Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When Faiths Collide – An AC360 Special

Good Evening All! I enjoyed Anderson’s return to 360 last night. Technical problems aside, I thought the discussions were very informative. I have to say that I adore Reza Aslan. He is intelligent, insightful, and most of all, his views are spot on. And oh yeah, he’s a cutie too!!! And although I do not like Delia Gallagher, she too is intelligent and well-versed on the Catholic religion and the politics of the Vatican. I just wished her delivery wasn’t so terse. Man, just look at the nasty looks she’s giving Anderson in these pictures! Stand down, Babe!

I knew that I would love Anderson’s coverage in Turkey this week. I had hoped to come away with some knowledge about Turkey and its diverse people. I also hoped to learn more about the “new” Vatican. I must confess that I do not know a lot about the politics of the Vatican. You see, I’m sort of a “blind faith” Catholic. Or, should I say I was a blind faith catholic. I say this because all of my life, I accepted my faith and beliefs with question or research. I’m embarrassed to admit that besides CCD classes, I have never taken a theology class or bothered to research any other religion for that matter. I know what I was taught in church and in my catechism studies. I did this for one very selfish reason. I never wanted to question my belief in God. I never wanted my faith to be shaken.

I use my husband as an example here. He was raised a Catholic, same as I. He made all of his sacraments without question. But in college he became very interested in exploring the inner workings of religions and their historicalorigins. I think that had a lot to do with him questioning his own faith. My husband is now an atheist. I was completely stunned to find that out when we started dating. I worried that it might interfere in our relationship since he did not want to go to church with me at first. And most importantly, he did not share my belief in God and prayer. But I soon came to find out that with most things in our relationship, he was willing to compromise. I was so happy because it had always been my dream to attend church every Sunday with a family of my own. And, it was my dream to get married in the beautiful church I grew up in. The very church his grandfather helped to build.

Funny how dreams die all on their own, though. It wasn’t my husband’s conflicting beliefs that spoiled my dreams of that Sunday mass with my family. No, it was my own questioning of my beliefs that make me not want to celebrate my faith any longer. It makes me sad just to type this, frankly. You see, ever since 9/11, I cannot just sit in church and blindly accept that there is a God. I do not want to get into a long drawn out discussion about God and man, here. And I do not wish to offend anyone, so I will only tell you that after 9/11 I could not accept that the God I loved would just let that horrible day happen. I could not then and cannot now accept that nearly 3000 people had to die out of hatred. A two year old child was on one of those planes. Did she deserve to die like that? It was needless and senseless. I think I might have told you that I was pregnant at the time. I imagined my child coming to me and asking me why God let this horrible act happen. Wasn’t God all knowing and loving? Where was he on September 11th? These are questions I fear because I cannot answer them.

It took a couple of years but I one day decided to recapture my faith and started going to church again. I quickly remembered what I loved so much about my faith. I felt sort of whole again. And then the one figure I had come to love so much passed away. Pope John Paul II meant the world to me. He was such a loving and holy figure. Anderson mentioned last night how Pope John Paul II built bridges. That is so true. He was a uniter of people. He opened his arms to the youth of the church which to me is so important. In him, I saw love and faith and hope. When he died, I lost my bliss, shall we say. I was completely devastated.

Here I stand today, still a Catholic. But no longer practicing my faith. I just cannot accept Pope Benedict as our new leader. Although he has been the scholar behind the doctrines of our faith under John Paul II, he can never fill his shoes. To me, he does not appear the compassionate, loving and charismatic symbol that Pope John Paul II had become. Delia Gallagher said that this Pope needs to soften his image. I completely agree. In fact, I was just having this discussion with a friend this morning.

I look forward to AC360 tonight. I will be paying close attention to how Pope Benedict plays to the Turkish people today. I believe that the message needs to be one of acceptance. In a time where the world needs a uniter in faith and acceptance, it is crucial for the Muslim community to know that people do not think all Muslims are radical terrorists. Phebe mentioned in her post this morning how Rezla Aslan stressed that it is crucial for the world to remember that the majority of Muslim people are loving, religious people. I truly believe this as well. I believe that tolerance and education are the keys to abolishing hatred and terrorism. Acceptance not Judgment.

