Tag Archives: Religion

Sacrilege! And also with you

So this is pretty awesome: They’re making changes to the Catholic liturgy. Last time that happened, the changes were incredibly huge and my father essentially refused to recognize them. (Ain’t no one telling him the mass can be said in anything but Latin. Ain’t no reason we should see the priest’s face. Ain’t no reason you can’t starve yourself fast in order to earn a piece of the nourishing bread that has been transformed into the body of the main man.)

This time the changes are much smaller, almost to the point of absurdity. And they do away with some lines that are burned into my brain, even still. (e.g. Gone is, “And also with you,” replaced by the awkward “And with your spirit.”)

This link at stltoday has a few more changes side-by-side, though it will expire in a few days because the Post doesn’t view its content as having much shelf life.

My favorite change (“favorite” as in “OMG that’s hilariously awkward!”) is the following. Currently, the “Gloria” goes like this, and it’s often sung in an actually tolerable way — I always saw it as the closest the Mass comes to actually rapping, which is cool (there are actually a ton of varieties of how it’s sung, but the one I remember most was pretty rap-like):

Current:

Glory to God in the high-est,
and peace to his people on Earth
Lo-o-ord God, heavenly King,
Almighty God and Faaaaa-ther:
We worship you.
We give you thanks.
We praise you-oo for your glo-o-ry.

*I capitalize “Earth.” In my book, it’s a named planet; it deserves the capital “E.” Many disagree, including the Church. But if God gets big “G”s all around, why not also His creation, eh?

Anyway, the revisions to that Gloria make it look like this:

Revised:

Glory to God in the highest
And on Earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you, we bless you, we adore you
We glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.

Holy string of redundant appositives, Batman! The “how many names can we think of?” God/king/god/father string is still there (though moved to the end), but now they’ve busted out the thesaurus to show how many different ways we can tell God* what it is that we’re doing to him. (praise, bless, adore, glorify, give thanks, make war and shame people in his name, etc.).

*the kicker: Supposedly he already knows.

They’re also doing away with the ol’ “Christ has diiied. Christ has ris-en. Christ will come agaaaaaiiin.”

I’m not sure why they’re doing away with that old favorite. Frankly, I’m not sure why the Church does much of what it does. But these changes should create enough congregation confusion to make going to Mass a delightful hoot.

P.S. Thankfully they didn’t do something drastic, like let females be priests or let priests marry. Heavens, that wouldn’t do a lick of good, no not at all.

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Grocery store preacher

It was a quiet Sunday night at the low-end grocery store — not a $10 off Thursday that brings out mobs (mobs that include me). I just needed fruit replenishment. Shoppers were scarce, lines nonexistent. Mood: Calm.

The large 60s-ish black man slowly blocking the apples with his cart uttered something that sounded like a comment on the weather, or something else small-talk and friendly-ish to share in our relative peace. But no.

“Jesus is lord.”

I’m sorry? I hadn’t understood, but mistakenly thought I wanted to.

“Jesus is lord,” he repeated.

Fuck! So that’s where we’re going. I switched from friendly small-talk gear back to comfort-in-my-own-world mode. “Oh. Alright,” I said and moved on to blueberries. For a moment, I worried that the tone of my instinctual response betrayed too much doubt and disappointment; I really didn’t want to invite elaboration. As proof that I have a problem, I already saw a blog post forming in my head.

I did notice that he was wearing a baseball hat that said, “JESUS IS BOSS,” and that kept me entertained for the next few aisles. “Well, which is he then? Lord or Boss?” I wondered in a Monty Python voice. If you’re going around preaching to strangers — or is it, in your mind, not preaching but just stating as obvious a fact as “Such a nice April day we’re having”? — shouldn’t you keep the job title straight?

‘Cause Lord and Boss are different positions with different responsibilities, unless you’re just getting all metaphorical on me, in which case I want a hat that says, “Jesus Runs the Stoplights that Made Me Late for Work.” (Meanwhile, I’m thinking of the offshoots: “Jesus gave me good genes, but he took my grandpa when I was 6. Jesus is dropping earthquakes left and right. And he subjects me to country music. He works in mysterious ways.”)

Thankfully, I learned at an early age not to engage unsolicited preachers in conversation — they don’t actually want to hear anyone else — so I resisted the urge, upon our second encounter by the frozen foods, to say, “Wait, I thought he was Boss?” And thankfully, in the frozen food aisle he didn’t address me, because there was a woman closer to his age who needed to hear, “Jesus is Lord.”

