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...Do As The Roman Catholics Do

I'll write more stuff tomorrow.  Right now, I'm in one of my self-reflective moods and want to put this out there first.

Dear LJ Friends,

Am I an asshole?

There's no gotchas or anything to the question, no jokes, no snark.  I'm genuinely curious about myself.  I mean, yeah, I don't think I'm the greatest guy in the world, but I certainly don't think I'm THAT bad.

What prompted this was tonight.  It's Good Friday.  A longtime friend of mine was raised Catholic, just like I was.  Key difference -- she continued to be Catholic, while I struck out on my own.  She invited me to go to Good Friday mass with her and her husband.  Well, I'm already going to spend Easter Sunday with them, so sure, why not?

I was a bit intimidated.  Her husband has always thought of me as a pretty awesome guy thanks to me royally stinging his brothers when they tried fucking with me.  But his behavior has gotten a little...odd towards me lately.  I suspect it has to do with the Hannah Singer book.  She loves it ("It's so much better than Left Behind."  Oh, THERE'S a ringing endorsement.  God, I hope so!), but he's been kind of distant about it.  He's more traditional in his views on religion and the teachings of the church.  Not only that, but he is very respectful of authority, something I, an antidisestablishmentarian before he ever heard of the word, has trouble being.  I'm guessing that, because my beliefs are so different, he gets nervous about how associating with me looks to the Heavenly hosts.

(I want to emphasize I don't lord my religious learnings over him, I don't show off, and I only answer questions.  So it's not like I treat him like dirt just because his approach doesn't work for me.)

I ride to the church with them.  Concerns about an omen of how the night will go when we pull into the parking lot and, with the doors closed and the windows up so no one else overhears, I say aloud, "Shit!  I forgot to go to the bank after work!"  I'm guessing that's not the sort of thing you say on church grounds, private or no.  She asks if she can give me some money for the collection plate, I say no, I have a few singles on me.  I made sure to have a few.  It may have been a long time ago, but I still remember my annoyance at people who make change from the collection plate.

We get inside, and as I pass through the doors, I look around in confusion.  The stoups, the pedestals with bowls of holy water, aren't by the door.  She gently taps my shoulder and points me to them, further in by the start of the pews.  I get up, and find they are empty.  Bone dry.  I smirk at her and whisper, "What kind of cheapjack church is this?"

We take a pew and become lost in our thoughts.  Service starts.  Pretty uneventful.  Clearly, my Catholic church when I was growing up did things differently.  A lot more of the service was done in that sort of singing thing, done in a D minor key (the most depressing key ever made) and rarely fluctuating more than five notes.  Lots more kneeling, complete with the, during  the "Lord hear our prayer" part, standing to listen, kneel for a quick prayer, stand again, going up and down like a paddleball on decaf.  Lots more emphasis on authority here.  I did catch the two of them looking at me when the priest said, "Lord, we pray for the pope you have chosen for us."  I kept quiet.  There's a time and a place for everything, and that wasn't it.

I forgot, this being Good Friday, part of it was the Passion play.  I resent the Passion as it is now done.  Passion plays gained prominence when church leaders in Europe wanted to whip up antisemitism among the flock, so the wording and actions were changed to make it about the Jews killing Jesus instead of the political power play it really was.  Then again, I've studied this stuff.  I highly doubt anyone else there has felt the need to go as in depth as I have.  They don't really think the Jews killed Jesus, it's just part of the program, like people who sing along to La Bamba but don't understand a word of Spanish -- it's just how it goes.

Service ends (in silence.  It was for contemplation, but I don't think I've ever been to one that ended like that before), and we go out to the car to drive back home.  As we start off, she looks at him and says, "See?  He didn't cause a scene."

I looked at him.  You thought I'd cause a scene?

