Although I have not practiced Catholicism in a quarter century, its impact on me is something I feel every day. I instinctively react to attacks against it still, even if, on second thought, the attacker may have a point or two.
The issue of my homosexuality was what propelled me out of it --that was a god-awful time in my life-- but once I calmed down in my new life, I developed a more differentiated attitude toward it. I could see Holy Mother Church --as one must do with one's bio-mom*-- not as either/or but as summa this and summa that.
It became emotionally clear to me --as it had been mentally clear when I left-- that the sexual ethics of Apostolic Christianity --the Orthodox and Catholics-- was unable, even if it wanted to, to embrace same-sex sex without imploding. So I stopped being mad about it.
Ironically, it is now the Catholic/Orthodox resistance to genderism that strikes me as its (sole?) remaining contemporary value to a self-dismantling West. Rome especially has thrown its lot with the Third World savages (something I could see even back in the 80s) on race and economics. By atavistically refusing to ordain females to its priesthood** or evacuating the procreating male-female couple from marriage, it still holds out for some semblance of bio/archetypal truth about gender. That there are two. And that they are necessary opposites.
Much later, I realized that my attachment to Catholicism was fundamentally aesthetic and intellectual. Embarrassingly like a Reconstructionist Jew, it was to Catholicism as a civilization that I most deeply responded, especially in its intellectual and cultural achievements. As is evident from my ramblings here as Ex Cathedra, Catholic moralism always made me feel like I was suffocating. And not just about sex; I felt the sting of the ethics of the Twice-Born long before I even knew what sex was. With its Jesus-and-Mary driven inhuman perfectionism, it was a constant source of (again, embarrassing) Luther-like self-hatred.
After a brief and regretted dalliance with Independent Catholicism, I gave a shot at being Episcopalian for a couple of years. I missed the aesthetic and intellectual world I'd left behind, the poetry and the rootedness in something ancient and vast. That ended when I found the Anglicans to be rank Protestants deep down, despite the icing. And for a group that was constantly parading their welcome to strangers, I found them personally quite icy.
On the wise advice of my therapist, I gave up trying to join groups. As my ex used to say, quite rightly, the only reason I didn't start my own religion is because I was afraid people might join.
My next religious project was Gnosticism, the "religion of dissatisfied poet-theologians." Although I developed a loose connection with the local Gnostic church (and a friendship with its leader), it was fundamentally a solitary undertaking. Re-writing the Bible as a spiritual practice. Fascinating process.
I still find Gnosticism significant although --no surprise to this introvert-- most of its practitioners are pretty off-putting. Mostly cookie-cutter change-the-world liberals with a spiritually counter-cultural veneer, part of their adolescent oppositional-defiant pose. The last thing actual Gnostics tried to do was change the world.
As politics began to interest me, however, I found that the spiritual life took a back seat. The here and now absorbed a lot more of my energy than the Great Beyond. And this has remained the case for quite some time now. Jung's assertion that the second half of life is largely engaged in working out a balance against the first seems pretty well descriptive of my behavior.
Aside from the drain of being angry about a suicidal culture, it might be the archetypal call of biology that could draw me once again to the transcendant realm: barring accidents, I probably have only fifteen years left to live. Four fifths of my time on earth is already behind me.
Although I have always been able to imagine myself as an atheist for an hour or so, I lack the kind of certainty that atheists have and can't sustain my unbelief and fall back into theism. I know a few bright and civilized atheists; the majority of them are howling boors, the mirror image of the yahoo fundamentalists they are so obsessed with. As Mencken noted back in the 20's,"...try to imagine what the average low-browed Methodist would be if he were not a Methodist but an atheist!" Prophetic. And even less attractive than Episcopalians.
Buddhism has a wealth of psychological insight, but the Boods, as Mr B calls them, are an intolerable lot: rootless Jews and reactive Catholics playing Asian in order to avoid facing their childhoods.
So I float out here on my raft, looking up at the stars at night, enjoying the sun at morning, and being deeply fearful of what set of hungry jaws is hiding beneath the surface of the waters.
What is my current religious position? Maybe later. Time for more coffee.
*One of those words, like celeb, whose very existence is troubling.
** Since I have definitively ascertained that the real basis of Catholicism is not "love" or "Jesus", much less "the dignity of the human person," but the ancient threefold structure of dogma, sacraments and hierarchy, any admission of females into that hierarchy, even as lowly deacons, would be fatal. Christianity is feminized enough as it is without turning it into a vagina monologue.