In college I dropped out of church. When the Preacher called to check up on me, I told him I was going to another church now.
"Roman Catholic," I said, just to shake things up a bit.
He slammed the phone down, and by the next Sunday, my family was being shunned, stared at, whispered about. They made me call the Preacher and tell him that I was only joking.
the boy on the Prospect List. I spent the night with Todd, a Maronite Catholic, at music camp in the summer of 1976. My first view of the real Roman Catholic Church came the next fall, when my Medieval History class at Rocky High saw Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972), about the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
Like many movies and tv programs of the era -- That Cold Day in the Park, Hair, If...., even The Bugaloos -- it featured a "wild youth" who shakes up the establishment. Raised in luxury as the son of a wealthy Italian merchant, Francis is repelled by the materialism, avarice, and aggression of the adults. He goes to war, but cannot bring himself to fight. He seeks refuge in the Roman Catholic Church, but finds it antiquated and materialistic. So he "lights out for the territory" and starts a hippie commune. . .um, I mean a monastic order.
To symbolize his rejection of the material, Francis sheds his clothes, revealing a beautifully sculpted backside. So a naked male body shows us the way to Paradise.
Today I know much more about the Roman Catholic church. I've read The Seven Story Mountain. I've seen the Sistine Chapel. I know about the histories of popes and saints, the scandals of the priests, the intense opposition to gay marriage and all things gay (but check out this blog, The Wild Reed, Thoughts and Reflections from a Progressive Gay Catholic Perspective).
But in the early days, I found there appreciation of male beauty that the fundamentalist church of my childhood denied.