That Burning Sensation

I fear churches.

Don't get me wrong. I don't harbor any disdain for those who are devout in their beliefs. In fact, I quite admire someone who can devote themselves to their faith, in the same way I admire that French spiderman guy who free-climbs skyscrapers. Church just simply scares the crap out of me. I'm talking about cold sweats, vertigo. I'm talking about my blood pressure rising when I set foot in a church. My face flushing. Feeling light headed.

As most people have the complete opposite reaction to churches, I have often been asked why of all things a spiritual sanctuary like this can frighten me so. The simple answer is I am spiritually inept. I suck at all things church. I grew up Catholic. And while I have always been good with anything that you need to study out of a book, I was always bad at Sunday School. Failed every quiz. Asked the wrong questions. Couldn't tell my apostles from my saints from my disciples. And the teachers and other kids made it known that I sucked. Being the only Asian kid in a working class Irish neighborhood might have contributed a teensy bit to the post Sunday-school teasing and beat downs that I suffered while waiting for my mom to pick me up, but since I was on church grounds, I considered it church jurisdiction.

And when it came time to re-register for Sunday School one spring day (I think they called it CCD back then?). I simply said no. I was in fourth grade then, so I knew I was facing one hell heck of a maelstrom by saying no, but I stuck to my guns. I had never, nor have I since, openly defied my mother. Self preservation is a strong instinct.

And for close to two decades, I admired churches from afar, or on postcards.

Then I got married. To a Filipino woman. And they'll give the Boston Irish a run for their money on the Catholic devotion front any day. I love Lisa's family and they don't beat me down when I skip church when we visit on the holidays (it helps that I'm usually cooking them a vat of my Killa Clam Chowda while they're worshipping), so the whole Catholicism thing in general isn't as scary anymore. But on the few occasions where I have gone to church in my adult life (weddings, funerals, etc), I suffer that entire list of symptoms they read at the end of designer pharmaceutical ads. Including oily discharge.

Seeing as we have a kid together, the inevitable question of Fury's religious upbringing was one challenge that Lisa and I had to face early on. I respect her religious views. And while I'm of the opinion that Fury should pick whatever religion HE feels will fulfill him spiritually, I am willing to give Catholisicm a head start, since his mom is Catholic. And he's really too young to make that decision for himself now anyway. Hell, I'M too young to make that decision. Heck, I mean heck. Sorry.

So we got him baptized when he was a baby. Part of that required his parents (yes, me) to attend baptism classes. And for the love of my wife and son, I sucked it up and did it. And I attended the baptism too. And did not pass out. Or go up in flames.

Now we've got another little one on the way.

And Lisa made arrangements for soon-to-be baby Alessia's baptism. I figured, "ok, one afternoon in church. Just hold your breath, smile and it'll all be over quickly." But no. I have to take the class again. This time, they're requiring two classes.

So last night, parked outside the church, I took several slow deep breaths to get my heart rate down.

"Seriously?" she asked.

"Seriously." I responded.

I joked that once I set foot in that church, lightning would strike me down. Lisa said "I know. Sinner." In her deadpan I'm-joking-but-you-are-still-going-to-hell manner.

As I took a seat at the table, I could feel my face beginning to flush, my fingertips going numb. But as class went on, I have to admit that the modern Catholic church is a lot kinder and gentler than I remember from the 70s. I was going to make it. I mumbled through the prayers (like when I used to lip synch in chorus) and sat through the baptism powerpoint presentation. But I had to chuckle then this slide came up:

"I renounce the Prince of Darkness"

Whoa. whoa. whoa. What's Ozzy got to do with it? No way. He rocks. And even if the Dalai Lama himself told me to stop playing "Crazy Train" to my son, I'd tell him to go pick on Nirvana or something.

Mumble mumble prince of mumble mumble...

I was doing OK. This class wasn't that bad. God is not going to call me out. I see the finish line...


Yup. The fire alarm.

When judgment day arrives, you'll find me at the back of the southbound bus playing sudoku with Ozzy Osbourne.