Friday, April 2, 2010

Fridays (& All the Other Days, Too) of Yesteryear

It's Good Friday. I remember in New Orleans, where I grew up, just about all the movies in town would close on Good Friday. Some restaurants and other places of business, too. Have you got a picture of that happening today? Lent was a serious affair for Catholics then. If you were grown-up, you fasted every day in Lent and you didn't eat meat on Fridays (ever, not just during Lent) and Ash Wednesday. On Good Friday, nobody did anything that could remotely be construed as fun. And you went to church. Hell, you went to church on Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, too. Wall-to-wall church during Holy Week.

It was a different church in those days. We didn't know about pedophile priests and the scumbag system that protected them, even as we elevated "Fathers" everywhere to exalted heights . In fact, priests were like high priests in Montezuma's empire, actually. They performed the sacrifice. They had all the answers. They existed in some kind of otherworldly bubble of holiness that none of the rest of us sinners could possibly attain.

Religion was all about sin. Sin came from Adam and Eve, the original sin. Except it didn't stay with them. No, it was passed like a family heirloom. So the human family inherited it, and everybody was born already damned, a pretty serious situation. The sole reprieve was if you were baptized. God was owed, you see. Everybody had to pay because Adam and Eve couldn't leave the damn Tree of Knowledge alone. So everybody's life was a score book like from the day you arrived, grace versus sin, your's and everybody else's. You just hoped the score was slightly in your favor in the end (it could never be more than "slightly"), because there was hell to pay if you lost. God kept strict books.

How many million miles away is this? It's difficult to fathom that people could actually believe that's the way God operates. It's hard to believe that there are actually some Catholics who want to bring this horror back. All of it: the Latin, the cloying piety, the days of Rome-has-all-the-answers, the super-elevated clergy. And sin. Don't forget sin.

More on this tomorrow.
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