Morally Turning Inward

As a young person, I was raised in a certain type of household. My father was Spanish-Basque and Catholic. My mother was raised in a very American family with 4 children, little connection to a church, and a mixed lineage drawing from midwest farm culture. I think that this must have been a difficult experience to have survived. It appears that my Grandmother fell in love with someone she was not meant to be with. And the child born of that relationship was rejected by her small community. I can only imagine that being young, unmarried and pregnant in the 1940s in the midwest was a dangerous and vulnerable position. My grandfather was a good man. He smoked. He drank. She found him. A lonely boy fresh out of the military. Do you know what it’s like to have lost both parents before the age of 9? Maybe you do. But at least now maybe you have thought about it. He was raised by sisters and aunts and sent to a Catholic elementary school where his left hand was tied to the chair to keep from using his dominant left hand. The left hand is associated with devil, right? When my grandmother got involved with my grandfather and already had a child, he could redeem the loneliness of his childhood. They became a family in 1940. My mother born last of 4 came in 1951.

The Raven Club is a salty old bar. Locals still haunt the place and regulars call each other by name while sports play in a constant din in the background. Have you seen any interesting neon signs recently? The one that hangs out in front of Club Raven has a black image of a raven whose neon wings flutter in slow motion as if it were going anywhere. It mocks you. This is where my folk met in 1984 or so. They got pregnant. Eloped. A year or two later got married in a church. I was there for a bit. My grandparents and aunt asked me if I was tired took me home and I didn’t get to see the rest of the ceremony. My mother converted to Catholic Christianity, attended RCIA classes, read during mass and eventually taught in the Catholic school system. I was raised in Sunday School, reading the Beginner’s Bible, religious education in school and CCD classes culminating in Confirmation in the 8th grade. I took morality seriously. I deeply wanted to be a saint. I wanted to be pure. Whoever was teaching us in that school-church education system did a great job extolling the heroic virtues of the Church’s saints. They were build up into heroes. There was a magic associated with them. I feel like we may be the last group that will experience these saints in this way.

After abuses, sex scandals and disillusionment with the hierarchy and clergy, I feel that people view the Church with disdain, unfortunately. I do see, however, people are sincerely devoted to the ideals and mission associated with the living church as it was intended to exist instituted by Christ according to His mission. I am reading a biography of Saint Therese of Lisieux, in which, the author laments the diminished role of women in the Church. And it seems absolutely important that we understand how the role of women has been established in the minds of thinking people in the western world. As much as theology can liberate, it can also confine us to ideas that are violent and destructive. Religious zealots are constantly looking to affirm the patriarchy. The dualism that was understood by the Greeks and St. Augustine has created a lot of this problem.



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