Saturday, July 06, 2013

I Shouldn't Be Happy ...

Parents.  They give you unconditional love ... they are there for you through thick and thin ... and they can dish out guilt like no one else on the planet.

My mom is amazing.  I love her so much ... and I've apparently let her down ... again.  She's a faithfully practicing Catholic ... and I've gone to church with her nearly every Saturday since my separation.  Despite the fact that Saturday is a date night ... and that trivia and house parties and birthdays and showers and everything else falls on that day ... I tried not to miss too many times.

I only went for her.  Despite her hoping that one day I would have a breakthrough and suddenly get something out of mass ... it just wasn't happening.  In the beginning, I had hoped it would become a habit and I wouldn't mind it so much.  But the truth is ... each week it got harder and harder.

Today I called to see if she wanted me to drive ... and she said no.  From now on, she's going to go by herself.   She says I've made it clear that I don't want to be there ... and it makes her uncomfortable.  She'll enjoy mass more if I don't go.

Now ... there was, as intended, the initial wave of guilt.  I told her, "I'm sorry I made you feel that way ... but I understand."  Then, when I hung up the phone, there was a wave of unbridled glee.  I love her so much ... but I don't think I could've taken much more.  

While I am deeply sorry that I disappointed her, the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  This month was going to be especially hard.  Why?  The church is celebrating the "Fortnight for Freedom" campaign.  What is that, you ask?

The Catholic church doesn't think their insurance policy should have to cover birth control for their  employees ... despite the fact that the pill can lower your risk for certain cancers, clear up acne, alleviate painful periods, help with PCOS and Endometriosis.  There's a dozen reasons to take the pill and none of them mean you're being sprayed with sperm on a daily basis.

During the last mass I attended, the bishop lectured us for 20 minutes on how they were above the law.  Health benefits shouldn't apply to their people.  The Catholic Church would rather their employees either pay for the pill themselves ... or just suffer through the pain.   I guess I'm taking this more personally than I should ... but this is personal.  Before my surgery, my last period went 45 days ... I couldn't stop bleeding and the pain just ... didn't ... stop.  But hey  ... I just wasn't praying hard enough, right?

In any case, during his tirade, I leaned over to Mom and said, "If they like using the pulpit to talk about politics rather than God, perhaps the IRS should reconsider their tax exempt status."  The monk sitting behind us heard me ... he wasn't happy.  Mom obviously wasn't happy.  And so ... I've been politely uninvited to mass.

I firmly believe that ... if there is a God ... that you can speak to him anywhere.  I don't need to sit in an uncomfortable pew to do it.  I don't need to give up my weekends to do it.  I love my Mom ... but I am so glad I don't have to dread Saturday afternoons anymore.

I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean
Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box
Religion is the smile on a dog
I'm not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean

Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians - I Know What I Know


  1. I'm a pretty convicted believer, but the churches have it wrong about the birth control issue, no matter what they believe about birth control.

    Churches pay their employees to do their jobs. When the paychecks are handed out every other week, they come with no real stipulation about how those checks are to be used. The church may believe buying and using ______ is wrong (or sinful, or immoral, or whatever), but as long as _____ doesn't get in the way of job performance and as long as it doesn't sully the reputation of the institution (this second stipulation may be tenuous from a legal point of view, but I mostly believe it from a practical point of view), the employees are free to do whatever they want with their hard-earned pay.

    Churches have to stop thinking of the new health care laws as paying for birth control. What they are paying for is healthy employees, or if they can't understand that birth control is a health thing, they are paying for individuals' ability to take care of themselves the way they understand that to be. There are some out-there practices (valid or not) that health insurance companies don't cover, but whatever they do cover is stuff that they've decided is in their best interest to cover, and since the insurance companies are money-grubbing scoundrels (sorry; I just realized I don't know what field you work in. My assessment stands, but it's offered with an apology!), they don't offer birth control coverage just to be nice: they offer it because it means better customer health (that is, more money for the companies).

    In the cases where it's the government forcing the companies to offer birth control as coverage, it is our nation saying that we are all better off when people have access to birth control. Employers can agree or disagree if they wish, but disagreeing on moral grounds with, say, stop signs at intersections isn't good enough to disregard them.

    Churches could make all this conflict go away simply by following the law, convincing itself (rightly) that they are paying for their employees much-deserved health, and looking the other way on the birth control, having faith that if their doctrine is sound and if they can make a compelling case for it, their employees will CHOOSE to make health-care choices in line with the tenets of the church. Because that choice is at the heart of all doctrine, believe it or not, going back to the original man, woman, and forbidden fruit.

    Dang; why am I wasting these words here, on someone who I suppose I'm already in agreement with? I should be posting this in my own oft-neglected space. Maybe it's just to offer you sympathetic support from someone on THAT side of the religious throng. I'm still taking my place in the pew, but I understand and respect (and sometimes envy!) your decision to leave me there.

    I'll save you a space, though, just in case. <3

  2. Hey there, Scrivner! Sorry I haven't written back sooner ... juggling a few things over here. But ... you're right on the money. You're preaching to the choir ... but that's alright. I appreciate a good sermon! hahaha :)

    I'm with you 100% ... whether their insurance pays for birth control ... or whether their employees pay for it out of pocket, the bottom line is that church funds ARE being spent on birth control. As you said, they're simply getting a healthier employee out of the deal, regardless of their moral standing.

    That's one of the things that Mom and I disagreed with that night. Her opinion was, "If you don't like their stance, don't work for them." My opinion was, "If they HONESTLY look out over their congregation and don't believe the majority of fertile women sitting there aren't using protection ... then they're delusional." They're putting their employees AND their followers in the position of breaking church law simply by controlling how many children they want to have. How does that MAKE SENSE?

    Mom argued that the Catholic Church wasn't against birth control ... only "artificial methods." After all, they taught classes on the rhythm method. I almost choke on my outrage on that one ... because the rhythm method works SO well ... said Catholic families of the 50's and 60's with 15 children.

    I know ... we're just preaching at each other. I just can't get past this. And I respect and admire that you're still going ... quite honestly, if it were a different parish I might feel differently? Maybe not. I told Mom I wanted to try a different location but she "belongs" to that parish and she wants to go to "her" church. It doesn't matter. I wasn't able to hide my disdain for their policies ... it was making her uncomfortable ... and I genuinely don't want to make her uncomfortable in her faith.

    And ... on the plus side? My Saturday nights are free again. I spent last Saturday night with Stoney and J at Buffalo Wild Wings and had an great time. And ... I wasn't struck by lightening once ... :)