He kind of shrugged and mumbled something about how much disagreement I seem to have with religion.  He apparently thought I was going to sit there full of smugness and better-than-you-ness (too be fair, I did used to act that way.  I first met my teacher at a church service.  She commented, years later after I had improved, that she did pick up on an air of superiority about me during the service that wasn't there at other times).  I try to live honestly, and one of the things I hope comes through is that I'm not going to treat people poorly just to pick on them.  Or, at least, I think I am.  We never really know how others view us, only how we think and hope others view us.  So this was a bit of a shock to me.

What do you, the viewers at home, think?  Do I present myself as some sort of arrogant prick?  Or was he just nervous around me for whatever reason?


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 23rd, 2011 02:31 am (UTC)
From what I know of you, and that hasn't been long. You seem to have strong opinions. Which isn't bad.
Although, you are not and I don't ever think will be an asshole or arrogant prick. My friend Melissa has strong opinions, and sometimes so do I. ^_^There is nothing wrong with that. I also don't think you believe you are superior to anyone. That is my two cents. *hugs*
Apr. 23rd, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
* hugs back * Thanks. I was just wondering is all.
Apr. 23rd, 2011 08:59 am (UTC)
It's all in the eye of the beholder. A few months ago a woman I'd come to think of as one of the most open minded, friendliest people I know blocked me on Facebook and called me an asshole -- because I apologized to her.

I commented on something she'd said, she called me a conservative, I told her I considered myself a centrist, she called me an asshole who always had to get the last word in, and when I apologized for upsetting her she did the capslock exclamation point scream thing and yelled that I should stop talking because I was just trying to get the last word in. For apologizing.

Now, think about that. I didn't even know we were having an argument until she was halfway through it; it wasn't me, it was all about her expectations of me, and I suspect that's the way it was with his expectations of you, too.

Or, possibly, I'm an asshole.
Apr. 23rd, 2011 11:48 am (UTC)
There's a saying that we have four faces.

The face we present to the world.

The face the world sees.

The face we think we have.

Our real face.

Incidents like you describe reveal a lot more about that person's face than yours. I mean, using apologies to get the last word in? She really thinks that?

Edited at 2011-04-23 11:49 am (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
She did indeed. She seemed like someone who had a kind of zen quality -- but in retrospect the fact that she was living in a room at the Y was more of a warning sign than what she presented, which was that she'd given up many worldly concerns in place of greater things. Also, she was estranged from her entire family, which also told a tale I chose to ignore. I have a bad habit of believing in the best of people until they prove otherwise.

Meanwhile, I often worry about what other people see when they look at the face I present to the world ...
Apr. 24th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
I don't think that of you at all. From what I've seen of you online, I can't imagine you actually causing a scene in a church, or somewhere else.
Apr. 24th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I was just wondering.
Apr. 30th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)
I have just spent the last two hours getting caught up on LJ. I have been completely out of the loop lately.

Prior to this recent hiatus, I read about 50% of your stuff on a regular basis. (You are incredibly prolific) I have come to know that you have strong, eclectic opinions but I believe you are fairly open-minded and intelligent. Although I do not feel qualified to definitively answer your question, this was a very enjoyable post. Keep telling your stories.
May. 1st, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
I'll tell you the truth, I don't really expect everyone to read EVERYTHING I write. I've had people say they would rather me lose the computer/digital rights stuff, lose the comic stuff, lose the political stuff, lose the religious stuff....

What's more, it wouldn't surprise me if some posts got skipped even if what I wrote was more consistent. After all, people read when they are interested. And if I don't write something interesting enough, I shouldn't be surprised if no one reads or comments. Since most of my readers don't dig the tech stuff, it's no shock that those features get the fewest comments.

I just don't like people thinking they are obligated to either praise me for my genius, attack me for my opinions, or even participate in a discussion they don't want to. I'm hoping you've noticed I like to let people talk. They can post opinions to my comments that are completely contrary to mine and I'm not going to say anything unless I have some point I wish to make. I don't like the thought of tearing people down just because.

In order for people to THINK like me, they have to BE me. And all that agreement gets really boring after a while....

P.S. I'm glad the "intelligent" part comes through. "Well, Peter, I think you're about as smart as a can of Spam." THAT would be disappointing....
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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