Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Giggle


You'd think to yourself there's nothing funny about the confession box. That now nearly obsolete emblem of the Roman Catholic Empire's control on its underlings.

Especially when you read that the confessional was often used for grooming little kids for paedophiliac priests.

In my time, from the age of six onwards, confession was a weekly Saturday afternoon ritual. I, along with reams of other children, had to confess all our ill-doings, our sins, our pratfalls, our disobediences, our impure thoughts, to the Holy Fellah behind the screen of Da Box.

Queues of us there'd be. All watching each other carefully as we emerged, often red-faced and sweaty, sometimes crying rivers of snot, after the "interrogation". Remember- we were all of six years old.

It would go like this:

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned."

"What did you do, my child? Leave nothing out. For your Father in heaven can see everything you do. And if you leave anything out, anything at all, He will know and you will not be forgiven and you know what happens then? You will burn in hell for all eternity."

"Well...I back-answered my mammy." (I'm now shaking and trembling)

"And?"

"I stole a penny out of the dish on the sideboard."

"And?"

"I hit my brother."

"How many times?"

"I dunno. He's very bold."

"Remember now about hell. How many times?"

"Every day since last Saturday." (gulp)"And I lied to my daddy when he asked me if I made my brother cry."

"Did you have impure thoughts or actions?"

"What's that?" (I'm puzzled).

"What's that, Father." He uses an intimidating, deep voice.

"What's that, Father?"

"Touching yourself."

"What?"

"What, Father." He's irritated.

"What's touching, Father?"

You get the picture. In light of today it was downright nasty child intimidation, both corrupting and suggestive. And yes, this all happened.

On finally emerging from the confessional there was a slew of prayers to be said. Often many Our Fathers and Hail Marys to atone for these hanging offences. It was a twisted badge of honour when we were this tiny, to be on your knees for a long time in the pew afterwards. Your friends were awestruck at your confessed naughtiness and begged to be told what you actually did to incur such a punishment by the Holy Father. Invention was huge. I remember telling the boys I had stolen a tricycle when I hadn't and had to say a whole rosary - this at an age where I could barely manage the answer to the first question in the catechism ("Who made the world? - God made the world!"). I was a hero for the week. A dangerous lying criminal to be both feared and admired.

So Grannymar herself suggested that I write a play about the whole experience of growing up while a mini Irish Catholic and I'm taking it on.

I've already written the outline and am actually giggling all the way through this.

A comedy.

Yes, it's a comedy.




23 comments:

  1. I am glad that it's going to be a comedy and not a tragedy which it could easily be. It means that you do see the sense of humor in it and have healed sufficiently. Every time I read about these atrocities, I thank god I was not raised a catholic. When the black dog comes around, I have enough god issues. xox

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  2. I usually get enraged Irene at all the evil done in the name of the Invisible Cosmic Housekeeper. But some of it I have to laugh at, particularly the gullibility of the masses.
    I'm having fun with this one. I hope your BD has run over the hills, I'm still pushing mine.
    XO
    WWW

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  3. Yeah! Way to go Girl!

    May the memories and inspiration flood through you fingertips and the laughter through your rafters!

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  4. Growing up as a secular Jew, I missed all the Catholic guilt not.

    And while I understand your decision to write it as comedy, I can only imagine the terror that countless generations of innocents felt.

    The invisible guy in the sky has a lot of sins to confess to.

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  5. Religion can be so very twisted. When my kids were young and I was looking for a daycare, I asked at one church about how they disciplined kids, wanting to make sure they didn't use physical punishment, shaming, and so on. They said they had kids confess and repent. We left.

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  6. GM:

    I'm wondering if any producer will have the guts to produce it :)

    However, it's truly helped me climb out of the pit and I thank you for that!

    XO
    WWW

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  7. Marc:

    I remember comparing notes with an older Jewish woman once and we were howling with laughter. She was telling me about the wigs she had to wear on Sabbath and I was telling her about the black mantillas we had to wear.

    Seeing the actual hair of a woman in church/temple could excite all the men to despicable acts. we had to protect ourselves against those uncontrollable primitive urges.

    I see there's a play there too :)

    XO
    WWW

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  8. SAW:

    And that's not too long ago, either.

    Uneffing believable.

    Hiding from the light all of these primitive abusive rituals.

    XO
    WWW

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  9. Yes, I remember it well.

    Particularly when the priest finally shuffled on his wooden seat when I told him about the impure thoughts. until then he’d been almost asleep.

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  10. When I was teenager I would jokingly ask RC friends what they'd been up to this week and what they had actually confessed to. They said they made a whole lot of it up because if they told the priest the truth they were scared stiff he'd tell their parents.
    Being C of E that had me even more confused than ever over the whole thing!
    Cathy

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  11. I am not a Catholic. By denomination I suppose I am a Protestant (Martin Luther and all that). My father, and his critical mind, appalled that I insisted on going to Sunday School - in the morning of all times. Age eight or so.I like stories - and to me that's all the Bible is: Stories.

    So, yes, unlike you I have never been to confession. Neither did my parents make me believe in an "all seeing" god. That was my beloved father's role.

    Trouble is: So many people, not least the British, are squeamish when it comes to sexuality. I was very young when my parents told me what to look out for. How to avoid it. And come to them when the shit hits the fan. Stood me in good stead.

    As to the Irish: Well, there are the Magdalene Sisters and a lot of bigotry. I Have this on good authority since several friends of mine (one who took solace in the bottle) are Irish.

    U

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  12. I grew up Southern Baptist with hellfire-and-brimstone sermons every week, replete with graphic descriptions of what was going to happen to the unsaved when they tumbled down to Hell. Yet, we had no confession, no regular absolution, no way out of our sinful state even for a few moments or days, it seemed to a vulnerable child. (Certainly, if there was a child who avoided all voluntary wrongdoing, that child was me!) Catholic or Protestant, terror was often present in church. When people used to ask me why I wrote thrillers, I always pointed to my religious upbringing. I knew how to create tension in the telling of a tale because I'd listened to pastors doing it all my life.

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  13. Larfs are always welcome!



    ALOHA from Honolulu
    ComfortSpiral

    =^..^= <3

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  14. My dear old mother raised me an atheist after herself getting the full Catholic treatment, god rest her soul!

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  15. I just find it so twisted that from an early age children are encouraged to feel guilty and abnormal instead of happy and confident. Fortunately confessions didn't feature in my own childhood. But I'm sure there's plenty of comedy to be extracted from the rather absurd business of confessing your sins.

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  16. Friko:

    I too sensed the change in atmosphere in the box when the mention of any naughty bits were coerced.

    XO
    WWW

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  17. Cathy:

    Well one hated to have the priest yawn and it was a badge of honour to be (sometimes) roared out of the box for being so evil. At 6.

    XO
    WWW

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  18. Ursula:

    You only have the tip of the appalling iceberg that was Irish catholiscm. Those old clerics taught the Taliban.

    XO
    WWW

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  19. Linda:
    Please send me a link to your thrillers, see today's post too - my favourite genre.

    XO
    WWW

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  20. Cloudia

    Otherwise we would weep.

    And not stop.

    XO
    WWW

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  21. Hattie:

    She was a most sensible mother!

    My mother rebelled but quietly and only in to my ear. I thank her to this day :)

    XO
    WWW

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  22. Nick:
    Creating little drones who would never question and if they did they were condemned and sometimes publicly.

    Follow the money. Always.

    XO
    WWW

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  23. The shortest cut to excommunication WWW. I would love to attend the show and laugh.

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