Catholic vs. Other - 2019-02-23 - Simon Laplante

Author Recorded Saturday February 23rd, 2019

There are 41 episodes in the Versus:Other series.

Recorded September 21st, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-21 - Tino

Recorded September 10th, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-10 - Judah

Recorded September 2nd, 2017

Catholic vs. Other - 2017-09-02 - William

Recorded October 21st, 2016

Catholic vs. Other - 2016-10-21 - Ben

Simon is an old friend, but we haven't been in touch much since he moved back west over a decade ago. He is an artist and a kind soul. He is a sincere seeker and I enjoyed hearing his voice after all these years.


Catholic vs. Other - 2019-02-23 - Simon Laplante

Author Recorded September 24th, 2016

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hi my name is Simon LaPlante and you're listening to Catholic versus other just tell us a little bit about yourself if you would please who you are what you believe and how you came to believe what you believe well I'm an artist living in Vancouver and I believe in kindness I had the last few years have worked in certain places I worked at a homeless shelter at First it changed my life I was surrounded by lots of different people for different faiths but the one thing that brought us all together was kindness and love so that's that's kind of how I try to live my life now I'm I try to reach out to people and connect and yeah I'm all about the love before we get into sort of recent history can you talk about your childhood how were you raised what kind of religious people were around you maybe you had parents that believed one thing or another just paint a little picture of your childhood and religion please I was born and raised in Chilliwack British Columbia yeah I was raised by my mother there my grandmother so I had a very strong female influence in my life and then when I was in grade 9 my mother and my brother and I moved up to Prince George and it was kind of interesting because my grandmother was very strong devoted Catholic like she went to Mass three times a day to pray like she was super into it I actually remember she had 12 Last Supper paintings in her in her apartment one was even one of those ones that like when you looked at it changed it moved too so I loved it when I was icky I thought it was so trippy but so basically I did a year and a half of catechism training or a year deaf catechism training during like a year and a half when I lived there the deal was my uncle what he made me go but I wanted to visit my grandma but the deal was my grandma would make these beautiful crate every Wednesday and my brother now go over there and then we'd study catechism stuff and then I was confirmed at the end of it all so you'd have been like 14 yeah so did you ever question any of these teachings and think maybe you would be tempted to believe any of them or not at all at that point not at all you know I was living with my uncle at the time and he was very anti-catholic and so it was kind of strange that he would force me to go but he wouldn't go himself or believe himself so this just comes kind of I did the whole time I felt like I was just doing it for my grandmother because it made her happy so infinite crepes can definitely first of all my goodness best ice cream in the home so maybe bring us a little bit up-to-date like what happened between your childhood and today like what kind of twists and turns like just walk us through the sort of philosophical journey what are the high points and maybe even the low points you know yeah sure well I had an interesting thing happened when I was 19 I moved out on my own when I was 17 and my daughter's mother she was in foster care with some Christians and she had been for many years so I started dating my daughter's mother and then we started hanging out with a lot of her Christian friends really cool Pentecostal people I still respect them to this day like they lived their faith and I was just hanging out with them and I'm one met one night I was uh I was in the bathtub reading um Stephen King book Tommyknockers and it was like 2:00 in the morning and all of a sudden it just hit me that I thought the Bible is real so it was crazy like I I put the Stephen King book down and I got the Bible and I started in the Bible I start going to church and I was I don't forget early in the Martin and going to my friends house to pray in the barn with him I had I think 11 months of belief and hold on a bible thumper but I was pretty excited I was running around telling everyone about what what I was experiencing and and suddenly things came of it I get I had a huge record collection aye-aye-aye thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of Records I'd collected from the age of 15 to 20 because I work full time Kentucky Fried Chicken for those years and I ended up when I converted to our lines just found God I I gave all my possessions away and it was a really cool thing because I I wouldn't even let people touch my possessions before so I was kind of a cool thing that came of it but then in the same way that the wave of belief just kind of came over me it kind of came over me that I believe that the Bible wasn't real on it was story so I stopped going to church and and then I definitely went on a different path for sure mm-hmm is it safe to say that you had some sort of rebellion afterwards like most people go through it in their early teens but it sounds like maybe you had a delayed opportunity for rebellion do you want to talk about it without being too dark or whatever yeah for sure for sure well you know when I found God Pentecostal church what my daughter's mother and I we got married we were not forced to get married but the pastor really wanted us to get married so we got married but we were only married for four years and at the end of that really harsh marriage because we were kids and we just didn't know what was going on I started rebelling when I was 23 for sure and I'm not too proud of this but I took some of the stuff that I learned from