Isn't it exciting to be a Catholic this Easter? Nope, I didn't put that lead just to arrest attention; it just is. The meat of this excitement comes from the seemingly progressive attempts to shake the foundations of the Catholic Church down to its very conservative core by controversies from recent discoveries, developments, and debates.

Of course, the Church has been plagued with controversies for centuries but of late, it has been in a defensive mode like a fifth grade bully being ganged up by a mob of hostile and fed-up first grade nerds.

The recent fissure started with the death of the much-loved John Paul II whose papacy was taken over by the ultra-conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005. By the great seer Nostradamus' prophecy, the new pope will be assassinated that will signal the end of the Catholic Church ("Then comes pope number 112, who will flee Rome because of an attack by Muslims"). For many, the prophecy strikes a sensitive chord with the current hostility among Islam fundamentalists against the capitalist (and with Dubya's leadership, imperialist) West. His monicker as God's Rotweiller doesn't calm nerves either.

Then there's Dan Brown. His popular novel, The Da Vinci Code, propounds a gripping conspiracy theory detailing a grand cover-up of a fictional descendant of Jesus Christ living among us today. This theory is causing ruckus because physical and visual proofs, as well as scholarly truths, are mentioned and presented in the book; supposed proofs and truths that were inconspicuously concealed by the Church.

And just a couple of weeks ago, the National Geographic Society has trumpeted the reconstruction and translation of the 2000 year-old Gospel of Judas. Unearthed in Egypt, the document contradicts the centuries-old portrayal of Judas Iscariot as the disciple who betrayed and sold Jesus to the Romans. On the contrary, at least according to the document, Judas was the most-favored disciple whose actions were at Jesus' bidding.

The Church, of course, has made its arguments known on these controversies dispelling rumors of an unstable leadership; demarcating centuries-old truths from modern-day fiction, and; dismissing results of discoveries as by-products of the eccentric nature of men less divine.

Over the course of Holy Week, I was engrossed with these controversies, watching specials on TV, reading debates and developments on print and over the internet, and reflecting in general on how these affect my somewhat lethargic faith of late. It sounds a bit shallow and cosmetic to take a sudden interest in religion because of popular, media-oriented issues, but yeah, I do feel like crap. I take pride in my relationship with God: casual and personal — beyond the trappings of grand ceremonies and traditional pageantry associated with an uptight and exacting Church.

Having said that, it also becomes an easy excuse to distance myself from God and faith, per se because, as pervasive as the voice in the reality TV show Big Brother, I feel God is always there anyway, as is faith. A housemate doesn't spend long hours inside the confession booth and open up in confidence to Big Brother; rather, a housemate go about his or her chores and whatever task is at hand to outsmart the others and win. Now I know the analogy doesn't seem solid. But what I want to say, today being Easter, is that inasmuch as I want to win in life, I'd like to spend some regular time inside the booth for a change. I'd like to be casual and personal but deep and involved. And this time, I'd like to experience faith beyond controversies and the excitement they generate.

See previous blog entry Easter Reflections (Posted 27 March 2005)