Originally posted on my personal Facebook.
Here is a little hiccup I’ve gone through recently for telling my dad I’m an agnostic. Boy, was that a bumpy ride.
During my teenage years, I discover some things about myself: that I am more a nationalist than religious, and that the traditions of religion burden me. I feel the responsibility to do this and that without being able to figure out why, even after consulting to very understanding priests. Slowly but surely, I started to secretly identify myself as an agnostic, or a Christian humanist, rather than a Catholic. Coming from a family of religious church-goers, and being raised in a rather fascist Catholic school, I think it would be better to keep my shift of faith to myself.
Quite recently, I confess my agnosticism to my dad. His response was a short “What is that?” It was followed by his storming off and labeling me an atheist, which is ridiculous as I had previously answered his ignorant question with, “I believe in God, but less so in religion.” Yet, who am I to judge. ‘Confess my agnosticism’ is ridiculous to begin with.
I haven’t spoken to him since. Not a word, even though we still live under the same roof. The blood ties is severed by something I consider of little significance, but to him apparently matters a whole lot. The problem is: having spent my whole life with him, I don’t even have the slightest clue why! He barely believes in some of the church’s most fundamental teachings and doesn’t spent any effort whatsoever to learn the theology I’ve spent years to internalize. He ridicules the Sacrament of Penance, which I have found beneficial in my teenage years of ennui.
At the same time, he is more than active in the congregation (I couldn’t care less about) and to be frank, from what I see he thinks of church as a political vehicle. Ah, alright, at least some explanation comes to light. Instead of opening up to the fact that his “intelligent” daughter is developing a new perspective in life, he prefers to think of how his congregational peers will view this as a shame.
Although, why should it? The only think shameful is his response. Being Catholic and Chinese-descendants, we grow up as minorities. We are both outraged by how FPI label everyone infidel without giving a shit about what the ‘infidel beliefs’ are all about. Yet, this is the very treatment I received from him. The exact treatment. Although, you can say it’s far harder to be condemned by someone who are supposed to ‘love you unconditionally’.
Here comes the slurs, “SO YOU THINK BECAUSE YOU’RE EDUCATED YOU CAN HAVE NO GOD?” “WHAT USE IS THAT KNOWLEDGE WHEN AT THE END OF THE DAY YOU ARE GODLESS?” “THIS HOUSE NEEDS TO BE BUILT ON ONE FOUNDATION. GET RID OF THE OTHERS.” Yeah. Nothing beats definitional error. I bursted to laughter once, because admit it, it is more stupid than upsetting. There’s nothing like a FPI-hater turns FPI. Geez, clearly he has a midlife crisis and he wants war. Let’s be a grateful kid and serve the need.
I am not fighting against anything. This is a conscious choice that I reflect on as wisely as I can throughout my years in a Catholic school and my experience in nationalism. An argumentum ad baculum can’t change this. Faith and personal ideology matters more than financial support, or whatever it is my dad supplies and threatens to take away. It’s funny how I can finally relate to the idea of martyrdom after I set myself free from the church.
Religion shows you what should be and what should not be. It doesn’t answer why the opposite happens, yet I am in grave need of those answers. I don’t denounce Roman Catholicism as my upbringing. I don’t. It has plenty of great values and has helped me so much to cope with my grief throughout the years. But, I grow as a person and the shoes this religion gave me don’t fit anymore. This identity is a growth rather than a change or rebellion.
Every person has the right to be in peace with what they believe in. It is a matter of identity. Everybody needs to know which faith and religious practice suits them most. Our tradition takes that away. A lot of us are groomed in one identity just because our parents are there. Some of us are lucky that it fits. Others struggle, a lot. But get this: tradition and faith shouldn’t be bound as one. We tend to confuse this, and at the end of the day push the faith sideways. We are stuck in a meaningless rut, and that has been what become of me in the church every Sunday. I can’t connect. It’s impossible. I need a fresh start. I need to be (oh I know this sounds like bullshit to my atheist friends) in tune with myself. The true knowledge and faith supports each other. Tradition does not.
It’s not wrong if you need a fresh start, too. Those who truly cares won’t judge. Afterall, the only one to know what’s right for you is you. Yes, it may take some getting used to … the whole “deciding-for-myself” thing, but definitely worth the investment.
Of course at the end of the day, I don’t know everything. Religion is an established settlement, so who knows if I would be drawn back to it after a long journey. Meanwhile, let me explore and understand everything without being pigeonholed by restrictions I can’t comprehend. As my favorite reformed man St Augustine said: give me chastity, but not yet.
Thanks to Mom and sisters and friends who stand by and pray for me without judging. You mean everything to me, really. And no hate for Dad. It is what it is.