Being Catholic and cool

I think we all want to be cool. I am sure that there is absolutely no one on earth who wouldn’t skip on a chance to be cool. If we have all been to school at some point in our lives and if we have had a group of friends, with whom we would cross by another group of people who seemed to be a group just like ours, it is safe to say that we all wanted to be cool then, and now still.

Now unfortunately, the world somehow decided that the ‘cool’ ones had to be pretty/handsome, with a gorgeous/athletic body and well, let’s admit, they also had to be bitches/jerks sometimes. That is why we see so many tech geeks, Asian geeks, debate group nerds, math nerds and so on. But I’m pretty sure that even among those ‘conventionally uncool’ groups, there was always that particular geek who looked cooler than the rest. If the tech geek managed to hack some program that all the others had failed to, I’m sure he/she would have been the ‘cool kid’ inside that group. The same goes for the Asian who looked less ‘geeky’ even with his/her glasses, the kid who won most of the debate competitions or math competitions.

And I think, having safely assumed and acknowledged for a long time that I may have this need to be a ‘cool kid’ a little bit more than others, this is exactly why I am not, I can’t be a ‘good Catholic’. Because see, no matter the great values and philanthropic actions Catholicism professes, being Catholic and going to church just haven’t managed to be criteria of the coolness. And the thing is, the ‘Catholic group’ doesn’t even allow anyone to stand out and be ‘cool’ even inside that group. Who is it going to be? The one who prays more than others? Plus, let’s not forget that religious groups essentially want everyone to be equal. So, even if some of us might think that guy or girl in my prayer group is ‘cool’, it won’t be said out loud. Oh my god, wait, did I just use ‘prayer group’ and ‘cool’ in a same sentence? See how weird this sounds? It will never work.

I know it’s a lame excuse, but as I hopped on the bus to FINALLY go to church and attend mass, for like the first time in almost three years, that’s the only thing that came to my mind…. ‘this is not cool’. I was naturally curious as to who else in the bus would be headed in the same direction. There she was. Without really trying to be mean, I just have to be so now, but yes, there she was. The girl who, I’m sorry, represented the perfect image I can imagine myself and others would have of the ‘Catholic girl’. Just as I saw her and thought to myself ‘She is exactly why I don’t want people to know I go to church’ (because no matter how cool I am right now, or how cool I think I am, as my mouth spells “I am going to church now” that is the image others would have of me, I am sure), she greeted some guy she knew and when asked the casual question “Where are you going?”, she said “To church”. And a little, pretentious, unCatholic feeling of resentment arose. Just like that. I can’t help it. I’m just too ‘worldly ‘ and selfish to be a good AND proud Catholic. I just can’t. I can’t stand the long hair and flower in the hair. I despise the cotton pants and geeky glasses with no gel in the hair. I don’t want everyone to be all nice and smiley all the time. I know they are all stereotypes, but see, the ‘cool kids’ live by stereotypes. And to be cool, I have to live by them too.

Sure, I’ll try to be a good Catholic and go to mass. I do believe in God. But if you ask me where I’m going at 8:30 pm on a Sunday as I wait for the bus, I might just smile and tell you ‘낙성대’. If that nun I met today at church who has my number asks me to come to the ‘prayer meeting’ at 환경대학원 (which, knowing nuns who have to deal with ‘the youth’, she most certainly will) I won’t be able to say no. And so if I do go, I won’t tell anyone that is where I’m headed on a Thursday afternoon. Ah well, the sermon today reassured us that God doesn’t expect us, doesn’t even want us to be perfect, so I guess He’ll just smile and shake his head sadly, but hopefully He’ll care for me just as much.

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