I Am No Longer Comfortable Being a Catholic

Friday, 25 August 2017 - 11:54:55 WIB
By : Mario Rustan | Category: Faith & Spirituality - 5765 hits
Like most Indonesians, my life and social circles were defined by religion. I was raised as a Catholic and  went to Catholic schools. The religion fit my personality. It is a mainstream, standardized, centralized, and introspective church –  even the songs were subdued. Catholic history was tied with European history, and the language, tradition, and mysticism had inspired American pop culture, including The Godfather trilogy and Madonna’s songs, as well as their controversies.

My religious obligation was to attend the one-hour Mass every Sunday and swallowed the Holy Communion wafer after I was eight, and that’s about it. Even when you don’t attend the Mass, no one you know will question you.

I am not sure if my faith in Catholicism was typical of Indonesians or if it’s above average. I constantly got 8 out of 10 in the Agama (religious study) subject, and was attracted to the leftist Liberation Theology thoughts and arts found in the textbook, even as they were coupled with anti-abortion messages.

In university, I joined several Catholic organizations, and deliberately avoided the Indonesian groups since I wanted to have more diverse friends and wanted to avoid Indonesian Charismatic Catholics, whose number was increasing since it offered livelier service, more intensive group bonding, and – at least among the Indonesians – a more conservative theology closer to American Evangelical Christianity than to mainstream Catholicism.

Meanwhile, “old school” Catholicism wasn’t much fulfilling either. I was surprised with Australian Catholics’ preoccupation with homophobia, anti-abortion, even anti stem-cell research. They were also defensive about the allegations of rapes and cover-ups committed by priests and bishops in Australia that came out after the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team investigation in America.

Still, Catholic was my primary identity in my young adult life. I confessed to a priest once a month, regularly prayed in the shrine of Mary for a girlfriend and for perseverance in study. The Sunday or Saturday evening Mass became the springboard to dining and shopping with friends afterward.

This lifestyle continued after my return to Indonesia, as I joined Choice, a Catholic group for young adult singles (unmarried people, to be exact), and it became my primary social circle for the next seven or eight years. I had great moments there, it helped me to learn where I am now, and I think it was the best option I had.

I thought that by being an ally to feminism, I would become a better Catholic, but it didn’t happen. More of my friends joined a group for married men, and my family was horrified with what was going on in that group. One of our neighbors killed herself after she was ritually reconciled with her husband in that group’s retreat, and people who knew them blamed her.

I also have a feeling that Catholic Indonesians are moving in the conservative direction lately, strangely in accord with the homophobic and pro-nuclear family messages spread by conservative Muslims. Perhaps they have joined the prevailing sentiment in Indonesian media and institutions since last year, and perhaps this is a backlash against Pope Francis, who some Catholics find “too liberal.”

My sister received sexist memes and jokes spread by local Catholic figures via WhatsApp group, and puzzlingly some Catholics I knew approve the words of Elly Risman. Is it like what happening in Australia, where, after decades of accusing each other for being a false church, Catholic and Evangelical churches are now cooperating for conservative values?

Worse news came from Australia, where Catholic leaders defended Cardinal George Pell, who is charged with historical sexual abuse offences, and the man who gave me the Sacrament of Confirmation, Archbishop Denis Hart, said that he’d rather go to jail than reporting child abusers – and then threatened to fire Catholic employees intending to marry their same-sex partners.

Many people have ditched religion and believe that there is no God. I believe in God and spirits, and my personal reasoning is that there are so many things we still can’t comprehend in science, including multiverses, dimensions more complex than our three-dimension reality, and dark energy and dark matter.

I think, however, that I can no longer trust religion. And it’s simple. Religions grew out from life in agrarian world, from Judaism 2500 years ago to Sikhism about 500 years ago. A religion became mainstream when it was adopted and spread by an empire, and even in the industrial era a century ago, empires still used religion to shape nationalism, to transmit language and culture, to maintain public order, and to justify public policies.

We are now crossing toward the post-industrial world (which would be defined by mass consumption of renewable energy), and that is why you hear that people in developed societies are becoming non-religious – not that they are “more rational”, but their personal values are no longer in sync with the religious texts’ agrarian values.

