virus: A Catholic's Personal Tale

James Veverka (
Mon, 14 Jun 1999 14:26:21 -0400 (EDT)

This a post to a thread in atheist-haven, but I would like to share it with my virus list Besides, I think my friends at virus need some new materal this week!

I was raised Catholic and there was never to much doubt I was "going to heaven". It is the Purgatory Principle. With Fundies it's all or nothing absolutism. Bliss or Burning. But Catholicism has Purgatory and no Catholic took mortal sins vs venial sins seriously. You made it eventually, and sooner with some prayr from the living. You can see this understanding of moral relatvism in their more liberal voting record. We did not know anyone we would send to everlasting punishment if there was someone we would have to answer to. And surely God was more wise and merciful than us.

As a child I as frightened by death by the time I was 6. By 8 I knew that all of my recently dead (everything was recent) relatives were in th room watching me always. That God had a keen interest in my soul and was maintaining an eternally vigilant surveilance. That Satan was watching too. And a special emissary, my guardian angel was there to do battle for me. I was quite sure that I was terrified of any Lucifer. He came complete with horns.

The archetypical mythology and the accompanying self perpetuating fear and guilt generating memes did a fine job of controllng me. By the time I was a teenager I had done the best I could to forget all that bullshit. As soon as I could get away with skipping church (my parents did not go!), it was done!

But I was in for a big surprise.

During the sixties I was especially "fond" of LSD. More so than I should have been. A bunch of us were into super doses because we were able to get pure. We would do doses equal to what 30 doses would be these days. I probably had 150 trips under my belt when it happened. Well, one day in 1970, the floor fell in and the walls came crumbling down. What do you think was hiding in the basement? You guessed it. Fuck yes, the whole god-damned gang! Where did they come from?!?

I had passed through the veil into the supernatural and was absolutely terrified. My mind blazed with this psychosis. It was time to go to my eternal damnation. I stood before God in judgement and was dying. The time dilation was so extreme that the world moved in a very slow motion around me. My heart felt like it was pounding at 300 bpm.

My friends calmed me down and I sought refuge in the big old stone Catholic Church in town. Yes, that one. It was 3AM and all I could feel was monstrous rushes of dread, while I heard the Hissing of Satan taunting my mind. It came in powerful engulfing waves of terror. Compounding this was the hissing sound of forced hot water radiators starting up for the day that winter. Bt thought it was Satan speakng to me. But that sound, heightened by my state, mixed with the delusions, added to by the full bore cathedral interior, translated into the fires of hell for me.

It was the worst possible place I could go. But the drug induced, psychosis enhanced, function of the ingrained mythology and the compulsory religious memes forced me to. I was trapped as long as I was alone. I HAD to save my soul somehow. I just HAD too.

It took the physical sensations with accompanying ideation and the crippling flashbacks a little less than 2 years to disappear. I became a weak atheist by the time I was about 25. I am 49 now. I was fully recovered and saw the absolute lack of tenability in christianity. After being raised Catholic and experiencing 3 VERY LONG MISERABLE FUCKING YEARS trying fundamentalism, I had seen enough insanity and irrationality that mirrored what I had seen in the basement. I knew what drove them in some strength; intimately. Since then I have never looked back, not once. I value my life.

I feel I saw an up front in-my-face picture of what religous training had created in my earliest neural connections while my conciousness developed. I know that we all have something in common: archetypes that have evolved into our mythologies. So I can only think that the world would be much better off without religion. Emotional health would change drasticly all over the globe if we teach our children values without the mythologies and superstition.