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Raised as a Roman Catholic, I internalized the social values of that faith and still hold most of them, even though its theology no longer persuades me. I have no quarrel with what anyone else subscribes to; everyone deals with these things in his own way, and I have no truths to impart. All I require of a religion is that it be tolerant of those who do not agree with it. I know a priest whose eyes twinkle when he says, “You go about God’s work in your way, and I’ll go about it in His.”

Roger Ebert, from his essay “I do not Fear Death.”

Reprinted today in Salon: http://www.salon.com/2011/09/15/roger_ebert/

He says something here that encapsulates part of my (troubled, contentious) relation to Roman Catholicism and the loss I feel in knowing I won’t go back to church because of its misogyny (structural and intentional), its homophobia, the way it protects powerful interests while preaching humility.

I remember vividly sermons about caring for the poor among us, and I was active for many years in my school and parish chapters of the St. Vincent de Paul society. This calling, to care for the poor, the sad, the ill that was, when I was growing up,  understood — you do what you can to help, however you are needed — is something in which I struggle to ground myself and the way I live my life, and I will always be thankful for this lesson. The rest of the package, though, I will do without, and the loss of that community and the loss of the faith in which I once drew comfort is something I miss, daily.

On a similar note, here’s Greta Christina reframing the question of what religion provides by asking what people need.

Just a note on comments for this post: I’m not posting this for an argument, and I won’t entertain one. I understand that people feel strongly about religion — and, indeed, that some of my friends do — but, if you’re a friend, let’s have that discussion over a bottle of wine and not on the internet, okay.

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