I still need religion for the next decade: my parents are above sixty and I have to be ready for the time we are no longer together. I will have to deal with the funeral and the grief – even mature and wealthy Sting had to create a Christian-themed album to deal with the loss of his father.

I still read the prescribed Bible readings on Sunday morning, still respect Pope Francis, and am still interested in Indonesian Catholic news. But I no longer see myself as a “lost sheep”, or hope that one day I will find happiness in communion with other Catholics.

Some Christian churches have accepted female priesthood, and queer members, and modern liberal values. These churches are attempting to synthesize the past with our present, but I can’t see them flourishing in Indonesia or Asia. Many conservatives are pretty good in using the social media, while also courting or coercing the governments.

I still want to keep in touch with my old friends from the church. But I wish we can define ourselves larger than our religion.

This post is inspired by #EmptyThePews on Twitter.

Read Mario’s take on the link between poetic jihadists and toxic sensitive masculinity and follow @MarioRustan on Twitter.

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

Writer Profile
Mario Rustan, Columnist
Mario writes opinion pieces for The Jakarta Post and is working on some other online projects and was featured in Guardian Football and SBS Radio. His dream job is still teaching High School History by day and writing for feminism by night. 
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Stella Matutina | 26 August 2017 | 20:44:08 WIB
Mario Rustan, gue katolik dan gue jg dari Indonesia and I thing I can say after reading your article is that.. yes, you're a typical Indonesian Catholic. Gue dulu juga gitu.. kekatolikan kita di Indonesia itu warisan, walopun practically Catholic Indonesians are considered more conservative than their brothers and sisters from everywhere else in the globe, tp ttp aja pemahaman kita sebenernya ngga mendalam.
Klo u wkt sekolah dl pelajaran agama sering dpt 8,9,10 jgn trll puas dl, krn dl jg gue langganan nilai segitu.. tapi tetep aja sekarang kalo gue ngelihat ke belakang, gw jadi sadar bahwa sebenernya walopun dulu 8, 9, 10 gw itu masih scratching the surface.
Stella Matutina | 26 August 2017 | 20:47:28 WIB
About being a conservative, gue rasa kalo u bener-bener mencoba mendalami mengapa Church's teaching itu against contraception, abortion & homosexuality, baca dari sumber-sumber conservative yang terpercaya (if u are sincerely seek to understand why we, the conservatives, believe in what we believe then you must let us explain and share with you not just hearing it from your fellow liberals who obviously are biased and tend to project their thought on us and put word in our mouth). U akan realize the reasons behind every Church's teaching that seems outdated to this industrial world are truly for human's wellbeing and happiness.
Why do you think Church is against gay so-called-'marriage'? Because it's not marriage. In real marriage, when man and woman come together, a new life, a new human being born. When 2 man attempt the same thing, the most glorious result is anal discharge of semen and fecal matters! Think about it.
Stella Matutina | 26 August 2017 | 20:50:35 WIB
I'm not blaming you for buying into the left's propaganda, because I had bought it too.. until I realized that it's all just one big pile of horseshit. They're pretty smart in promoting their agenda, making it looks cute if 2 old guys who want to be a couple, amd making us feel bad if we oppose the idea "what's wrong if these 2 guys love each other? What are you, a meanie? After all 'love' wins." It's not love, it's a guy masturbating with another guy's butthole!
U pernah tau nggak, bahwa gays tend to have more than 1 partner? Pernah denger nggak bahwa suicide rate amongst these type of people (LGBT) is higher, mungkin mereka yg mau jualan ke u bakal bilang "oh, itu krn society jahat, menolak dan mengucilkan org2 lgbt." Nggak juga, u kagak liat segimana modern world sekarang ni begitu support mereka, the only people against them are real orthodox Catholics (and there are not many of them!).
Stella Matutina | 26 August 2017 | 20:53:13 WIB
Agar dipahami, gue bukan benci sama same-sex-attracted people, gue ada org terdekat yang mengalaminya, yang gue benci adalah behaviour-nya dan masyarakat modern yg mengencourage their perverted behaviour.
Anyways.. nulis panjang lebar di comment box yg kecil ini bikin mata gue pedes. If you are interested to have further discussion, well you have my e-mail address.
1 last thing. Jesus said "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life" Catholic teachings are leading us to find the truth, and the truth is unwavering, unchanging (iyalah, kebenaran kalo ganti2 hari ini dibilang bener, besok lain lagi mah bukan kebenaran namanya).
Ellena | 27 August 2017 | 09:08:02 WIB
@StellaMatutina bisa saya tahu alamat email anda?
Stella Matutina | 27 August 2017 | 14:11:42 WIB
@Ellena alamat saya di blooming.rose@live.com
anonim | 29 August 2017 | 07:31:34 WIB
omg stella you're so judgemental, and obviously you dont know anything about same-sex relationship 🙄

