It’s Friday, and in grand tradition, I want to talk about something other than Human Resources and career advice.
Let’s talk about Barabbas.
Not many people have one religious holiday that’s responsible for childhood trauma and spiritual ennui. I have two. Both happened on Good Friday.
- In 1983, I lived with my grandmother. It was a crowded house and there were always children coming & going. Gramma was the default babysitter. On that particular Good Friday, she had enough with all the kids (I can’t blame her) and sent me to church with the next-door-lady. This lady was an old Polish Babcia (“boosha”) who attended a different church. Even back then, I liked an adventure. Unfortunately, the church had two weird customs: the priests were washing the feet of parishioners (which is a horrifying sight on the Northwest side of Chicago) and the members of the church were standing in line to kiss a bruised & bloodied statue of Jesus on the cross. Now I was raised by my grandmother to put two layers of toilet paper on a seat before I even considered peeing in a public toilet… and there was no way I could find the courage to kiss the statue. I could hear my own grandmother’s voice in my head screaming, “HELL NO YOU WON’T KISS THAT. DO YOU WANT HERPES?” What’s worse is that the priest was wiping off the kisses with one napkin and rubbing the germs further into Jesus’s wounds. All I could do was cry. Thankfully, it worked. I was allowed to weep in the pew while the crazy Babcia did her thing with the statue.
- In 1987, I was in 7th grade and compelled by a very mean nun (Sister Elizabeth) to participate in something called Living Stations of the Cross. That’s where you get a bunch of Catholic school kids to act out the passion of the cross. It’s all healthy & shit, right? Knowing that all business is show business, Sister Elizabeth decided to take our pageant on the road to a nursing home for dying nuns. Since I was such a mouthy sinner, I was assigned the role of angry mob lady #4 and I had one line: I had to chant BARABBAS BARABBAS when Pontius Pilate asked the crowd if he should commute the death sentence of Jesus or Barabbas. I was offended. Why couldn’t I be one of the kids rooting for the good guy? I was obviously typecast. So I condemned Jesus to die in front of a bunch of dying nuns on Good Friday 1987. Then we had to tour the facility and show these dying brides of Christ that children are the future of the Catholic church. I had never seen anything like that in my life, and I was never sadder. I was twelve years old and I was scarred for life. Easter was never the same.
What about you? Any religious experiences that scarred you? Let me know. I’ll be reading your comments and shoving peeps in my mouth.