Okay, I will jump down off my little soapbox. I truly apologize if I have offended anyone with my religious views. It is not my intent. I would love to open the floor to an honest, open and respectful discussion about faith and religion.

Oh and one more thing, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the haircut! Dang, that man looked good last night! Okay, I just had to be fangurl for one moment! And just because I made you sit through such a heavy post, I’m posting a lot of screencaps! Have a great night!


Anonymous said...

hey, i'm the product of a catholic mother and an aethist father, and i turned out ok!! not a catholic, not an aethist. just a happy little pagan :)

a good, thought-provoking post, my dear. well done!!

QuotidianEditorialist said...

Great commentary and great caps Sheryn, thanks =)

Love Anderson no matter what and I missed him, but how is a girl supposed to run their fingers through that little bit of hair? *sigh* His hair is so handsome, too! Why Anderson, why? =(
(Okay, I admit it , he is still adorable!) Fan girl rant over!

I appreciated what you said Sheryn and I understand totally. I am a Christian and I felt many of the same things that you did at 9/11. It also made me want to go back, and I am not sorry that I did. I believe that we have to look at religion intelligently and that includes questioning things. Whenever I have questioned, I learned so much and it made it all the better in the end.

Thanks for such open, honest commentary. I value ATA and all of your girls for the intelligent and respectful thoughts that you post. Kudos and please keep it up!

Unknown said...

I think it's good to question faith and religion. I see nothing wrong with understanding what exactly your religion stands for and what it doesn't.

I've been to a lot of different churches in many different religions and the one thing that always sticks out to me is that vast majority of religions are so negative. All they talk about is the wrath of God and the devil. I choose to celebrate God as a loving entity... one that loves all of us equal no matter what our skin color or religion or private life might be. All that is taught in a lot of churches I've been too is to be afraid... Afraid of going to hell, afraid of NOT going to church etc. But all that fear is empty to me. It's almost their propaganda to fill the pews and their pocketbooks. I do believe in God (Allah, Budda, Jehovah---they are all the same to me). I choose to be close to God on my own and not follow man's judgements because that's all most religion is to me... how man THINKS it should be. Also, I suppose being very liberal I have a hard time finding a place in a church. I do not agree with a lot of what they preach against gays, woman, and other religious groups. That is intolerable to me.

Having said that I think each person should worship (or not) in the way that makes them feel closer to God. For some this means Islam or Catholism or Baptist etc. I know what is good for me but I do not pretend to say it is what works best for all.

In the end, I truly believe everyone (if you are spiritual) should be in whatever church makes them feel good. My one wish is that all the judgemental religious crazies would just keep an eye in their own backyard. When their life is perfect then they can feel free to critize others. Until then, shut up. :p

Phew... I guess I'll get off my soap box too!

Anonymous said...

I also adored Pope John Paul II and feel that something is missing now that he's gone. Nobody can ever walk in that man's shoes nor ever have the influence that he had on people! In fact, it was Anderson's coverage of Pope John Paul II's death that attracted me to CNN and 360. He was doing a reporter's notebook on the streets of Italy and I thought...Wow, that's cool. Who is this guy anyway? He covered that story like no other person or network. I was hooked. So instead of getting on a soap box, I'd rather put two great men on a pedestal...Pope John Paul II and Anderson Cooper! Great Post Sheryn!

Cooper1 said...

Anderson was just on Paula Zahn. Wearing a suit/no tie, looked better than last night (I thought he looked ill). On to Jordan.

Because I was an art history major, I learned all I need to know about how corrupt and judgmental organized religion really is. I was raised a Catholic, but now I feel more comfortable with people who are decent because they care about others, not because some religion tells them to. Please don't misunderstand; I am not judging anyone, this is just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I just saw Anderson on Paula's and he was looking really fine - blue/white shirt and grey suit coat, no AF in sight.

Sheryn I was born and raised a Catholic and went 12 years to a Catholic school, but have not set foot in church for a few years. Why because I realized that there are people, some in my own family, who go to church every Sunday and join church clubs, etc. But the other 6 days they don't give a darn. I say I am a Christian and try to act like one all the time. So that's where I stand on religion in my life.

