Shea, you need to write more. I’ve already written several posts for the ole’ blog.
I don’t respond. I continue to slowly sip my mimosa while staring at the Orange County Sunset. Am I an asshole? Debatable.
A day passes.
Unrelenting in her quest for equal content, Katie Jones persisted. Shea you need to write more. I open my eyes. It’s 7:15am on Easter Sunday. The Grandfather Clock is chiming.
I’m swaddled in blankets on a couch pillow fort. I feel like the princess from “The Princess and the Pea.” Katie is sitting on the opposite couch, also fashioned into a pillow fort, also a pea princess. (When she reads this she’s going to say something like, “Shea WTF? Pea Princess. That makes me think of Pee… Pee Princess. No.”)
We’re 31 year-old women and we’re having a sleepover at Katie’s mom’s house. We (accidentally) wear matching-ish PJs. Board games were played. Nails were painted. And lots, and lots, and lots of cheese and crackers were eaten. (Cheesemare city.)
I’m going to go to church. Do you want to come or do you want to stay here and write?
Church it was.
Sure. I’ll go with you.
Okay, cool. It’s a Catholic mass.
And the smile fades.
It’s been about a decade since I’ve been to church on Easter Sunday. The last time I went was when Katie and I lived in Barcelona. We went to Easter Mass at the Duomo in Florence. There were fireworks and Italian dignitaries we didn’t recognize but knew were important. To be honest, I’ve never really felt the need to try and top that, so I quit while I was ahead and never went to church on Easter Sunday ever again.
…Until now. I’ve decided to attend a catholic mass, again with Katie Jones. This time we’re in Newport Beach. And we’re 10 years older and 10 years wiser.
The following is a retelling of my experience and thoughts that I had throughout the service. In parenthesis are the thoughts I had while writing this.
DISCLAIMER: This post is probably offensive to at least one person I know. I apologize.
The best part of any church experience has got to be the free refreshments, right? It’s like we’re all patting ourselves on the back for coming here. If you just get out of bed and come to church you can have a donut. At our cores we are all still children.
(Yes, this is offensive. But admit it. You guys enjoy the damn donuts. I went for the maple, glazed log btw. My Buddhist cousin once told me that sometimes she just goes and gets donuts just for getting out of bed because everybody suffers and sometimes you just need a donut. I’m not sure if that’s a “Buddhist” thing or a “my cousin” thing. Either way I’ve adopted it as a Shea McKee thing. I also recently discovered GrubHub will deliver donuts to your door. I find personally that kind of experience to also be a spiritual one for me.)
I watch a littler girl use her grandfather and father as her personal jungle gym while they attempt to sign hymns. Another little girl begins to untie her mothers dress while poking her in the butt. The mother swats at her to quit it. The girl crawls on the floor and finally sits underneath her chair. When it comes time to join hands with your neighbor her father leans over to grab her hand but the mother, his wife, tells him no and makes him skip their daughter. Well that was fucked up. Why do parents bring their children to church?
(Seriously, this is cruel. Just because your parents made you go to church on Sundays doesn’t mean you have to take your child(ren). I get it if you want to take your kid so they can experience religion, but don’t take them until they are old enough to understand it or appreciate it (ages vary). It’s disruptive to the service. If your child can’t sit still then they shouldn’t be there. And that goes for anyone, not just children. Hence, why I don’t go to church often. On second thought, I honestly don’t care if you force your kid to practice a religion that they can’t even comprehend or fully appreciate because I won’t be present. Peace be with you.)
The priest begins to talk about baptisms. He some how segues to Judaism through Passover and Easter. None of which seems to resonate with me until he brings up that baptisms were actually a Jewish ritual. It wasn’t until Christ that they became a form of rebirth, a cleansing of the sins of the former life. And that’s when it clicked. Holy shit! Jesus Christ culturally appropriated baptisms from the Jewish faith. If twitter had been a thing back in the day you know there would’ve been an entire group of people just lighting this dude’s feed up. Then again Jesus was Jewish so wouldn’t he have the right to manipulate his culture however he wanted? I mulled that over for at least half of the mass. That’s a solid 40 minis.
(Was it wrong that I called Jesus Christ a dude? Maybe. But he was also tight with a prostitute, so he seems like he’d be cool with dude to me.)
While singing in church it occurred to me none of the people around me were really feeling the music. Why is everyone so somber? Music is meant to be felt. If you’re singing about the joy the Lord provides you, shouldn’t you sound and look joyful? Why am I the only one swaying and tapping my toes? This is, yet again, another reason why I don’t do church.
(If this offends you go watch Sister Act. Come back. Now how do you feel? If you’re still offended go watch Sister Act 2. How about now? Watch Jesus Christ Superstar. Still offended? Go watch Footloose. Repeat until no longer offended and you feel the music.)