the Pentecostal church and I kind of came up with some performance art characters this one character Reverend Fong who is an alien priest and so it's not like I was saying things to hurt Catholics or hurt Christians or anything but it was definitely rebellion stage like I I was trying to get attention and trying to be shocking and provocative and so that lasted for a while wizard split in terms of losing friends or were the repercussions socially because you left the Pentecostal church yeah for sure for sure um but when I left it I moved from small town show back to Vancouver and made new friends so it was okay okay I didn't hear about your dad did he pass away or was he just not around or what's the story yeah he just wasn't around just wasn't around do you know anything about him I do you want to know anything about him I do I still talk to him I my mother passed away when I was 27 and I was raised by her and my grandmother and my grandmother passed away three months later when I was 27 so that was hard I was good in Calgary I was uh yeah I was four I had my brother my wonderful brother but really tight with it was the two of us and my daughter she is four years old she was so supportive but yeah my dad wasn't around and then um a couple years after that about three years after that my brother contacted me and said I'm really angry with father he hasn't even called us since mom died and he wanted to do something so I said let me think about it and I thought about it for a while and I thought let's make a documentary let's um let's grab a couple Chi got a digital camera you got a digital camera let's get a hotel set up the microphones and samplers and call the old man over so we did and we interviewed him for three hours and lots of Tears and it was pretty intense the whole gist of it was just for us to let him know like okay we forgive you for being a deadbeat and we're alone now and we want to start fresh but it never happened he just had too many problems and I haven't given up on him I still call him but he has a real hard time being interested in being a parent so where can people watch this footage or is it all private no it hasn't been released yet and here's the interesting thing to me after we shot the footage I did forgive him and so my I had a camera filming and my brother had a camera showing him because I I forgave him I I didn't need the footage anymore like I erased it but I'd rather kept it and just last week my brother was talking about taking it and putting it out there somewhere so from here I mean I'd like to talk a little bit more about philosophy and religion where are you at now and where do you see yourself going in the future you know given your background with the variety of textures that you've seen so far where am I now I am really begin to meditating I just started in the last couple of months and I'm doing that to try and calm myself and find direction I I'm searching right now I'm definitely searching searching for balance in my life and searching for meaning and because of my time at First United I'm still a little jaded about a lot of the Christians I worked with and I need to I a desire to kind of try and get a new perspective I guess that's why I'm searching I love the homeless shelter and I loved the whole work and lots of awesome Christians were there with fate but I kind of got a little jaded by hypocrisy a hundred percent and like it was mostly with the priests and it was mostly with what they said didn't meet their actions and so it just really turned me off but top yes I'm searching like I was May theist when I knew you right because it's been over 12 years since you and I were together in Montreal do you have a history of knowing people that do go through conversion as adults or am I the only one or can you just talk a little bit about what's going on around you in that way yeah well you actually I think you are the only one and I have to be quite honest I was very surprised shocked actually and yeah I've got some questions for you too I mean like when you converted how is that for all the people in your life and your friends and the partner like what's a big change yeah well it wasn't too Pleasant for anyone you know it was pleasant for me because I had discovered what I'd been seeking my whole life the interesting thing Simon is that you start to discover that about 50% of the people that you know that you just thought were like regular normal people meaning just agnostic or atheist turns out they have a lot of Catholic baggage they have a lot of Catholic background half the people that I know a little more than half came forward to me and said well you know David the reason I got hot under the collar is because in my childhood bla bla bla bla bla and it's not always explicit abuse as such it's just a disenchantment you know they see maybe small levels of corruption or hypocrisy but we humans are very sensitive we want the truth and we want authenticity and we want people to honor their words and to live up to their own standards and all these sorts of things and of course as we all know in reality it's rare to meet someone that has that much integrity right so it's just really hard so people are struggling all over the place but yeah it's been hard but you know I can't say I have a lot of friends left after since my conversion but it's okay I've I'm living sort of an introverted life reading and praying and I wanted to ask you actually about prayer because you are meditating now did you learn anything about prayer when you were Christian for that one year or is it a completely different headspace no I did learn that I loved it and I loved praying when I was in in the Pentecostal church I loved praying I really did yeah interesting so before you before you ask me David yeah just what what you just said but I'm sure you've made lots of new friends right not so many no no not so many no no I mean people always talk about community in in the Catholic Church but maybe it's me there are certainly people that jive with that community within the Catholic Church but it