Friday, April 14, 2006

blood and wafer

When I was little I became enamoured with playing my fathers' LP records. I wasn't actually allowed to touch the record player so I used to wait for my father to go out before I made my move. It was up quite high, so I'd push the velour paisley armchair to the shelf and climb upon it and just play everything I could get my hands on. There was some Beatles, BeeGees, Elvis, Johnny Cash, 70s Soul hits, Herb Albert and Tijuana Brass (this was a favourite), a lot of Spanish music and foreign stuff. Mostly I'd stand there, on tip toes and feet sinking into the couch and watch the record go round and round. I liked the tinny sound coming from the tiny needle juxtaposed with the loud stereo from the speakers. If I wasn't doing that then I was spinning until I threw up or dancing with my brother (well I'd dance and he'd sort of ..jump). Anyway, I was 7 - what are you going to do? Another one of my favourite records to play was

Hi I was raised a Catholic. Yes, fucked up beyond all belief.

Being that I was from the land of delirium, I would play this record over and over again. I knew every single word to every single song. I especially liked turning up the speed until it sounded like the Chipmunks were singing Dominique. I got into so much trouble when I got caught though, but not sure it was because I was disrespecting God, Debbie Reynolds or the needle on the record player. Me thinks option c, there is no way in heaven that God didn't find the chipmunk thing funny. That was my attitude to everything religious. While I believed in everything on offer with my whole heart, I actually thought God had a sense of humour. I thought he was just like me. Why wouldn't I? I felt like I knew God in a special way even though I was only 7. If I was going to have a laugh I was positive that God would want to also. My parents weren't always impressed with my attitude towards religion though.

In church bro and I spent most of the time in hysterics about the singing, the words, the expressions on faces, the collection bag, the robes, the screaming children, anything! That's not to say that I wasn't pious, oh yes I was - disgustingly so - but just that I appreciated a good laugh also. I admit that usually I lead the chorus of laughs but it was always made worse by having to suppress the laughter while my parents gave us "you do that one more time and you're going to get it later" look. In the end Bro and I had to be separated like bookends encasing the rest of my family. It didn't stop the laughing though. Mum would hiss that the laughing in church meant that I was being tempted by the devil to move away from God and towards him. I had seen The Exorcist and let me tell you there was nothing I was afraid of more in the world than being possessed by the devil. In bed I would lay under my covers with my sheets right up to my nose and eyes squeezed shut praying that God would forgive me and not let the devil get me. While much of my upbringing was normal, I feel that the religious side was not. We didn't go to church every single weekend but there were many powerful sentiments that were repeated often at home. Soon, I simply saw myself as flawed in the eyes of God and completely unworthy of Him. Bottom line: I was a naughty little Catholic laugher who made The Singing Nun sound like a chipmunk!

But, despite this, I loved church. It was like going to see a stage play, and boy was I fascinated with those as well. Lines had to be learnt, there were costumes, props, music, sing-a-longs, audience participation (communion) and an aerobic workout to boot.

It's funny watching non-catholics try to keep up. When E married L they had a catholic ceremony though E is not a catholic. I was bridesmaid with her sister and had to give her quick whispered instructions on what to do so that she wouldn't look like a total idiot in front of the congregation. I however, forgot to tell S how to handle the whole communion wafer thing (I don't think you're actually allowed to take it if you haven't been approved but hey, who the fuck cares?) so when the priest said The body of christ and held out the wafer in foreboding fashion, S took it and with a loud voice said Thanks! instead of the usual, humble Amen. It was a laugh riot. See, church is funny! I don't think Father was impressed though.

I still like churches now, even though I'm not so down with everything (or anything) else that goes on within there or in Popeland for that matter. Well, I just like the space. It's peaceful, it's cosy and they put on a spread (..not quiet filling enough), plus I'm a teacher; I like story time. I like the passion story (not the Mel Gibson version, mind you).

Despite being "lapsed" these religious holidays always make me think of this stuff...

question: for anyone who has ever had a communion wafer - do you chew it or let it melt? Just curious