"U pernah tau nggak, bahwa gays tend to have more than 1 partner?"

Even heterosexuals also tend to have more than 1 partner. Yg hasrat poligaminya gede2 kan cowo2 hetero 😂

" Pernah denger nggak bahwa suicide rate amongst these type of people (LGBT) is higher, mungkin mereka yg mau jualan ke u bakal bilang "oh, itu krn society jahat, menolak dan mengucilkan org2 lgbt." Nggak juga, u kagak liat segimana modern world sekarang ni begitu support mereka, the only people against them are real orthodox Catholics (and there are not many of them!). "

yep obv you never experienced discrimination from moslems and fellow christians 🙄🙄🙄
Alameidda | 29 August 2017 | 17:21:39 WIB
Oh, oh, Stella. Mesum sekali kamu. All you can think about a gay partnership is all they can 'produce' is semen and fecal matter? Kupikir orang sepertimu yang hanya bisa berpikir tentang gimana pasangan gay berhubungan seksual dan melenyapkan kemanusiaan mereka, bagaimana LGBT juga manusia, adalah manusia-manusia yang akan Yesus tolak dari surga. What a pervert. Seriously, Stella. Sadarlah. You. Are. A. Pervert.
Gue juga lahir Katolik, dan while gue ngakuin kalau banyak surat-surat hukum gereja yang bagus buat kemanusiaan, gue juga nggak ragu mengakui kalo masih banyak hukum gereja yang bullshit. My religion is not perfect. Yesus cuma kasih pondasi, yang bikin kebanyakan hukum gereja itu kebanyakan patriark kuno yang nggak sudi kekuasaan dan harta mereka direnggut. Justru jadi pengikut Yesus elu kudu makin sadar kalau elu harus makin memihak orang2 yang disingkirkan masyarakat.
Alameidda | 29 August 2017 | 17:22:44 WIB
KLMTD? Pernah denger? Gue nggak pernah habis pikir kenapa gereja mati-matian bela dan kasih pengampunan buat terdakwa pembunuhan berantai sementara jijik setengah mati sama laki-laki yang jatuh cinta sama laki-laki lain. I dont get it. Di mana cinta kasih yang diagung-agungkan gereja? What a bullshit. Dan sebelum elu bilang kalo di dunia ini LGBT udah dibela, man, open your eyes. Yang elu liat itu di internet. Yang elu liat itu di luar negeri. Step down, girl. Jejaklah tanah, jangan ngambang terus dan merasa elu udah setengah jalan ke surga.
Mainlah sekali-sekali ke organisasi yang berhadapan dengan diskriminasi yang diterima LGBT di Indonesia. Mainlah sekali-sekali biar kau ketemu sama remaja yang dibuang keluarganya di usia sangat belia cuma karena dia ketahuan mengagumi temen sekelasnya. Piknik yang jauh. Jangan main ke gereja mulu. Nanti cupet.
Alameidda | 29 August 2017 | 17:25:25 WIB
PS : You can still do good to LGBTs even though you still think that their 'lifestyle' (ha fucking ha) is sin. Donasi ke organisasi anti AIDS, donasi ke safe house. Bantu mereka survive, bantu mereka kurangin rate AIDS. Gue jamin kesempatan elu masuk surga lebih tinggi daripada elu di sini nyinyirin mereka. Serius. Apa Yesus bilang? Kalo ada orang sakit kamu bantu, kamu juga saudaraku. Dia nggak pernah bilang kalau orang gay penderita AIDS adalah pengecualian.

