Hello and Happy Saturday!
I wish to thank Dennis Heil for his very interesting and candid interview. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your answers and I thank you for being so open and sharing with us all Dennis!
Today we have a new interview so please welcome Sherry M. Peyton. Sherry is a Catholic and I know you will enjoy her interview as well!
Here Is Sherry M. Peyton's Introduction:
I'm a retired attorney from Detroit Michigan, now living in Las Cruces, New Mexico with my husband and our dog Diego. I consider myself a writer now, and I blog daily. My interests are fairly eclectic so I read widely, do a few crafty things, walk in the desert, swim, cook and garden. I try to devote time to working at our local food pantry and collecting food for them. Life is pretty darn good. My faith is an important part of my life, and I love the more meditative side of spirituality.
My main site is www.afeatheradrift.wordpress.com but my spiritual blog is www.witshadows.wordpress.com. I have a food blog, a writing blog, and a lifestyle blog as well. They can be located by the sidebar of either of the two listed.
1) What religion do you practice?
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was not raised in any faith. My parents were ostensibly believers but faith was not discussed. I converted to Roman Catholicism at age 42. The process is quite long. Classes are once a week starting in September, you are baptised and/or confirmed on Easter, and classes formally end at the end of Pentecost.
3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
There are no official degrees. One is supposed to attend mass each Sunday and on all Holy days as well as observe certain eating practices during Lent. There are however informal groups--there are some ultra conservatives, but most Roman Catholics attend Mass semi-regularly I would say especially on things like Easter and Christmas. I would also say that there are liberal or progressive Catholics who work to move the Church in a more liberal stance on the issues of the day. Most Catholics are more liberal than church teachings but pretty much ignore those teachings they don't agree with.
4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance? I'm liberal/progressive. I am in dissent within my Church on issues such as marriage equality, women in the priesthood, and the need to welcome everyone to the table and let Jesus sort it out if you will.
5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
My Church definitely teaches a heaven and a hell, and a purgatory where one "pays" off one's sins before entering heaven, but personally I don't believe in such concepts.
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
I believe every person regardless of faith or lack of it returns to the Oneness of the Creator at death. A loving God does not punish the ignorant for not being able to transcend this reality and "see" the other side as I see it. Perhaps it is more like the Hindus and reincarnation, and we continue to evolve with each life until we are able to pierce the veil and "see." I don't know, I only know that a God who consigns his own creation to a hell is not a God I think worthy of worship.
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?I love the fact that the Roman Church is the oldest institution in the world that has been ongoing for over 2,000 years. I love the rituals of the mass, and to the degree that they are still around, the beautiful old cathedrals that make at least my heart soar to my God.
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Easter is the highest of holy days followed by the birth of Jesus (a not-accurate date I might note) on Christmas. Beyond that there are several holidays of lesser importance such as Marian observances, Ash Wednesday, Pentacost. All are celebrated by special masses.
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Indeed I do. One learns that in the end most faiths teach essentially the same things, just in different ways. I think God works with the habits and customs of individual areas of the world, and religions arise around what speaks best to the people.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes certainly I would, especially Muslim or Jewish. In fact it is common in the Catholic church to have Seder meals at Eastertime to commemorate the Last Supper which Jesus celebrated right before his death.
11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I am not in favor of requiring women to wear specific attire because men require it. If women wish to attire themselves that way, it is surely their right, as many Catholic religious used to and some still do. As to Shariah law, I am very opposed to theocracy. It doesn't work. It got us into much trouble in Europe and hopefully we can stave off those in this country who wish it, which seems to be the desire of some on the far right evangelicals.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Women cannot be priests or deacons in the Roman Church. It is almost certain that there were women deacons in the early church, and many believe that people like Mary Magdalen were essentially apostles like Paul and Peter. Since God makes no distinctions between sexes, I find it hard to understand why some men do. I suspect it has to do with power rather than anything defined in scripture. In fact the latest Papal pronouncement on the subject from John Paul II suggested that it was purely tradition and not scripture that forbids women from the priesthood. I find it appalling since I know wonderful women who would make amazing priests. In many parishes, women do all the work except the consecration of the bread and wine anyway.
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
No. I would find it unacceptable.
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
I am forced at major junctures in my life, especially as they pertain to moral matters, to really sit and ponder for long periods these issues. One is required in my tradition to follow one's own beliefs in the end, but one is required to learn on a very deep level what the church teaches and why. One must then research the issue as best one can before attempting to form an opinion that differs from the Church. It is laborious and painful since I for one dislike finding myself on the other side from my church. However, I take the rule seriously that I must decide what my heart tells me is truth, and follow it no matter what the Church says.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
No problem whatsoever. Some of my very best friends are agnostic at best if not deliberate atheists.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
No. That is the height of arrogance and usurps the position of God who I assume can make that determination all by Herself. :)
17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
The Pope speaks for me, as well as the USCCB--the bishops. I rather like this new Pope, but certainly he is still not there on some issues that are important to me. I am mostly not on the same page with the Bishops except when they speak to issues of poverty and immigration where they do seem to adhere to what I think of as Catholic principles.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Yes, I think that to the degree that women are prevented from certain jobs, and even certain groups within the church (knights of Columbus), they demean women and make us seem less valuable. I'm really tired of being told how important our Blessed Mother is, and that she makes us "equal" to men somehow by her being venerated. It's a palliative statement at best.
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind? Yes, frankly it does. I always feel I'm home when I arrive in the pew, and kneel. That is my first thanks--to God for bringing me home to Mother Church. It is my church, where I express my faith, with all it's scars and wounds from it's own sins. It's still mine and I love her and hope she continues to evolve. Perhaps Pope Francis is the Holy Spirit coming forth in renewal, a renewal we badly need.
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
I don't disbelieve in it. I think it would be kind of cool actually. I like the idea of coming back until one gets it right. I find a lot of logic and symmetry in that system, and I would not be unhappy if it were true. The fact is that NO earthly religion gets it all right. We all have parts, some overlapping, and some very wrong I suspect. We see but through a glass darkly as Paul said.