Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You've Got Goofiness in My Religion...You've Got Cynicism in My Spiritual Coloring Book...

Not every merger of incongruity works like chocolate and peanut butter. Some ideas which tickle the fancy at 4 am reveal themselves to be devoid of substance in the harsh glare of morning sunlight, and some ideas even at an unseemly hour and under the influence of alcohol, should never have been brought to being.

1) Adam Sandler movies come to mind.

2) Supersized Bacon Triple Cheese Burger Combo meals with Fries and a Coke. (Note: I like bacon cheese burgers but this is beyond Hummers for One excessive and literally should require a phone call to one’s HMO prior to consumption. I watched in horror as my teenage son ordered before making a maternal modification to his meal of choice).

3) Attempts to Modernize Christ or make Religion cool.

I’m not a sentimentalist.

Thus I cringe when I see the statues of the Resurrected Christ standing next to little 8 year old Dick and Jane as they take batting practice, or soccer, or my personal favorite, Hockey. “It’s Jesus with a check and a power play and Jameson goes down! He’s hurt but look, Christ heals him. Now the referees are considering whether to send the Son of God to the penalty box…” I just can’t see Christ wearing a helmet or skates for that matter, but I know God’s sense of humor and He’ll get me good in purgatory when I have to recognize Him behind a hockey mask.

Likewise, I admit, when the group organizing dorm liturgies at my college tried Clown ministry, I sought another venue for my Sunday obligation. Godspell isn’t necessary to recognize the message of the Eucharist. Already at the mass, I don’t need motivation, I need to willfully choose to participate. As a Catholic, I’m supposed to get, and have understood since second grade that Jesus is accessible when I received first communion. But I recognize that attitude could seem snotty, so I work to remember, this may bring others to Christ…but sometimes it’s really hard.


Vacation Bible School. By all rights, I should love it. It’s inexpensive. It takes all comers. There’s not usually a rush to sign up so slacker moms like me can get spots. It takes a whole week. The woman who runs the thing is absolutely lovely. But despite all the pluses, I delay and hesitate signing up because of the illustrations that to my sensibilities, assault my capacity for reverence.

I speak of two horrors to my intellect created for the purposes of Vacation Bible School Catholic Style.

1) Mr. Fontanini, a baptismal font that looks like a cross (sorry) between a stock background character of the Sopranos, and a rejected singing animated object from Beauty and the Beast, complete with handlebar mustache. There are plays in which this beloved character, along with others, interact in an attempt to portray the values and sacraments of Catholicism as hip, fun and Veggie-tale equivalent. I can almost hear him… “I’m a u sed to bap tize the bay bees…” Bring on the singing cucumber please.

2) Mr. Tabernacle. There are times I wish words would fail me. An illustrated smiling tabernacle which opens its chest to reveal the consecrated host, stares up at me from the assorted sheets for coloring. Now I know the good people that run my kid’s summer Vacation bible school have opted not to use the character, but images once seen, cannot be unseen. Words read cannot be unread. R2D2 after his final vows remains fixed in my mind.

Thus, I hesitate to sign up. Cartoon figures and the Holy Spirit…I’m trying, reaching to see if I can expand my mind and sublimate my sensibilities sufficiently to get behind it, attempting to bury the cynic and see the world through “a child’s eyes.”

Then my six year old looks at the papers. She hasn’t colored Mr. Tabernacle. “I don’t like that one. He’s weird.” She says simply. So I sign her up, and I feel…just so much better.

1 comment:

Helen said...

I agree that we don't need silliness to make the faith "relevant" to children. VBS is great, because you can do fun things with the kids that don't fit so well into a C.C.D. curriculum, but can become wonderful memories and reminders of the faith. I wish my parish did VBS, minus Mr. Tabernacle and Mr. Fontanini . Maybe next year...

P.S. I did volunteer to be part of it if it was started, but I do not have the organizational skills to start it myself.

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