Speaking of music…every time I’m in church it is inevitable that the Bob Dylan song “With God on Our Side” pops into my head. And that’s immediately when I begin to scrutinize every single word the officiant is saying. If God is on everyone’s side then how could anyone be wrong or right? Because people have created different Gods to rationalize their thoughts and beliefs and to push their own agendas.
Henry the 8th (you fat bastard) and the Church of England. That’s all I ever have to think about to realize religion is flawed. A group of people tricked another group of people into thinking that they were appointed by God because they were of God’s blood so they then rule the world and can do whatever they want until the next group of clever and hungry people come up with a new set of God(s), beliefs and rules. (But then I took it even deeper.)
Some of the priest’s words interrupt my stream of conscious enough for me to hear him ask, “Will you repress Satan?” The parish responds firmly, “Yes.” I stand quietly and ponder. What is Satan? How can you agree to something you haven’t defined? This is my problem with religion. We never discuss it. We just blindly follow it.
(And any time anyone does try to discuss, question, or evolve it they’re either shh’d, shunned or murdered. Jesus Christ comes to mind on that last one.)
The priest then says something about praying for our neighbors that don’t practice this faith or have this afterlife. I get burnt up on that one. You see it’s not that I have a problem with praying for others. I think it’s great to pray for others if it comes from a place of love and kindness. But the way it was worded led me to interpret it differently. As someone who doesn’t particularly follow a singular religion I find it offensive when people try to pity pray me into their beliefs or afterlife. I’ve chosen to lead the life I lead and I would venture to guess that most people who don’t practice your particular religion have made the conscience decision to do so as well. If you want to pray for me fine, but don’t pity pray for me. It’s condescending and if it truly is the message of Jesus Christ or your God to pity pray for people until they join him then he’s just a door to door salesman looking to sell as much bullshit to as many bullshit buyers as possible before the next bullshit salesman with the new bullshit comes through.
(But I don’t actually believe Jesus Christ or God are bullshit. I actually think all religions are incredibly important. They’re like a road map to life and former civilizations. They give people a reason to live and function. I’ve always felt that as long as one person believes something it’s true. It doesn’t matter if it’s actually true in reality (whatever that may be) but if it’s true within that person’s heart then it is true to them in their personal reality. Therefore all deities and afterlives exist as long as someone believes in them.)
I start praying. God, Jesus Christ, Lord, Buddha, Allah, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Mars, Santa, Easter Bunny and any other deity or magical being that is listening, it’s me, Shea McKee. I’m at this Catholic Mass and I’m getting really burnt up. They’re using the word of God to exclude people under the guise of inclusion. Which then causes me to think about the Catholic Church as a whole. The Pope. Rome. Vatican City. All those priests that molested little boys (WTF?! BTW) and then it makes me think about how long the Catholic Church has been around and how long they’ve been covering that up. And how they’re really just a business but claim to be non-profit. Why partner with the Medici’s if you were doing the work of God?
(That guy who played Rob Stark from that Medici show on Netflix is so hot. But the casting on that show was so fucking weird. Netflix does that a lot. They really miss the mark on casting. They should let me casting direct their shows. I wouldn’t cast a woman (born in 1984) to play the mother of a man (born in 1987). She had him when she was 3? FUCK YOU, NETFLIX. FUCK YOU, HOLLYWOOD.)
Seriously. Why would a church need to partner with a bank? I’m going to give myself an aneurysm. So to distract myself I thought I would ask you a series of questions. Like don’t you find it bothersome that this guy is up here preaching the word of God but it isn’t really the word of God because there are billions of Gods, so it’s just the word of HIS interpretation of HIS God? And if God is in everyone doesn’t that then make us all some type of God?? So if God is real and I’m an extension of God I could make something crazy happen like that candlestick flame could set off the fire alarm or the priest could faint.
I stare at the candle’s flame. Flicker. Come on. Grow. I watch as the flame flickers. Holy shit, did I do that? A gust of wind blows through the door and I realize that it’s not me. It’s the wind. Okay, so I’m not able to manipulate fire. But I’m trying to connect with God at church, so whatever. I look up and realize I’m sitting right by one of the sprinklers and would’ve been soaked. So really God made the wind make the candle flicker, just enough to make me realize that I’m sitting way too close to the sprinklers for that to be a good idea, but big enough for me to notice the message. Thanks, God. You really had my back on that one.
And then the priest fainted.
And now I’m really never going to another Easter Mass because who can top God speaking directly to and through you? La Paz Contigo.
I experienced this sober.
I wrote the majority of this on Easter Sunday evening…not sober.