I found an article earlier about the mosque they are building in my community and it listed some of the reasons the residents didn't want it in their neighborhood. I could understand the traffic problem, but the one that really got to me was that they were afraid that there might be ritual sacrifices. All I could think of was boy what misinformation people will accept as truth. But the Mosque is being built and there will be an open house so I can go visit and get my questions answered. They will be my neighbors and I feel I should know more about them.

Anonymous said...

hello sheryn I always adore your thoughts about Mr. Anderson Cooper.
now this is a great oppurtunity saying our thoughts about our own religion or beliefs. I'm really surprise about what you've post now. seeing another side of Ms. Sheryn that is spectacular. I miss you in sheryn's anderations.
well I'll tell I go to mass everyday pray with the priest every night, pray the rosary before mass and many practices as long as I can. even doing some volunteer works if there is an oppurtunity for me to do so.
I think what we are ask to do is to love one another and respect everyone that's it!

I have question how about Mr. Anderson Cooper is he a catholic or what? LOL!


Anonymous said...

Wow Sheryn, I can really relate to your comments. My mother is Baptist, my father Catholic. As a young child I was raised in the predominantly Portuguese Catholic environment. When I was in elementary school, we moved to a Predominantly LDS community..only about 20 families that weren't Mormon. (That's another whole story all in itself..the little catholic portuguese girl..boy did I stand out!!) I held fast to my Catholicism until I went to college and then I began to question everything and attended a wide variety of churches. I think that exploration was something I needed. In my late 30's, I experienced a significant trauma. In trying to find some peace, I turned back to my Catholic roots for comfort. I was blessed when I was introduced to an exceptional parish Priest and equally blessed when I met my husbands best friend who was also a wonderful priest. At the time, we were living in the most amazing parish on earth, and we had Pope John Paul as our leader. Then in one year, I lost my parish priest, had to move away from my parish and we lost Pope John Paul. I too have had a difficult time adjusting to the new Pope and haven't been a practicing Catholic for awhile. Although, I will probably always consider myself Catholic, I agree with Purple Tie. Belonging to a church or religion should not be a negative experience, should not fill you with shame, should not control you through fear and censure. I was happy in my former parish because we were accepted as individuals with all our faults and gifts and we were supported by our priest unconditionally. He is kind of a rogue priest probably considered to be far too liberal by the Vatican but the people he leads understand the true meaning love and acceptance. As I have gotten older, I have found that there are times I really need to believe in a power greater than myself just to get through the next day. Whether you call that power God or Allah, Mohammed, or Jesus..I don't think it matters. If that power provides you with a haven of peace, then that's what is best for you!! Sorry for the rant..guess I have a pretty big soapbox too!!

Araceli Elle said...

hey sheryn, i really enjoyed your post. and here is another speech for you...

i too was baptised catholic and went to my sunday school classes, and was confirmed catholic. however, i was never very religious. going to church every sunday was always a chore to me. not a privledge. after i was confirmed at 15, my parents left it to me to decide whether or not i wanted to attend mass. i would no longer be "dragged". i stopped going. i was a kid. working at the pool was more important to me.

also like you when pope john paul ii passed away, i felt a need to rediscover my religion. i was 23 and i started to feel my "catholic conscience" pulling at me. i felt that maybe i should be going to mass and try to understand this religion i was technically a part of. so i started going to mass. because i felt i owed it to him. this great man who gave his life to the church and to being an amazing human being. but as i sat in mass listening everything that was being said, and then seeing what was going on in the world around me, it just didn't match up. it was too hard for me to have a blind faith in something i coudn't see when everything i could see was such a disaster.

i haven't been to mass in quite some time now. i just am not a religious person. but i do feel like there is something bigger than all of us... i'm just not sure what it is... it's undefined as of right now. i am so distraught by the state of the world, i'm not sure where to turn for a spiritual positive reinforcement. i think that the answer to the problems of humanity lies within us as a species. not in religion. that's where the divide is occurring.

but if your religion brings you peace and helps you get through the day, then i say go for it all the way. i have friends who are extremely religious. but it's not their right to impose their values on other people. for any reason. nor is it mine. and we all respect that.

and now i'm passing on the soap box.

