Thursday, July 13, 2006

Get me to the church on time! (AKA - I don’t think we’re near “gins, groins and jabrones” anymore)

Technically, I’m Catholic. Technically is the operative word here. If you were to assign a percentage point to it, I would be something like 8% Catholic. If it were politics, I would be one of those annoying people who says crap like, “I always vote Liberal, but this time . . .”

I was baptised as a Catholic. My heritage is Italian-Canadian and German-Canadian (both sides being Catholic). My early years were spent in Laval, Quebec where I attended Catholic elementary school. It was a “REAL” Catholic school – several of the teaching staff were nuns, we had a priest at the school and we regularly did confession at school. The popular girls compared rosaries like they were expensive jewellery (some were!) – as such, we often prayed at lunch. When I think back to those school days, a song we used to sing always forms the soundtrack: “I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need/The sun and the rain and the appleseed/ The Lord is good to me.” 24 years later I can still remember that song! Now, that’s effective indoctrination!

I’m the kind of Catholic that doesn’t find jokes about priests and small children too funny. I’m the kind of Catholic who pays her school taxes to the Catholic system, but can’t tell you anything at all about catechism. I’m the kind of Catholic who visits historic churches and leaves money all over the place, but doesn’t pray. I’m the kind of Catholic who NEVER goes to church and has no real interest in starting. The problem is that I’m also the kind of Catholic who wants to have my kid baptised in the Catholic Church.

I’ve been doing some basic research on this in order to find out what needs to happen. One parent needs to be Catholic – check! The other at least baptised – check! Then I found out both parents need to attend “baptism preparation” class. OK, not exactly how I’d like to spend a weekend, but no real problem, so check! Finally, yesterday in fact, I called the church that will be the lucky winner of the “save Daniel’s soul sweepstakes.” I spoke to someone who I’m pretty sure was a nun because I felt like I was in Catholic school again.

I was not prepared for the phone conversation to be 15 minutes of “heap scorn on the heathen.” I’m not sure what I expected – I assumed with dwindling numbers and so on the church would be eager to welcome us, save an immortal soul, and potentially add some numbers to the flock. However, this lady was more than somewhat suspect of both my intentions and moral fibre. It was a rare moment in modern society where you actually feel that someone is commenting that your “lifestyle choices” are just plain shit. It was refreshing – in the same way that I imagine colonics are.

Below, is a paraphrasing of some of the Phone Call of Scorn:

Scorning # 1 - “Nice Lady” asks for our names. I haven’t changed my surname. “Are you married?” she gasps. “Oh, yes,” I exclaim, thinking “now I’m acing this!” “What church were you married in?” she wants to know. Um, the church of justice of the peace?! I hear her writing down something, probably along the lines of “not really married.”

Scorning #2 – I haven’t been to church since when?! The early Brian Mulroney years. “I see.”

Scorning #3 – If I haven’t been to church in forever, why do I even want to baptise my son? I figure this isn’t the time to explain my theory about taking out a religious insurance policy “just in case” the RCs are right.

Scorning #4 – Nice Lady launches into a bit of a speech, about how baptising my son means committing to raising him as a Catholic (after inquiring if Dustin has any objections due to him being a non-RC and all) and attending church again. She says something along the lines of, “Of course, you wouldn’t have any intention of just baptising him and never setting foot in our church again, right? [I’m not even given time to answer, as this concept is so clearly completely preposterous and ridiculous!] Therefore, if you want to baptise your son, you should start attending church right away. You need to pick up some baptismal and course forms anyway – why don’t you pick them up at a mass in the near future.” Damn she’s good! She does have God on her side, though (much like the Italian soccer team, come to think of it). I squeak out something like “Of course, and what times are mass held?”

So folks, it looks like me, yes me of all people, will be attending church in the near future. I’m sure this alone will promise to keep the blog interesting!!


At 12:08 PM , Anonymous JOOLZ said...

We need to have a detailed discussion about this. I think you should elaborate for your illusturious (sp?) readers why you feel compelled to baptize The Daniel. Moreover, are you prepared to be going to church regularly, and if you decide to, I have all sorts of techniques to fight off the boredom in church. Lastly, if this Catholic church is a bummer, then maybe you could contact another one?

