Sunday, August 21, 2005
My little brother has been visiting out here from [the place he's from] for about a month and a half. Loyal Bucketeers will note that I've never mentioned having a brother in the past and that this is just one more of Pops' fancy lies used as a set-up for some hi-larious text-based hijinx, but alas, this is not the case. This is the truth. It's dull, isn't it?
Well, it's kind of the truth. Actually, he's my step-brother. I grew up with just my two sisters. Meanwhile, 1,000+ miles away in the wilds of the American Upper Midwest my dad, it seems, was wending his way through most of the female population of the Great Lakes area. Apparently, he'll settle for any chick so long as she nasalizes and flattens out her vowels in that inimitable Upper Midwest way. That just does it for him, I guess. Dude's on his third marriage.
So I actually have three brothers, one half and two step. And four sisters, my two regular sisters plus one half sister and one step sister. Christmas is fucking complicated.
Anyway, the youngest boy (he's 18) was out here visiting. He longed to see things he couldn't see in the place where he's from, like land elevation and smog.
He left this morning (Sunday). For his last full day here (Saturday), I had the excellent idea to take him someplace where he could experience gaudy SoCal recreational decadence, surround himself with hot, mostly-naked Orange County chicks and score himself some first-rate melanoma in the process.
We went to Wild Rivers. Acres and acres of giant waterslides and two massive artificial wave pools... did I mention the mostly-naked Orange County chicks? They were all their too. Most of them were accompanied by their tough-guy tattooed, pierced, spiky-haired OC Dad's-BMW-driving roughneck boyfriends, but that's OK. I had my wife there to protect me.
I'm pretty sure my little step-brother had a good time with the slides and the waves and the mostly-nakeds. Me, I was there with my three little kids. That means lots of face-time with the 2-foot deep freezing-cold urine-tastic splash pool. Wheeee! Nobody died, so I guess that's a positive. And I didn't need skin grafts to fix the sunburn this time, so we'll call that Positive #2.
But Sunday morning rolled around and we were tired. We were so tired that, even though we got up in plenty of time, we decided that God wanted us to rest and we skipped church.
It's awful I know. But you know what? We got all kinds of shit done and nobody had a stress-induced stroke because of time pressure.
I'm sure most of you won't believe me, but I like going to Mass on Sundays. I really do. It's a time to reflect on what's important in my life and reconnect with the Almighty, all to the sound of some really kick-ass hymns (I loved it when my parish replaced that fruity-ass folk guitar player and brought in DJ Pookie and his Turntables of Resurrection) . How much the absence of my kids (who are tucked away safely in the church nursery or Sunday school during the service) for that hour has to do with my likey-ness of it, I'm not saying either way. But it's good, quiet time. Plus there's a snack at the end.
The Mass is only an hour, but it takes all day. Up at 8, get kids ready, get self ready, out the door, 20 minute drive, drop kids off at respective Not-With-Me places, Mass, collect children, drive home... it's noon. Lunch, naptime... we have a window between 3pm and 7pm to get a week's worth of shit done. That's that stroke I was telling you about before. I get one every two weeks or so. Lucky for me I've got he one-hand-typing thing all worked out.
So as I was sitting there on my couch today at 1 pm, summer breeze blowing through my screen door, baseball on the TV, kids and wife napping, lawn mowed, groceries shopped, dog shaved, I had me a serious apostate moment or two.
Man, them atheists must just get by great. No Jesus chasing them down all the time to do this, do that, donate to this, contribute to that. Sure, they're going to burn in eternal hellfire, but right now they're living in Fat City.
But just before I cast out the Holy Spirit in favor of my remote control, I had an epiphany. Not so much like Paul on the road to Damascus, but more like Greg Brady when he realized that Johnny Bravo, while a cool name, just wasn't him and it wasn't groovy to try and be someone you're not.
What came to me in a 1970s sitcom flash was something I'd been struggling with for ages: I know completely understand Christian fundamentalism.
I know! Isn't it amazing?
No, look, hear me out. There's all this stuff out there, like dens of iniquity and houses of ill repute, all the way down to your common street-whore, to tempt and distract your common man. At the same time he remembers when he was a kid when his parents made him go to church when all he wanted to do was take naps and masturbate. He came to realize that going to church saved him from a life of oversleeping and friction-burns.
But the temptation is still so strong, you know, so if you only go into religion by half-steps, you're always just about to slide into a life where you spend all your time and money on high quality industrial-grade lube and sheets with insanely high thread counts. So if he's going to go, he's going to go all the way and be "born again". If "don't masturbate or be a lazy fucker" is true, then all that shit has to be true about the gays and abortion and obedient women and that evil, evil SpongeBob Squarepants. All the space in the brain that is devoted to onanism and sloth have to be driven out and filled by something else. And that's a lot of space.
So even though church-going takes a lot of time and effort, they do it because otherwise, sort of paradoxically, it gives them time to get stuff done. Because without it, you know... like I said before about the wanky-wanky and the sleepy-sleepy.
Or maybe he just doesn't want to mow the lawn on Sunday. That's a strong second-choice theory.
This is the reason why I'm pretty happy to be a non-fundamentalist practicing Catholic. Protestants like to brag about their self-reliance in matters of faith since they have no specialized priesthood to mediate between them and God and thus have no need for the lazy evil of confession.
But that means you have to be, like, a total expert on all things religious just to be religious because there's no one there to help with the heavy lifting. I like my priests (the non-pedophile ones) precisely because they tell me when to stand up and when to sit down and when I can leave. They read my Old Testament for me. And the New one too, come to think of it. I hear it's very good. Ties up all the loose ends from the Old one.
So if I happen to be alone one night watching Cinemax and one thing leads to another, I can confess it. "Hey, fix this for me, would you?" And I assume he does.
Same thing with other sins, like missing church because we are tired from all the water-park fun we had the day before. I give it to my guy, he handles it. It's all voluntary. I needn't be consumed either way, which is nice because then I have more time to blog.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0