@purple tie: i really enjoyed your comment too and agree with your points about all the negativity. i especially liked your last comment. your "one wish". well said.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Baha'i. Don't know if you've even heard of this religion. I have to tell you that there is a lot of harmony between what I believe as a person ( elimination of prejudism, equality of men and women, unity of mankind, the presence of one God ) and what the Baha'i faith teaches. Furthermore, in the political climate we're living in and all the uncertainty and apparent inequalities we see around us, I am grateful my faith gives me a different outlook. I think with everything I've gone through in my life, without my faith I would have surely committed suicide. I think a faith that gives your soul a purpose in this world is essential. I can't imagine my life without it.

Anonymous said...

Sheryn and PT, I so agree. Sheryn, I took a World Religions class in college. We went to a local mosque. The inequality between the sexes isn’t really different than other religions. What I found most amazing was how much the philosophies are similar among all religions. I think the problems I’ve had with organized religion is with how the men (typically) of the church have interpreted their doctrine.

I joined my husband’s church (Lutheran) and went through adult studies after we married. I really liked our pastor in California, he was progressive and positive. When we moved to Indiana I liked the pastor at the church my husband selected. We went through several pastors, some I like-some I didn’t. We began volunteering at the church. My husband was offered financial secretary…I was offered preparing for communion and cleaning up after service. Women were not allowed to hold office at the church-I don’t know if it has changed, I haven't been back in years. My objection is to man’s law…not God’s.

After attending two years of mandatory catechism, my daughter was disillusioned. Her interpretation of what she was being taught was that a woman’s place, in the church’s opinion, was just ahead of cattle. After she completed her classes, she never returned to the church.

When she was first engaged, we (my daughter, son-in-law and I) began going to other churches for a church they could join. The one I really loved was the Unitarian Universalist Church, they practice all religions. They have guest speakers from all faiths and walks of life. Children attend their own service and are taught all religions. Of course, since they practice all religions, there was no cross. My daughter just couldn’t get married in a church without a cross. She joined a local Methodist church and is very happy there.

I am a very spiritual person, but I struggle with organized religion and how man’s interpretation of the word of God runs the church rather than the other way around.

I guess I never blame God for horrible things that happen because I think that God gave us free will. There are just some evil people in this world. The interpretation of the radical people that kill, preach hatred and intolerance in the name of God…THAT is the problem.

I’m sorry if I offended anyone with my opinion. I have struggled with this in the past, but I am comfortable with my decision now. I believe that everyone should worship whomever or whatever they want, if it makes them a better person—more power to them.

Just my opinion.

Talk about being spiritual and uplifted, I just watched yesterday’s Oprah show...the $1,000 from Bank of America to someone deserving. Wow, some people really worked it! What was so great to see was how moved the givers were. Some people used the opportunity to do fundraising. One person turned $1,000 into $200,000, another into $83,000 and another to $72,000. Since funds are short for me this year, maybe I will use this as a chance to do something charitable with my grandchildren.

I’ve just missed 20 minutes of AC360 because my husband came upstairs and wanted to talk. It was blah, blah, blah…change in retirement package, blah, blah, blah…your car wasn’t fixed right, blah, blah, blah...have you figured out how to use the blue tooth?...blah, blah, blah, something about plugging something in...blah, blah, blah..you aren’t listening to me are you…what did I just say? I only remember something about plugging something in and he wouldn’t repeat it. Oh well, at least I’m taping AC360…I can replay that…and Anderson is much easier to look at.

I noticed Delia’s face tonight, didn’t pay much attention to it last night. She looks like she could use a laxative. Do you think she ever reviews her work to notice how she holds her face? Now that you mentioned it, I’m noticing that instead of what she is saying.

You know I could understand Anderson cutting his hair so short when he was in the hot desert and in a war zone, but why this time? It is so short now that he probably just runs his own fingers through his hair when he gets out of the shower. No need for any help from the Anderfans until it grows out.

