Thursday, March 20, 2008

Moral Dilemmas

Well, I didn't mean to leave that lovely prom picture post up there for so long, but my life seems to be getting in the way of blogging. And there's not even anything interesting to report on.

That Canadian Boy I Married and I had a discussion last night about religion. We go weeks and weeks without having conversations of any substance and then all of a sudden, we spend an intense hour debating something big. Are we weird or is this how other people do it, too?

The topic arose after we discussed the Obama race speech from Tuesday, but it quickly turned to church and what should or would drive a person away from a parish/church. We specifically discussed the pedophile issues that have been dogging the Catholic church over the last few years.

If a parishioner knows that a priest is molesting a child in the parish, but doesn't leave the parish or mention the abuse to anyone in the church, is that condoning the abuse? What is enough to drive a person to leave their church? What line do you draw and say "Over that, I will not go?"

I understand the involvement people have with their church. My family was very active in our church when I was a child. A lot of our social life revolved around church activities and many of my friends were from church.

But when does ones social life have to be set aside for the greater good? Is it really that difficult to disassociate yourself from your church/parish? I can't help but think that plenty of people had to have known that priests were abusing boys in the church. Some of the boys had to have said something to their parents or teachers about it - they can't all have kept quiet. What would drive a parent to ignore information like that from their child? And what would keep a family in a parish, knowing the abuse was going on?

It's difficult for me, now, to see how a person can turn a blind eye to such things, just because they're reluctant to give up their church. I am not religious now and I don't have that type of community, but I have other communities I belong to and I'm pretty secure in saying that if I knew that was going on, I would do something, say something and remove myself from that group of people.

I grew up next door to a woman who abused her children. She was a raging alcoholic and would scream at them, throw things at them, beat them and occasionally kick one of them out of the house and make them sleep under the pine tree in the front yard. Every single time it happened, my parents would call the police about it. Nothing ever happened. The kids were never taken away, she was never arrested, nothing. It was very discouraging, but my parents kept calling because it was the right thing to do. Even though she started haranguing us, screaming out the windows about us and threatening my sister and I if we set foot in her yard, my parents continued to report her, in the hopes that eventually, something would be done. It wasn't an easy way to live for a couple of years, but it was the right thing to do.

It saddens me that too often, people take the easy way out. That people would rather shut their eyes to these atrocities than disturb their little social and/or spiritual community by speaking out. When something is so patently wrong, the right thing, the Christian thing to do, is to say something, do something, help that child, stand up and say "Enough!" I don't know how you can, in all good conscience, sleep at night, knowing that your silence helps perpetuate these things.

Just one more thing that baffles me.


elizasmom said...

It's obvious that your parents instilled some really important values in you. Good for them!

As to your larger question r.e. church, I agree with you but I think there's one factor that you and I probably can't fully understand that goes some way to explaining (not excusing) the inaction in some cases, and that's the POWER of the church. We don't see the authority of the church the way people used to, but people who grew up in that culture were taught unquestioning obedience to an institution that was important not just for spiritual/social enrichment but as something that could determine their fortunes but here on earth and in the afterlife, not to mention its political clout. Knocking down your own idols is SCARY.

elizasmom said...

Ack, itchy trigger finger. Did you know there's a church in Hipsterville where parishioners actually broke with the church and formed their own worship/social group because of the priest's unethical behavior about 2 decades back?

Green-Eyed Momster said...

You have such a big heart. I think seeing the dog next door reminds you of your old neighbor that was forced to sleep under a tree. How heartbreaking that must have been to watch. I think a lot of people have conflicting feelings this "Holy" week. I'm feeling it. I feel for you too! Hang in there, girl!

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Unfortunately Catholic priests didn't just molest little boys. Let's just say that was the proverbial straw for me.

Josie said...

See, as far as I'm concerned, if you see someone being harmed / wronged etc - you should stand up for them or report them. It's a black and white issue for me.
I think, and this isn't a bad thing, you care too much. Hence why you feel it more than some. Again, not a bad thing, just what I've garnered from your blog. You have a very big heart.
I tend to take a step back in religous conversations / posted today. Safer.

Anonymous said...

Growing up in a warped religious environment (Mom-Catholic, Dad-Muslim) probably prevented me from having any sort of social life involving any church.

I consider myself a secular humanist and my biggest goal is to always do what is "right" in my own eyes. Taking care of others and their safety is a big part of it.

I think your parents taught you well.

Shannon said...

If only everyone thought the way you do, Julia...the world would be a better place.

But, sadly, people turn a blind eye for one reason or another. Rumors of priests molesting boys have been going on for decades, more as joking. How do you think rumors get started? People knew, or heard, but they thought it was just bad jokes. A priest couldn't possibly do something like that in their eyes.

Plus, I agree with everything Eliza'smom said. She hit the nail on the head.

SUEB0B said...

I go to a church where people believe in that stupid-ass "The Secret" law of attraction thing that I am totally opposed to. But they listen to my arguments and treat me respectfully and I keep going back. I sometimes question why I am so involved if they don't share my beliefs, but maybe it is like marriage, where there are always going to be differences and you just have to get over them.

The abuse thing would be a deal breaker for me, though.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm way behind on reading this comment covers several installments (including your dLife ones). As far as moral dilemmas go, I think you are right on. Speak your mind if you see something wrong, and do what you can to make it right. If you can't make a difference or the powers that be won't change, you have to go where it is healthy for you. Sometimes we have to take our own responsibilities and needs as seriously as we do the wrongs we want to right (like not jeopardizing your place of residence over someone else's dog). As for the slams you took at dLife - bravo for not responding in a negative way to such horrible, horrible slimy stuff. I see that someone apologized, but the rest did not. Logging BITES - I am terrible about it, even with the ability to download pump, meter, and CGMS. But I would bet that your daughter gets better care than some parents who obsessively log but don't *care* about their child - only their numbers! So don't let that garbage get to you. Those of us who read your blogs and emails and such know that you are an awesome mom and that person was apparently on a nasty bender that day.

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Amen, my friend. You've just said what I've been thinking.

Shannon said...

I've tagged you. See blog.

Anonymous said...

To turn your back on the Lord because of a few Perverted Priest is not the answer. The Lord did not condone these acts so why blame and punish Him?

MsCellania said...

I gave up on the Catholic Church a long time ago.
One doesn't have to go to a church to have faith. God is everywhere. I like Jesse Ventura's take on organized religion.

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Are you okay? I've been thinking about you a lot lately! I hope that you are well.