Catholic vs. Jew - 2018-06-29 - Athena Matilsky

Author Recorded Friday June 29th, 2018

There are 5 episodes in the Versus:Jew series.

Recorded January 11th, 2018

Catholic vs. Jew - 2018-01-11 - Jana

Recorded February 4th, 2017

Catholic vs. Jew - 2017-02-04 - Natalie

I met Athena through her boyfriend, my friend Russell whom I also interviewed that same evening at their apartment in Montreal. She was raised culturally Jewish but has been doing Yoga since she was about ten years old. We mostly talked about sex and morality and life and death.


Catholic vs. Jew - 2018-06-29 - Athena Matilsky

Author Recorded November 6th, 2016

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hi I'm Athena matowski and you're listening to Catholic versus Jew so just tell the listeners a little bit about yourself who you are what you believe and how you came to believe it okay so I was born to hippie parents who lived in the city but kind of like the country and we were in New Jersey in the US for most of my life both of my parents are culturally Jewish and they had been both raised Jewish as well and for us Jewish is like an identity and then I mean here I was being for my family not for all Jews but for us it wasn't so much that we were Jewish so we had to celebrate certain holidays it was just that that's what we identified as and my parents even more so because they were growing up in at a time when Jews were discriminated against and especially my grandparents they were discriminated so they had to come together as a community in a way that for my generation it wasn't as necessary so by the time it got to me my parents had both fallen away from it a little bit my dad really enjoyed studying Buddhism and Zen Taoism and stuff like that and my mom always she like researched pagan face and that kind of thing and then she came back to Judaism but but she sort of added her own twist and so growing up she wrote our sit Passover Staters and they were a little bit more liberal a little bit more feminist a little bit more inclusive so it wasn't about you know just the men going off to Temple and leaving women at home because in Judaism gender roles are very highly defined so I grew up with this sort of alternative Judaism and my dad's into Zen Buddhism and I'm taking yoga classes with my mom and there's a bunch of hippies who celebrate solstice and that was my childhood and so growing up I don't think I ever felt like there was a human God out there like like an inhuman form like I never visualized a God as a person as an entity but I always felt like there was something greater like I had great fascination and awe for the natural universe and like I really was interested in good and bad and philosophy and fast-forward like I spent five years married to somebody who's culturally Hindu and we found a lot of similarities actually between the way that he had been raised Hindu and I had been raised Jewish as relating more to culture than to religion and that our ideas of right and wrong actually meshed really well and it's been interesting more recently cuz now I'm dating an atheist and I actually think we're a little bit more opposed in terms of how we actually I don't know I have never considered myself to be an atheist I have always thought that there was something out there greater than myself and something in the realm of mystical spiritual magical and I never really identified with the Jewish God growing up I was more drawn to nature and the things that I would read about Native Americans and how they related to nature and they were able to tolerate certain conditions and just feel connected to animals and and the world in a way that we are often disconnected that always intrigued me and then from the time I was maybe ten years old I would take yoga classes and so is yoga was always a part of my life and then when I got to be in my 20s and especially after I was introduced to the Bengali and Hindu faith and culture yoga became more important and I ended up deciding to do a yoga teacher training just for myself and there was a philosophical component where they would talk about energy flow and connection with the universe and awareness and there was meditation and and I feel like when I'm doing that I don't call it God but I feel like I'm connecting the greater universe with something that's bigger than us and that connects us and the meditation has a lot of purposes for me part of it is to like because I feel like I'm missing something and it it fells a little bit of that need spiritually speaking I think and it calms me and now that I've developed it into a daily practice which has taken me years I've never been able to maintain more than three or four days at a time and it has become day after day after day now what time of the day usually in the morning but sometimes will be in the afternoon one session at least one I find myself recently especially if I'm feeling rattled I'll meditate later in the day as well and sort of Center myself and I'm finding it easier and easier to tap into this greater calm and wiser piece of me that is the part that I think connects to something that's greater out there and I imagine that that's what religious people get out of prayer I would think that it's a similar feeling I don't know but for me that never came from repeating Hebrew prayers I never felt that in fact when I was included in the Hindu celebrations I actually felt it a little bit more which made me feel a little bit guilty because I was raised that way but I actually felt a connection to the Hindu rituals and I think it was just because they were so old it wasn't about my head it was about my heart and and for me it's important for me to get out