Friday, 29 March 2013

Today is the 15th anniversary of my crucifixion

Today is the 15th anniversary of my crucifixion.
Back when I was in university and still a very devout Catholic, I was approached after mass one one evening at the cool church with the rock band.  My long dark hair and goatee gave me a suitably Christlike appearance for the part of Jesus in the passion play they were planning.  Would I be interested?  I was.  My fiancee (now wife of 14 years) took the part of Mary Magdalene. 
I was nailed to the cross with nails that were bent with 2 ninety degree angles, so they appeared to protrude from my palms when I held them between my fingers. But they just rested loosely in the holes.  Too loosely.  As the band led the congregation in a lengthy version of "Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?" the blood drained from my arms as members of the audience  watched me, their proxy savior, with tears in their eyes.  After several verses I lost all feeling in my upper limbs, and with it most of my muscle control.  Unable to muster the strength to keep my arms held against the cross beams, the nails slid out of position and I began to slouch off the cross.  Luckily, the song finished and I was able to cry out "My god, my god, why have you forsaken me" and get taken down before I fell off on my own.  The rest of the memory is a bit fuzzy. 
Today is "good" Friday, the holiest day of the Christian calendar according to many.  Today, usually at around three in the afternoon, which is traditionally held as the time Jesus took his last breath, Catholics around the globe stand in silent contemplation of the belief that they are so inherently sinful from the moment of conception that god had to sacrifice his only son to himself as a perfect blood offering to atone for it; to give their unworthy souls a shot at being saved from the hell set aside for Satan and his minions to be shared by those who meet death - according to Catholic theology - in a state of mortal sin.  Since the list of mortal sins is extensive and a great many Catholics commit them as a matter of routine - lust, birth control, skipping mass - the odds they will be in that state and destined for hell at the moment of death are quite high.  Even those who manage to be in a state of grace when they take the road to meet their maker still face a lengthy stay in purgatory suffering a lesser torment getting their souls scrubbed of the stains of their sins before they're clean enough to enter the presence of their god.  But ask any lay Catholic and chances are they won't have more than a very vague and confused understanding about any of this.  They are there kissing a crucifix because it's what their parents taught them to do when they were children, and that their grandparents taught their parents to do and so on back to whichever generation it was that some missionary coaxed away from the superstitions of paganism to the so much more enlightened ways of the new god.