I wasn't raised Catholic, or even Christian, but when my former husband and I were planning our wedding I chose to get confirmed so he could have the full mass at a fancy basilica that he wanted. I took the classes and tried hard to understand their tenets. And even though I could just as soon convince myself to believe in Santa Claus as Jesus, I said the words they wanted me to say, and I wanted to believe them. That probably makes me a hypocrite, but I thought I was doing it for the right reasons.
I guess since then I've been what you call a fair weather Catholic. I show up for the occasional Christmas or Easter -- they really pull out all the stops for the high holy days -- incense, organs, choir, candles, magic-vampire-killing water. We even got Lucas baptized there. When he cried as he was sprinkled with holy water the priest made a joke that that was the demons being driven out (har har har). I actually like to go there. It's a beautiful old basilica. Going to church is the closest I've ever come to meditation. But I've always had a hard time with the dogma: the sexism, the exclusion, the whole condoms come from Satan thing.
And now this.
Two weeks ago, Minnesota's Roman Catholic bishops launched a campaign against same-sex marriage, mailing a DVD to every Catholic home in the state. Parishioners in the Twin Cities heard a message from Archbishop John Nienstedt.
"The Archdiocese believes that the time has come for voters to be presented directly with an amendment to our state Constitution, to preserve our historic understanding of marriage. In fact, this is the only way to put the one man-one woman definition of marriage beyond the reach of the courts and politicians," Nienstedt said on the video. (MPR.org)
And in an interview on MPR, the Archbishop said this:
There is no difference between the civil and the religious definition of marriage because marriage comes to us by virtue of creation and our creator. And so the state does not establish marriage. Marriage came long before there was any government.
And so this is a natural reality, and it's defined by the natural law, what we call the natural law. And so it precedes any government. And government is meant to support marriage between a husband and a wife in order to give it a context for the raising of children and the protection of children.
Am I nuts or did he just completely contradict himself there? If the state doesn't establish marriage, why does the state need to define it?
Anyway. I know the church is no stranger to putting their beliefs out there. I know they frown on birth control, abortion, divorce and a long list of other things. Nor are they new to controversy. But this still stinks. I agree with Lucinda Naylor, the church's artist in residence, who was suspended for voicing her opposition, when she said the step of spending $1 million from an anonymous donor to produce and mail the DVDs, six weeks before the November 2 election, was divisive. Most people see this as the church's endorsement of the republican candidate for Governor, Tom Emmer, whose anti-gay, anti-choice agenda fits in nicely with theirs.
And also? This is the thing that gets $1 million dollars thrown at it? Not poverty, not human suffering? Cause I'm pretty sure those are some other pressing issues that the church is against.
But, since they own my soul (and my name on a mailing list), I got the DVD in the mail. I haven't watched it. I haven't even opened it. And I have yet to decide what to do with it. Part of me wants to send it back with a scathing letter, though I'm not very good at scathing letters -- I use the words poo and dude to much. Part of me wants to add mine to the hundreds of other local Catholics' who disagree with the church, in Lucinda Naylor's sculpture.
But that's the thing. I'm not a Catholic, not really. So claiming to be one of their parishioners who disagrees with them would be a misrepresentation. Threatening them with the loss of a soul, or even a tithe, is empty. I'm just a divorced, out-of-wedlock-sex-having, gay marriage supporting, condom using heretic.
So what should I do with my DVD?