Thursday, January 12, 2006


Brad didn't tell Jenn that Ange was pregnant!

Rep: Aniston Wasn't Alerted to Pregnancy
This was ninth of ten top headlines tonite on the Yahoo site's: AP Top Stories"! This story was number 10:

The Donnor Party may not have been cannibals after all. So sez an archeologist who unsuccessfully looked for residue of burned or boiled human bones. Apparently raw bones decay rapidly but cooked bones last for a long time.

Nuff said.

I want to talk about Limbo.

I was raised a catholic, by parents who thought it was their duty to make their kids go to church. In hindsight, I doubt they'd have been churchies if they hadn't had kids to martyr themselves for. We went to church every Sunday and all the holy days of obligation.

We went to catechism classes whenever school was in session. In elementary school, catechism was a unendurable hour every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. I have no reason to believe the priests and nuns back then were preying on us for any overt sexual reason, although their behavior could easily have been driven in part by their celibacy. But their quickness to resort to slaps, whacks, yanks, raps, bops, and sometimes outright smacks for relatively minor infractions and misbehaviors only made us more defiant. In the lower elementary catechism, we got smacked for not being able to recite our line, when our turn came around.

Bro4 was the most ill-behaved of us 5 kids. The rest of us weren't angels by any measure, although Bro1 and Sis5 were usually goodie-goodies compared to Bro2 and myself. So, sometimes the three of us (but never Bro1 or Sis5) would skip catechism and hide out in the drainage ditch separating our public school from the catholic school. Usually there were other kids around, but not always. We'd play hide and seek, devil-in-the-ditch, or if we had our bikes we'd ride up and down the sides.

But since our parents would eventually catch us and submit us to the guilt process, we went to catechism more often than not. It was hell. The droning recitation of snippets of the church dogma. Our "homework" involved having to memorize 20 to 30 aphorisms and then on class days, the nun worked her way up and down each row, making each successive kid recite the next line in the catechism book. I always sat in the center back. So I'd figure out which line was going to be mine and I'd quickly memorize it. When my turn came, I stood up, recited my piece, sat down again, and tuned out catechism till the next time. Even though I only bothered to learn my particular 5% of the mumbo jumbo so I wouldn't get smacked, somehow most of the rest of the dogma ended up filed in my memory, although I didn't buy any of it.

Out of sheer boredom I also learned the mass in latin, to where I could read, understand and speak it. I had to sit through it weekly for most of my childhood, and since I had nothing else to do I memorized it all. Then, they stopped doing the mass in latin. I quit paying attention to the english version.

I never believed.

Catechism classes were held in the catholic school classrooms at the end of the day. Needless to say, their desks and belongings were fair game for us public school kids. They eventually learned to bring home anything valuable on those days.

I finally stopped going to catechism classes in tenth grade, when I told my parents I was no longer going to go to church. They didn't try to stop me, so I never went again. In no time, the rest of my brothers all dropped out, then my father, and eventually my mother and sister. Eventually, they only went on special occasions. After we all left home, my mother started going to a presbyterian church, like the one she had been raised in - mostly it was for the singing. I guess they sang a wider variety of songs than the catholics did. I'm guessing that dad probably went along as her attendant.

So, Limbo. That's where babies used to go who died before being baptized. I guess, for a while the church carved out a small section of limbo for heroic figures from history, like Moses and Plato, who did good things but weren't baptized. It was neither heaven nor hell, yet it wasn't purgatory either. Limbo and purgatory both fit in between heaven and hell, and limbo was sort of closer to heaven and purgatory was closer to hell. In limbo things were OK, just not heavenly. You didn't suffer or feel any anguish in limbo. Sad to think of all those baby souls laying around listless, bored, waiting.., just because they hadn't been baptized.

As it happens, catholics were the only people who had a shot at getting to heaven, especially if you got in one last confession before dying. Everyone else went to hell.

Last month the catholic church announced they're thinking about getting rid of limbo. They'll just say it never existed. Kind of like how they scrapped the whole system of indulgences, and nowadays won't admit it ever existed, even though it was the currency of catholicism in the middle ages. You earned indulgences with cash or services on behalf of the church - usually granted by the bishop to his suckups. Supposedly indulgences reduced your term in purgatory, or could even give you a bye if you had enough. So, instead of penance, you could cash in your indulgences. You could buy services or favors from other parishioners and pay for them with indulgences.

Seems like limbo was dreamed up in the 4th century to solve a deep philosophical problem within the dogma of the church. People were beginning to ask questions. What about the innocent babies who died before being baptized. Since your fate was in your hands (in other words in the hands of the church, which got you to do their bidding by threatening you with hell), you had to be able to choose to be good or bad. Babies weren't capable of sin. Also, only those who were baptized could go to heaven. But if a baby died before being baptized, they shouldn't have to go to hell. So the church invented limbo.

That early limbo was really close to hell, but it did keep the babies separate from the true evil doers - such as those who didn't kowtow to their bishop and his minions. In time, this too, became a problem, because it still didn't answer the basic question, why should the babies have to suffer at all? By the 12th century, limbo was pretty much an OK place. At least the babies weren't suffering anymore, now supposedly they were happy. But in recent years, limbo has again become a problem for the catholic church. Pope JohnPaulJohnPaul, just before he died, appointed a commision to revist the whole limbo issue.

It will be interesting to see how they'll wiggle this time. They can never admit that limbo was wrong in the first place, yet they also can't admit that a person - even an innocent baby - can go to heaven if they aren't baptized.

What about reparations? Especially for the babies who went to limbo at the begining. They've really had to endure all the levels of limbo, only to be told now that limbo was a mistake, after all. Shouldn't they get some super-indulgences for all those centuries of suffering? Seems to me they've earned the right to go to heaven, along with an apology and maybe a higher cloud.

I'm still wondering about what happened to all those people who ate meat on Fridays, back when I was a kid? Back then it was a sin. If you up and died all of a sudden before you had a chance to clear that one off the slate by saying a couple hail marys at your next confession, the best you could do was purgatory. So when it suddenly was OK to eat meat on Friday, what did the church do to make amends to all those souls who'd been suffering in purgatory - some for centuries?

Cello Stuff

I played cello for almost two hours again today, working on the same repertoire that I've been doing all week. I am noticing improvements. A small chalk mark on the side of the fingerboard - got that idea off the Cello Heaven forum - helps me hit the notes more often, with only an occasional glance at my fingers to see how close they are to the marks. I'm also working on trying to keep left thumb relaxed, and trying to use good, relaxed posture in both arms and hands. I seem to be holding the bow properly. I hope my teacher agrees.

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