Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bizarre Recollections of a Catholic Upbringing

When you grow up Catholic and your parents are irreligious enough to eschew the costs of a parochial education and instead send you to public school, well, the Church still had a way for your lost soul to be indoctrinated into the faith. It's called CCD - Confraternity of Christian Doctrine - and just about every public school Catholic kid has to go through it. It's like Sunday school except where your typical Sunday school class is basically The Bible For Kids, in CCD classes you study, memorize, and repeat all of the ritualism necessary to get you through the Catholic sacraments.

This process culminates in the 8th grade when you go through the sacrament of Confirmation. For those of you that don't know, Confirmation is akin to a shitty Wal-Mart version of a Bar Mitzvah. In both Catholicism and Judaism, the faiths have established a ritual where teenaged boys and girls become adults in the eyes of their church/synagogue and "accept" their religion as responsible adults who are now liable for their actions. (Now at 14 I was told by my parents that I was getting Confirmed, as I'm sure 98.6% of all young Catholics are, so there wasn't a lot of freedom involoved with this venture. One is supposed to choose his faith as an adult at this point but the reality is "do it or else.") However the way these sacraments are carried out is quite different between the faiths.

The Jews really knew what they were doing when they set this thing up. The one Bar Mitzvah I attended cost more than half of the weddings I've been to as an adult and the young celebrant received something like $10,000 in cash and prizes; and this is in 1989 dollars. Not bad at all. I, on the other hand, at my Confirmation received a Sony Sports Walkman and was taken to a pricey restaurant for dinner (at a time when if forced to choose a last meal it would have either been chicken fingers or something involving Steak-um). I don't want to seem ungrateful, but you can see the obvious differences in the celebration.

The Point
Anyway, after that little aside, the reason I'm posting about CCD is because I had a vivid memory of one of my classes yesterday. I was driving home listening to a mix-CD I found under the passenger seat and Highway to Hell came on...what a great tune. So I was sitting there screaming along with Bon Scott when I had a flashback to a CCD class I had when I was 13. One night the church thought it would be a good idea if they had a police officer come in to talk to us about...satanic crimes! Unbelievable. This guy was allegedly a detective with the county PD whose sole task was to investigate crimes of a satanic or cult-like nature.

I was pretty damn intrigued. All of the crap I'd had to put up with for years was finally going to pay off. We were gonna talk about demons and ritual killings and if I was lucky, sweet Lord make it so, maybe we could witness an exorcism. How could I have been so naive? Instead we were treated to some pretty horrific tales about very disturbed teenagers who had committed suicide over the years. In response to this their parents, the police, or the community had decided their deaths were a result of listening to heavy metal. I shit you not. We then proceeded to examine a number of Sabbath, Deo, and AC/DC (and many many more) album covers with satanic iconography on them. (That part was kind of cool.) One "story" in particular was about a kid who allegedly hung himself because he was engrossed in the lyrics of Highway to Hell. I guess all of that talk about having a good time and "playing in a rockin' band" was all the kid could take. The picture of Angus Young on the album cover in horns is proof enough of AC/DC's evil intentions. Jesus Christ.

The crazy thing is that I did not grow up in the Footloose town. This was in Fairfax County for Christ's sake. People should know better there. How dull do you have to be to believe a story like that or to think that an AC/DC song has demonic intent? It's sad to think that there are people who can live their entire lives with no appreciation for irony. Anyway, I did my best not to laugh in this guy's face and eventually made it out of there alive. I think I had surpressed that memory until yesterday.

The point of this long babbling tale is that AC/DC rules. For those about to rock, I salute you.


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