Her response? (I couldn’t tell if she was sincere or just better-practiced.) “Ooooh, yeah that’s right.”

Glad we got that settled. The blueberries were good.

My religion’s crazier than yours

Cleaning out some old email. Mostly a bunch of unread “hey, me, get off your butt and blog about this” messages to myself. So I came across this Slate one, penned around one of the times a Hollywood [adherent to a religion I won’t name, so as not to draw out its online fanatics] did something foolish or hypocritical, or maybe someone disclosed its financial corruption — I can’t recall the specifics.

The article is by a guy who had written about aspects of this [Crazy Cruise] religion, and was then criticized for not being critical enough. His defense was that every time you write about a religion, you don’t have to bring up all of its dirty laundry, or it gets redundant. (Imagine every article: “As Christians around the world celebrate the birth of their savior, let us not forget their Crusades of slaughter 700 years ago…”)

I don’t care about this Hollywood [not really Scient-ific at all] religion, though its believers make me chuckle. But this article really tickled me because, in criticizing some of the more absurd parts of this specific “faith,” it brings up the rather absurd parts of every established organized religion that is not supposed to be criticized in such ways. In other words:

Religions appear strange in inverse proportion to their age. Judaism and Catholicism seem normal—or at least not deviant. Mormonism, less than 200 years old, can seem a bit incredible. And Scientology, founded 50 years ago, sounds truly bizarre. To hear from a burning bush 3,000 years ago is not as strange as meeting the Angel Moroni two centuries ago, which is far less strange than having a hack sci-fi writer as your prophet.

This. I don’t totally agree with the assertion, but it’s probably a decent reflection of society’s view. And this has been my source of discomfort (and non-belief) in religion ever since they tried it on me as a kid. Those who were in charge of indoctrinating me were pretty blatant hypocrites, and in any case they were selling me a story that I found very hard to buy. One that would be hard to sell from scratch had they started it, say, in the 20th century. The whole experience pushed me a different way.

[7th-grade example: Them: “Confirmation is the sacrament where you freely choose to accept and affirm you faith.”  Me: What if I choose not to be confirmed? Them: “Well you have to, everyone gets confirmed.”  Me: Oh. Okay.]

The redeeming value in the older religions for me — and I suspect even for many adherents — is their ties to tradition and rituals that give us bonds, tie us together, form meanings, make a little bit of order out of the world. It doesn’t matter that I don’t believe any of the Christian beliefs about why this time of year is important, I still find a lot of value from this time of year thanks to the family traditions attached to it.

Now, of course, we didn’t need Christianity to teach us seasonal rituals and give us excuses to stop and smell the yearly life cycle — pagans were doing that just fine, thanks. But it’s impractical and frankly unwelcome for me to bring that up at every family gathering and office party. So I just do it in my head, and ignore the manger.

This segment of the article is a little more debatable, but also tickling to me:

But when it comes to [the sci-fi religion], there’s a hunger for the negative. I suspect that’s because [religion that sounds like Dialysis] evinces an acute case of what Freud called the narcissism of small differences: We’re made most uncomfortable by that which is most like us. And everything of which [this Hollywood religion] is accused is an exaggerated form of what more “normal” religions do.

Does [boy, they mention the religion’s name a lot] charge money for services? Yes—but the average Mormon, tithing 10 percent annually, pays more money to his church than all but the most committed [Cruise-types] pay to theirs. Jews buying “tickets” to high-holiday services can easily part with thousands of dollars a year per family. Is [Cruise’s favorite org] authoritarian and cultlike? Yes—but mainly at the higher levels, which is true of many religions. There may be pressure for members of [that religion]’s elite “[oceanic] Organization” not to drop out, but pressure is also placed on Catholics who may want to leave some cloistered orders. Does [the Oprah couch-jumping religion] embrace pseudoscience? Absolutely—but its “[weird measurement]grams” and “[weird]-meter” are no worse than what’s propagated by your average Intelligent Design enthusiast. In fact, its very silliness makes it less pernicious.

The response might be that “Well yes, but those old religions have centuries of tradition built up to explain these — not a cynical grab for followers and money.” But then I’m not sure how true that assertion would be, given the history of countless religious leaders.

Religions are an “institution” in the societal sense, and it’s hard to imagine how to unwind them from our fabric completely — or if that’s even desirable. People do good things and bad things. Religion gives people cover to do good things and bad things. Would that balance be better or worse without them?

I don’t know. I just opt out and watch from the outside as a curious observer, fairly comfortable in the belief that I’m an alright person without them.