guilt to spill

The word “evangelism” carries a Christian connotation, as much as I’d prefer it not to for the purposes of this blog. Still, the disciples were pretty confident they were on to something special with their proselytizing–the news was good for a change, they said. We too believe our news is good, and we hope to convince you of this.

Our aims are true.

I can thank my lifelong Catholic education and upbringing for any shred of knowledge I have about early Christianity. I’m grateful for a few values along the line that I’ve been taught, and they weren’t always beaten into me with a ruler to my knuckles. Forgiveness, for example. This is what they teach you after you are given a swift, wholesome, passive-aggressive beating.

There’s one thing I will never forgive Catholic upbringing for, though, and it doesn’t involve sore knuckles. It was never taught outright. It was something subtle yet sinister–kind of like that mom from “The Sixth Sense” who was pouring floor cleaner in her daughter‘s daily soup to keep her sick, unbeknownst to everyone else in the family. It is a terminal illness.

It’s the Catholic Guilt Complex.

No, that’s not the name of Loyola’s new sports and recreation facilities(!!!). It doesn’t matter whether you’re practicing or not–the ‘good’ Catholics are not spared, though they have a decent chance of believing the guilt is a blessing rather than a curse. The guilt is psychologically paralyzing, emotionally crippling. Every action with a hint of ‘moral’ implications will be questioned, and actions with no such implications in the first place will be given implications, and you’ll damn well like it, yes sirree.

(Did I just say damn? I just said damn.)

Your ‘impure’ thoughts, they seemed natural at the time. But make no mistake, you sleazy sinning scalawag good-for-nothing sociopath–you’re gonna pay. Maybe not in this life. But let this be your warning.

Its presence tends to cloud the room in particular whenever I wake up late Sunday morning–you missed Mass for the 23rd consecutive week, you delinquent, wayward waste of space. By the way, remember how you forgot to thank so-and-so for blah blah blah? Hoooo-WEEE, mmhmm, you blew it. And how you have no idea what you’re doing with your life and you’re a helpless hopeless godless spineless speck of nothing? Apparently you didn’t, judging by the fact that you’re now sobbing uncontrollably into your pillow.

Harboring this guilt is a 24-hour-a-day job. The positive thing about this job? You share the daily grind with hundreds of millions of co-workers, and some of them are pretty good at complaining about the job. And as meaningless as the grievances often are, sometimes it’s all you have to get you through the day. Here are a few of the more articulate complainers.

Click here to get the songs for “guilt to spill.” If you’re unsure about how to obtain them, see the February 20th post for instructions.

The Hold Steady – How A Resurrection Really Feels

The final track from their 2005 semi-concept album “Separation Sunday” is laced with sinful and regretful characters; this one deals with a Prodigal Daughter-type named Holly (short for “Hallelujah”) who takes it upon herself to storm the Easter Mass pulpit and air her grievances. The end product is pretty sweeping, with bar-rocking pianos and horns that elevate Holly to the heavens, sins or no.

The Thermals – A Pillar of Salt

“We were born to sin,” singer Hutch Harris emotes with his seething nasal talk-sing delivery. “And now we gotta run/A giant fist is out to crush us.” The Sodom-and- Gomorrah-referencing song moves along at a furious punk pace, daring you to look back at the two cities’ destruction as you run. Their excellent 2006 full-length “The Body The Blood The Machine” contains a chunk of sneering Church commentary that would make Martin Luther blush. He got 95 theses but this song ain’t one.

Madonna – Like A Prayer

Dealing with guilt the only way she knows how: pure, unadulterated sacrilege.



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