The Side-Effects of Catholic School

As many of you know, I went to Catholic School as a child. Here is me, in my plaid uniform, gazing at the viewer as though looking INTO YOUR SOUL.




Given the sheer amount of time I spent as a verifiable Catholic schoolgirl, it is not surprising that there would be……lingering effects. Character quirks, tendencies, odd patterning of behaviors – both for good and for ill – that would continue to shape my life even now at my ripe old age of thirty-seven.

(Though not for long! I’ll be thirty eight soon. And I enjoy chocolate.)

Anyway, after spending the formative years of my life going to church on both Fridays and Sundays, I spend most Fridays knocking around my day, feeling as though I’ve forgotten to do something. And the smell of incense puts me instantly to sleep. And the rhythm of Mass puts me in a childlike frame of mind, and sometimes I even weep like a baby. But the thing that lingers the most is the music. And today, it’s driving me mad.

There’s a song – “The King of Glory.” And it is stuck in my head. It’s spinning around and around and around, and I CANNOT GET IT OUT. It’s one of those continuous-loop sort of songs,  like the music that accompanies circle dances like the Hora or the Kolo, in which you have two or three distinct musical narrations and each one leads directly into the one following, looping over and over again so you never have a reasonable stopping place.

And once it gets stuck in your head, you’re done for.

There were a bunch of songs like this that were introduced into Catholic liturgy in the late sixties and early seventies when liturgical music writers were looking to Eastern European and Jewish folk songs to borrow from as a way to make their music seem more authentic or mystical or whatever. I don’t know if “The King Of Glory” is actually borrowed from some Yiddish grandma, but it’s certainly designed to sound as though it was. In any case, we were forced to sing that durn song every Friday at Mass.

(That might have been an exaggeration)

(But even if it is an exaggeration, it really isn’t. The fact is that memory, even when faulty, even when clearly wrong, is true. It is the information that frames and informs all new information. It is the table upon which we set our new dishes. So we believe a thing, and, as far as our brains are concerned, it is, and no amount of patient explantations can unbelive our believing.)

(Descartes said that we think and therefore we are, which was a thing that I rather liked, despite the fact that I think if I ever met a French Philosopher, I would likely detest him. Or her. Too many cigarettes. Too much white bread and cheese, which really is not very good for you and is terribly binding. Take Sartre, for example. No exit, MY EYE. There is an exit right over there! So screw you, Sartre! It even has a sign.)

(Of course, it doesn’t really have a sign. And it’s not even an exit. Just a door from my room into the hall. Still, in my mind there is an exit sign, and in my mind it is red, and in my mind it whispers kind things to me as I walk in and out and in and out. “Come back,” whispers my sign. “Welcome home,” it breathes. And who is to say it doesn’t exist? I thought of it, didn’t I? Which mean it clearly does exist on some realm – just not the realm that we can see with our bulbous, watery eyes. With our inside eyes, however, we can see that which is  and that which might. We can see multitudes.)

(This is why I write fictions. I’m like the Golux. I make things up, you know.)

I think I’ve gotten off-track.

Oh, yes. The King of Glory. For those of you who were not raised upon the velvet breast of Mama Church, I can offer you Stephen Colbert’s version of that song (with liturgical dance! And it is glorious!) as he not only was raised on it, but is likely singing it to his Sunday School students, thus infecting another generation of sparkly-eyed, plaid-wearing Catholic kids with that damn song.

In fact, maybe you shouldn’t watch it. Seriously, it will be stuck in your head all day.



Oh, dude. You did it, didn’t you? Oh well. Might I suggest a little bit of Lady Gaga as a palette cleanser?

5 thoughts on “The Side-Effects of Catholic School

  1. I’d like to teach the world to ….

    Seriously, at times I miss my xtian musical past. I actually dropped out of college to play in a Christian Rock Band. Some of the stuff we sang at church was very moving, and I miss that emotional intensity, but not enough to go back.

    I find NIN to fix almost any earworm/pepsi. The louder the better.

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