Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Pope's at the End of His Rope


Dude - I said it last week at a show and I'm gonna say it right here on the blog - I seriously think PJP is gonna kick it, you guys! Woah. This is the moment my generation of Catholics has been waiting for since we were born: a chance to take back the night! This could mean the chance for Catholicism to get its ass out of the dark ages and step into the light - giving women the right to be priests and priests and gays (or even gay priests, gawd fabid...) the right to get married, and of course preaching family planning beyond the rhythm method. But, it's not gonna happen. I know that so solidly I'm not even gonna bother getting my hopes up about it, which is really pretty sad. One look at the way the new Pope is selected should tell you how archaic the whole process is. And that's starting from the premise that John Paul was controversial for letting go of Latin. My mother went to Catholic school back in the day when it was okay for the nuns to rap your hands with a ruler and pull your hair if you misbehaved, so according to her, we've come a long way. Of course we haven't, and I don't really want to get into the whole abuse thing here just because it's been so over-discussed and is almost passe by now, but still, I will say that it's no surprise that the priesthood is in the state it's in when my friend's mom, in dealing with him coming out said, "Have you thought about becoming a priest?" 2 of the priests who were practicing when I was a kid have now been excommunicated. Now there's no excuse for touching children - and I'm not trying to make one - but what did they expect would happen to men who have no sexual release? It reminds me of Sheryl Underwood's joke (and I paraphrase): "That would never happen in a black church, because in a black church the old lady who reads the announcements would stand-up and say, "Reverend Jones is not with us anymore because he was touchin' the children. And I would like to thank Reverend Smith and Deacon Perry for goin' over to Reverend Jones' house and kickin' his ass."

One thing I have never understood is why Catholicism hasn't learned more from its parent company, Judaism. I mean, look. Jews were smart enough over the years to say, "Fine. We can't all agree on everything. So you hang out wearing your payes and tzitzis washing your two sets of dishes - I'm off to be on the CBST GLBT float in the Gay Pride parade." (The picture's worth looking at - I guarantee it'll brighten your day.) But Catholics have nowhere to turn when they feel dissatisfied with the rules - they just have to leave the church. I'm speaking for myself here, but I think in general if you were raised pretty deeply in a faith that you don't believe in anymore, it's hard to find something new that feels like the right fit. I've flirted with Judaism, I've kissed Unitarian Universalism, and I've done some serious heavy petting with the Episcopalians. But none of it felt exactly right. It felt awkward choosing to be chosen, so I abandoned that idea. The UU's were either too hippie-dippy or completely unaware of how ridiculous they sound (like the congregation of only rich white people on 79th Street and Lexington Ave. talking about eradicating racism - or the pastor who is so open to "all faiths" he welcomes Atheists to the fold.) The Episcopals almost had me with their C2 version of Catholicism, but there's just something too foreign about their Shakespearean Preparation of the Eucharist. In the Catholic mass when the priest says, "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God" you respond, "It is right to give him thanks and praise," which is a little uptight and pious, but could also be infused with some soul if you were really feelin' it. But in the Episcopal service the people respond, "It is meet and right to do so." I can't help but say that in my Queen Elizabeth voice. I'm sorry, but the whole Body of Christ thing is bad enough (when I was kid that really grossed me out) so I don't wanna hear the word meat during mass, even if it is spelled differently.

I guess the whole point I'm getting to is, there just seems to be no place for religion in my life, with or without PJP. I do believe in God and I think it's very important to be a good person, but the only way I've found to truly share that spirit is through performing. Now I ain't trying to pray to the church of me or nothin', but doing stand-up and making people laugh through that spirit of generosity is probably more uplifting for the audience than any bullshit they're gonna hear from an old man in a linen frock. Ha! That just reminded me of Jenny Rubin's joke about the priest who can't stop laughing at funerals. Now that's funny! (Sorry if you've never seen it. I guess you'll just have to come out more, won't you?)

All I can say is, I wish PJP the best. I hope the poor man retires before he dies, just so he can enjoy his last few days in peace. But, that's not gonna happen, either. He's been shot, he's got Parkinson's - the man is a machine. It'll be interesting to see what happens after he's gone. Maybe then he won't be the only man allowed to wear a tiara and a white dress to church.