Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Priest and me

I had a very nice time in Kansas. The group of gentlemen I usually spend my time with while in that fair state are lots and lots of laughs (and when it comes down to it, what else do you need to have a good time).

The wedding itself was on par with my past Catholic Wedding experiences (save one very traumatic wedding where the beer served was deceptively nonalcoholic-eeeeek!). A big thanks to Floyd and Dan for the fun times.

So, one of my wedding highlights was peaked during the priests speech about the meaning of the word "love" in Greek. There are several versions and I have certainly heard this bit before. But, I recalled reading the Gnostic Gospels which includes the book of Mary, and I wondered when it was translated into Greek, which word was used to describe the love between Mary Magdalene and Jesus ( topic that fascinated me throughout undergrad).

So during the reception, the Priest was there, and I went up to him (and yes, I was a bit drunk) and talked a little shop. In college, I was close to two of the Jesuit priests. In fact, I believe that if I were Catholic, certain about God and male, I would have been a Jesuit because they are some of the best people I have ever known.

Anyway, this priest was not a Jesuit, but he was very nice and didn’t seem to mind my rambling at all. I first asked my initial question, but he wasn’t familiar with the Gnostic Gospels. I will try to compose some of the more interesting bits of the conversation I remember:

Priest: What faith are you?
V: Christian Church, I mean protestant, but I went to a Jesuit college so I think a lot of Priests.
P: Well, you’ll be a Catholic before too long.
V: I doubt it. I don’t like the direction the Church is going in.
P: No, what do you mean?
V: Well, I am a little frustrated that you all spend so much time talking about abortion.
P: You don’t value life? Don’t you value you mother’s decision to keep you through her pregnancy?
V: Sure, but I mean more politically. I think you are a shill for the Republican agenda.
P: That’s interesting, even with our social justice stances?
V: I like those stances, but nobody listens to you on those anymore. They just take your anti-abortion and run with it. I think it’s crazy you all let them use that the way you do.
P: We have many other issues and give considerably to Catholic charities and orphanages.
V: I know, I like a lot of what you all stand for. But look at what you have leading the parade. In front of your own church where the ceremony was today you have a “Life if Sacred” billboard. It’s not about the poor or forgiveness or anything like that. There are neighborhoods in Wichita that have living children and people that need more help than unborn children.
P: But we can work for all these issues.
V: I guess you can, but you don’t. Republicans get you all riled up here in the red states and you elect idiots who agree with you on ONE issue when there are democrats who agree with you on every other position. And why wouldn’t Republicans do this, you all have a lot of power in these communities.
P: That’s interesting.
V: I mean I was at your church a couple months ago and there was a table outside the sanctuary or whatever with several brochures on the evils of abortion and an actual plastic fetus doll thing. There was no information on helping the poor in Wichita or anything. I just find it frustrating as someone who believes in many of the teaching of Jesus and many of the positions of the church. I know this church is one of the most important in this community. And, think of all the good you could be doing if you used the anti-abortion energies on something that would actually help those in poverty.
P: I understand your frustration and you have given me some things to think about.

A little more of the same and it was time for me to go. The Priest and I talked for about 45 minutes. I really respect people who are able to talk openly about something they hold so close and in fact, dedicate their life to. Of course I thought I was right, and he also did, but it was good to talk openly about something that can make people feel uncomfortable.

I was taught that you cannot believe in anything unless someone has challenged you on it and challenged you again.


Blogger Patrick J. Fitzgerald said...

Jesus Fucking Christ, V! You kicked his ass. Brains AND a body, what a woman.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I think you brought up some great points, V. I hope he really listened and will take your thoughts under consideration. (althought I doubt it)

Seriously though...it is great that you had that discussion. I think more people should talkt to heir church leaders about the same (or similar) issues. The priorities of churches have always been very interesting to me.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Priests, surprisingly enough, can be opened minded people in terms of debate. It's part of their background.

