Busted Halo

Rebecca Gallo is trying to put into practice the lessons she learned while walking The Camino. Follow along as she continues her spiritual journey — whatever that might mean.

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December 12th, 2012

The Belief-O-Matic


The Belief-o-matic. It sounded like a new-fangled kitchen appliance I would have seen advertised on late night TV — back in 1985. I could see the greasy haired salesman on my screen telling me how simple it was to use: “Insert beliefs and in no time at all, you’ll have the perfect religion!”

But this wasn’t a Home Shopping Network sales pitch — it was a website. As a woman who has struggled with her Catholic faith for a while — so much so that she took off on a 480 mile pilgrimage walk to see what she could discover — the whole process intrigued me. Answer 20 questions and be presented with your perfect religion. No need to call the 800 number on my screen. I could simply insert my name and e-mail address and get started. So I did.

If only it was that easy.

Question 1: What is the number and nature of the deity (God, gods, higher power)?

As I read through the seven answer choices I realized I should have followed the advice I give my students preparing for the SAT: read the question, think about what your answer would be, and only then look at the options to see if your answer is there.

Instead of following the advice I’d given countless times, I read through all the answers. The first one sounded spot on. Only one God. Then I read answer two. It also started with the words Only one God. I compared the answers. The only difference: corporeal or incorporeal spirit. Thankfully, they defined the word corporeal for me — did I think God had a body or not?

Honestly, I’d never really thought about it. Growing up Catholic we learned that Jesus did come to earth as one of us. So he had a body at one point. And since he’s part of the trinity, I guess that still counts. (Sorry Mom — all that Catholic education and I can’t even answer the first question.)

To further confuse myself, I kept reading. Multiple personal gods as facets of one God. A supreme, impersonal force. No God. None of the above. Well, who really knows? I believe in one God. But I don’t mind if others believe in multiple gods. I’ve got a few friends who believe in no God at all, and I still like them and wouldn’t mind being in a community with them. Was I too open-minded for this test? Or for religion in general?

Then I wondered — Does any of this really matter? Well, when trying to decide which of the worlds hundreds of religions you might be interested in, apparently it does.

To further complicate matters, the second question asks Are there human incarnation(s) of God (or gods/goddesses)? Wait a minute — isn’t that the same as the corporeal question that stumped me earlier? This wasn’t good. I couldn’t even decipher the questions, let alone choose an answer.

Like most of those new-fangled kitchen devices for sale on late night TV, the Belief-O-Matic wasn’t as simple to use as advertised. I soldiered on — if anything, just to amuse myself. I answered all the questions as best I could.

A few minutes later I received an e-mail with my results: Catholicism and I were only 33% compatible. If this was eHarmony, Catholicism and I would have never been matched. In fact, based on my answers, there were 22 religions that rated higher. They included everything from Scientology (55%) and Neo-Pagen (86%) to Unitarian Universalism (91%) and Liberal Quakers (100%). I didn’t even know there were Liberal Quakers. Are they like liberal Catholics?

I wasn’t surprised by my results. I know the relationship between me and Catholicism might not last much longer. Like most gadgets for sale on late night TV, I didn’t need the Belief-O-Matic to tell me this. But it certainly gave me some food for thought.

What would the Belief-O-Matic say about you? Try it and let us know your thoughts on your results.

The Author : Rebecca Gallo
Since 2012, Rebecca Gallo has walked the Camino de Santiago three times -- twice on a strict budget, and a third time traveling a little more luxuriously (private rooms with sheets instead of hostels with a sleeping bag). She enjoyed sharing her first journey and subsequent reflections with Busted Halo readers. Other tales of her adventures can be found at RenaissanceRebecca.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • http://without-a-map.com AprilInAutumn

    Rebecca, I also consistently get Liberal Quaker, UU and secular humanist on the Belief-O-Matic with Catholicism hiding at the bottom, but I’ve explored other religions and none of them feel like home in the same way. I believe we are truly a body of Christ, with each of us contributing something different to the faith. If we all believed or thought in the same exact way, the church would be weaker. God doesn’t call only people who find it easier to believe, he also calls the doubters. If you feel called to stay, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong. I can’t plan out your faith future for you, but know that you are not alone!

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.jo.foreman Linda Medley Foreman

    Hang in there Rebecca – it’s called a faith journey for a reason. I agree with James – learn to differentiate between the Faith and the people – if there’s a particular “something” you disagree with regarding the Church, go to the source. I have been surprised on more than one occasion by someone misinterpreting a teaching of the Church. (btw – I matched Orthodox Quaker (100%), Eastern Orthodox (90%), & Roman Catholic (90%). I’m an “intellectual” convert – in my mid-twenties, I did the research & decided that Catholicism made the most sense.)

    • Rebecca

      Thank you Linda and James for your distinction between the “faith” and the “church.” I’ve met quite a few people who tell me they stay Catholics because of the faith, and are able to separate out the things that the “church” does that they don’t agree with. However, I’m not sure I can do that so easily, or that I want to be a part of something where that is a) necessary (though optional) or b) prevalent.

  • http://twitter.com/waywardson23 James

    I was angry at the Catholic Church for some time for a series of legitimate reasons. I can understand your frustration.

    One day I ended up literally stuck in the mud in the parking lot of a local Catholic parish, then finding that another house of worship had a fundraising car wash that same day. I took it as a sign, and perhaps it was, but that faith relationship didn’t last.

    For me, what got me past this rut was (1) correctly understanding the faith–the why behind the what–from official sources–and (2) differentiating between the Catholic faith and the very flawed and sinful people (including myself) who make up the Church.

    Wherever this journey takes you, I ask you to keep asking “why”. Question yourself and question your beliefs for as long as you need to.

  • Catherine Moscarello

    As you continue to search your beliefs, I hope you find your relationship with God deepening and growing stronger. God bless you in your search.

  • Almanac Causer

    I love being Catholic. As an older person,my faith has matured. My love for the Holy Trinity, Mother Mary and my church family has also matured. I do know my faith is still growing daily. Before you take any test, you should ask yourself what you believe in

    • Rebecca

      Thanks for your response Allana. I’ve been asking myself what I believe in for years now. The test was simply one thing among many that confirmed everything I’ve been thinking about my connection to the Catholic faith. I’m happy so many others enjoy being Catholic. I’m also happy that God is so accepting of so many other faiths – and of those of us still searching.

  • James Oliver

    I strongly suggest you study the Theology of the Body before you end your relationship with the Catholic Church. Or read Witness To Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II.

    • Rebecca

      Thanks for the recommendations James.

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