This book gave me nightmares when I was a kid.
It still does.
I can still remember almost the entire contents of this book.
It's the Baltimore Catechism. Required reading for any good Catholic worth his salt.
I went to Catholic School. In Catholic school we had to memorize many passages and answers to questions out of this book.
One that comes to mind immediately is, "Who is God?"
The Baltimore Catechism answer: God is a Supreme Being made in the image and likeness of man.
As an impressionable kid with an overactive imagination these questions and answers freaked me out. Why? Because I was a 6 year old and didn't understand what a Supreme Being was or what it meant when they wrote that God was all powerful and knowing.
Did that mean he followed me around all day like my shadow? Was he there when I was in the bathroom dumping Lima beans in the toilet because I hated them and had stuffed them in my socks at dinner? Was he there when I swore for the first time and said, "Shit" on the playground? Was he there when my sister and I pretended to say Mass in our room and used Necco wafers as the Body of Christ, and tap water as the Blood of Christ? Girls can't be Priests. I know that God...please don't be mad at me.
I know there is no hope for me. I'm going to Hell in a hand basket...as my Mother informed me many times already.
I just want to know why it had to be so scary? Why was fear the motivating factor behind our religion?
How many times did I hear, "God's punishing you" when something bad happened - or "God's watching you and he knows everything you do so you had better be telling the truth and keeping your nose clean or lightening is going to strike you dead."
That doesn't sound like a God I want to worship. He sounds scary and mean.
The God I like is the one I know now. The one who loves me and forgives me no matter what. The one who knows I am human and make mistakes. The one who is a loving God. The one I know today whom I will gladly worship until the day I die and hopefully he will be the one who welcomes me in his arms.
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't fit in that hand basket anyway, and everyone who knows me knows that I can't stand the heat so I'm counting on the nice God to be at those pearly gates some day...but not anytime soon...are you listening? I'm not ready yet. I'm just getting to know this God and enjoying the world he created.