of my head and into my heart and the the way that you were just doing this ancient traditional thing drew me in to the to the Hindu religion so what do you think the end goal is for you as a living being the purpose so the question is what do I think my purpose is my end goal and honestly I don't know I guess my best guess is that my purpose my end goal is to live life to the fullest to experience everything that I can to appreciate each moment to the best of my abilities because it feels like an amazing gift that I may only get once what do you say to the person that says hey I figured out a way to maximize my pleasure and it just so happens that sometimes that involves harming others what do you say to that nurse I'm not cool with that so there's more to your purpose in life than just deriving the maximum amount of pleasure yes because this is another aspect to what I believe and I couldn't defend it if you asked me to like you know prove it I couldn't but I think that we get what we give out in this world I think that we project a certain kind of energy and that's what we get in return so if you go through your whole day not smiling then you're gonna have that surrounding you and people are gonna give that to you back and so if you're telling me you've figured out a way to have fun all the time but you're harming other people I guess I would I guess I would judge that type of fun and I guess I would maybe think that it's a little bit false and that it's not allowing you to get to your deeper self its surface because I think that if you were to go deeper then you would not be able to derive joy from other people suffering what about love how does it love play into your worldview I guess love is an intense connection between people and we seem to operate better when we're connected to other people and I don't know if just because we evolved that way - because society was evolutionarily beneficial or why but I think that love brings us together to function as a society peripherally and then in our family units and and with our close communities then it it forms a sense of safety and security in some instances as well do you believe that love is not true or that it's supernatural I don't know I'm not certain that I understand the difference between the supernatural and the natural but what it comes to mind is recently somebody told me about a study where they talked to plants and so one of the plants people all day long it had something that said be nice and so people will go by and they say oh you're looking so beautiful today flower how are you doing blah blah and then the other plant had a sign that said be mean and people would insult the plant and there was literally like a visible difference between the health of the two plants so that seems like some kind of scientific investigations the idea of love but I do think that there are some things that are unexplained but I don't know that that's beyond the reach of science there's I think that there are things that are beyond the reach of science yet so just because something is explained and unexplainable now doesn't necessarily mean that it's supernatural to me in my view super just means above the natural it's necessarily higher and it seems to me that you're hungry and thirsting for something higher you mentioned even your higher self as connecting with the cosmos or something yeah I mean I think it's just semantics at this point yeah I absolutely believe in connecting something greater than what is immediately tangible absolutely but I don't know that that means that it's supernatural or beyond the explanation of science but I don't know because I haven't thought about it the other notion that's connected to you and your worldview because it sort of has an Eastern leaning that segues really nicely is the idea of pantheism where God is the sum total of the universe and everything in life and everything that is that is a central teaching of the East so are you sympathetic to that philosophical point of view yes I'm sympathetic to the pantheistic worldview and I was actually thinking about that the other day because I did a break fast for Ramadan with a colleague which is very interesting I had never done that before and there were Moroccan household and I asked them why they do Ramadan like you know why would they voluntarily fast every single day for a month well the rest of the world still eating and if you live in the United States then Ramadan isn't the thing for most Americans so you're gonna be going through your day watching people eat and in my mind suffering and they said something I think that for them I mean they didn't give me a very specific answer and I think they're culturally Muslim like I'm culturally Jewish and my ex-husband was culturally Hindu but they did say you know what there's something in the Quran that says God said look at how much I did for you this is how I want you to give back was through Ramadan and I was thinking about that just because it is very different I think it is opposed to my feeling because I I keep feeling like the closer I can tap into this wiser more centered more grounded part of myself that's my connection to a great universe that connects us all and so it feels more connected whereas that description of Islam God is separate it's very separate from the subject who would be the the Muslim person themselves and that's how it is in Judaism and that's how it is in Christianity I know the Eastern point of view with the Hindus and the Buddhists believe that God is immanent but not transcendent the Muslims believe that he's transcendent but not imminent and the Christians believe that he's both transcendent and okay so he's everywhere