Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Musings

Here goes another serious post, damn I hate when this happens. Actually nothing particularly funny is going on around here, so instead of posting nothing I'll just stick with this.
This morning as I got on the bus to go to my driving class (why, oh, why didn't I do this at 16?), I was "invited" to attend Mass this weekend by one of the mothers from Vio's class. She commented that her daughter mentioned that Vio was doing her catechism at school instead of at the local parish (have I confused you all enough now?). I answered that "Yes, it's nearer by and much more convenient". I thought it would just get left at that. Then she went on to ask if we usually attend Mass in town, and I said something along the lines of going to another church (Actually, we've been to Mass all of two times in the past three years). By this time I was ruing the day that we decided to move to a place where everyone knows your business, and if they don't then: a) they just moved here and b) they will make it their business to find out as soon as possible. Next, this well-meaning soul invited us to join them for the family Mass in town this weekend. Now I had to think fast, and I mumbled some excuse about this weekend being a long weekend (Tuesday is Labor Day) and possibly being out of town. This was met with complete silence.
It's not that I have anything against organized religion, and after all our kids do go to a Catholic school, but I just can't deal with people who try to push their religion on you. At least the Catholics, in general, are less pushy than others. I can remember countless visits from Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses in college and here in Spain when we still lived in the city. I'm sure they really believe in what they are saying, and I respect their right to worship as they please, but they just don't take "No" for an answer. Once I got so fed up that I said "Sorry, I'm a Druid." That left them with their mouths hanging open, and after that they mostly left us alone. Lucky for us they don't usually get down to the boondocks.
I knew that the whole First Communion thing could get us into some uncomfortable situations. For starters, I am Protestant (yes, my husband and I even had to get permission from the Bishop to get married), which for most Spaniards is pretty much like not being Christian at all. On top of that, I'm not sure exactly what I believe, I mean how do we know for sure that the whole thing isn't just the invention of some man's feverish imagination; I have my doubts one way or the other. In any case, I think that if you do believe in God, you can find spirituality just about anyplace, in nature, in people, without the need for any organization to tell you how to live. I don't think any sermon has ever changed the way I live my life, I try to be happy, take care of my family, and not to hurt others. For his part, my husband is a biologist and believes in science, and pretty much considers himself an atheist. But, our daughters truly believe, they don't even question it, and at this point I think they should at least have a religious education and participate in the most important ceremonies. They'll have plenty of time later to ask questions, have doubts and make up their own minds.
So, I dread when people start asking questions, especially in a place where religion is taken so seriously. In Seville and the rest of Andalusia there's lots of religious fervor at certain times of the year, the most important being Semana Santa (Easter Week), but Navarre is filled with truly devote day-to-day Catholics. After all they do say, "If you are walking down the street in Pamplona, and the man in front of you is not a priest, and the man behind you is not a priest, then the priest is you."
Hey, writing this post is almost like going to Confession, which, in my opinion, is one of the best inventions of the Catholic Church. Getting all your sins off your chest really lightens your spirit. Let's see, I said "Damn", I lied this morning, I told a joke about priests....


  1. I agree with you. I dontæ really know where I stand on this whole religion platform of decissions, but i sure don´t like somebody else pushing me into one direction or the other. I love to go to church, mostly when nobody is in there and breathe. That si when I feel closest connected to "whatever is out there and bigger than I am".

  2. Hi Minka, I like visiting churches too, especially cathedrals, something that motivates people to build things like that can't be bad.

  3. I agree with Minka: I love going to churches when no one is there. It just feels more soulful that way. I think this is largely why I got into Art History- for the Cathedrals.

    I think it is great that you let the girls believe. So many people want to direct how their kids feel about such things. I feel weird here in the Midwest too; I am always strangely silent when the people in my Mom's groups mention stuff about Church.

    I love your Druid response. I have met more Mormons here in Nebraska than ever before, though maybe that is because I am at home now and not at University. I always feel so frustrated afterward, because they bulldoze me. I don't know if I would have the nerve to say something like that, though.

  4. I know how Michelle feels, I used to have the same feeling.Now when someone knocks on my door to talk about religion I just tell them that I greatly respect what they are doing(I reallly do ,I don't think I would go door to door)but that I also have my own believes and that I do not want to discuss that further and that I hope they respect that too. It always works so far and they always leave on a pleasant note.You have to be very selfconfidant when you talk to them and really believe it yourseld if you know what I mean. As for Theresa, I would just tell the people how you really feel it is so much easier. You have a right to feel that way and it is great to give your girls a choice because in the end it is very personal what a person wants to believe.

  5. I tried telling all the Mormons and Jehova Witnesses that I just wasn't interested, and sometimes that works, but some are very persistent. The Druid thing was with one of those.

    If people ask I explain, but it's complicated because here everybody is Catholic, some more than others, but Catholic nonetheless. In the U.S it's no big deal because there are lots of religions, so people see it as normal, but here they don't have a lot of experience with this whole thing. It's kind of like trying to explain a Spaniard's lack of planning ahead to a Dutch person, and vice versa, I think most of them just don't get it because they haven't lived it. I don't mind discussing it with people I know well, but with those who are just aquaintances I simply prefer not to get into this topic.

  6. Ya, I guess you're right, they don't have much experience with other religions and think it is the most normal thing to go to the catholic church.