How “The Thorn Birds” Illustrates The Terminal Status of The Catholic Church
There were two movies that my mother was desperate to hide from me, and they both had strong ties to heaven and hell.
The Exorcist was the VHS tape that broke the VCR player, thanks to the inconvenience of secretly watching it with my childhood friends, and having the electricity shut down — midway.
The buzzkill of growing up in a country that’s wealthy in oil but too poorly regulated to provide basic amenities, was the annoying frequency of never enjoying a full day of running water, and the privilege of flipping the light switch without disappointment.
Or being able to flawlessly disobey your mother by watching the movie that showcases a young girl being attacked by the demon that’s taken over her body and soul — without being forced to leave the evidence of deceit lodged in the machine that can’t release it until the lights come on.
Doomsday arrived weeks later, when we were all gathered to finally watch the thanksgiving ceremony that heralded the glorious birth of my youngest brother.
As I sat there that challenging God to prove his power and might might by making the video tape disappear, and allowing my father to insert the tape we were waiting to watch without issue, the expected consequences of wrestling a functional machine to dysfunctional as the panicked response to a crisis was brutally dramatized.
Needless to say, the parental response to my unacceptable behavior was swift and uncomfortable, but the damage was already irrevocable.
The Exorcist is still the movie that haunts my sleepless nights when I re-imagine the scene when poor little Regan etched out the words “Help Me”
My father didn’t really care much about the spiritual inclinations of his children, and preferred to wave goodbye when my mother would shuttle her brood out the door in a failed attempt to make the 9 am service on time.
The pressure to internalize the Lord’s Prayer without jumbling the words was the beginning of the force feeding regimen that haunted my freedom and made social nights at boarding school a torturous event with the mandatory viewing of Christian films that were only appropriate for kids because of the lessons that were meant to intimidate our refusal to accept Jesus as Savior.
It’s interesting how The Exorcist wasn’t suitable entertainment in my household, and yet at the institution of my parents’ choosing, I had to sit through the violent scenes that depicted what happens to sinners when they’re punishingly left behind after “the rapture” captures the blessed few.
So my moves grew slicker with age, as my early teens introduced to me to the sweeping saga that featured the climatic collision involving the corridors of the Catholic Church and the wilds of the Australian outback with the seductive backdrop of forbidden love.
Nigerians love epic soap operas, and the tape swapping of foreign offerings from the 80s was an activated exercise that we all participated in as youngsters through the selective palettes of the grown ups in our midst.
The Thorn Birds arrived without fanfare, and I could tell it was a winner when the description of a Catholic priest and his much younger paramour arrested my interest and gave my mother the added incentive to hide the tapes of the explicitly anti-Christian mini-series far from reach.
Of course I found them, and digested the forbidden fruit alone, and by the end of it, it was pretty clear that Catholic priests are horny men hiding in layers of fabric that can’t ever diminish the fallibility of ordained loins.
Father Ralph de Bricassart eventually became Cardinal de Bricassart, but not before engaging in sexual relations with the woman he began lusting after when she was just a girl.
The infectiously strong bond between the impossibly handsome priest and the devastatingly pretty Meggie, was appealing only because of how very wrong it was in the eyes of God.
There was also the disturbing tone of how the Catholic church doesn’t allow it’s robed brethren to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh because fulfillment comes from the sacrifice that is driven by the impossible feat of living up to the inhumanness of the holy spirit.
Cardinal de Bricassart chose God and rejected a lifetime of great sex and companionship with the abandoned love of his life, that he righteously knocked up right before he finally surrendered to the eternal grasp of the Lord.
Their perfect looking offspring was so perfect that his quest for the priesthood was too perfect to be true. He was also way more committed than his much weaker father who mentored him without realizing who he was grooming and why.
It all ends badly, as it should when you’re dealing with the complexities of church and sex, and how you can’t escape the atonement of sticking dicks in holes that create a life that has to be returned to its rightful owner.
The scene that unfailingly grips, features a weathered and bitter Meggie, who serves the Cardinal what he deserves after years of tumultous interference from a God who claims not to ask more than we can give, but keeps testing with the threat of going back on his divine word.
Once the recent headline about the disgraceful defrocking of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick hit the newsfeed, I was inspired to resurrect the classic tale of The Thorn Birds that makes for an even more riveting read, thanks to author Colleen McCullough, and after revisiting the sins of the father who tried and failed to suppress his sexual appetite and romantic instincts — I began reassessing the ailments of the Catholic Church.
Humans tend to tinker with bible verses in an effort to evoke supreme power over hapless individuals who are yearning for that form of discipline for reasons that activate cult-like statuses.
The intense hatred I’ve been harboring against the pope and the officers of God who have exacted physical and emotional harm on innocents, has been converted to the empathy that comprehends how we can be married to fantastical rules of existence, that are challengingly unattainable; which makes the never-ending pursuit the career of unrealized goals.
The Catholic Church curses the sexually active and protects the sexually repressed, even when they jack off against the untouched skin of oppressed minors.
It’s a losing game of spiritual chaos that was invented by psycho White males, who wanted to give other White males the burden of their imperfectness in the eyes of the Almighty, who never co-signed those rules of un-engagement.
Trust me, I asked.
And now that a severely hidden secret of centuries of sexual abuse within the very expensive pews and private confessionals of one of the richest organizations in the world has been exposed, the media is convinced that “defrocking” the abusers will begin the path to healing.
But, we all know the truth.
The only way the terminal status of the Church can be rectified, is to basically burn down the rulebook and start over. The papacy has to be halted indefinitely, which permit a thorough examination of the hellish friction between Christianity and sex, and why the tension is needlessly destroying the souls of robed abusers and their victims.
The clause that restricts fucking in any capacity has to be revised because being holier than thou has proven to be anything but “holy,” so maybe it’s time to consider the option that endorses embracing what we are when the lights are out.
The imposing darkness isn’t dark enough to sanctify the saints on behalf of horny priests who don’t have to stay that way.
Let the light in!