isn't really a thing for me it might just be my my own eccentricity my own egomania you know which is still lingers even though I'm supposed to be killing that old man and you know becoming a saint but what kind of person are you psychologically are you introvert extrovert are you thinker a feeler just give me a little portrait of how you see yourself well here's the thing I I've gotten really serious about my creative practice and it needs a lot of solo time and five years ago I decided to make a tea one chicken mask given to 81 artists to form an art collective for people to wear these Lego chicken mask get together walk around and make people smile that simple like just bringing smiles to people's faces and when I started doing that I realized that I liked getting out of my studio I realized I liked human contact not only human contact but I like bringing joy to people so it's like I lived this life like I loved you know public and do my public art and and doing all this stuff but I also just crave soul time to just really work hard so can you talk a little bit about the spiritual side of creativity what is creativity what is art and why does it feed your soul and what what does it do for others and just talk a little bit about art and spirituality if you can absolutely over the last few years I've come to realize that art this it's really important it's important for people to see and experience because artists sometimes tell the truth in your work and show what's going on in the world in ways that movies and television stuff don't as far as creativity goes I really believe in the power and importance of it I mean the game changer was when I started this lego play group at the homeless shelter you know before that I was I was delusional with art like as far as like my own art and what I understood the importance of it was when I started this play group with Legos almost shelter and I'd see all sorts of people young young people on crack old elders come in sit down at the table I watched them have a moment of creativity I'd see the features change their body language change and over the course of a couple years of doing that it just really hit me the importance of creativity being accessible for everybody and when some people don't think they're creative so okay then it's kind of important to like help them figure that out it's important to me to help people figure that out you know I just think it's one of the most beautiful things about being alive there's a sort of psychedelic experience that you can have through substances and then there's a psychedelic experience that you can have through art or through music or dance or whatever I used to sit around and draw tiny intricate circles into just patterns what looked like pebbles on a beach and then I would stare at it and it would flow like rivers like little pathways of these and this is without taking any drugs this is just through concentration and I don't know how I discovered that but I somehow I discovered that and I just I haven't tried it recently but I used to do that when I was in my early 20s so I want you to talk a little bit about this psychedelic part of life in general how do you explain that absent the supernatural or do you believe in the supernatural perhaps first of all I got to say I just when you start talking about the circles I I was remembering you're one of my favorite paintings you did that big circle with all the circles and saw each other it was like a psychedelic dartboard it was it was awesome well I believe in a supernatural I do I guess is kind of interesting so I've been smoking pot every day for months now but I decided two days ago to stop and I was excited this morning because uh I was going to talk to you straight it's I haven't been straight for a while I've been stoned and I've decided to try and turn a corner and not be stoned anymore and not drink anymore and I've done in the past I went I went two and a half years actually joining a about eight or nine years ago nine meetings a week for two and a half years so that was crazy like I'm an extremist right like I'm a little hard chords in the way I kind of move through this earth sometimes and um so I met a guy from LA met a guy from New York City and we started this morning meeting that we did five days a week I only went to men's groups and I only went to old-timer meetings to like with people that had 40 30 40 years of sobriety so yeah there's lots of praying going on there and I had two and a half years of sobriety so yeah I'm craving that again and I guess it kind of comes around to your supernatural question that I feel that I don't need drugs to tap into what's going on in the world like the psychedelic miss of the world of life you know you don't need to have it brought to you it's all of you there it's just looking so I guess I'm doing that by spending time in nature and like outside and just um I am searching and I've had this spot the last few years that I've been wanting to maybe go out to places of different religious backgrounds different churches because I'm interested I'm interested and I even just to sit in through the services and just to see I'm interested to see what the deal is because I'm curious you know would you limit yourself to Christianity no not at all not at all mom no no limitations no I'm month old woman I was very surprised when I went to a Hindu temple how Catholic it seemed to me their statuary and there was singing and incense and I really appreciate the different paths that people are on even if you're militant atheist whatever it is you know that you're pursuing you're on your path and you just go for it you know like I mean as long as you're being authentic and if you're bold enough you can summon the courage to sort of allow yourself to be judged and possibly even condemned or cut off you know I mean it's not pleasant but at the same time I think it is worth the risk because it really is a free I'm excited about in religion of freedom in religion I found freedom in my religion I believe that it is the one true religion but I