I'm talking, of course, about religion. We've all gotten the question before: "So, what religion are you?" or "What were you raised as?" or more ambiguous still, "What do you believe in?"
Well, I'm a little shithead, so I like to answer the questions as follows:
*Deep breath* "Baptized Lutheran-raised Catholic-then raised Methodist-then Catholic again-went back to Methodist church-went to Catholic church-fought with mother over staying Methodist. So yeah, that."
"Raised as? Um, well a woman for the most part."
"Believe in? Geez I dunno, I'd say booze, long makeouts, lipstick, Harry Potter, and books. Oh yeah and God too, I suppose."
But, as much as a shithead as I am, I answer those questions like that in my head. Out loud I give the nice answers everyone wants to hear:
My religious journey has been a confusing one with all the church-hopping over the years. My mother wasn't particularly religious growing up and my dad was raised in a good Hispanic Catholic home, going to Catholic school until college. I was the first child so when I was born, I picture my parents having a moment of, "Well fuck, we need to baptize her I guess...but as what?"
I have a feeling they closed their eyes, lined up all the Protestant denominations, and pointed randomly, landing on Lutheran. I have a couple memories of the Lutheran church growing up, mainly child-like memories like the white steeple and the slow moving fans in the hot congregation. I thought of myself growing up as Christian, nothing more and nothing less.
After a couple years, my mom got the feeling my dad missed the Catholic Church, so we went to Holy Family instead when I was in 4th grade. I had my First Communion then and my First Reconciliation. I thought communion was fun because of the pretty white dress, but found reconciliation to be a bit silly...which I still do.
On September 11th, 2001 the next year my mom felt the Church had abandoned her and decided it would be better for our family to go back to Protestantism and chose the United Methodist Church. I was there through 8th grade, going through Confirmation and everything. I loved the Methodist church, from the worship style to the sermons to our female pastor. The UMC saved me in some dark times when I was 13/14 and spiritual mentors were plentiful.
Once I went to DSHA (Catholic high school) my mom got the idea (noticing a pattern here?) to go back to the Catholic Church. My mom converted and expected me to do the same. My brain was thinking, "What the fucking what?" My junior year of high school my mother insisted I go through Confirmation with my fellow Catholic classmates. I don't really know if she got I was already confirmed in another denomination.
I stomped my feet and screamed, "NO" repeatedly, begging her to let me go back to UMC. She said that as a family, we had to stay together religiously. She asked why I was so against Catholicism and I rattled off my reasons:
*I have nothing wrong with Catholics, but I don't like the Church.
*I don't believe in transubstantiation.
*I don't believe in the saints.
*I don't believe in papal infalibility, or the power the pope has in general.
*I disagree with the Church acting as a political vessel at times.
*I disagree with the practice of reconciliation.
*I don't like their worship services.
*I disagree with the male-only priesthood and the celibacy laws.
And so on and so forth. But none of the arguments made a difference. To my mom, I was being a defiant little derp, and I was. Defying my mother on religious grounds felt entirely badass to me, like something she couldn't get completely angry over. It was this fine line I walked and lead to many arguments over the years.
A couple months before my mom died my junior year of high school, she finally agreed I could go back to UMC and didn't have to get confirmed (besides, I kept spouting off blasphemy, on purpose of course, during classes...I think the instructors were getting irritated...). It was a battle of three years and my mom and I resolved it finally, and I'm thankful we did before she passed away.
Unfortunately, having to fight so hard against Catholicism in my early teens gave way to a bit of resentment toward the Church overall. And even after all this time it hasn't gone away entirely. Yet fighting so hard for what I believed in, and do believe in, made my faith that much stronger. It opened my mind up to more religious ideologies and made me more tolerant in my everyday life.
I'm thankful for that struggle and I know my mom was trying to do what she thought was right for me and my siblings; she wasn't trying to hurt me. In a weird way, she helped me religiously more in those years than anything else. Coming up with new, clever ways to argue against your mom can do that to you.
If you're up there mom: sorry for all the arguments, but thank you for honing my argumentative skills. You have dad to thank on that one for teaching me so well how to present a case.