After having my moment of “conversion” I begin my decent in to right-wing nut hood. Throughout high school, I became increasingly conservative, increasingly more right wing. However, deep down it wasn’t me:
I still looked at porn repeating the pattern of: download, masturbation, guilt, deletion, re-downloading. Rinse and repeat.
I had figured out that the local bookstores while carding for porn did not card for erotica(1) and I took full advantage of this to purchase volume upon volume of Letters to Penthouse and the like.(2)
Perhaps most telling, the good God-fearing women I was supposed to be attracted to…bored me to death. The girls I was attracted to where the wild, uninhibited, sexually confident type. There is one moment that always remains me of this inner duality, of the struggle between my false catholic shell and the true inner self that was struggling to break free. I was sitting at a table during lunch period; amongst the people at the table was the most sexual confident women I knew at the time. Someone at the table made a joke about double penetrations, as I walked away from the table, I could hear her ask the rests of the table: “What’s double penetration?” On one hand, the false veneer was disgusted that I knew what the act was, that I had several clips of it on my computer depicting it; and several earmarked pages in the aforementioned erotica describing it. However, on another level I felt strangely proud that I had a term in my sexual lexicon that the most sexual aggressive person I knew did not. That awkward moment where I somehow simultaneously felt two emotions that should be mutually exclusive has stayed with me ever since. Despite of all this, my Catholic side, my counterfeit self, won the day and when it can time to go to college unlike most people I went with the intention of becoming even more conservative.
The college I had picked out was a Catholic college in Buffalo, New York (My family was living in New Jersey at the time) and for a catholic college the place was pretty liberal, a seminary student actually described it as: “We are catholic in denial” . The student body was as diverse you would find anywhere else so I was in for some…um…interesting social experiences. I’m just going to list some to give you idea just how different I was back then.
The guy in the room next to mine freshman year was a was a gay drag queen (he actually worked in a drag show), as you can imagine some of our conversations where heated to say the least. Although for the record he annoyed a lot of people on our floor because some of us had morning classes and need to get some sleep if you catch my drift(3)
Then there was the one guy who was a master at reaching the right conclusions for the wrong reasons. For some reason he was determined to prove I was a hypocrite. I mean I was one but the thing is nothing he ever accused me of where things I was actually guilt of.
I even got some weird look from other Roman Catholic nut jobs; because I desperately tried to follow the little rules even the most devote ignored i.e not eating one hour before and one hour after communion.
And the strangest example: One time a group of about 5 of us were talking and don’t ask me how this happen because I’m not entirely sure but it basically, it end with one very bossy girl in the group basically getting me to confess that despite my religions prohibitions against it yes I did masturbate. It was like some short of weird impromptu “masturbation is ok” intervention. This also involved her polling the room for comments on masturbation frequencies, and apparently even before I discovered how to have multiple orgasms I was a bit of an outlier as I admitted haven got off three times during my last session, this impressed the crowd.
Even then, on the surface I may have been just another right wing hypocritical zealot, however, under the surface the true self was still trying to break free…and this at least partially it would win.
Everything I said above about high school still applied once in college. I was also still talking about Christianity on online forms at the time but again the pattern of my posting hinted at all that I was repressing. I kept asking questions about sex. I kept trying to find loopholes in Catholic sexual theology. In fact, the first book I got at the library when I got to college wasn’t a book about nutrition (I’m a Nutrition and Dietetics major) or a book to do an assignment for class. No, it was a book called Sex and Philosophy. The lure of the forbidden fruit was mighty indeed.
It was around this time that I learned to look up legal cases (My parents say I should’ve been a lawyer) via things such as Lexis Nexus; and I learned there are little details that the mainstream media leaves out when discussing legal cases. One of them is the concept of different levels of scrutiny(4); this is a very important concept, in understanding the outcome of certain legal cases. I have repeatedly seen people (even some lawyers) treat legal case which fall under strict scrutiny the way one would treat a rational scrutiny case. Their confusion at the outcome of the case is based on not understanding the different between the standards. What does this have to do with me losing my faith in religion? Once I saw how constitutional law works, it became much harder to hold certain right wing positions. Example: Most on the far right have some degree of pro-censorship values; in particular censorship aimed at controlling the thought of minors. I realized I could not be both pro-constitution and hold some of these far right values. So my political compasses began moving to left; away from the extremism of the Christian right, inching toward sanity.
