Rowina (9 July 2013)
"To John B and "welcome to the club""


I am also an "ex-Catholic", but I was not raised Catholic.  in my childhood world, the only contact I had with Christian teaching was through the Catholic kids in my neighborhood plus
the Christmas carols we sang at school.  I never went to any church, Catholic or Protestant, except one Sunday to a Baptist "Sunday school" where we did nothing but cut out autumn leave shapes in colored paper.  We had no Bible at home.  My grandmother gave me a small Bible (she was Protestant but lived in another city) and I hid it under my pillow, because my parents would not have approved.  My mother found the little Bible, of course, and did not approve.  She didn't take away the Bible but she made it seem so shameful that I stopped trying to read it much.  I had no one to guide my reading.

So in my growing up years, until college, I had both Catholic and Protestant influences, both indirect.  But the Catholic was stronger because I was with the neighborhood kids a lot.  In those days, maybe before your time, kids spent lots of time out playing in the neighborhood.  It was safer then to just go outside without close parental supervision or being on a "play date" away from home.  Actually there WAS supervision in my neighborhood because not one mother worked.  Wherever we played, there was a mother or aunt at home.  And many of the mothers or aunts were Catholic along with their children.  

So when I grew up and went to college, I had a hard time.  I became ill soon after going to college, probably from exposure to formaldehyde in the Biology lab, to which I had a strong sensitivity.
I had no good counselors there.  Other students put me through what I suppose is a typical college hazing situation, falsely accusing me of stealing little things, or trying to attack me sexually (lesbians, Protestant-raised lesbians from "good families"), etc.  No one knew why I was ill, but I had no friends except some Catholic girls who were kinder than the others.

You can see where this is going.  I became a Catholic in my college years simply because the only kindness I received, apart from my immediate family, was from young Catholics.

I am not a Catholic now.  A long process of re-education and experience over many years led me away from that.  In fact, my only "vision" of Jesus occurred on the day I made up my mind to finally leave the Church.

But even then, I had occasion to attend a Catholic church in the town where we were living, my husband and I.  I went there many times, even though I was officially studying the Bible at Calvary Chapel, and was not an official "member" of the Catholic parish.  I observed and listened.  It occurred to me that the priests there were preaching the gospel just as well, sometimes better, than the pastors at the local Calvary Chapel.  Yes, they had a statue of Mary, and optional rosary-praying sessions.  Yes, they asked Mary's intercession occasionally from the pulpit.
But basically, they were teaching the gospel of Jesus, that he came to save us and die for us, and that we must ask for His mercy and his direction.  They were doing just what the kids in
my neighborhood did many years before.  They were telling the true story of Jesus in the way that a hurting child...for I was still hurting as an adult...could understand.  I needed both their kindness and the good Bible teaching of Calvary Chapel.  So I am a Protestant who appreciates what local parishes do in the Catholic church, far apart from whatever the Pope is doing in Rome.

You speak, John, of the horrors of medieval persecution by Catholics.  Remember that Protestants tortured and killed Catholics in those days, and afterwards, as in the days of the Protestant Reformation, where many Catholics were persecuted and martyred by Protestants.  A famous case was Catholic Thomas More, murdered by Protestant Henry VIII, but Thomas More himself persecuted a noble Protestant, Wycliffe, who translated the Bible into English against strong resistance.  Thomas More and Wycliffe were both true to their beliefs, while evil men like Henry VIII killed them.  John Calvin burned Michael Servetus at the stake, and that was but one famous time a Protestant leader burned someone who didn't agree with him.  History is so full of the murder and torture of Christians by one another that it is obvious why my parents banned the Bible in our home.  They were trying to be decent people, not murderers such as Christians had been throughout history, both Protestant and Catholic.

So where is God in all this? He is weeping over the foolishness of men.