RELIGION (According to the Book of Mom)
Mike loves Christmas but discovers he doesn’t care nearly as much for religion, particularly having to be an altar boy, attend Lutheran catechism classes, study bearded Biblical icons, swallow large amounts of guilt and eat holiday fruitcake.
The opening to “Religion (According to the Book of Mom):”
During my young life, nothing seemed as meaningless as the psalms, prayers and creeds I had to learn by heart in order to be a good Lutheran. In reciting countless dry verses from memory – or trying to – I usually had no idea what I was saying. Memorizing mumbo jumbo for Sunday School, Catechism classes and Sunday services seemed to go on forever. In the end, however, as cold as these credos of the Lutheran church were, and as hard as I tried to figure out why it was so important to Mom that I know them, the fire of religion drew out just about every conceivable emotion in me. And living in my family, one where passion was regularly suppressed, maybe religion wasn’t such a bad thing for me to have experienced after all.
Christmas As Religion
To a seven-year-old Lutheran, religion wasn’t about religion; religion was Christmas, pure and simple – a special event in December when everyone got presents, a day that wound up being the best of the entire year. Christmas, 1961, was going to be even better because Mom said I could stay up until midnight to attend something called a Christmas Eve service at the place called church, complete with a manger scene displayed at the head of the altar. Although I didn’t know what a scene of mangers looked like, Mom said she’d be singing with the entire choir just behind it, so I was excited to attend my first midnight service.
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