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‘Some Kind of Faith in Something’

October 18, 2010

I’ve just discovered an inspiring regular feature on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency (the blog put out by the contemporary lit mag, McSweeney’s), called “Oh My Gawd: A Column About a Teenager Navigating Religion,” written by one Caroline Lazar. It’s well written–if sometimes a bit overwrought (but let’s give her a break–she’s a teenager)–and it’s unusually insightful, jammed with great observations and telling admissions. Here’s an excerpt from her most recent dispatch, entitled “Holy City”, that made me think of our own Cathedral of St. Peter, with all of its diverse congregants and visitors and other worshipers:

I once heard that living in the city is more difficult than eating glass. On my way to the train station, stopping outside of a tremendous steepled church, I saw a woman who looked like she had eaten glass. Her face was smoke-soaked and tired. Her wet lipstick bled in threads; it looked like a bloody eye on her chin. I had a few minutes to kill. I walked into the church and planned to pray for the woman to stop looking so sad and world weary but there were so many people in the big church with its yawning cavity of space and light and glass. There was a businessman with a nose like a dollar sign. There was a lost child, parenthetically dimpled, heaving sobs and frantic for his mother. There was a twitching teenager in a wheelchair, eyes cast upward and all around, head rubbed raw. You know, people can throw the most nail-knuckled punches without even looking your direction. I stared at my purpled, pale, skinned feet and couldn’t think of big enough words to encompass all of the feelings I was feeling. It may be strange and simplistic to have come to the realization at that moment that these people who could not be more different on the outside share at least one speck of similarity on the inside: their faith. Maybe not even their specific faith but the fact that they have some kind of faith in something, whether it be Jesus or God or a stirring spoon or their children or the sun. Every house of worship and city is the same- you can walk in on a whole lot of suffering but I guess everyone is suffering together and that seems to make things better.

Going to church is the closest thing to a team sport I’ve done in a long, long time.


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