Sunday, December 2, 2012

The whores of the Four Nations

As a student in Grade Three, my son Myles received the honor of reading at an all-school Mass that the Grade Three-ers were in charge of leading. My first response: nice. I confess, I gave myself the metaphorical “good mom” pat on the back.
(New readers: My boys go to the local Catholic school, but we’re not Catholic; it’s a good school and they talk about Jesus, whom we like. And here in Canada, it’s free like the public schools, which we like too.)

Then he came home with the two pages (not double-spaced) of lines he needed to memorize. Yes, memorize. In two weeks.

And they were from the book of Revelations. The scary one in the back of the Bible that I don’t even want to read at night. Or alone in a room. Or ever, really. And now my son needed to root them into his brain.

It’s okay, I thought. I can go with this. I’m a casual, non-dramatic, non-crazy, non-reactive parent (these are things I tell myself in order to fake it til I make it, which will hopefully happen by the time I have grandchildren).

We chanted Revelations in our house all day, every day, for two weeks. Sure did.

Even Thys (the six-year-old) was walking around singing things like, “In my vision, I saw another angel, coming down from heaven, who condemned the earth for its evil and rapturous ways.” It was just like the Nursery Rhyme songs that he usually sings, but with an Iron Maiden twist. It was catchy, sort of, in the same way tampon commercial songs are. I was thankful that our walls are well-insulated, and that the in-laws were not visiting.

Then. The Mass.

I went. To watch, of course. Not to see how good of a reader my son is. Not to listen to how clearly and crisply he enunciates his words. Not to notice if he remembered the inflection I taught him to use. Not to verify that the $300 we spent on speech therapy to get rid of his lisp was a good investment. Nooooo. Of course not! 

I went to kneel on those fold-out benches that Catholic Churches have (which I couldn’t do because I did an unintentional “Plank” on the pier recently which shaved two inches of skin off my knee, a story for later) and to see if I can cross my chest in the right direction when I did the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” thing*.

Myles approached the stage. And the two robed, elderly males in charge of the service were sitting in the giant chairs toward the back of the stage, smiling at him very sweetly, and looking very important. 

Myles stood behind the podium, looking at them. They looked back. For what seemed like hours. I couldn’t tell what he was whispering to them, but I wanted to run up to him and remind him that Catholics are very formal and you can’t just TALK to them in a service (but since his grandpa is a pastor and we’ve always gone to quite casual services, this was lost... I was that parent in the back of the room, trying to ESP my son, and trying not to scream or run or worse. It was that helpless, horrible feeling you get when you realize that you can’t control absolutely everything--a reality of parenting, I know, but it still catches me off guard at times). Finally, one of the robed giants got up and walked behind the huge statue of this desperate looking Virgin Mary and then reemerged with a small, plastic stool for Myles to stand on so that he could reach the microphone.

We have no self-esteem problems in our house. My boys know that they are important enough to be heard.

Myles began, “In my vision I saw...”

And if you can be fabulous at such a thing, he certainly was.

But then he got to this part that his teacher warned me about. Apparently, she tried to get this taken out of the reading, but after weeks of dispute, the Priests wouldn’t let her “alter scripture.”

Standing on the plastic stool, beside Catholic importance and underneath the yearning virgin, Myles proclaimed the Word of God: “For He judged the great whores who corrupted the earth with their four nations.”

With inflection.

But. The four nations that did all that corruption may or may not have originally been called “fornications.” 

But we’ll just save that word for at least Grade Five.

Who says we can’t alter Scripture, just a little bit? 

*No disrespect to Catholicism. I just don’t get it. I’m attempting to mock my own ignorance, not the Church itself. Sorry.

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