular man with a sword and in actual fact was born from the big bang, what with those pesky scientists and all their evidence lead us to believe, but I choose to believe in a God also (wanting my cake and eating it maybe?) because I’ve had experiences in life and been shimmied along paths that I truly believe are beyond coincidence or chance.
Can you believe in both? Course you fckn can.
So I believe based on my beliefs and life experiences that I am entitled to believe in my faith, my god and have my mind opened to what my religion can offer to me. (We’ll discuss this more in a moment)
So what gets my goat is religion in Churches is (from what I’ve seen recently attending a different Church) is this overbearing weight from the ‘hardcore’ , i.e those being over the age of 60, who’ve been going for as long, hate outsiders, or young people or anyone that doesn’t look like they’d understand religion or ‘have not earned the right to be in Church’ and this clique seems to be propagated from the top down (no pun intended) from the Priest right down to the pulpit & the pews.
Isn’t god meant to be all accommodating & accepting? If so, why can’t ‘Beryl’ the Organ player not accept my ass just because I’m not married yet?
Read this really interesting article here from Joe McKeeveer which talks about the cliquish and unfriendly ness of church. http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/joe-mckeever/why-churches-are-unfriendly-and-cliquish.html and here’s another article from the same guy which really resonates with me, http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/joe-mckeever/10-signals-say-you-not-welcome-this-church.html (10 signs your church is unwelcoming)
I’m tired of being the couple in church who because of our age and socio-economic demographic, somehow looked down upon. Somehow made to feel like we have to work to be part of this secret club, I mean really? No one has a problem when I’m teaching at their parish schools, or donating to their new roof or helping out at a charity event, but woe-betide I darken the doorstep of Church on a Sunday to do Holy Communion and strike me down for speaking out about how the Churches I’ve been to are run like splinter cell enclaves of hardcore religious elite where if you can’t quote every passage of the bible in Latin you’re not ‘in’.
Sorry this isn’t how Religion needs to work in the modern world.
Some Churches make religion so unaccommodating, so unapproachable and so unfriendly that younger generations are put off in droves. Priests, Vicars, my white collared brethren listen up, you need more than Beryl, you need the young to sing your praises (oh dear) and encourage new generations to attend Church.
The world has changed and religion needs to change to exist with relevance and meaning in the modern world. It simply has to.
I’m not talking about one big party, or taking away from the weight or seriousness of people’s beliefs and subsequent religion nor any disrespect to the faith, the church and those whom devote their lifes to it, really I’m not. I respect that. But Catholicism can’t be like the Borg from Star Trek, People can’t be punished passively by overzealous priests for not assimilating in the ‘right way’ surely?
I’ve often thought Churches need to be run like start-up businesses, as often they are like start-ups, with little staff and absolutely no money so here’s a few ideas:
- Your religion in plain English lessons – a bit like a translation service for those who want to get into and understand religion, have tried reading the bible since school, and want a helping hand to make it relevant to them. Think young parents and those who maybe aren’t as well educated as others. This could be done over a coffee morning, with the priest offering a drop in session a couple times a week.
- An open door policy – one who accepts those who want to go to Church, don’t know where to start, don’t know how Holy Communion works, have never been to a service before. Not knowing when to go and get your symbolised blood of Christ and what to say doesn’t mean you don’t have faith, it just means you have never done it before and Churches need to explain the rules to all these to newbies. Don’t think it matters? Tell that to ‘Beryl’ whose been glaring from her pew for the last 20 minutes because you don’t know the words to All Things Bright And Beautiful. (maybe you’re more a 50 Cent person)
You know that thing schools do sometimes, where they take something historic and weighty and try & turn it into something modern and more relevant, you know like Shakespeare (Macbeth) on a Council Estate using Rap to explain the meaning or something, well why not do that for religion?
Look Churches & councils, you need people. You need people to attend, consistently and regularly. You need people to want to, not just out of blind faith – those people are dying out, and you’re in danger of running the churches dry. I’m totally aware the Churches do AMAZING things for the parish, and the communities they support, that’s one of the reasons I have faith, BUT you have to stop doing it with the weight of judgement on people.
Religion has to change if you want to capture the young, I’m becoming disillusioned and I’m right at the edge of the X gen/Millennial demographic. My children, and their children, although will be faith practising will be at risk of having their religion cease to become relevant, practising their faith in more accepting surroundings that in the future, probably won’t look like a church.