Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Indulgences and other Relevant Fees

When I was in grade school and high school I heard rumors about how a lunatic named Martin Luther got away with many misrepresentations about the institutions and practices of Holy Mother Church.

Let’s not be too dramatic. Enough said.

Well anyway. You sit through hundreds and hours of church indoctrination. Indoctrination was easy. You learned that the church might have sold some indulgences in the fifteenth and sixteenth century but it was like the statue thing – not real idols and of course you can ask for prayers and salvation but you can’t buy it with a written receipt in the form of an indulgence. (Talk about the logic of recovering indulgence sellers)

I also remember being told by the nuns that civil marriage doesn’t count in the eyes of the Church. The eyes of God is always another matter.

Fast forward two or three decades. I want to get married. I don’t have any religious affiliation. We both were raised in the R.C. church and we want to do the R.C. marriage thing. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Bad idea. People with limited options only have limited prospects.

Then you go to the local rectory and the local priest, well passed retirement age, gives us the long spiel about how my wife’s previous civil marriage and civil divorce were not recognized by the church. Okay.

Next. The clerics in the Vatican have to examine your request to be readmitted into holy mother church. Time, paperwork, research, official approval. Bottom line - six months minimum to wait and a $2,500 donation to the church. Clerks have to eat too. Excuse me. Could you repeat that?

Well, I can put up with the dogmatic horse manure but when the old cleric starts using biblical language that I understand ( I don’t care about insults to myself ), but are you calling my fiance a whore old man? This is the church of Jesus? Jesus H. Christ??? No. It is the R.C. church INC.

Bottom line, bottom line. Found a Methodist minister, a Christian minister, who married us for a reasonable fee in a local chapel etc. No intimidating questions asked.

Bottom, bottom, bottom line. Hey, I think you still sell indulgences. But who am I to challenge or criticize a big bloated, vested, hypocritical institution that sounds too much like that Pharisee thing in the bible thingy. Do I sound bitter? Yes.

Some years pass and in another planet, Arizona, we find a small old fashioned Christian church who afforded our child affordable and decent Christian education. I eventually joined that church.

I would sometimes remark in jest to the assistant pastor that having been raised in the R.C. church, I was still looking for the horns and tails on these local Lutheran Catholics. Yeah, - they are of the same opinion as are many others. The Roman Catholic Church left them. They did not leave the Catholic Church.

Still bitter? No.

I know how to practice Christianity. I am comfortable with my faith and in a secular world. I am also trying to be a mensch like Jesus.