January 2016 is coming to a close, and it’s already shaping up to be an interesting year.
Back in December I reconnected with an old friend who said he had some writing work if I was interested. Yes. Yes, I was. Last night I invoiced him for my 4th job. While it’s not the kind of creative writing that fulfills me the most, it’s a fun and challenging experience. Also, getting paid for words I write is pretty neat. Writing for someone else has gotten my own creative mojo flowing again. My original novel, which was never anything close to finished, is being rewritten from the ground up. I have an outline and everything.
Conversely, my lifestyle habits are in the toilet. I spent most of the month sick thanks to my own immunity failings and Ruu acting as a Trojan horse of disease. It’s hard to exercise when you can’t breathe. On top of this, my eating habits haven’t exactly been…disciplined. It’s something I need to work on.
We’ve also made it to mass on a regular and consistent basis, which feels good. There are many aspects of my own upbringing I want to pass on to Ruu, and one of them is that of being a practicing Catholic. This is kind of tricky because I’m not a good Catholic boy by traditional standards. Many of my personal beliefs don’t toe the Company line, and for a while it led to a disinterest in practicing religion. So why return? It’s a fair and good question. On a personal level, I believe that the structure of the Catholic church provides is a good foundation for spiritual and mental discipline that pretty much anyone can benefit from whether they believe in God or not. It gave me an essential set of tools to contemplate the universe. Those tools guided me in seeking the divine on my own terms without needing to rigidly adhere to archetypal stories (though, I find many of those useful as well.)
Also, I practice because I think the core message of Catholicism is on the right track: forgiveness, charity, love, community. Yes, this is the core of most non-violent religions, as well as any atheist or agnostic that isn’t horrible and cares about humanity and the world as a whole; but this is the one that fits me like an old, comfy pair of boots, so you’ll have to forgive my bias. The Catholic Church has many, many flaws, and I’m as ready to criticize it on what I see as its missteps and contradictions as any skeptic. The trap many fall into when trying to participate in the Science v. Religion discussion is in pretending that they’re these two disciplines are even having the same conversation, which they are not. Science, which deals in hard, tangible facts, is always self-critical. It’s always fact-checking itself. Religion has a harder time of things because it deals with intangible truths. It’s difficult to fact-check “meaning of life” stuff; but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be critical of our belief systems and amend them when we see they do harm to or contradict our core message.
Without the self-critical aspect of religion–When religion does not develop the prophetic or self-critical function at the core of its message–it is always idolatrous. It will always worship itself.