God sustains every single pork and pork and electron in the entire universe God's powering everything just like the Eastern religions teach and yet he is sovereign he is unique he is separate from his world also he is above the world like the Muslims teach so Christianity bridges that gap I'm not getting a sales pitch I'm just no I'm listening just speaking from my perspective no I think maybe I made a face because you were kept saying he that was probably only being the body yeah there is a there is a philosophical justification for referring to God as he even though he transcends sex it's because he's pure actuality there's no potential in God so the human soul is denoted as being feminine with respect to God these were passively receiving so God is the bridegroom and we are the bride and it's all about that fulfilling that and consummating that marriage and so it's very very romantic it's all about love and marriage and sex okay family well yeah now that was the whole idea was to bring people together with order and rules I think it's more about you know how do we create structure to a family unit and define things that we can pay taxes I mean as far as I know Christianity is is well linked to that yeah let's instead of speaking in the abstract is you have a Catholic in front of you let's see if you can find a way where I am being controlled by the Catholic Church because I never felt a heavy hand from God or a heavy hands from the church I've only received support and love from God and from the church and I've never met a faithful Catholic who submits to the church who feels oppressed by the church it's the rebels who feel oppressed right it's the rebels who want to sin they're not protected by the church and and who feel unsafe I mean because you you meet people who are for example who are homosexual who are very conflicted because they grew up with the Catholic Church and they feel an affinity and I'm not I'm not questioning your feeling of you know love and safety but yeah okay so anybody who rebelled so that means that there's a certain there are certain people who are not able to find that solace it's a question of the will I mean there are two different kinds of Catholic homosexuals one is repentant and one is unrepentant so the repentant one is partaking of the sacraments and he's striving to be chaste and to control his lust and the other one believes that his lust is good and that pleasure is good no matter what and that what two consenting adults do is fine men women whatever okay so those are two different kinds of Catholic homosexuals one is obeying the church and submitting to the church and struggling with these desires that he has and with the impulses that he has and the other is raising himself above the church and teaching the church and saying the church is wrong so I would say from my Catholic perspective that one would feel a bad kind of tension and a kind of guilt and a kind of oppression and a kind of control from the church whereas the other one the faithful one the one is striving to be chaste is free truly free I would pose that he feels more tension and stress and difficulty and self-doubt and fear than the other person I don't I don't I don't believe that that's freedom because you're fighting a piece of who you are and I would imagine that to be devastating for the person who has to do that if you submit if you know who you're submitting to and you know how good god is and how love and how generous and how small the sexual pleasure that you're giving up is it's just like your Muslim friends over fasting if they are faithful to God and they know who God it is and what God is and what awaits them in heaven the fleeting pleasures of this world are easy to give up it's not the sex that I'm talking about I mean I'm sure I'm sure there can be homosexual and heterosexual people out there who don't have sex that's not the issue it's that you have to deny a piece of your own identity a piece of who you are and that goes much far beyond denying yourself simple pleasures it because being homosexual is not just about who you want to have sex with it's about your entire perspective your worldview your identity and that's being posed as wrong by the Catholic Church and that makes people feel terrible well it's not wrong to be a homosexual just like it's not wrong to be a thief it's just acting on that predisposition that's wrong so the thief I'm by nature a thief I entered the church and I said I can't be a thief anymore so is that a source of freedom or a source of oppression to me it's to me it's a sense freedom that being homosexual is like being deep yeah or being an adulterer or by being an adulterer you're hurting somebody or by being a thief you're hurting somebody who are you hurting by being a homosexual yourself your partner or your Society in what way the analogy that I like to use is if you have a screw and you have a choice between a screwdriver and a hammer you can yes you can use the hammer to put the screw into the wood but that's not what the screw is designed for and that's not the hammer was designed for the screw was made for the screwdriver and the screwdriver was made for the screw and it's just the nature of those tools corresponds to reality so it's not ideal it doesn't correspond to reality it's disordered it's objectively disordered and what we are designed for and what sex is designed for is to be have the openness to life and to have that unitive loving aspect to but you can't remove the loving aspect and just have prostitution and you can't remove the procreative openness to life and just have the animalistic pleasure without the openness to life you need both components this is the