Happy Easter! Bitches Ain't Sh*t!

I considered going to church. Then I read what the Pope said this week.

Apr 6, 2012 at 5:00pm | Leave a comment

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Photo taken at the 2011 Fleshbot Awards by Jeff Koga.

Yesterday, as I walked past my local Catholic church on the way to record a sex podcast at a bar, a man exited the side door.

It was sunny and warm, and he was smiling as he walked out of the church and past the outdoor garden shrine to the Virgin Mary. Birds were chirping and the air smelled like flowers -- a veritable miracle in this part of Queens, which oftener than not smells like the exhaust from the fleets of garbage trucks and delivery vehicles housed nearby, or from the stagnant traffic heading into the Midtown Tunnel.

I looked past the happy guy to the place from which he'd come. Before the door swung shut, I caught a glimpse of the interior of the church. I saw the nave, where the worshippers sit, and the transept, which crosses between the altar and the nave. Late afternoon light shone through the stained-glass windows. Candles gently flickered.

It was beautiful.

I've lived in this neighborhood for a year and never darkened the door of my local church. The last time I went to a Catholic church alone seeking comfort -- rather than to get my architectural fix or to hang with the familial units -- it was during a pregnancy scare in my early twenties.

I entered the basilica in Asheville, N.C. and was rewarded with the sweet scent of incense, the soulful sound of silence, and the sight of a shrine devoted to the "millions of unborn children murdered around the world each year."

Not exactly comforting, that sight. I concluded I'd better look for aid and succor elsewhere, in the words of friends and in secular self-help and philosophy books. But I've struggled with a lot of depression over the past 12 months. It's been many years since my unhappy visit to the basilica, and over the past year I've felt a strong longing for a vibrant spiritual life (and written about that quest on this very site.)

Anyway, that guy coming out of the church looked pretty damn happy. And the church itself looked pretty damn welcoming. So I had a radical thought: "Maybe -- just for a few minutes -- maybe I'll go inside. Easter's coming up, and that's the time for redemption, right? Spring has sprung, and all that. I could stop in and say a prayer like I used to, when I was a kid.

Sure, the Church is vehemently anti-gay and anti-woman, but maybe I can put that aside and just enjoy how peaceful it is. Maybe I'd feel like I could talk to God in there, in a space where so many people talk to God all the time."

The idea freaked me out a little bit, so I figured I'd go record the sex podcast, have some dinner, get to sleep, and make a decision about it today.

Then this morning, I came across this article in the New York Times.

Striking the tone that once earned him the moniker “God’s Rottweiler,” Pope Benedict XVI in a stern pre-Easter homily on Thursday denounced “disobedience” in the church, cutting down reform-minded priests who seek the ordination of women and the abolition of priestly celibacy.

Referring to recent initiatives by clerics in Austria and elsewhere, Benedict said that while such priests claim to act “for concern for the church,” they are driven by their “own preferences and ideas,” and should instead turn toward a “radicalism of obedience” — a phrase that perfectly captures the essence of the theologian pope’s thought.

Unnnnngggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Every time I entertain any form of real return to the faith of my childhood, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church steps up to slap me in the face with the reality that it is completely out of touch with the modern world.

Put aside for a moment, if it's at all possible, the Church's active cover-up of an astonishing number of instances in which its employees abused children. Ignore, if you can, the directive that demonizes any form of birth control – or, indeed, any form of non-procreative sex. Pretend you don't know about the Church's vilification of homosexuality.

Focus just on this one aspect of Church doctrine: no matter what they do, no matter how smart or talented or hardworking or on fire for Christ they are, the CEO says bitches just ain't qualified to preach from the big stage.

And the Pope is particularly pissed at a renegade Austrian group called Preachers' Initiative. These nutty radicals want to ordain women, to allow divorced people to receive Communion ("The Body of Christ." "Amen." Wafer time!), and to make celibacy in the priesthood optional.

I'm a little rusty on the Church's rationale for enforcing idiotic rules regarding women, but thankfully, the Times article had a healthy lil' reminder: The badass Austrians had encouraged “'women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the church has received no authority from the Lord,' Benedict said."

Oh.

Well, in that case.

Girls, I don't know what it's gonna take for me to finally shake this latent desire to make peace with the church of my youth, but I'd sure like to hasten that process. The sooner I get rid of the association in my mind between God and old, judgmental single men in boring dresses, the sooner I may actually experience something of the Divine.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to skip out on la famiglia's pilgrimage to Easter services. I will not, however, skip out on brunch. If I can't have Jesus on Sunday, I can at least have some goddamned French toast.