I have somebody who has reached out to me recently and expressed interest in dating. She seems like a perfectly lovely woman, and so far our conversations have been nice.
Only once have we spoken on the phone, the rest is through email and instant message. She lives somewhere other than Chicago.
She asked me last night if I would ever consider converting to Catholicism if I married a Catholic (which she is). I laughed because to me the idea of changing religions based on who you marry seems complicated and unnecessary.
I was raised Presbyterian, which is, of course, Protestant. And there is a world of difference between Catholic and Protestant. We pray to a similar God and all that, but there are traditions that don’t match.
As she was telling me that she needs her future husband to be Catholic, I started remembering about my experience as a Protestant going to Catholic high school.
So, I want to introduce a new feature about these memories.
Note: I don’t intend for these observations to be intentionally cruel or insensitive. Nor am I trying to poop on an entire religion. So lighten up (or, “en” lighten up – zing!)
The First Day Of School – Part I
There are two things about the first day of Catholic high school that are prominent in my memory.
The first was this whole business of their cross.
There were crosses everywhere in the high school. Okay, fine, it is a Catholic school. So, I can’t play totally dumb as that was a little expected. Religion = crosses. I get it.
What was unexpected was their style of cross.
Growing up, the only crosses I ever saw were just that, crosses. Two pieces of wood or metal joined together. Simple and clean.
At my high school the crosses were not so neat and tidy.
They each, and I mean each, had a three dimensional representation of Jesus being crucified. With the four-penny nails in his hands and feet!
I remember seeing this and being totally shocked. Even his expression is one of anguish. The guy is dying. It’s pretty damned sad. And gross. If you look closely you can see the puncture wound and all.
The first day of school, I walked in and stared at the big Jesus cross in the entry and instantly got depressed. You can’t help it. Nothing is less uplifting than to see the guy you pray to tortured and dying.
And to be honest this sort of offended my sensibilities. If you regularly read my stuff, you know this is hard to do. I’m not that easily put off.
I found myself turning into an elderly person out of touch with today’s culture complaining about the language on network television.
“C’mon, do they really need to do this? I’m going back to stamping.”
Of course, this was also the same school that made me watch a video of an actual abortion junior year. Subtlety was not their strength.
If going to a brand new high school where you didn’t know anyone wasn’t difficult enough, seeing a guy dying in the commons area when you’re trying to eat lunch is pretty awful.
Every time I see this, even now, I get depressed. The same thing happens each time I hear Neil Young sing, “Down by the river, I shot my baby.” I’m ready to slit my wrists.
Speaking of, once in college our band decided to play that song live at a bar. Nobody applauded. And why should they? That song will bring everyone down. It’s hard to get pumped up about homicide. Same thing with Jesus on the cross. Ugh.
I guess I just didn’t get it. I didn’t want to be bummed out thinking about religion. There’s enough sadness in a teenager’s life just surviving high school. I didn’t need more bad feelings.
And, c’mon, the guy did some amazing stuff. He healed prostitutes, did regneration with lepers, walked on water. And the wine! He did tricks with wine!
Plus, after he died, he hung out for three days in a cave and then moved a big boulder! That’s pretty neat.
So, I guess I didn’t understand showing off the most awful moment of this poor guy’s life. You know, display a scene from when he did that cool loaves and fish trick! That’s inspiring!
Again, not trying to pick on the Catholics. I just felt awful looking at that thing. Too much for me.
And to show you I’m consistent, I don’t prefer an open casket at a funeral. No thank you. Just keep the lid shut. And a nice simple cross is great, too.
I know I started the article by talking about the two things I noticed day one of high school. Part II is coming soon.