I love the way Anderson really listens when someone throws information his way. He waits (for the delay) then does his cute ‘hmm’ and thanks them.

John Roberts comment about the peace wreath…now THAT was funny. First time I’ve heard John be sarcastic. Anderson wasn’t listening.

Sheryn said...

Wow, you guys are awesome with your comments tonight. Truly insightful. Thank you for your feedback.

@Fairie, I think you turned out awesome! I'm glad you liked my post. You know how I can go on about things!

@Pati, sometimes I wonder if I get too personal in my posts. TMI you know! I'm glad when I get a response like this though. Thank you for your wonderful compliment. I know it means a lot to us to hear that!

@PT, weren't we just having this discussion the other night? I think that not questioning my religion was really a way for me to separate my belief in God and the Catholic Church. My faith was really strong but there are just some things about the Church that I just cannot agree with. And I so agree that people should be able to practice whatever makes them happy and whole.

@Pink Panther, you know I must confess that during the whole coverage in Rome, I was totally focused on Alessio Vinci. Wow, that man is good looking and what an accent! I didn't even notice Anderson. How sad is that to admit?

@Cooper1, no offense taken! No worries. That's what I wanted open and honest comments! Thank you!

@Gracie, that is a perfect example of how a little education can go a long way to prevent prejudice.

@JBChicago, thank you for your compliment. I'm so glad you like my commentary.

@em, I think that you hit the nail on the head as to why I have found it so difficult to go back to church. In the church I grew up in, I had a wonderful priest. He was someone I could confide in. In my town, the church is not a warm and inviting one. The priest is not someone I feel I could go to to discuss my feelings. I wish I had that. The best I do now is pray my novenas and ask for guidance.

@elle, i think that the answer to the problems of humanity lies within us as a species. not in religion. that's where the divide is occurring. This is my favorite line of the night. Well said, my friend!

@Anon, thanks for your comment. I have never heard of your faith. It sounds wonderful. I'm glad you have a strong belief to guide you. Having that does make you feel whole doesn't it?

@Pixie, Organized religion is a hard pill to swallow if it is as rigid as Catholisism. The Vatican just does not grow with the times and that is sad because they are losing so many young parishioners and would be priests. As far as Oprah, I did not see the episode. I've given up on her too! LOL!

And as for Anderson's hair, well now it will be absolutely perfect in about a week from now! He always cuts his hair when he travels! Cuts down on having to style it for in-the-field segments I suppose! I think he looks adorable! You can see some dark brown now!

Anonymous said...

Has Anderson ever said if he is religious or not?

Anonymous said...


I am telling Anderson on you!
You have been cheating with Alessio!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sheryn - very interesting blog today;very deep! The one way I've heard people reconcile something horrid like 9/11 and God is the concept of free will. If you think back to Jesus telling stories and teaching lessons through parables, nothing is forced on his followers. He gave you the guidelines and and commandments and the rest was up to you. You can follow or not, you always have free will.

The other part of it may sound strange because I got it from the movie "OH GOD", but it makes sense to me. In the movie, George Burns playing God answers John Denver's question about answering our prayers by saying " I gave you each other and everything you need". It's up to you.

There was human failure leading up to 9/11. Why in the world the feds wouldn't investigate when someone wants to learn to fly a plane but not learn how to land? It is mind boggling. In fact, you would think someone may want to learn how to land and nothing else. If you are on a plane and something happens to the pilot, you might want to learn how to land. But the reverse should raise all kinds of red flags.

CindyJean said...

Hi, this is my 1st blog on this site. I love you guys because I can not always stay awake to see 360 being from New England and you guys always have a wonderfully insightful synopsis of the show. My thoughts on religion: I am also a Catholic but am like most of you and think the leadership have missed the boat on women in the church, divorced & gay people. That aside, there have been many atrocities before 9/11 and many to come. I think the poster who mentioned free will had it right. We are here to learn and grow from these things. Don't give up. I believe we find our own relationship with God and it most likely is not going to be Sunday morning at church. You do not need a priest to intervene for you. Best of luck and please continue your fantastic work on ATA.

thanks, Cindy