I have a complicated story to tell you. It's one I've held back for almost three years now as I've worked through one of the most difficult times I've experienced in my social and religious education. You were uniquely involved, and I want you to have the story, from my perspective, so you can evaluate for yourself the complexities of these events.
Dad and I enrolled you in a Catholic School here in Boulder. We were both brought up in the Catholic Faith, and as you know, we have members of the family in the Priesthood and in other roles of service to the Church. Dad and his family attended the same Catholic School you did. We have friends in the school and the church that go back decades.
I suppose organized religion can be a wonderful thing. In theory, the Church provides a gathering place for like-minded people to express their faith and support each other. And, if you believe in God and are curious about religious philosophy, churches are a place to learn, ponder, and discuss the possibilities that exist within spiritualism.
From very early on in my life, the Church was not a place I found to be comforting or loving. I remember crying through my First Confession because it took place in a scary, dark, church hallway. I could hear my heels clicking on the floor as I walked alone, not understanding what I was supposed to do or why I was there. I was terrified and the Priest had to come out from behind the curtain to show me where to kneel and he told me what to say. I'm sure he intended to teach me something, but when he forced me to tell him I had been mean to my parents so that he could "forgive" me and get through the excruciating session, the experience was branded onto my memory. I knew something was very wrong - but it took me years to figure out how to reconcile that feeling with everything I had been taught about God and religion.
Later in life, I attended and committed myself to the Methodist Faith, but found I was no more suited to it than Catholicism. I studied The Bible in college, and I longed to understand the connection that so many had with God, that I did not. Dad and I both travelled to Rome and The Vatican, which is the center of the Catholic Faith. We had opportunities to study the politics and economics of the church. We attended a blessing by the Pope. Through these experiences, I became uncomfortably aware that I would never connect to spiritualism through the facade that belies organized religion.
When you girls were born, our families wanted us to have you baptized into the Catholic Faith. It was understandable, as all of us had been baptized, and it was, if you will, a "rule" of our religion to do so. Dad and I had long since stopped worshipping at the Church, however, and we were not married in the Church, so getting you baptized was not as easy as you might imagine. And, I wasn't sure I wanted to baptize you into a faith I was no longer a part of. This is what started us on a years-long journey that took us down some very unfamiliar paths.
I'm going to fast-forward to the day that completely changed me in ways that both propelled me away from the Catholic Faith, and compelled me to solidify a new definition of spiritualism for myself. One day, your classmate was told along with her brother, that she could no longer attend your school. She was told this because her parents were lesbians and the Catholic Faith believes that homosexuality is a sin. Never mind that her parents were part of the Church and had supported it with both their hearts and finances. Never mind that those two children had been baptized into the faith. Never mind that this was a loving, progressive, sweet family whose Christian beliefs set the bar higher for the rest of us.
As you can imagine, the outcry from that decision was enormous. The local and national press was involved. Groups came to demonstrate at the church. Parents got together to sign petitions and write letters to question the Archdiocese. Some people upheld the decision. For me, it was the absolute end to any shred of connection I had to Catholicism.
When I say "Truths We Find to be Self-Evident," I'm talking about the fact that, as human beings, we inherently know how to love and cherish each other. We know the difference between right and wrong. We know that it feels good to embrace others wholly and without judgement. It is whatever education we receive throughout our lives that causes us to choose not to be open to others. So, when the decision of the Catholic Church was one that placed you girls into an education of intolerance, fear, and forced condescension, I couldn't possibly allow you to stay there.
What is self-evident to me? The most exceptional and primary reason for the existence of this thing we call "God," The Bible, and the Christian Faith, is to embrace and accept each other, in all of our maginificent complexity and beauty. Period. No exception.
Speaking out has had its disadvantages. The fact is, I love and adore the people at the school. Our friends from there are some of the best people I know. The teachers - brilliant and unwavering in their dedication to the art of education. Some of our friends with similar beliefs also pulled their children and support for the school. Others chose to stay and try to create change. I have friends who credit their Catholic communities and faith with their survival of some incredibly difficult odds. Everyone has the right to make his/her own decision, and I very much respect that.
There is so much more to this story that I'll tell you in the coming weeks. Before I go onto Part II, I want you to know a few things about this story: First, it is each individual's right and responsibility to exist in spiritualism in whatever way they choose. I fully respect (and in some ways, envy) those who choose to participate in organized religion. Second, the journey I took over the years was mine alone. While I've had frank discussions with friends and family, I don't believe it is my right to push my beliefs on anyone any more than I would expect them to do that in return. Finally, discussing these issues, particularly in such a public way, is gut-wrenching. It's something I feel uniquely compelled to do because of the way the journey has changed me. The point of this, however, is not to breed discontent, criticism, or angst, but to stand for what I believe and to support those who were wronged along the path. It is, in my opinion, the right thing to do.
I love you both so very much,