Volume > Issue > Theology of the Bawdy

Theology of the Bawdy

GOING TO MASS

By Richard & Elizabeth Gerbracht | November 2007
Richard and Elizabeth Gerbracht, who have retired after operating their own research and consulting firm, write from Hudson, Ohio.

Ten minutes before she must leave to avoid being late, Cherrie grabs her jeans from the hot dryer and tugs them on in a twisting, gyrating wriggle. She turns her back to the bathroom mirror and peers over her shoulder to check derrière — yes, the heat of the clothes dryer did it again: the jeans are fantastically tight. Now, a layered top, skin-tight and cut low in front, big hoop earrings and a long chain necklace, a matching bracelet, a check of the mascara and eye shadow applied an hour ago, and she’s almost ready. She slips into heelless, toeless spikes and, flipping back her long straight hair, steps into the hall and calls to her daughter, “Molly, it’s time; we can’t be late again!”

Molly comes out of her bedroom dressed just like Cherrie, but with more mascara and eye shadow. The two look like hookers, bawdy types, about to take their regular positions on a street corner across town. Except that it’s Saturday afternoon and Cherrie and Molly are headed for Mass at the Catholic church just two miles away.

Before they climb into the van, Cherrie calls to her son shooting baskets in the driveway, “Let’s go, Sean, no time left; Dad will meet us at Mass.” Dad has been gone since early morning, as always on a warm and sunny Saturday, cruising with his motorcycle friends. Occasionally he manages to meet up with the family in the church parking lot; he’s there today. And so this somewhat typical American Catholic family walks up to the church looking like two hookers in the company of a couple of playboys of the Peter Pan variety, men who refuse to grow up and boys who don’t know how.

Inside the church, Cherrie’s family is indistinguishable from most of the others. More than 60 percent of those under age 50 arrive in jeans, with most of the women and girls in low-cut, skin-tight tops. The men and boys not wearing jeans look just as messy in outsize cargo pants or shorts with equally baggy T-shirts or mock athletic jerseys. Most of the older folks are dressed decrepitly casual too; no more than 15 people of the total gathered are dressed to attend an important event.

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