Oh, gob. I’m beginning to crack. This whole series was a ghastly mistake. As I was sitting there in the pews (unpadded this time!), it began to sink in that I was bored, excruciatingly deeply terribly bored, that these people were saying nothing of any interest to me and never would, and that the whole affair was a dreadful waste of time. It was all coming back to me, the dreary tedium of church, and I wondered how all these people can bear it, going to this same ritual week after week after week.
I’m trying to make a sincere effort to learn what the religious folk in town are getting out of this tedious affair of going to church, but it’s evading me.
But there must be something to it — guilt, a sense of obligation, inertia? — because this was the biggest one so far. Over 150 people were in attendance on a beautiful summer day…another reason it was such a waste. It didn’t help that the Catholic service was so much more coldly formal than the protestant churches we attended in the last two weeks, either. There was lots of bouncing up and down, stand, sit, kneel, but I suspect it was all part of a plan to keep people from falling asleep during the service.
Let’s see…anything good I can say about it?
Well, the music was much nicer. The hymns were a little bit more sophisticated with more complex melodies then we got elsewhere. Part of that might have been that they were all led by a woman who had a most excellent singing voice. Usually, church congregations singing a hymn is an example of regression to the mean — the song averages out to a mumbly drone. With this woman in charge, though, I could actually listen to the music, and it was good.
The sermon wasn’t the informal punditry we usually get. Instead, they led up to it with three bible readings, all on the theme of sin and forgiveness, and then the priest gave a short discussion interpreting and explaining the meaning of those verses. It was much more universal (hey! Catholic!) than a rant about the latest news or candidate or Americanism. So I actually kind of appreciated that it was a more philosophical discussion, even though I fundamentally disagree with the whole premise of original sin and redemption through belief.
We got to see a baptism! It was preceded by a litany of belief (Do you renounce Satan? “Yes, we do,” replies the congregation. Do you believe in Jesus, the Resurrection, etc.? “Yeah, yeah, you betcha” (or words to that effect) intone all the people (except me)), and then the priest dumped a whole pitcher of water over the kid’s head.
And finally, “Behold the Lamb of God,” said the priest, and he waved a cracker and a cup at us. It didn’t look like mutton to me. Everybody filed up to get their mouthful of Jesus, again except for me. I refrained since I knew that if I was recognized, there might be an unruly spectacle, and also because I’ve had enough of Jesus’ meat in my mouth for my entire lifetime.
Another concern is that they all share the same wine cup. How unsanitary. I mentioned to my wife on the way home that if ever the zombie apocalypse starts, the vector is probably going to point right back to a Catholic church somewhere. I get the cruds at the beginning of every school year just from being in the same room with mobs of students, I can’t imagine sharing spit with ‘em all.
So we escaped right after that. One noteworthy thing that did save me from terminal boredom: all of the church services we’ve attended so far have been impeccably timed. Every one begin precisely at the stated hour, and exactly one hour later, we’re being sent on our way. I’ve been impressed so far.
But still, an hour is an hour too long. I feel obligated to go to another one next week. I may need to pray for strength.