I was educated by Jesuits as well, and talk about men who can kick ass. When I was about to enter a Jesuit school for my grad work, the priest who was Chairman of my Department said to me, "Now the Jesuits are going to get their hands on you," which was his way of saying "If you think I put you through hell and back, you're about to really get a taste of it." Good post.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who do you think you are? he spends his life dedicated to helping others. talk to me when you come close to that.

and no im not catholic. i just think you're awfully proud of yourself for having been kind of an asshole. but hey, your blog friends are giving you props, so that's somethin'.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

: Sure, but I mean more politically. I think you are a shill for the Republican agenda.

YOu think that guy gives a shit about politics? I doubt it. At least I hope not, and that's coming from an agnostic. He was just trying to humor your drunk ass and be polite :-) Which is what most priest are subjected to on a daily basis. God fucking bless 'em!

7:58 PM  
Blogger The Senator said...

I respect you a lot for speaking your mind in a fairly constructive way with that priest. All Catholics should read this.

Good work.

I used to work in a Catholic Church, and yes, all priests care about politics in one form or another. It is part of being a Catholic in America. You can pick up a flier in nearly any Catholic Church that speaks to your duty as a Catholic to be involved in government (or politics) in one way or another. This doesn't mean you have to tow the R/D lines or even run for office, but at least be aware of what is going on.

Congratulations to you for being honest with power.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Elvis said...

V, great work. I totally agree. I'm a good Christian. I was very close to one of my pastor's in law school. But I oppose this direction of some religeous institutions at home. For example, while in Africa, among Catholic missionaries, none of them spoke the way I hear now. I don't know if it's political, survival, or audience, but I found less emphasis on the issue of abortion, etc. Over there, it was all about making people's lives better (spiritually, etc.) Same in the Phillipines, etc.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the priest couldn't get a word in edge wise!

The priests that I have encountered have all be very open-minded and are generally quite educated and willing to debate and discuss the issues.

But, there is a time and a place for such debates, and I personally believe that your friend's wedding is neither the right time nor the right place. Were you drinking when you had this conversation with him? This is because, based on the conversation you typed in your blog it sounds like he was just humoring you. Think about it -- you speak 20 lines of stuff to him and he responds with little one liners. That's definietly NOT a debate of the issues, but rather a man placating a drunk girl.

Don't you think he'd be more willing to discuss the issues with you if you approached him sober and coherent? Perhaps you have done this before, but if you have then your post is not the greatest example of a theological debate. Also, did you call him a fag to his face, or is that just reseved for your comment section (see yesterday's comment section for reference)?

You are nothing but a classless and tacky young broad. Very, very, tacky.

10:42 AM  
Blogger V said...

Elvis: I heard similar things as well. It's def politics that have changed the church.

Anon: Chill out and don't be such an asshole. I did talk a lot but he had some good points, too. I didn't include the entire conversation, but we also talked about how nice his parish is, friendly the people are, my religous background, lovely wedding, bride etc.

Also, I think a friendly debate is great almost anywhere social where the parties are willing. The priest actually said he really enjoyed talking to me, and I am supposed to e-mail him soon, which I will.

My experience is that priest's get their asses kissed a lot. I am sure it was fun for him to have a little banter...at least that's what he said. If that's tacky then so be it, I guess I am.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll stop being an asshole when you stop being an asshole by dissing my religion by calling priests "fags". As a gay, Catholic male, I view you as being the asshole in the situation. Peace.

12:59 PM  
Blogger V said...

Look gay, Catholic male, it was a joke. Ha ha.

How the hell do you get through life being so damn sensitive? I would never mean to be derogatory toward gay dudes or Catholics in general--as I stated, I have a great respsect for priests...you're just being a hater.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

You kick ass V! Good for you for speaking your mind in an open and direct manner. And good for the priest for listening to what you had to say. I hope that he really will continue to think on what you discussed.

7:18 AM  

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