teaching of the church and so that's why not only homosexual acts are wrong but all aberrant sexual behavior even masturbation is wrong you might ask well who does it hurt no one sees you you're in private in your darkroom and the curtains are drawn who are you hurting well I would argue you're hurting yourself you're hurting your family you're hurting your spouse you're hurting your society at large that's what I believe I firmly disagree homosexuality is in the same category as people doing wrong and I firmly disagree that sexuality that the what you're classifying is the use of sexuality or the misuse of it I don't agree with that and I also don't agree with the stuff that you were saying about being disordered because you look through nature nature just does its thing like there there are and and there are examples of homosexuality in nature and sex isn't just for procreation it's about connectivity and orgasm I just said that with the unit is function of sex and the program marry you to go to the bathroom and I met her to the bedroom and I masturbate then that's wrong well if it puts me in an amazing mood and now I'm nicer to my boyfriend when he comes home from work how is that a bad thing there are people that have really sick inclinations and they feel better there's a certain euphoria that comes after they engage in it for example chopping up humans and eating their flesh you know their mood improves when they do that there are people out when is euphoria better than other euphoria but that has nothing no but you just you're arguing that if it makes you feel better and put you in a better mood than it's objectively good but I disagree there and why potato chips earlier like you were eating potato chips that did no good to the universe it's not so thank God it's not even serving your own body because the oils and the the potatoes themselves are not doing your body so why do you eat potato part of my rainbow diet yeah no honestly I think that if we're gonna go that way if I can't masturbate you can't eat potato chips let's make a deal gladly give up potato chips for you and I wouldn't give up masturbation if there were a real reason but I don't see that as being against nature and if you look in nature you see animals seeking pleasure you see plants wanting pleasure what's wrong with pleasure as long as it's not hurting leisure is good yet pleasure is good is it's not hurting anyone right so I just don't understand the hurting anyone part yeah many many many people don't understand the sexual moral teachings of the Catholic Church but I do want to address something you said I don't believe that it's wrong to be homosexual or to be a thief like I said earlier and the other thing was that sexuality is not just for procreation so I just want to be very clear about that expose our strawman arguments that are put up against the Catholic you know it's oversimplifying sexual morality as taught by the Catholic Church I know no so and that's fine that's not what I'm arguing against I'm I'm uncomfortable with the treatment of homosexuals in the Catholic Church and the trauma and suffering that they are put through because other people don't like what they do and I don't think if those other people's business what does the Catholic Church teach about how we should treat those angels they are ostracized from the king so you think the Church teaches we should ostracize homosexuals oh I don't know what the Church teaches well you don't know exactly I know the results no but I know what the Church teaches right so anybody who is a Catholic but mistreats a homosexual is wrong as you're saying okay good I agree with that yeah you can't judge the teachings of the Catholic Church if you don't know what they are you can just a certain says that something is wrong and the church is a leader that people look up to that they and so if they say that somebody's lifestyle is wrong it's evil yeah if you're gonna be a leader if you're gonna have people looking up to you then you better make sure that you are encouraging people to love each other and by saying that somebody's nature is wrong and that's what because I do believe that it's not they're in their nature and you probably don't I'm not or maybe you do I don't know but when you classify that somebody's identity as wrong then you are encouraging violence you are encouraging people to not love each other people to ostracize each other I strongly disagree because the church clearly teaches that we have to love not only the friendly neighbourhood homosexuals we have to love our enemies I mean there is no one that we're allowed to not love but in the same breath it says that homosexuality is evil just like it says the masturbation is evil right and I think that both of those things are wrong I mean is there not harming other people you're entitled to your opinion and you're in them you're probably in the majority today given the fact that most so-called practicing Catholics don't actually believe all the teachings of the Catholic Church particularly when it comes to things like masturbation and birth control and that to me is a problem I'd like to see people accept the teaching and if you struggle to implement the teaching that's fine that's normal that's normal to struggle and to fail and default that's why we have confession I don't agree with your particular world yeah if you did you would be happy yeah what do you think about death do you think about death every day your own about my own death frequently and what are you hoping for were you afraid of I hope that looking back like hopefully I'm able to live a long time I don't know but whenever if I were to die tomorrow or if I died in four years I