Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

...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?
Tags: hannah singer, history, important life lessons, religion, self reflection
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