California Catholic reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and ask students about God, good, and evil.
Interview with Ali Oros who is studying art history took place on CSU Channel Islands’ Central Mall on April 3, 2019.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Ali: I have faith but I don’t think I’m religious, per se. I’m baptized, I did my communion and my confirmation and stuff, but my parents are really lax on the Bible and God and the afterlife. We don’t believe there’s an afterlife. We’re holiday Catholics. Easter and Christmas, we’ll go to church but that’s it. I think it’s more for feeling good about ourselves. Or when things get tough, we’ll be like, “Okay, let’s go to church.” But otherwise, we’re fine. It’s weird. I’m sure there’s Something out there.
I really like deism, just the general belief that something was created, but it doesn’t go past that. There has to be Something. For the earth to be so perfectly placed where it is, and the planets, and for physics to work the way it does, it’s just so crazy. I go to the science center to the observatory and I sit in the domes and watch the shows and it’s crazy. So I like to believe that there’s some cosmic force, something nice, I don’t know. I just find it really hard to believe that we’re just here. And for what reason? So then it gets existential. I’m like, why am I here? Why am I at school? All the time. I try not to, because then I get into this weird vortex of: what am I doing, why am I going to school, why do I have a job? I do wonder about it. I think it’s kind of freaky.
I like reading people’s ideas or philosophy. I like that stuff. I try not to look too deep into it because I feel like then you can either get really depressed or be like really inspired. It just depends on how I feel that day.
Do you believe any of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church?
Ali: No, because I feel like the Catholic church is pretty messed up. I think that’s just what I grew up with, what I was comfortable with as a kid. I don’t really agree with a lot of their ideas about abortion, about gay marriage. I think this pope kind of sucks. Judaism is really beautiful and Buddhism is really nice. I think every religion has really beautiful things about it. So I can take from each religion what applies to me.
What do you know about the pope?
Ali: Something was on Twitter today or on Reddit about how the Pope is still really anti-abortion even though priests knowingly raped nuns and forced them to have abortions. There’s so much hypocrisy in the Catholic faith, I think that’s what turns me off about it. But I love the iconography. I study art history. A lot of our history has to do with churches and they’re all Catholic because those are the pretty ones. I remember when I was in Italy, you step into a Catholic Church and it feels really – there’s Something there. It’s all the gold and all the paint, everything’s gilded, so there’s some Holy Spirit thing happening. But I don’t know if it’s just the ostentatiousness of feeling like you’re so little in this giant Church. Which is the same with the earth: you’re so small. So yeah, I like the art. I don’t know if I like the people who have a say in the Catholic religion.
How did you form your morals?
Ali: My parents always encouraged us to read. Like we’d read parts of the Bible, but then my mom’s a teacher so she’d be like, “Think critically.” Even the first, Genesis, like “let there be light” and “on the third day.” My mom was just like, “This is all crap, but you should read it. It’s good to know.” I was just encouraged to read other books and I took a class on Hinduism. I think millennials are more open to interpretation of other things. If you think about the Koran, most of the interpretations of the Koran are done by men, like the three main ones. But women are starting to interpret the Koran, and the Koran is the only text that has gender-neutral pronouns. So it’s weird that we think of Islam as being super like masculine and like anti-fem.
I think millennials in this time period are bringing about a whole different way of seeing religion as something that’s not super rigid. But then in the Midwest, people are still like – but that’s weird. That place is like a black hole in the U.S.
You said you don’t believe in an afterlife?
Ali: I don’t. No, because if we as humans move into an afterlife, the same issues that exist on earth, because we’re human beings, exist in the afterlives. War and currency and class systems, so I have a hard time believing once you die, you’re automatically not a s***y person and everyone can live peacefully. I don’t believe that. Also, going into the sky just seems weird. I’d like to think that once you’re done, you’re done. Because, if you were really sick when you died, do you go to heaven as a healthy person or are you in your sick state living forever? I think it’s better if there’s just nothing after. But I do like ghost stories. I’m like in a weird in between. I’ll play with a Ouija board but I don’t think those are real. I’m just in between everything. I’m a product of social media and movies.