Faith in Reverse
A Catholic Story, Part 1
I entered the Catholic Church after 42 Protestant years. Some of you have asked why. I’ve been putting this story off for a variety of reasons. First, I’ve resisted writing solely about faith despite the fact that I am a writer of faith. Second, I know some folks think Catholics are either abusers, heretics, or misogynists, and I’d rather not be called names. Third, I’ve struggled to bring both art and authenticity to my more Catholic writing.
This week, I found some words, though, some extrapolations. Today, I’m sharing some first drafts for subscribers’ eyes only. I hope you enjoy them. And yeah, the comments are open for questions or comments or love or hate crimes or whatever.
Faith in Reverse: Beginning at the End
There are things that are hard to explain. For instance, ask a cat where the songbird is and why those feathers are sticking out of his mouth. Ask the addict where last month’s rent money is. Ask the lawyer why anything. But hardest to explain in the mid-2000s: Why Catholic? or even Why Christian? or even Why any religion whatsoever?
On Sunday evening, I walked into Walmart after leading the songs at the evening mass. At the double doors, a masked woman pushing a cart full of Gatorade exited, said it was good to see me. She was an unfamiliar face mostly because all masked faces are unfamiliar, and I mumbled something about how it was good to see her, too. Then, for some inexplicable reason, she leaned in and said, “looks like you’re the last one left in church. Good for you.”
Context is everything, and so, I wondered whether she’d just seen me at church, whether it was some comment about how I’d been talking to the priest well-after the blessing, after the Go in peace to serve the Lord. But her phrasing seemed more intentional.
“Looks like you’re the last one left in church,” or “Congratulations on sticking it out after the rest of us offered our via con dios to God and church and all of that.”
“Congratulations,” or “Good on you for being the last idiot who believes.”
I wandered down the fizzy-water aisle, her words on repeat, and I wondered exactly why, in an age when so many are jumping ship, I’d chosen to remain in the boat and in a very particular boat at that. And there, hoisting the variety pack of Bubbly into the cart, I remembered my imaginary friend, my favorite literary character, Billy Pilgrim.
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