Dear catholic church:
It’s been a while. You haven’t changed one bit! You still have the same manipulative face I remember from years ago. How nice! But, wait. Have you gained weight?
I must warn you that in this missive I recur to the use of expelatives. Please rest assured that still, like back in the day when you and I were one, I use them more for comedic purposes than as a form of insult. Except for when I’m trying to insult. Although, catholic church, I was never able to convince you of this quirkiness of my personality, was I? No; you frowned upon me and reminded me what an undeserving sinner I was being for using such words! Oh well. Also, I recommend you read this letter in a British accent because it is scientifically proven (by me) that Brit-speak makes everything sound ever more elegant.
It was a bumpy ride for you and I, wasn’t it? I hadn’t brought myself to organize my thoughts about you, until well, I did. And this is the culmination of my soul-searching, or what you would call my being heretic. Ah, semantics schmantics!
Have you noticed yet how I insist upon referring to you simply as catholic church? The reason for this is that I don’t believe you, or the god you created for your convenience, deserve the courtesy of capital letters in your names.
You and I, catholic church, we go back. Way back. It all started shortly after I was born, with my christening. My parents brought me to you in an action based on love I’m sure, with the certainty that they were doing the best they knew up until that point. Even now I remember being quite young and wondering out loud why do babies have to be baptized, only to get for a response an obvious “to free them from original sin”. The unspoken implication that babies are filthy and awful until baptized stuck with me for years. Unbaptized baby? Gross.
Yes, catholic church, such is your appealing charm! Because — heaven forbid– should we ever dare believe we are born complete, beautiful, perfect and amazing! No, no, no, what tragedy that would be. Besides, by setting “us”, the baptized, aside as true deservers of the grace of god you weed out the (ugh) unbaptized trash. You know, those poor lost souls that refuse to join your flanks, and need your fervent –albeit condescending– prayers. If they only knew of the wonders within you! Because obviously, forming part of your ranks is guarantee of morality, never-ending love and compassion. Except for when it isn’t. Like when one of my buddies in church group ended knocking up his girlfriend, marrying her (because that is the law of god, of course!), only to beat her and abuse her physically and emotionally throughout their marriage. But serves her right because bitch must submit to her husband’s will, right? That’s what you told me in so many of the masses I attended.
And speaking of mass, I must admit this is quite the shaky territory for me. I spent many years resenting you deeply for the countless hours of childhood I lost every month in your pointless gatherings. But then, one day I realized I should be thankful! Yes, because sitting in church provided the opportunity to perfect the art of spacing out, talent which would later prove extremely useful in my need to mentally escape school, my other ex to whom I shall write a letter soon. But I digress. Back to mass. Oh! Before such an important detail escapes me, you know in your temples, those imposingly huge and life-like figures of the blood-dripping christ? Really. fucking. creepy. And totally unnecessary, if you ask me. As a child, more than once I had nightmares because of this. Your jesus terrified me. But then again, that’s probably what you were going for, anyway. Fear. ‘Cuz that’s how you roll.
When I hit my teens I was your perfect catch– young, insecure, desperate to fit in. You can’t deny the fact that I was a trooper: Church group! Religious retreats! Special masses! Church fair! Worship concert! Raffles! I did it all, all for you. But then, my dear ex, things started to, how shall I put this… not add up.
I think it all began with the money. Your constant need for money! It was difficult to quiet my mind when the possibility of questioning first took me by surprise. Why all the money if I thought that for the poor was the kingdom of heavens? I would shush myself immediately. The nerve of me, not trusting what these wise men (always men) say! Add to that the visible luxury in the Vatican, with its abundant invaluable works of art and gold, and the costs of rings, chains, and other pimp-like accessories so traditional in your pope and his bishops, and my stomach wanted to turn. Thoughts of Where is the preaching by example?! Where is the love for the poor?! assaulted me and left me scared. Many times I wondered if you were being greedy, but it wasn’t until too long ago I finally said it like it is: FO SHO’ BITCH IS BEIN’ FUCKIN GREEDY!
Then the falling-out-of-love continued when I noticed how you are with women. Why would it be such a terrible thing to have a woman for a leader, church? What is so threatening about a priestess? Is it just that you’re stubborn and set in your ways? Because even if you allege to have legit reasons why a woman can’t lead your troops, nothing you say will hold as valid in my book. Women are human beings, just like men. You’re just not being fair.
You’ve gotten away with so many things because you’re a sneaky bitch, church. Though I can’t say the same about your priests. I won’t even talk about the idiot of a priest that served in my local church, who kept asking for money to fund “renovations” when the only renovation I kept seeing was his pimped-out truck get even more pimped-out with wider wheels, full audio/bass system and whatnot. The same idiot that was later caught in a shady neighborhood buying cocaine. Maybe he was looking for something to dip his communion bread in? His masses were so boring I don’t blame him for wanting to put an extra kick to it.
Every sin I can think of I have seen embodied in one of your selected leaders. In the case of vanity, there was once a priest (or bishop? or something equally fucked up like that) that was standing outside the church after mass. When we were done talking with him, he extended his hand to have his ring kissed. Seriously. I recall clearly the instant awkward feeling of something being terribly wrong. Like I’m being violated. Not in a physical way, obviously. And I certainly don’t mean to subtract importance of the pain of those who have been physically violated, but that’s the most accurate way I can describe it. I don’t care if it was meant to be a sign of reverence, respect, or whatever (and why should I revere him, or anyone else for that matter?) . It was stupid and really disgusting, and part of me (the sane part) wanted to tell him to KISS THIS while offering my middle finger. Instead, I did as I was expected to. And I felt dirty.