hope that I'm proud of what I've done that I have lived life to the fullest and in some ways contributed to society I I think of myself as a kind person and I've always tried to even as a kid if somebody was being bullied then I would side with the bully and I would you would side with I'm sorry sorry how would the bully but the person who's yeah I'm a good person cuz I harass people no I apologize this is what happens when I have two thoughts in my head so you side with so I would side with the victim and and I would and I would confront like even in moments I told you earlier that you know this conversation was a little bit intense but when I have to confront somebody and say I think what you're doing is wrong I do it where sometimes other people won't speak up or if I send think somebody's being unfairly treated then then I speak up which is actually that's why I got so intense earlier and when I was in college I volunteered for the domestic violence response team and I went through a whole bunch of hours of training I did a lot of volunteer working to college but the biggest thing was the work that I did for victims domestic violence and rape and then I lived in Honduras for a year where as a volunteer in a bilingual school so teaching kids sixth grade for a year and like kind of difficult conditions and the whole point of having American volunteers there was that they could give them scholarships and that kind of thing so it's basically as a non-profit school that's giving kids and Hunter is a better shot at life which they deserve because conditions there are pretty horrible because of the lack of birth control teenagers are petting pregnant all the time like they're not taught about sex they're not taught about birth control so they just don't know so girls at a very young age are getting pregnant and then there's so many young single mothers and then the girls will get beaten because sexuality is a sin but then eventually they they now have another mouth to feed and because they don't have birth control they're constantly having kids and the there's no infrastructure so the men can't get jobs and many of them are alcoholics it's a very difficult situation that has like lots of historical roots or whatever but for one year I was there helping some kids to have a better chance and I actually one of my proudest things was the fact that I did teach the kids about birth control and sexuality and what was happening to their bodies and you know that certain things were not to be ashamed of and both girls and boys learning about each other's bodies so that they understand that as well as they don't grow up ignorant and I was really proud of the work that I did there and then when I came back to United States I started working again in domestic violence and I couldn't take it actually so I'm not necessarily proud of that but um that environment was really difficult to work in so I'd left there but even now like I'm raising money for kids to go to high school in Honduras I try to donate to certain causes and I just try to live a life that I can feel is a good one obviously I believe in two extreme outcomes heaven or hell and you're gonna end up in one or the other ultimately so do you have different outcomes or does everyone end up in exactly the same situation whether it's good bad or neutral is there any difference between the best-case scenario and the worst scenario after death for any human I don't presume to know what happens after we die I guess the most romantic and possibly logical explanation that I would have is that we sort of melt back into the universe from whence we came and in that case yet the murderer will end up with the same future outcome as the same Saint yeah doesn't do a lot to uphold morality no it doesn't so why do you do the right thing and not the wrong thing or why do you strive to be good and not evil selfless and not selfish I don't know why I choose to be good instead of evil and it's funny because I can't justify it I don't know whether it's societal on familial like I was raised that way I was told I should be kind to other people and that's why I think it's so important but I do think that there's something and maybe this connects back to what we were talking about all the way at the beginning where I feel like there's something out there I feel like there's something bigger than myself I am happiest when I am proud of myself when I feel I have been good and that may be selfish to because I you know if you're if you're driving satisfaction from being a good person then perhaps your ends are not the right ones I don't know I don't know but I believe that I should be good and I can't really tell you why why should other people good good because I want to be bad to me okay I find I mean essentially at the end if we if we look at life as this gift that we've been giving then why shouldn't as many of us enjoy it as possible yeah so at the end of my tears I always just ask my guests to talk to the audience just to give a little message of hope from your perspective because everyone has a different perspective just in a very general terms what could you say to someone that might be out there listening no I think I would just say that I believe that everybody has spark within them has potential and has beauty and has greatness and that if you just take a moment to breathe and to love yourself and to allow yourself to exist however imperfect you may be then you'll be that much closer to feeling at ease with the world around you if you like it will do if you think it's got some questions and I'll tell all you've got to do is all you got to do you got to do

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