So I think I understand what Hilts is saying to a point, and I think his attitude towards the Church resembles lots of Catholics', and that that's great. I'd like to point out that when I blather on about the Catholic Church, I'm not trying to turn anybody away from it just because I turned away from it, but deep down that might not be true because in my heart of hearts I'm still pissed Mum just converted. But in my conscious head at least, I'm not trying to turn anyone away from it.
Sugar may disagree, and so may millions of others, but I feel like religious faith is a beautiful thing - that most spiritual disciplines, except the very stupidest, offer some sort of helpful framework for approaching your relationship with the world and your fellow man, and that for children especially it can be really helpful - a sort of series of parables instructing you on how to love when your raging id just wants to slash and burn. I'm glad I grew up Catholic for what Hilts talked about - the way it taught me to love people for their humanity if nothing else, to figuratively speaking turn the other cheek (though I usually didn't), and a sort of beautiful pantheism teaching me that anything I hurt is all of us, or God, or whatever, so it's best not to hurt things.
So I spent my childhood thinking Catholics should act in love and tumbled out of Catholicism when that thought smacked up against the reality of the Church. The love of women that could be communicated through ministry is devalued completely with no good excuse. The love between a man and a woman is treated as a distraction from God rather than as a reminder of Her superpowers. And that's ignoring the distinct lack of love present in so many of the Church's actions and policies over the last 1000 years. Coincidentally since they stopped letting priests get married, to make sure there weren't any disputes over the inheritance of 'Church' property. Men have always told me not having sex for awhile makes them lose their minds a little bit and I think the history of Catholic ministry is a good way for them to argue that case. 'Babeeeeee . . . I'm hurtin' . . . . you're going to make me set up an anti-papacy in Avignon. . . '
And so much of it for crass, worldly political expedience. Liberation Theology was shot down by the Vatican when the people who needed it the most, needed it the most. The choice of an old-fashioned (if pretty fucking hot when he was young) Pole to lead the Church during turbulent times because he was an anti-Communist from a Communist country. The assassination of John Paul I, who would have let us all wear condoms even if it meant cutting down on the growth rate of the flock . . . not that all those impoverished people aren't going Evangelical these days anyways because it's so much more fun with the singing and the dancing and the babysitting and the useful social assistance and whatnot - okay, I'm getting a bit anti-Mel-Gibson here, but ten bucks says it was an assassination. Come on, it's the Catholic Church we're talking about here, not Mohatma Fucking Ghandi.
Hilts isn't quite sure if he believes in God as such - I do - I can't explain it, beyond saying that I always feel that there's a great warm beautiful overarching thing in the universe that desperately, desperately wants us all to not fuck up. And my relationship with that thing will always be more or less Christian because I was raised with a great bloody loving Jesus as a daily figure. It will also always be more or less Catholic because the Church has so many ways to help us approach that figure that are part of my brain forever and that I wouldn't part with, like the saints and his mum and meditation and mysticism and all the rest of it.
But Daddy is right - the Church is rotten - and the people who love the Church need to struggle to reform it so it really is about love again, even if it's just one parish at a time, even if it results in Colonel Ratzinger and his Flying Monkeys excommunicating them. I bet that's what Jesus would do.