As an outsider to the Catholic faith, I have to say that the stark comparison to Paganism is undeniable. Well, you can deny it I suppose and many do but it is there. My ex-wife was Catholic, so naturally I was dragged to Mass and her family fully expected me to convert. The question put forth to me was, "So when are you going to convert?"
Anyway, as I sat through these Masses, I couldn't help but notice the rituals going on and something screamed out to me from my psyche. It just didn't feel right but I wasn't sure why. I hadn't really studied religions and spirituality at the time, I'd read the Bible sure but not much more than that. Since my ex-wife was also on the faculty of this particular church, which also had a school, I saw the most hypocritical and blasphemous behavior take place in the church I've ever seen.
There was a Christmas party, you see, for the faculty. We arrived and I expected there to be religious stuff but boy was I surprised! In the church office, there were iced-down trash cans full of beer and whiskey galore. I looked at her and told her I was pretty sure they were all going to hell.
Seriously though, the drunkeness and lewd conduct that happened that night really opened my eyes. Seeing these same people in Mass or out on the street, even in their homes with their fake, pretentious, pious attitudes really turned my stomach. The in-laws were a riot, always booze and beer in the fridge but pretended it wasn't there or scowled at me for having one.
My ex-wife was the same way.
She'd always have beer and wine on the grocery list but get pissed off if I actually drank it. I'd always stump her when I asked, "Then what the hell did you buy it for?" Same thing with the in-laws, never got an answer.
The weirdest thing though and I can't seem to get my head around this, is that Catholics point the finger at all these incense burning, crystal using "Weirdos" yet go to mass where incense is being burned without skipping a beat. The ritualistic manner in which these Masses are conducted is another mystery to me. Especially when the church publicly ridicules Pagan followers and their "ritualistic" practices.
The use of Mary is yet another thing that puzzles me. It's as close to a Goddess figure as Christianity will ever get, I suppose, seeing as how anything feminine is evil and should be struck down at any cost. These are just some of the things I've noticed over the years and have come to the conclusion that the current church is just Pagan-light with a male dominant twist.