Like I said yesterday, I can see how religion can drive people over the edge. Did you know this; “Pope John Paul II used to beat himself with a belt and sleep on a bare floor to bring himself closer to Christ. The late pope had a particular belt for self-flagellation and brought it with him to his summer residence, according to the book, “Why he is a Saint: The True story of John Paul II.”
HELLO?? Where do I even start? How does this possibly bring you closer to Christ? Is it like, Jesus was beaten, so if I beat myself, Jesus will love me more? I don’t think so. I think Jesus will think you’re stupid. Does this seem like rational, healthy behavior to you? Hey Pope, get a grip, you’re out of control! He brought his favorite belt to his summer residence so he could beat himself on vacation! Is this how you spend your summer vacation, beating yourself with your favorite belt? This was the religious leader of a billion people!
So, it’s no wonder that religion can drive other people crazy besides the pope. Crazy Mike was a guy who lived on the next block over from us and I think he lived with his mom. My family knew him for many years and he was probably in his 40’s at the time I remember him the most. He was always kind of dirty with greasy hair and dirty hands. His teeth looked like they hadn’t seen a toothbrush in years, never mind floss.
According to my dad, who knew everything about everyone, Mike’s dad was really strict and religious, and used to lock him in a closet and make him pray, weird stuff like that. Remember the mother in the movie “Carrie?” Yeah. Mike also had a genius IQ, but sadly was coerced into the seminary by his father where he had a mental breakdown.
We only knew him after the mental breakdown. He was a really nice guy and he loved my family for some strange reason. He knew all of us by name and would always stop and say hi and let us know what priest was saying what mass and what the homily was about. Of course, I didn’t care what the homily about when I was in church, let alone when I wasn’t, but I guess Mike figured we might want that information since it was important to him.
He used to wear a trench coat a lot and would pick up cigarette butts out of the gutter, pull the filter off to avoid other people’s germs, because when you already have that many germs, you don’t want any more, and then would smoke what was left of the cigarette.
We had a few cars; my dad’s Cadillac, the station wagon (aka flower car), the hearse, the limousine, my mom’s Honda, and the crappy Chevette that all four of us had to share. Well, Mike knew the license plate numbers of all of the cars. I don’t know how, because I don’t even know my license plate number, not to mention five others, and he didn’t even drive. He would recite them for us any time he saw one of us. We would just say, “Hi Mike” and he would start rattling them off. “EWD-62J, PA-J8LS, FM0-JR5, JPD-94K, B0M-4H3, TG5-WP7.” “Okay, bye Mike.” What can you say to that? The first time he did it, and there were many more times, I had no idea what he was doing and I just stared at him. Finally I said, “What’s that?” And he said (with a tone like I was an idiot), “Your license plates.” I said, “Ohhhhh, right.” Of course! How did I not know that?
I didn’t know one of the license plate numbers.
Then he started ringing the doorbell. We had an intercom system because so many people came to the door that it kept us from having to run down the stairs all the time. The doorbell would ring, we would press the little button and say “Who’s there please?” and suddenly we would hear (at a very rapid pace):
“St. Catherine was a Christian saint and a virgin who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emporer Maxentius – she was a princess and a noted scholar who became a Christian when she was 14. Over 1,100 years following her martyrdom, she appeared to Joan of Arc.The Orthodox Church venerates her as a great martyr and celebrates her feast day on November 25th. In the Catholic church she is revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers”
Then suddenly, it would stop and we would say “Hello?” and there was no answer. Then we would look out the window and see him dart across the street and run up the steps to the church in his trench coat. This happened on a regular basis. Sometimes he would ring the doorbell and identify himself, but then follow “Hi, it’s Mike” with some weird piece of religious news. Other times, we would press the intercom, he would start with the rambling, we would walk away for a minute, come back, press it and he was still rambling. Oddly enough, he usually rang the bell during dinner when we were all there and could listen to him. Poor Mike. But he did offer us some entertainment.
Crazy Mike, of course, loved hanging around the church as all the other crazies did, and I just think that religion somehow plays a little crazy part in their little crazy minds, or maybe a big part. I personally think religion has done a lot more harm than good. I’m not bashing anyone’s religion… I’m bashing all of them. I know people get real touchy about religion, but after 10 years of Catholic school and plenty of religious “experiences” in my house, which I will cover in another blog, I have come to believe that if we all lived by the Golden Rule, we wouldn’t need religion. But whatever, if it brings you peace, then fine. But if it brings you guilt and fear and anything else that’s negative, how can it be good? That’s all I’m sayin’.
Don’t you think “self-flagellation” sounds dirty? I do, and it definitely sounds like something you should do alone.
Have a beautiful day and say the rosary while you’re at it 🙂