McGan's Meditations
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McGan's Meditations
Religion and Sex...

When I was a child I went to a Catholic grade school and was taught by nuns. I have nothing but fond memories of those formative years with the exception of some major apocalyptic nightmares and some minor welts and contusions. But all that's behind me now and the sight of a pointer no longer produces violent flinching, but has mellowed over the years to subtle facial ticks.

I remember that the best part of the day was when you could go down to the tiny library and take out books. They also had a collection of National Geographic magazines. This was the closest thing to Playboy that an eleven year old boy could get his hands on. Granted, the tribal women in the pictures might have had curiously long necks, plates in their lips or bones through their noses... but they were topless! No wonder so many young men were joining the Peace Corps.

Sex education back then didn’t come from the nuns or your parents, it came from older boys. I remember one of the more worldly teenagers had given one of my classmates a deck of playing cards which quickly made the rounds. These cards contained graphic pictures of completely naked women. It was as if the mysteries of the universe were unfolding. In a sense, we were moving up several grades from National Geographic, advancing our education. Learning is a wonderful thing.

Of course because of our religious schooling, and the fact that some of us were altar boys, we would be wracked with guilt from looking at that smouldering deck of cards. So eventually, in a darkened cubicle, it was all reluctantly confessed to a priest.

"Father, I looked at dirty pictures of women."
"I see. And how many times did you look at these pictures?"
"Well, there were fifty-two of them... and some I had to look at twice."
"Sweet Jesus in Heaven."

Head hung low, you would walk out of the confessional and up to the altar, kneel down and start your penance. You didn’t want to be up there for a long time or people would talk about you. That kid has been up there since I walked into the church and got in line. He must be really bad. So you would make it quick at the altar. You could always say your hefty sentence of prayers later. Besides, some of these people had daughters. They wouldn’t want their daughters hanging around with a boy who spent a lot of time on the wrong side of the altar. Even if he did talk of his dreams to join the Peace Corps.

Michael McGan - 7th September 2005

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