PPS : LGBT di Indonesia sekarang ngga ngarep marriage, sungguh. Mereka cuma pingin survive dan hidup dengan aman tanpa harus takut. Kayak kamu dan milyaran heteroseks lain. Is that too much to ask?
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 10:50:09 WIB
"All you can think about a gay partnership is all they can 'produce' is semen and fecal matter?" -->No, it's NOT all that I think about but rather that I was trying to emphasize the reality of it. Let's be honest here, this is truly what it is all about. What is it that distinguishes a "gay" person from a heterosexual person? It is their sexual activities. No one cares about two men loving each other. My husband loves his male friends, he would give his life for them. He doesn't feel the need to penetrate them with his penis or have them do so to him. This is quite deceptive to suggest that I am "perverted" for focusing on these acts. In fact, it is the homosexual who perverts their bodies and perverts sexuality. This is the case according to the very definition of perversion. Also, you are perverting this very conversation by misrepresenting the very subject of my comment. No one objects to two people loving each other.
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 10:55:19 WIB
The matter at hand is the sexual deviancy. If it wasn't, then all the homosexuals would be fine with giving up these sexual acts if it were all truly about merely "loving" each other. This is the deception that the LGBT advocates try to pull off, they try to make it seem like it's all about two guys holding hands, going to the market, buying food, making dinner, spending the evening with a glass of wine watching a movie. Just people like everyone else, right? But are any of these things that which is objectionable to anyone? Of course not! It is the butt banging that follows. So seeing that it's the butt banging that is the part people rightfully claim to be disgusting, perverted and a unquestionable sin, this is therefore what I emphasize. And yes, I do so in gross terms, to speak of it as the vile act that it is. ...which is exactly what the LGBT wants to avoid.
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:01:52 WIB
@ Alammeida Now, as for your absurd claim that Jesus only gave us a foundation, and that the moral theology as taught by the Church is only the creation of "Patriarchal" leaders who didn't want to give up their "money and power".... are you referring to the Apostles who all, except one, died gruesome deaths at the hands of their persecutors? What money and power were they trying to preserve for themselves? Or what is the multiple hundreds of martyrs who came along in the centuries that followed who were so "rich and powerful" that they had to hide and live underground, and when caught were thrown to the lions and tortured and killed in most evil of ways? Was it their "power and riches" that they wanted to somehow preserve by establishing this morality? This claim is as unexamined as it is absurd.
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:12:59 WIB
@Alammeida "kenapa gereja mati-matian bela dan kasih pengampunan buat terdakwa pembunuhan berantai sementara jijik setengah mati sama laki-laki yang jatuh cinta sama laki-laki lain" I'm not sure which serial killer you are talking about, but yes, in theory, ...and I suppose in practice, a serial killer can be forgiven, just as a homosexual can be forgiven, as long as they repent with true contrition of heart. Now, there are two fallacies in your statement. 1st, you seem to imply that the "Church" who does the forgiving isn't disgusted with the multiple murders. Of course the murders are morally disgusting, but the forgiveness of a sin is not given or retained based on whether or not the "Church" considers the sin to be disgusting. It's based on authentic repentance. 2nd fallacy is that once again, as I covered below, no one is disgusted at the thought of two men loving each other.
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:13:56 WIB
@Alammeida Rather people are disgusted at the thought of one man penetrating the other man's anus, often times ripping it, ejaculating either in the man's anus or somewhere else and creating a mixture of semen, fecal matter and often blood. But clearly you want to avoid this because if you spoke of this as it truly was, it would be quite difficult for you to make me, or the Church, seem foolish for being disgusted, since any normal person would be. Your only tactic is to sanitize the gruesome fact by platitudes like saying "men who fall in love".
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:24:48 WIB
@Alammeida "open your eyes. Yang elu liat itu di internet. Yang elu liat itu di luar negeri. Step down, girl. Jejaklah tanah, jangan ngambang terus dan merasa elu udah setengah jalan ke surga. " --> Yes, this is true that this LGBT agenda is much more advanced in other countries, such as Canada, where I am now living. It might be precisely because of my awareness of how things came to be as they are here in the West that I am concerned with the type of "argumentation" you are making. You say that the LGBT in Indonesia aren't concerned with "gay so called marriage", indeed they aren't, yet. It started out the same way in the west.
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:25:57 WIB
@Alammeida: At first they merely want to "live in peace" (in other words, sodomize each other in peace, since that's the only reason they are lacking peace to start with), and then they want to have more outward social "acceptance" which quickly builds into demands to march in the streets advocating for this disordered behavior. Then they demand that it be taught in the schools to young children. Then they demand that children be taken away from parents if the parents object to the LGBT curriculum. Then they attack the mother-father family ideal, then they seek to destroy any notion of gender. You should take your own advice and "open your eyes".
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:34:52 WIB
@Alammeida: Now as for your suggestion that I donate to AIDS organizations and "safe houses". How do you know that I don't? Or how do you know what kind of money I have? How do you know what other organizations I help with the little funds that I have? This is another typical tactic of those without any argument to make, you merely try to suggest that I don't do any good deeds, regardless of the fact that you know nothing about me. And you've seemingly implied a few times that if I did "this" or did "that", that I would be "closer to heaven". You haven't explicitly used the word hell, but you seem to be implying that I might find myself there if I don't condone this evil behaviour.
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:36:06 WIB
@Alammeida: You suggest that Jesus would approve of it because he spent time with the outcasts, indeed he did so and never even encouraged them to sin, quite the opposite. Notice how my posts never ever said anything about anyone's eternal destiny, I didn't condemn anyone. It is interesting that of the two of us, your words are much closer to condemnation than mine. You are suggesting that I won't see heaven. Judgmental, no?
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:44:07 WIB
@Alammeida: Lastly, and this I found most telling, ..."melenyapkan kemanusiaan mereka". You brought this up as though it was almost the "theme" of your accusation against me. You accuse me of "dehumanizing" the homosexual and yet failed to provide any example of me doing so. Please, quote me. What did my original post say that could even be interpreted in the loosest of ways as questioning the "humanity" of anyone?
Stella Matutina | 30 August 2017 | 11:49:39 WIB
@Alammeida: You actually made me second guess myself and question whether or not I had been too hasty and written something I would have regretted upon second thought. But after reviewing my initial post, I confirmed that I hadn't written anything that could even be MISinterpreted as saying that those experiencing same sex attraction and acting on this attraction were less than human. In fact, theologically, it is precisely the very fact of their humanity that gives any sense to what I've been saying. It is that they are fallen creatures as all of us are that permits me of even talking about this in a moral context.