I also won’t talk about the part in which your asshole representatives, those who speak in YOUR GOD’S NAME abuse children, because that’s like beating a dead horse. Your followers remain blinded, as they know about this and do nothing. I give them the benefit of the doubt because perhaps they honestly haven’t awakened to the power in their hands to change this mess around. They still give you money without realizing they are helping fund these abuses, the injustice, the broken innocence of children. For the first time in my life, I feel free enough to say it: Your followers, those who give you money, knowingly or not, are paying to have children raped. Does that sound too radical, church? Because my intention is not to ruffle any feathers, heavens, no! It’s simply to put some light on the fact that, by ignoring, your followers are accepting. By sponsoring you they are sponsoring ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING you do, including rape. But I won’t talk about it, no.
The people who believe in you will say that I’m judging the entire institution because of a few bad weeds. They’re only human! They’re not perfect! Only god is perfect! (biggest lie ever, by the way). They still defend you, even when you have toyed with their emotions more times than I can count. Remember? All unbaptized dead babies go to limbo. Oh wait! New memo: There is no limbo! I could almost see your earthly leaders smacking their knee while laughing hysterically We fucking got them… AGAIN! Haaaaaa!
At this point I will be fair and say that obviously not everyone is bad, not everyone is awful. I’m sure many of your people live beautiful lives, put their money where their mouth is. I know that there is still some good left in you! And many out there still believe and cling to your every word. And you know what? That’s ok. If it helps them in any way to feel happier, fuller, with more love for themselves and others, then I’m genuinely happy for them. Sadly church, for a while now I’ve felt like the good are the exception to your rule. To put it simply, the impunity behind atrocious acts in your upper levels lets me know for sure that I did the right thing when I left you to never look back.
You must know today, church, it has taken me years to identify, disassemble and re-arrange so many patterns of thought you gave me. Precious, timeless gifts that I accepted without questioning, such as the story about Mary being a virgin, how the poor are the only worthy of heaven (which resonated in my head with guilt whenever I thought about the awesomeness of being a millionaire), the threat of burning eternally in the fires of hell, or the so many illustrative stories you offered on rape, killing your enemies, sacrificing your son if god tells you to– only you won’t have to because GOD WAS KIDDING. Psyche!
Something else you must know about me, church, is that after breaking up with any boyfriend I had the habit of getting rid of any present he had given me. You were not the exception. I feel at peace that these pearls of wisdom will not be transferred to my daughter’s mind, at least not by me, and not by force of sheer, boring, monotonous repetition in your masses.
One idea that I’ll be particularly happy to not pass along is hell. Hell. Hell? You had quite the bunch of imaginative/drug consuming/lie telling/all of the above people writing your script! Too bad I don’t believe you any more, catholic church. Otherwise you could still bully me and threaten (or is it gently guide? Lines are so blurry with you I get confused!) me into behaving the way you want.
On the other hand, the idea of heaven was appealing– for a little while. Then, upon further contemplation, I concluded that it just sounds really fucking boring. So let me get this straight: I have to be a fucking boring prude all my life so I can continue being a fucking boring prude in the afterlife– FOREVER? Bitch. Please.
I know better now. My heaven is here. My heaven is now.
I look back and regardless of all the things that happened between us, I’m pleased to discover I don’t hate you. Hate is a word that I choose not to use often. I disagree with you. I do not accept any of what you, the church, represent. I have made my choice understanding that others will make theirs’, and that you serve a purpose in some peoples’ lives. I’m cool with that.
Yes, it’s been years since you and I parted ways — or, better said, since I severed you off like a gangrened, useless limb. If any of the stories I heard in all those church retreats were true, right now I should be stealing, doing drugs, sleeping around, and generally being an immoral, sad human being. Ironically, this is the happiest I have ever been in my life, church. I feel like when I rid myself of you once and for all, I found me. And, you know what? I really like me. In fact, I deeply love, respect and honor me.
Lastly, and pardon my forwardness, but may I ask you a favor? If any of your clan members feel the need, the call, or the obligation to pray for my soul, let them know that although I have nothing against such practice, they can completely skip any parts about “helping me find my path back to the heavenly father” and save themselves some time. He is not my father. How can you even know if it’s a father, why not a mother? Oh, right. Because you made him up.
I don’t blame you for our break-up, catholic church. I really don’t. I blame myself for not questioning before what was going on around me; the implicit messages you give; your need to use shame, fear and degradation to keep your herd in shape.
I don’t blame you because I know with all my being that our relationship shouldn’t have happened like this in the first place. Maybe if I had been given a choice — just like I was allowed to freely choose who to vote for, and who I will spend my life with– there’s a chance you and I wouldn’t be exes. Maybe we would be cordial acquaintances, courteous to each other, with an opportunity to decide for ourselves if we want to mingle further. But I also know better than to dwell on the what ifs. I’ll just assume that you and I weren’t meant for each other. And, actually, that thought brings me peace.
For all of these reasons, I now give my daughter this gift. The gift of choice.
P.S. If you’re a believer and read past the first bitch and fuck, I MADE YOU SIN! HA!