also feel that if you're authentically living your worldview whatever it is then you will also experience that freedom so what is your perspective on freedom wha well freedom to be your true selves to be real I just think hearing the word authentic you know makes me think of my own motivations my daily actions and it is interesting that when you turn the voices in your head you you know yourself whether what your what your angle is like whether you're truly just giving our Lydia and press some of your you know and I I struggle a bit because I'm trying to make it in the art world and I am true to myself but then I sometimes find myself going down a path that's not being sure than myself and so I'm yeah I'm constantly trying to kind of be real because life is precious and it just is crazy not to be real this is a little bit off topic but what about suffering and death can you just talk from your perspective about how you deal with it and what you're looking forward to in terms of the end mmm so friend and I am a little melancholy today because uh one of my favorite comedians I killed himself yesterday and a good friend of mine died two weeks ago of a drug overdose ins a really good friend of mine so I didn't thinking lots about that too the last two weeks and just thinking about not like what happens when you die with all the people around you and yeah just the importance of letting it people in my life right now know that I love them I haven't really given any thought about the afterlife or what happens but I definitely been getting a lot of father bought just like what I'm doing now here in terms of my relationships now in communicating with people that are important injured and the people that I meet you know like I just may sound corny but like a few years ago I kind of took this new attitude Oh Blair and I'm at the grocery store I'll say hi to the cash register a user name I'm on the bus so it's not just being like personal but it's like it's more than that it's like being real and it's not and people pick up on you being real I watched a little YouTube video about some 1950s footage from a psychiatric hospital or some such thing it was just one of the recommended videos on my youtube and it was basically about depressed people people who are depressed being interviewed and I didn't want to sit through and listen to all of their story but what I noticed when I was jumping through this video was that the people were polite and thoughtful and listening and answering and smiling and they weren't telling very pleasant things it's like this one woman that I remember she was just smiling and telling how she wanted to die and so she took the pills and she wants her anxiety to stop and the pain to stop basically but she's being polite and smiling and telling her story and we all know of stories where it's not apparent even to those who are closest to these people that end their lives and some people do try to keep it a secret in order to protect their loved ones so it's very disturbing that someone that's explicitly telling the story of their suicide that failed and that's being interviewed on the topic of depression looks to all appearances generally speaking they're polite and they're smiling and taking a drink of water and it's really hard to access that intimate zone inside the person's heart or mind or whatever it is so how do we how do we navigate that and do we have the right to get that close and do we even want to get that close is it dangerous to get that close there's so many questions about intimacy which is good but which is also dangerous maybe dangerous for you you get contaminated may be dangerous for the other because you get too close and it hurts just talk a little bit about politeness and intimacy well this was really interesting so my ex-girlfriend and I went snowboarding yesterday and we were together for a year and four months so she knows me really well and we were talking about some uncomfortable things and I guess I was smiling and she said to me I love it when you smile but your real smile and as soon as she's headed it was it just kind of hit me it's like Leon my facial expression just definitely does not match how I'm feeling right now and it took someone who is knows me well to say that and it was just like wow so it was kind of nice that I was able to kind of breathe and then will not have this crazy stupid smile on my face cause Maya's feelings show you know intimacy honesty you know it's fast it's a fascinating topic David because you think about how everybody on the planet converses in like there's just you like even just like the daily like reading like how are you I'm very well thank you like there's just there's just not a lot of honesty that you know you're like someone asks you how you are you're not gonna say wow actually really depart like it but I'm hoping though you know act that comedian died I was reading all the tweets and stuff last night with other comedians and other people and the one thing that people kept on saying was like if you're suffering from depression like you gotta talk you gotta come out you know and so you know yeah so do you think artists are better expressing themselves or they just express one component and the rest is private and secret well it's a loaded question because I think there's so many different kinds of artists I mean it's just like there's so many different kinds of people you know my spectrum is so large with that David mmhmm yeah yeah well I always like to end on a positive note so I like I like for my guests to give a little message of hope at the end of the interview so what do you think you might be able to say to anyone that might be out there listening now well you all have people that love us and I think sometimes we so hard times seen their love in their care reaching out is so hard when you're when you're suffering from depression some people sometimes it's impossible but there is love in the world there's loving your family there's people that love you you know well it's uh it's just reaching out came out there and reaching