Between You and Your God [the barefoot baklesa responds]
this is a post I composed in response to The Catholic Ordination of the Filipino from The Coconuter's Blog [just click on the title to read it]. The photo of the sliced tomatoes are for emphasis...
First, I would like to point out that I refuse to draw lines between other people's beliefs and mine. At this point in my life, I do not see anyone's God and/or gods any less than mine.
I am gay, and a Roman Catholic. If that's not fucked-up enough to some, then heap the pyre if you have to and burn me. I'm not looking down on anyone, but you see, I was educated by the Jesuits and raised in a purely Roman Catholic family with two priests for uncles. I guess that afforded me the insight I have now, as mentioned above.
The days of the gods of old are gone, Bulalakao, Saragnayan, Idianale, Makaptan, Si-Dapa, Kasaray-sarayan-sa-silgan, Lakampati, and these hosts of immortals have long since left the minds of the Filipinos. They are but mere anecdotes and mentions in rare literature books as but mythology and legend -that still, tragically are less recognized by the Filipino youth as part of their heritage. Animistic in nature, the Spaniards found out that the best way to evangelize the 16th century Filipino was to use the Church's first weapon during the age of the Counter-Reformation: ART. They began bringing religious images that replaced the wooden idols of old, the unearthly pallor of ivory in rich robes decorated in gold replaced the 'larauan' and the 'tawu-tawu' [literally, 'parang tao']. The suffering hero who rose above his trials told in the epics of olde was replaced by the suffering Christ who died and resurrected in the gospels. These have contributed to what I call "Folk Catholicism". And the Filipinos have embraced these for generations to come.
In my early 20s I suddenly saw all this organized religion as a pointless waste of time and I began to explore the many other things out there that peaked my curiosity. The Jesuits taught me that every human being has the right to doubt and discover for himself the worth of any truth. With this, I began studying other people's truths, religions, Buddhism, Zen philosophy, the occult, and I even learned how to read Tarot Cards in their many disciplines: modesty aside, I was so good at it, people from UP were visiting me at the Ateneo where I hung out to have their cards read.
My family never gave me flack for it. What did my family think of it? They thought being gay was enough a burden to hurdle in my maturity and to throw religion into the pot would be unwise. They let me be...In respect to the faith that my family had held on to, I became nominally-Catholic, and did my best for the sake of appearances. Yet all the experiences, knowledge, and insight I have acquired, it was all waxing emptiness.
But then, one day, for a brief moment in time, I felt genuinely that God actually walked the earth. There was this silence that I felt down from my skin to my very soul, an unexplainable yet somewhat eerie silence that had struck me so, that I knew it was time to go home.
So I went into Quaipo church, and I just sat there for hours, asking God to take me as I am where I knew him best. I am not chaste nor do I claim to be entirely pure, and I'm sure the Pope has a lot to say about me if he had the chance. But that's between me and my God, I chose to stay Roman Catholic because that is where I found him -As much as any man, can find Allah, Vishnu, Kami, Asaka, and Nirvana where they can find them.
True, the Roman Catholic Church can seem to be stuck in the middle ages when it comes to certain things. But what most of us fail to realize is that it was one of the first to admit that it must change with the times -too slow at certain times. It apologized for the trials of Galileo, it apologized for the mistakes of the Holy Inquisition, and is continually studying its mistakes in the line of history. It has corrected many an issue with dogma and doctrine which some Filipinos chose to ignore not because they are blind but because they often see that as secondary to the relationship they find with God. Then there's that issue with birth control that's really got my wand in a knot as well as many things that require a second look but I keep my hope for the better.
If you claim to have had a personal connection with Jesus Christ but still are quick to judge those who have none with him, then you may have lost the point that to practice any faith is a continued learning experience. Let them learn their mistakes and misconceptions and let them decide for themselves. Who are we to tell them their faith is less when they have seen its power in their lives.
If you judge my Church as like any business, then you must have met the LaSallian brothers and studied at a LaSallian school for a while like I have, and got jaded. Hahahaha!!! But you see, that's another cliché within myself I have to hurdle and no one else's business. Yet seriously, then I would be so gay to point out 'in taray' how Born Again Pastors also live off on the tithes from their congregation, or how some families of friends from Christian sects follow that 10% to the point of financial imbalance, or maybe I should pick-on the defined rules for giving money to the service of Allah, or the money we spend on ourselves for pointless things when children in Africa are starving -No one wins in arguments like these.
A lot of people think they are entitled to the pedestal to speak ill of society's ill yet would not lift a finger for they think they have done their part in helping the plight of the poor by voicing out. I don't want to sound like that self-righteous Pharisee from the parable, but have you actually gone out there and taught English and Math to underprivileged kids during the summer? Have you volunteered in a provincial hospital for a Medical and Surgical Missions? Have you ever deprived yourself of something so that someone else could have it? And we're not talking about sandwiches or you half-finished soft drink here... People who have an opinion of what's wrong in this world are often those who do it much damage.
Right now, the table I share, I share with some Christian Friends, some Roman Catholic friends, an Eclectic Believer, a full blooded Muslim Prince, and even an Atheist...And you don't see us brewing another world war or modern crusades. Respect begets respect.
While some of you are off to Puerto Galera, Boracay, or Bali this Holy Week, some of us choose to be of service to our Faith. You're more than welcome in my home or maybe I'll see you in the processional line.
thus spake the Barefoot Baklesa Niki de los Reyes-Torres