COMING HOME TO THE CHURCH
It’s comforting to know that other people have spiritual crises in their adolescence, too.
Mine came early. It may be that it converged with the emotional bewilderment that sometimes hits kids at that age because of our newly changing bodies and fluctuating moods. It has to do with hormones, some say; but it also has to do with faith.
My mother and father are quiet, steady, gentle, domestic folk. All through my childhood, my father did unskilled labor at a laundry. He never made a penny more than the minimum wage. He walked home every afternoon sweat-soaked and tired, occasionally with red burns on his arms from having touched a steam pipe. But he didn’t seem to mind if my older brother and I climbed all over him. This is what his life consisted of: work, his wife and two kids, his reading (philosophy and botany), and his garden.
My mother was, and is, a housewife. Our life with her also included going to Mass (Roman Catholic) on Sunday. My father didn’t go, except at the Easter Vigil and Christmas Midnight Mass: he liked the Gregorian chant. When that was discontinued, he didn’t go at all.
I used to get into my father’s books, even in grade school: skimming rapidly what I couldn’t understand, and reading avidly what I could. So it was that I came upon a series of tracts against religion. They were called Little Blue Books, published by E. Haldeman-Julius, and they featured essays by such men as Bertrand Russell, Sir Julian Huxley, and Clarence Darrow.
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