ATD Question #10 ~ Arturo and His Religion

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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ATD Question #10 ~ Arturo and His Religion

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:29 am

There are many times in the story when Arturo returns to the church or to talk to a priest. What do you make of his relationship with his church?
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sun Nov 25, 2007 3:55 pm

Arturo may not have been a perfect Catholic, but his mama would be pleased to know that his faith was deeply embedded in him, nevertheless. Like many Catholics (and those of other faiths, I imagine), and particularly Catholics today, Arturo turned to his faith when he was in need but had trouble sticking with the straight and narrow on a daily basis . He had his rants at God and put all blame on Him but would, also, remember to thank Him and believed in miracles. His mean acts caused him to feel guilt and to sincerely try to do better. Lapsing again is not an uncommon human experience. People tend to repeat their same sins.
When the priest let him down, he wrote a scathing attack upon "the stupidity of the Church." He also wrote a scathing attack on Sammy and his writing skills. Neither got sent.
Arturo's faith was support for him when he needed it, and it was a frame of reference for him of what was right and wrong. His religion was there for him when he needed it, and his faith in it helped him through.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Nov 25, 2007 4:17 pm

Thanks for getting us started, Betty Sue. :cool:

His faith was certainly a part of him but he seemed to fight against it in one breath and then try to embrace it in another.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby nebraska » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:16 pm

On a personal basis, for all the pain, confusion, fear, and trouble the Church caused me, it is still the most comforting place to go when I need to climb back into the womb. I think it feels good to know what is right and wrong, exactly what is expected, exactly what the rules are in black and white. Life is usually too many shades of gray to feel safe. So when Arturo kept going back to his church roots, it seemed natural to me.

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Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:46 pm

I agree with both Nebraska and Betty Sue, that it was there for Arturo when he needed it. It was a comfort and probably a knee jerk response because he was brought up in the Church. I think if we have been brought up with religion, some if not all of us go through a period of independence or rebellion, if you will, where we question or reject the Church’s teachings or values. It can be in adolescence, in young adulthood, in middle age or at any other time. Our world view expands; we become tempted by something considered to be "sinful"; or something happens in our lives to disillusion us. I also think that it can happen repeatedly throughout our lives. And what made us stray can also bring us back. And some of us never go back. But I think that he had enough of a foundation or exposure in his childhood that he could not let it go completely. I also think that there is a connection to his mother and how he felt about her. Note that my opinion is based on personal experience or that of those close to me as far as it could relate to Arturo.
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Unread postby suec » Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:35 pm

I like nebraska's comments about it being a comforting place and a reminder of what is right and wrong, of what is expected. I also think it is ingrained in him: a habit formed over his lifetime thus far of going to Mass regularly and Confession, and also from the countless hours of it at school and at home. That is why he goes to the priest, for me. That the encounter doesn't turn out satisfactorily seems fairly typical for Arturo in his encounters with others. But I would also say that his religion is part of him, something he change at this point, however much he reads. His religion seems to encompass for example rules of sexual behaviour and honouring his parents - or at least sending money to his mother. Also plenty of guilt when he perceives that he has done something "wrong". And fear too, of the consequences. I also think that for Arturo there is religion in the form of religious teaching and belief in God, and spirituality - spiritual moments, anyway - and that these aren't necessarily the same thing. On the other hand, perhaps I am seeing a difference where there is none. But I am straying into another question here again, by the sound of things, so I will stop.
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:01 pm

I thought Arturo used religion as a quick fix to make him feel better about himself. He was always disappointed with the results because he had a problem understanding the difference between practicing religion and faith, just as he misunderstood the difference between sex and intimacy, and the difference between cohabitation and commitment.

Arturo was as emotionally unavailable to God as he was to women—or even to himself (his best writing happened when he was not consciously pursuing it). I think the fear of being hurt or ridiculed or wrong kept him from living in the time of his life (and smiling to the infinite delight and mystery of it... well , you know how it goes).
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:08 pm

As an adult, or one who is trying to become one, it's nice sometimes to have those safe places to return to when we were younger where everything is black and white, yes and no, right and wrong. I think Arturo would like that comfort but he knows it isn't that simple any more. He wants to believe when he needs it but he also wants to be free from it and the guilt. Overall I think he is disillusioned with his faith, even though he can't let it go.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Liz » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:23 pm

dharma_bum wrote:I thought Arturo used religion as a quick fix to make him feel better about himself. He was always disappointed with the results because he had a problem understanding the difference between practicing religion and faith, just as he misunderstood the difference between sex and intimacy, and the difference between cohabitation and commitment.

Arturo was as emotionally unavailable to God as he was to women—or even to himself (his best writing happened when he was not consciously pursuing it). I think the fear of being hurt or ridiculed or wrong kept him from living in the time of his life (and smiling to the infinite delight and mystery of it... well , you know how it goes).


Db, I was about to respond to what Suec said, but I think you expressed it better than I would have. I think Arturo was focused on the legalistic (rules and rituals) aspect of his religion as opposed to the spiritual. He had a fear of God that didn’t allow him to have a relationship with Him/Her.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:25 pm

I like your comparisons db with intimacy and faith. Arturo was a very closed person emotionally which is not a big surprise given his background.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby nebraska » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:26 pm

dharma_bum wrote:Arturo was as emotionally unavailable to God as he was to women—or even to himself (his best writing happened when he was not consciously pursuing it).



Very well said, dharma bum! I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but I think you are right about his emotional distance even from God and himself.

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Unread postby gemini » Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:24 pm

Well, I cant really answer this and you ladies have pretty much covered it. I just wanted to add that I am now reading "1933 was a bad year". It has given me some additonal thoughts on these tidbits and Fante himself.

!!!!!!!!Spoilers !!!!!!!!!!! If you haven't read 1933 was a bad year.

Arturo is not in this book, but I think he is. Fante has created another young boy like Arturo named Dominic. He is Catholic, with the same hangups but chooses to push aside his doubts and believe, a girlfriend he admires from afar, a philandering father who is a brink layer and a religious mother and he loves baseball even more than Arturo. He has a brother August and Fredrick and a sister Clara. A grandma, but this time it his fathers mother.
What made me think of this was the first conversation where we see him and his father, he asks his dad,
"Do you ever think about dying?" Later he sees the Blessed Virgin in a dream.
I think all of Fantes books are based on his feeling about religion and his own family( At least the ones I've read so far).
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:21 pm

Interesting, gemini. It almost sounds like a parallel life for Arturo...The Road Not Taken.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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