I went to Catholic Mass recently for the first time in forever for the sake of family harmony (or was it to get new material?) I have to admit that after having some distance from it, the whole thing seemed even sillier than I remembered. This church was a more spartan affair. Not a lot of stained glass and that sort of thing. The only thing of note was a terracotta Mary on the wall and a huge Jesus-on-the-cross hanging on the wall behind the altar area.
I thought of what an outsider, unfamiliar with Christianity or Catholicism might think of such a scene. There’s a large group of people centering their behavior around a life-sized sculpture hanging on a wooden cross with nails in the hands and feet. I would think that it was damn creepy. Growing up, you’d just see that kind of thing and think no big deal. But it IS damn creepy. I’d think that someone who didn’t know any better might stumble in and ask “just what the hell is going on in here?“.
I spent about the first half of the mass staring at sandicast Jesus, trying to figure out if I was taller than him. I tried to visually match landmarks that I might know the general size of, and determine their multiple which would equal his size. I came up with a rough estimation of about 5 feet 4 inches. Looked about 100 pounds, maybe even less. Very wiry. Malnourished even. The height may be a little off because he was kind of slumped over. You can never seem to get a guy on a cross to straighten up and hold still for a good sculpting. My son was making a paper airplane out of the bulletin. No, I didn’t suggest it.
When it came time to eat Jesus, I passed. My son asked me why I didn’t go up like everyone else. I told him I’d explain it later, though I didn’t really have anything in mind. He seems to have forgotten about it.
The gospel was some nonsense about lepers and needing to shout “unclean! unclean!” at them. It was detailed by the priest that being a leper could have been just someone who was different, had acne, or had messed up clothes. But Jesus “healed” one leper and sent him back into the community. Stridex pads? Maybe he took him to Brooks Brothers. He declared him “clean” again.
Interesting. If it was just a guy being discriminated against due to his appearance, why is the solution to make the man “clean” instead of telling the community to stop being a bunch of assholes?
There was another bizarre sequence where the priest waved his magic wand at some boy scouts’ medals to “bless” them, and they were constantly pimping for new priests. The boy scouts were even hassled about this. “You like camping? Great, how would you like to be celibate for the rest of your life?” I’ve got an idea – let married people or women become your secret messengers. You could get quite an influx just from that. The pool of creepy single guys to pick from is getting smaller and smaller…