07 December 2006

Church Shopping

Yeah, I know. It’s not very nice to judge something like a spiritual community the same way one might judge a restaurant, but really, what else do we have?

I went to mass on Sunday. My reasoning to do so? Unclear. I haven’t really been a regular attendee of ye olde churche since I moved to Asia, where there are about four catholics.

Now 18% more tolerant!

I can’t say I missed it all that much. I wish I could say that, but really, not so much. I’m not sure I even believe in it all anymore. Seriously people, the story doesn’t stand up to the bright white light of day. Some white guy who lives in the sky impregnates a Syrian girl, and it is fantastically important that it didn’t happen in the normal way that we were created/evolved to reproduce. No, it was magic. Like Harry Potter. Her son gets to be about thirty and all the sudden has a midlife crisis, tells a bunch of crazy stories and ends up getting killed by the state, but he is actually just doing the bidding of his father, who is omnipotent but seemed unable to create a people that didn’t need redemption. Also, still needs the Romans to convict his son of being the king of an unimportant tribe. But before he is killed he discusses cannibalism with his groupies who, it should be mentioned, abandoned their families to wander around the countryside with this guy. Then, according to a document written at least EIGHTY years after the events transpired by a bunch of rather unreliable fellows, this son awoke from the dead and flew around saying howdy before returning to the fortress of solitude, aka heaven. We are to learn from this that someone’s death can somehow atone for our own sins, and that after we die we go to the fortress of solitude as well. But only if we were good enough, according to the Catholics, or only if we meant to do good, according to some of the sane protestants, or only if we were born again/bitten by a snake/filled with the holy spirit/dunked in a river/voted for Bush, according to the crazy protestants. It remains unclear, two thousand years after the fact.

I have my doubts about all of that. I suppose to decide about something one has to study. Maybe that’s why I went to mass.


Anyway, I went to Nativity Catholic Church on Georgia Ave, way up by Murlnd. I give it a three out of five.

  • Stained glass windows? Staid, but with out any insane headless horsemen, devils poking babies with tridents or other gore favored by papists for one reason or another. Check.
  • Statuary? The usual suspects were present, Ol’ St. Francis cavorting with birds, St Gregory who did something at somepoint, and standard-bearer Mary, eyes full of mercy. Or booze. Who can know? Check.
He's a joker, a smoker, a midnight toker.

  • Music? Hmmmm. Gospel. And LOTS of clapping. The program didn’t say anything about it being Gospel Mass. Are Catholics allowed to clap at church? Note to self: check canonical law.
  • Priest? Polish. Or Ukrainian. Something not Irish. Probably from one of those countries that American Catholics use like a ATM machine for priests because we have so much money we can’t imagine being poor and asexual for more than like five minutes. Check.
  • Architecture? Good. High ceilings, stone floors, none of this modern convention center crap. Dark pews, dark religion. Check.
Masturbation makes Jesus cry.


  • Congregation? Sparse. I don’t like sparse; it’s way too hard to blend in. Also, this congregation was HANDS ON. For those of you, dear readers, who are not of the mainstream Christian persuasion (Yes, I’m judging you. Judging you like a fox! Kidding) there is usually a part of the service where everyone shakes hands and promises not to kill each other.

In the Midwest, where I come from, the meet-and-do-not-kill portion of the service is conducted in the following manner:

    1. Shake hands with/ hug IMMEDIATE family members.
    2. Look around nervously, attempting to make eye contact with someone close by so you can shake their hand and pledge to not kill them. Ensure you do not make them feel guilty by making eye contact when they have just initiated hand shaking with a third party.
    3. Make proper eye contact, extend hand, grasp firmly. No limp hands, people.
    4. Say the line, something like “Peace be with you”. Follow the priest’s lead.
    5. DO NOT HUG.
    6. Locate next Christian. Repeat.
    7. After shaking the hands of all of the people in your personal three foot radius, mission complete. Get ready for communion.

On Georgia Avenue, the rules are modified thusly:

1. Shake hands with/ hug IMMEDIATE family members EVERYONE.

2. Look around nervously, attempting to make eye contact with someone close by so you can shake their hand and pledge to not kill them. Ensure you do not make them feel guilty by making eye contact when they have just initiated hand shaking with a third party. No seriously, get to hugging.

3. Make proper eye contact, extend hand, grasp firmly. No limp hands, people. HUG!

4. Say the line, something like “Peace be with you”. Follow the priests lead. Or make up your own! My favorite was “Oh baby! Christ be all around you!”.

5. DO NOT HUG.

6. Locate next Christian. Repeat.

7. After shaking the hands of Continue HUGGING all of the people in your personal three foot radius, mission complete. Get ready for communion. in existence.

8. Ensure to leave your pew and wander around for about ten minutes, hugging everyone that you hugged already. Already hugged everyone twice? Go for thrice. Peace be with everyone, multiple peaces.

I’ll be honest. It was disconcerting. I could get used to it with time, but we might have to speed that up. I can’t have my mass lasting an hour and fifteen minutes. That’s twenty minutes too long. Check.

  • Communion Wine? What was that? Kool-Aid spiked with vodka? A travesty.

In summary, Nativity Catholic Church: a bright medley of traditionalist format enriched with some unorthodox notes of hugging and gospel singing. Undertones of earthy Calvinism with wisps of the elderly. Not as robust as it could be, but plenty of Mary statues to distract parishioners from the fact the new Pope looks like pure evil. All in all, fine, but missing incense and alter boys.

Maybe next Sunday I can start thinking about theology. But all that hugging. Makes a man nervous.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

YOU WILL GO TO HELL FAGGOT.

The King said...

WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWHHHAHAHA!!! For real? HI-larious. As my friend would say: JiggaWhat?

MB said...

Obviously not everyone grasps the concept of site trackers?

the princess said...

I'm thinking that is a tongue-in-cheek comment. I hope!

Anyway, the peace-be-with-you part is my favorite!

Coach said...

Gross.... Baby Jesus is watching me stroke it. heh

The King said...

Everytime you stroke it Coach, the baby Jesus kills a kitten. That's a lot of cats. Cat killer.