Another factor that was helping me move slowly back to the shores of sanity and reason was my choice of major. If you’ll pardon me sounding like a billboard for my profession. The training to become a dietitian can really help you develop a balanced worldview. The training to be a dietitian involves learn about both the “hard” sciences; biology, anatomy and physiology, biochemistry and the “soft” sciences psychology sociology, management etc. You have to learn about how race and culture influences food behavior as much as you have to learn about the physiology of digestion. What does this have to do with me losing my faith, you’ll see in a moment.
In my sophomore year I started a thread on one of my nut-job filled forms the topic sex ed, (and slowly we circle back to where it all began); I surprisingly defended comprehensive sex ed. This is that health career training coming through and I was, even as a believer amazed at how many people were unable to look at the issue in any short of rational manner. I was starting to see there was something wrong with the group of people I was associating with. Then I added that homosexuality should be discussed and that when I started to see there was something very, very, very wrong with the people I was associating with.
I suggested that homosexuality should be discussed for one reason, that gay teens have higher suicide rates, I suggested it as a means of suicide prevention nothing more nothing less. Furthermore, I remember specifically how I phrased it “fear of being homosexual”; a phrasing that left open the possibility of perfectly straight teens committing suicides just because they had a stray thought or two. What was the response from the supposedly, compassionate, pro-life, we are all children of God people: “that’s their problem” they already have enough “special rights”. Even as a believer this response was absolutely sickening the idea that teenagers, which the same posters referred to a “defenseless tikes” when it was just heterosexual teenagers, shouldn’t get information that could stop them for taking their own life, because that the gays problem. Not only that but that stopping young people from offing themselves would somehow be unfair because it would mean gays are receiving some short of super special right that they white, male, heterosexual, Christians in a white, male, heterosexual, Christian dominated society didn’t have. Absolutely sickening. I didn’t have the guts to stand up to them then, but religion’s hold was weakening none the less. What finally broke its hold on me?…I got sick.
Before I explain that I must take a step back and point out a common trait among male, right-wing, anti-choice, nut jobs. The “if I was a women argument” the argument by which men who can never be pregnant say “well if was a women and I got pregnant I would never get an abortion”. The moment that finally turned me into an Ex-Catholic was when I realized what a delusion this notion really was, and it happened during semester break my sophomore year. By this time my parents had moved to Florida and when I went to visit, I don’t know if it was the me pigging out on homemade food or something I caught on the plane, but I spent the night in the bathroom puking my guts out. That when I realized I was a pussy, if I where a women I would be running to the nearest Planned Parenthood at the first sign of emesis. As I sat counting the floor titles I the realizations kept coming; hyper-emesis is the least of the possible complications that could result of pregnancy. It was in that moment I realized I could not tell a women she had to go through with an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy. It may not have been at this exact moment that I stopped being a Roman Catholic but this moment -were I felt for the first time genuine compassion for the choice women have to make, as opposed to the misogynistic judgments that organized religion trains you to have- was the turning point.
The exact moment happened shortly after the above .Once the vomiting stopped I went to bed a different person then I had been a few hours earlier. As I lay there I started thinking once again about the themes I mentioned above and my mind landed on the issue of condoms, more specifically how Catholic women are forbidden from using contraception (Other than natural family planning) even in marriage. That night I realized this did not make sense I post a quote in my Tumblr which sums up the lunacy nicely. However, beyond that the ban on contraception is one of the things that falls under “Papal infallibility” if I didn’t believe in the contraception ban I didn’t believe in papal infallibility which meant I didn’t believe in Roman Catholicism. By the time I woke up I no longer believed in Roman Catholicism, by the time I was on the plane back to Buffalo I considered myself a liberal Christian. From there it was a gradual transition to where I am now.
So.. that marked the end of my belief in organized religion; however as I mentioned it was a partial victory. To keep it short the sex negative view of my faith lingered, I still felt guilt and shame at all thing sexual. My first sexual experiences were awful clumsy, guilt and shame filled encounters were I feared contraceptive failure to the point I was amazed I even had an erection to put the condom on. It wasn’t until I committed the act of insanity that is opening this blog that I finally began to identify and fully purge religion lingering influence from my life… it isn’t until now that I can finally say I’m free of it all. Not only I’m I happier now I honestly believe if there is a loving God in the universe I’m closer to him now than I ever was being a Catholic.
And that it my journey from nut-job to sane person. Till next time stay sane and for the love of all that is good in the universe keep your kids out of catholic school!
- By which I mean pure words [↩]
- Funny Note: At first one store actually had the erotica section right next to the children’s section…they later moved it to next the psychology section. Good call. [↩]
- Also, this is the point in my life where I really feel in love with wireless headphones. [↩]
- Rational, Strict, and Intermediate [↩]