At 9:22 AM , Blogger Salma said...

all i can say is lamezzz ems. i think you need to seriously consider why you're doing all this. why don't you let daniel grow up and make his own choice? that way he could still take out the insurance poilicy and you won't have to wake up super early on a sunday just to hear why you are the worst person ever.

p.s. your writing is fantastic!

At 11:01 AM , Blogger Cynto said...

I agree with Salma. I don't understand this 'hedging your/Daniel's bets'. IF there is a Heaven and IF you need to be Catholic to get in, well then you and Daniel aren't getting in no matter how baptized you are. You can't just be baptized and think that is your 'get out of jail free card.' I have had this 'discussion' (read: fight) with Mike on several occassions. He wants any children we may have baptized, I said fine but then he has to commit to going to church at least several times a month. I am not just baptizing a child for the sake of it. It seems silly to me I guess. Also, being un-baptized myself I have no desire or loyalty to any church and just see the whole thing as lame... or Lames!

At 11:21 AM , Blogger Momily said...

Hot topic! I KNOW it's irrational, a bit crazy and very hypocritical for me of all people to want Daniel to be baptized! All I can say is that it feels like the right thing to do where my precious bebe is concerned. I cannot expalin myself with logic or reasoning - it's a feeling, not a thesis.

I can't wait to see how many of you opinionated non-religious singletons opt for church weddings, change religions and baptize your kids when the time comes. The things we do for "love" peeps!

At 11:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also in regards to Julie's comments - I don't think that this Catholic Church is the bummmer, so much as THE Catholic Church.

At 12:11 PM , Anonymous akk said...

Lames! The "wait till you have kids" argument is a major cop-out! Think of it this way... *if* getting baptized is an VIP backstage pass to Heaven, then he's going to be pretty lonely up there. No mom, dad, aunties, uncles, cousins, etc. BORING! You do, however, have an interesting "choosing the godparents" dilemma ahead of you.

At 5:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke says:

Some thoughts from the last province in Canada not to have Sunday shopping. Good on ya for taking Daniel to church in the face of such scorn from others. I suspect that there is more to your decision to have him baptized and take him to church than just fear of eternal damnation.

Despite its shortfalls, church exposes a child to something other than the culture of gluttonous self absorbtion to which they are subject the rest of the time. If choice is the issue, there's no better way to learn about religion than to start it at a young age. If he doesn't like it when he's older he can quit, just like soccer, music lessons or summer camp. He can't make an informed decision about anything without trying it first.

At 11:44 AM , Blogger Momily said...

Luke, it’s good to hear from you and somehow reassuring to see that you’re still willing to take the unpopular side of an argument after all these years!!

Nothing gets people talking like religion! I’d like to clarify a couple of things:
Do I want to go to church? No.
Will I start going to church? Probably, but I predict it will be erratic and non-committal like once/month. Like using my stationary bike.
Do I feel like a hypocrite? Yes.
Do I think it’s a good thing for Daniel to go to church? Sure – how is it a bad thing exactly?
Are there things I don’t like about the Catholic church? Yes, many!
Are there good things about a kids going to church? Sure – a religious education never hurt anyone (the bit I have had has served me very well over the years, even if it just means that I almost always win trivial pursuit (ha!) and can do a NY Times crossword). “Sunday school” as a means of introducing some of the “big topics” is a fine thing in my opinion. “Heck” church as a way of meeting people with other kids is a good thing too. As more and more of our social circle either moves away or has vasectomies we need to somehow facilitate playdates. I also look forward to having dialogue with my kid about things that the church says that “we” agree with and things the church says that we strongly don’t. Critical thinking, anyone?
The questions about “let Daniel make a choice later”? I think that you are better equipped to make a choice about something if you have been to exposed to it. I don’t paint or play a musical instrument, probably because I had very little exposure to these things as a kid. I don’t play sports, but at least I was on teams as a kid (and hated it!).
Do I intend to put Daniel in a Catholic school? Yes, in my opinion they are better in this province. I spend a lot of time in my job visiting schools and providing tours to school on-site. Catholic schools seems to run a tighter ship in the early elementary years. As my 10 month old already shows a predilection for anything dangerous or bad, “I’m lovin’ it.”


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