Onward Through the Fog

Microphones, Pint Glasses, Dry Roads, and Camera-clicks

Matthew Sedmock

Matthew Sedmock
Akron, Ohio, USA
May 02
I'm a 25-year broadcast professional, writer, blogger (http://pipercourt.wordpress.com), and purveyor of fine craft ale. I also suffer with Cleveland sports teams, and blow off steam while riding my 2011 Triumph Bonneville.


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FEBRUARY 12, 2013 10:18AM

The Pope and His Butterflies

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Saturday afternoon was ‘confession’ time.  The day I normally took part in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Because my parish sat squarely in the downtown-area, the rush of traffic was literally non-stop.  But I came to expect it, anticipate it.  The constant purr of car-engines racing by didn’t bother me or distract me in the least.  It reminded me, while sitting in a pew, working up enough nerve to enter the wooden box, that real life was out there, moving, without impediment.  But my salvation remained here, inside a stuffy church on a Saturday afternoon.

On the back wall, next to the room marked ‘Ushers’, hung a portrait of the Pope.  Over the years, naturally, it changed.  But as a child, and later as a teenager, I would stare at that portrait as I waited my turn inside the wooden box.  And it occurred to me that it really didn’t matter whose portrait hung on that wall.  I was still going to Hell.

Couldn’t this person in the wooden frame talk to the person inside the wooden box? Tell him to cut me a break?  He was the Pope, for crying out loud.

But Saturday was usually an afternoon reserved for being encased in guilt.  Judgement.  And yet the concept of ‘forgiveness’ seemed remote and vague.  How is it that, on an otherwise pristine Saturday afternoon, I merely interrupt my baseball game with a bi-weekly trip to church, step inside the box, pour out my soul, and both the man listening and the man on the wall give me tacit approval to do the same damned thing that brought me here.

So was I forgiven, or not?

It didn’t seem to matter.  And Sister Elizabeth rarely helped.  ”God knows what you’ve done,” she’d say, with a slight raising of the eyebrows.

Great.  I’d stare at that portrait on the wall, remembering her words, and shake my head from side to side.  Sounded like a conspiracy.  A spiritual maze, but with no way out.  I’m absolved, but I keep on paying?

I remember watching an episode of Mannix one night.  A criminal who was close to being caught told his accomplice that “they’re going to get me one way or the other”.  It triggered butterflies in my stomach.  I know how he felt.

And the butterflies were out in full force on Saturday afternoons.  Every Saturday afternoon.  I would be close to entering the box, but those words from that criminal on television reverberated throughout my head, doing battle, it would seem,  with the sounds from car-engines outside on Cleveland Avenue.

I understood.  Just then the door to the box would fling open, and the person ahead of me would emerge, holding it open for me.  Gesturing me towards ‘reconciliation’.  I’d nod at the Pope on the wall, and the butterflies would dance away, into the traffic below.  Because I knew it didn’t matter.  If the Pope doesn’t get me, then God will.  Hell, they’re going to get me one way or the other.



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You were more of a true believer than I ever was though I came from generations of Catholic priests and nuns. I think mostly the nuns beat it out of me, rather than in.

My grandfather even used to translate the encyclicals for the Archdiocese of Detroit, if you can believe that. At the age of 17, I decided it was all over and he disinherited me! So much for family values.

I introduced my daughter to the faith on the assumption some faith was better than none, and though I don't doubt that choice, formally converted to Zen Buddhism in 2000 and am infinitely more happy as a result of it. So is my daughter!

I like your style.
Isn't it a shameful waste of a life to subject yourself to guilt and put yourslf under the thumb of religious leaders and their propaganda? I was a Catholic too, but I researched religions and thought objectively about it. Then I ditched it. Never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I wrote a post on OS called "I became an atheist at a Catholic seminary". If you read it you might get a few insights from what I went through, and get another perspective on religion.
Are you getting tired of the same old God? Would you like a God who is less harsh and vindictive, and who guarantees he won't burn the daylights out of you for centuries in Hell? How about one who is cheerful, and not only that, tastes good too?!!!

Welllllll then, you came to the right place. Step right over to my post on OS, called "Does the Flying Spaghetti Monster really Exist?"