As I check my email rapidly - I don't have much time, I am in the translation booth and the topic is quite technical, no time to waste on Facebook and other timewasting devices... (yet here I am, ok...) Anyways, I open my email and find the strangest email ever. A Catholic group has my name in their mailing list and have been sending regular emails lately. Today I got two, and the last one makes me smile.
They are kindly letting me know that someone died and are now inviting me to messes, I assume, I didn't finish reading the thing before I deleted it. I am not smiling because someone died, although death happens all the time and shouldn't be considered so gravely when you are sure the soul will go to heaven. I guess the possibility of hell is to blame for all the solemnity. Anyway, what was funny was the wording of the email. Apparently the departed was someone's grandfather, someone they call "Consecrated". It was literally something like this: Our consecrated jane doe's grand father has died, please join our prayers, bla, bla bla...
It might not even be funny. I guess what I am laughing at in the end is how completely crazy this sounds to me, personally. And how these crazy things were completely out of my head after just a few months in Europe as a resident of the Pure Land, following my lama with my sangha all over central Europe, and later living in a Buddhist Center in Budapest.
I had forgotten what it was like to live in a country where there is no Church-Government separation (except on paper, somewhere on the Constitution), since the church has the power to collect biology books from all schools because there is chapter speaking of masturbation and homosexuality (the horror!!!), and also condemns AIDS awareness programs if condoms are distributed. Please understand I am not trying to offend anybody, I do not consider these things to be either good or bad, these are simply facts. This is a country where all presentable people are either Catholics or Protestants, where many carry a bible under the arm and are able to accurately quote from it, and where Buddhism is just a word, and not a well understood one.
I am not complaining or condemning. Just stating the fact. To be cool in this country, my young teenage daughter considers it necessary to participate in a Catholic youth group, however in disagreement she may be with the general dogmas of the Catholic church. She is my daughter, and has grown-up watching me meditate and practice Yoga, two practices heavily condemned by the Catholic church. She is inevitably a product of my meditation and has been brought-up to have a broad mind where she can understand and accept others, be empathetic and open. What I wish for her is a culture where you don't need religious affiliations to be cool, where you are free to believe and think what you want.
Freedom is a good thing.