Marianne Petit is doing a series of Participatory Books- she is illustrating stories posted on her site. I wrote this story in response to "Do You Believe in an Interventionist God?" since changed to Wrestling with God..
My feelings about God (and particularly Jesus) are decidedly mixed. I was brought up to be an extremely religious Catholic girl – my goal was to be a nun (although I think this had as much to do with avoiding marriage as with religious fervor).
I had the normal teenage epiphany about religion when I was about 16- God doesn’t exist, organized religion is bullshit, etc, etc. While I adopted the stance of a typically cynical agnostic artist- the Catholic Girl within was never really abandoned.
This has lead to some curious hobbies. My favorite tourist activity is to visit churches – I even visit churches here in my home city of New York on occasion (the old St. Patrick’s Church in Little Italy is a particular favorite).
One of the reasons I think I still secretly embrace Catholicism is the exhilarating feeling of being a sinner. I had forgotten all about being a “bad girl”, until I visited Rome about 15 years ago. I was standing in St. Agnes in Agony- a church in Piazza Navona that has a beautiful facade by Borromini. The sound of liturgical music, the smell of incense, and most importantly, the statue of the tortured woman with her breasts on a platter reminded me of what it was to be “good” and what it was to be “bad” (although it might seem the rewards of being “good” were somewhat questionable- torture and death?)
To clarify- being “bad” might involve drinking a cup of coffee- I don’t have to be very bad to be a sinner.
Occasionally the cynical artist and the Catholic Girl within clash. One Good Friday, I toasted Jesus with a martini- and was almost instantly stricken with nausea. I agonized over this incident, calling friends on the phone to “confess”, and I am still a little ashamed when I think of it. (Catholics among you will recognize this emotion).
I sometimes believe that in the future, I may become one of those little ladies wearing a black dress putting flowers on the altar somewhere. That is, until I hear a quote from the Pope or a line of St. Paul’s that sends me into a fury of bitter invective. Catholic Girl within, cynical agnostic- engaged in a life-long battle.