P.S. Everyday everyone, throughout the entire world, when they take a dump, make a wordless argument against butt banging. One doesn't need religion to tell them that a penis doesn't belong in a shit-hole. It is 100% intuitive.
Judas | 30 August 2017 | 18:59:03 WIB
I feel understood by this article.
But I feel like somehow a comment is reducing relationships into anal sex...
Which is pretty normal if you consult classic Freudian theory.

If you wanna gross out everything, you could. Penis penetration to Vagina is also gross.

So dear Stella, it's all cultural construction which works so much in telling us which one is gross and which one is not.
Let's just not mind people's private matters in private rooms.
Sex is always and will always be crazy.

Anyways, it's getting far off the topic. LGBT issues is just one aspect of the article.
And as a Christian, I also feel what Mario feels.
VLN | 30 August 2017 | 19:34:40 WIB
Stella, if you're so bothered by "butt-banging" then just don't do it. Why should you care about what other people do in their own bed? What harm does it do to you? It's not like you're the one bleeding or dying because of it.

Taking about "ripping", isn't it also happened to vagina? And you're also talking about anal sex as if heterosexual people don't do it. Idk man. I just can't comprehend why one should be so bothered by how other people have sex.

Anyways, Mario Rustan's piece is amazing! We should talk more about the substance of this article and less about how gross "butt-banging" is.
janedoe | 11 February 2018 | 21:58:34 WIB
Ya’ll, let us pray for Stella so she can get the whole anal action out of her head. LOL. Semoga Stella bisa mengurangi judgemental behaviour-nya. Stay safe, girl. Dan semoga ditambahkan rasa mengasihinya terhadap sesama manusia.

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