The Problem With Being Catholic In The South

You still have to sing crap like “Softly and Tenderly.”

Don’t get me wrong, I miss some of the songs from the old Baptist Hymnal. This ain’t one of them. Sentimental, shallow and even theologically questionable, it has all the power and insight of a monster ballad. Not even Johnny Cash could make that song endurable.

The worst part, though, is all the awful childhood church memories it brought back when we sang it at the Ash Wednesday mass last night. It’s the end of the service. You’ve made it through Sunday School. You survived the singing. The preacher has finished. You’re hungry and dying to go eat. All that’s left is the invitation for the sinners to walk the aisle and repent. And accompanying that time of invitation is either “Just as I Am” or “Softly and Tenderly.”

Each of these songs is interminable; just when you think it’s finished, you start another verse. And you never know when the preacher is going to kill the invitation. Maybe he knows he didn’t have his “A” game and stops it after two verses. Maybe he strings it out for the whole song, getting your hopes up with every chorus only to say “one more time.” Even when you reach the final verse, you aren’t truly safe. Until the last note finishes, someone could always decide to walk the aisle and then you have to start all over again.

Now this whole experience is a terrible dilemma. On the one hand, it is someone’s everlasting soul at stake. On the other, you’re hungry and ready to go. So every week, it’s “Man, I hope this ends quick, no wait, that’s wrong, someone needs to get saved. Oh, but I’m hungry, they need to make it quick.” The result is you can never leave church feeling completely happy with yourself. You’ll also never hear this song without thinking of this problem.

Anyway, even if I have to sing the stupid song that reminds of this experience, at least I’ll never have to experience it again.

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4 Comments on “The Problem With Being Catholic In The South”

  1. Texas Redhead Loser Says:

    You made me laugh. Thanks for reminding me why I ran screaming from my Southern Baptist roots. If I live to be 100 and I never hear “Just As I Am” again, I will probably still be able to recall every word of every verse.

  2. Steph Says:

    HA! It’s like you read my mind before you wrote this blog. I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Now I don’t have to feel so guilty about it….?

  3. draftsonyou Says:

    So I know that the scriptures are pre-determined and published in the missalette (sp?), and therefore, universal. But are the songs too? Because we sang this on Ash Wed as well. And I mocked it just like I did when I was Baptist…by growling “come home.” Come to think of it, mocking invitation songs was what got me through a large portion of my youth.

  4. Wheeler Says:

    i don’t know. i thought parishes had some discretion about music. maybe not. or maybe bad taste is more common than i thought.


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