I’ve been asked to represent a young female relative before the Almighty, to be her godfather. This involves answering questions which will induct her into the Catholic Church — basically filling out the application form for her. Then the priest will spiritually brand her for eternity or until excommunication.
In the final days the Catholics’ crossed third eyes will burn and glow, repelling the slobbering, machete-chopping hordes of hell like blood-soaked Jewish houses during Egypt’s final plague. Or so I’m told.
I’ve been asked to hook her up with a super-powered magic soul tattoo, backed with the currency of my own. So what about my state of grace? You can’t leave the Catholic Church — you have to be expelled — but I’m not exactly in a spiritually pristine condition. I’d feel guilty receiving communion without confession, or dire need.
Forgive me father, for I have sinned. My last confession was fifteen years ago when I served as an altar boy. In that time I’ve solemnly denied the existence of God, practiced witchcraft, committed adultery, stolen, done drugs, intentionally poisoned people, killed things… In fact, in the interest of time let’s say that I’ve broken every commandment and most ecclesiastical rules, some thousands of times. I did unto my neighbor whatever the hell I wanted. Oh, right: I also blaspheme — a lot.
The happiness-rush you get from confession is something that must be felt to be believed. It’s like adolescent attraction — there’s a tug at your solar plexus and a spinal rush, you get warm all over, your hair stands up and you can’t stop smiling. It feels like falling in love, or being tied and lashed by someone who cares; the ultimate back-scratch.
In any case I want absolution, but won’t repent — I’m not trying to correct all of those “flaws”. I’d just be apologizing to follow the letter, not the spirit, of the rules. Most of those things gave me spiritual insight that a lifetime of toeing the line couldn’t.
Escaping Catholicism is intellectually rewarding but emotionally crippling. Do I want to be responsible for putting this girl through that? What’s the cost/benefit of having kids re-fight my battles? Someone raised atheist never communes with the divine and never mourns the death of God. They miss dizzying mental highs and lows, but probably end up more “normal” — if that’s desirable given our societal mental disturbance fetish.
The most valuable lesson of the church is that it is possible — necessary, even — to set up social systems which stand outside the workplace, outside the media, and outside government. There are higher laws than those of man, and that’s easy to see when you’re raised in an alternate system.
The worst lesson of the church is that you’re an imperfect, lacking being who can never truly be happy. This is a terrifically awful lesson to teach children, even by osmosis. I’ve come to understand this is one of the most destructive memes floating around our world, one even atheists suffer under. Original sin: It is a bitch.
Those are all heavy-shit concepts to lay on adults, let alone babies. I feel like I might be unfairly signing this girl up for a twenty-year-long psychic obstacle course.
I guess it’s not about me, but her. What’s my spiritual fiduciary duty? What’s in her best interest? I think, on balance, that you could have a worse spirit-guide than me. She’s going to be baptized no matter what I say, so I might as well come along on the journey and see if I can smooth the bumps.
Chances are she’ll totally ignore me anyway.