Thursday, February 20, 2014

Real, Not Roman, Catholics

It has been amazing to me that, throughout my life, no matter where I live, the women with whom I've had the closest friendships with have turned out to be Roman Catholicism-based. Very few of them have been "practicing" Catholics, but their missions to always seek to do good in their communities seemed to come from the marrow of their bones. I can only attribute this to their Roman Catholic educations.

I lived in the Bible belt, more than once, in order to escape the seething spirituality and accompanying misogeny of New Orleans. This didn't work for me, as it only led to different religious rituals, all incorporating varying degrees of female falsehoods. I'm back home in Louisiana, with all the women who could have been burned as witches a couple of centuries ago. Maybe the reason I can stay is that, instead of burning New Orleans' most famous voo-doo priestess, the bishop in New Orleans allowed her to recreate her rituals in the cathedral courtyard. This seems consistent with most of the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" flavor of the area.

For the last two days I have basked in the women who have most greatly impacted who I am. I have had lively arguments with some and great guffaws with others, but they have all been spirited, both online and in person. Women who grow up believing in other women giving birth to "gods" don't tend to be wimpy women. They do, however, often take their own and shared strength for granted and forget that without the "gods," they wouldn't be looked upon with such worship.

I had sworn off most women several years ago because they all seemed to be either bullies or whiners, even though they were often sneaky about both. Encouraged by a young woman named Laura of Women of Spirit and Faith, whom I had never met, I attended a conference of women sharing their different paths to, and personally experienced manifestations of, The Sacred Spirit. I made friends and enemies there, and I feel fine about both. I no longer feel the need to have everyone like or even accept me.

Because of this group of women, I decided to come home and create my own interfaith group. I put out invitations to many, but the ones who responded and attended are all cradle Roman Catholic women, none of them "practicing." What seems to bind all of us is an effort to define our places in the arena of worldwide social justice. As good little catholic kids, we had been taught that "catholic" means universal; I guess we are taking this literally.

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