Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Studyin' About That Good Old Way?

At this risk of this site becoming a Church Blog, I am submitting a piece about my recent trip to mass in St. Paul this past Sunday...

It had been a while. Since I went to Church, that is. But seeing Ricky Skaggs on Friday night reminded me that I needed to get back, get back to where I once belonged.

After consulting some of those more knowledgeable about the local churches and what they had to offer in terms of style, quality of priests, etc., I chose the one nearest my house.

It had probably been a year since my last trip, but it seemed like 25. As I first walked in and sat down, I was struck by how everyone was just chatting away like it was a Denny's and they were waiting for their Moons Over My Hammy or something. I stood up and shouted "Reverence!, damn you all, reverence!" well, no, but I wanted to.

The music started and the chatters reluctantly quieted down. Hmmm...don't recognize this one...better not sing then...should I look at the words like I might sing?...maybe I know the refrain, it's kind of like a chorus...no, don't know the refrain...okay, they've sung 4 verses, that should be sufficient...okay, maybe one more...another?...there are 7 verses in this song!

The priest begins the service and it's just all wrong. He's too chatty and smirky to be taken seriously. I again want to cry something aloud: "Hey pal, it's my eternal soul we're dealin' with here, so if you don't mind CAN YOU WIPE THAT S-EATING GRIN OFF YOUR MUG? Thanks."

I look around at my fellow parishioners and notice a number of pink buttons with the phrase CODE PINK imprinted on them. At first I thought it was some kind of movement to gain the acceptance of gay priests but after a little checking, I found out it is an "anti-war" group. Great to know you are sharing services with whacked out leftists.

The service continues and we get to the moment where the priests exhorts us to give up some dough for the church (I always loved when they sang "Take Our Bread" during this time) and then added with alarm "And it is especially important to give to the poor at this time of drastic cuts from the governor" referring to Tim Pawlenty's new budget.

Thinking things could not get much worse, I had forgotten about the dreaded hand-holding of your neighbor that takes place during the saying of the Lord's Prayer. I don't know who thought this up, or why, but as a Minnesotan I just simply don't want to hold hands with basically anyone, but especially a stranger who is sporting a radical button.

As it became time to join hands I decided to simply ignore those on my left and right and just play ignorant. "Hand holding? Hmm..sorry I didn't know." I then saw out of my peripheral vision a rather homely urban woman--the type usually found in laundromats and peace marches--was looking at me, wanting to join hands in the Kumbaya tradition. I ignored her once, but she again looked at me as if to say "What's wrong with you, don't you love God?" and I was forced to acquiesce. As I embraced her clammy paw, I noticed that a man on my right hand side had moved closer and had apparently attempted to join hands while I was concerned with the woman. He did not seem happy to have to pray by himself.

Am I the only one who objects to the absurdity of everyone holding hands like this? It feels like hours you stand there with this stranger's hand in yours just waiting for that moment your hand can be free to swing by your side again.

As the mass was winding down, something else didn't seem right to me. Some part of the service had been skipped; something was missing. As I looked down by my feet I realized what it was. The kneelers had been removed. There had been no kneeling whatsoever.

Just another sign that the church is not on the right track and my soul will have to go elsewhere for its salvation (or at least to the Cathedral next week).