Sunday, August 10, 2008

Making a Good Confession (Sci Fi Catholic Style)

I have it good, and until recently, I didn't realize how good I have it. Blessed as I am with an understanding priest, I can usually go to confession without a hitch. But recently, while confessing to a priest other than my usual one, I realized there are certain problems a Sci Fi Catholic might experience in the confessional that a regular Catholic doesn't have to deal with. My recent confessional debacle went something like this:

Me: Twice this last week, I sneaked into my dragon's room and read some of his shoujo manga.

Priest: You did what?

Me: I know, it's awful--

Priest: No, I mean, what did you do?

Me: What? I sneaked into my dragon's--

Priest: Your what?

Me: Dragon. I live with a dragon. That's okay, isn't it?

Priest: I guess...just, ah, tell me what you did, please.

Me: Read some of his shoujo--

Priest: His what?

Me: Um, his books. I read some of his books.

Priest: Well, it's not wrong to like to read, but you should really ask his permission--

Me: Not wrong? I'm embarrassed even to admit I'm aware of the existence of a comic with a title like Wedding Peach.

Priest: Like what?

Me: What?

Ugh. Who wants to go through that kind of trouble? Figuring that other Sci Fi Catholics must have an equally difficult time confessing their sci-fi-related sins, I'm here to give a few pointers on selecting a Sci Fi Priest to be your regular confessor. You need a confessor who understands you.

The difficult part, of course, is telling the difference between a Sci Fi Priest and a regular priest. Unfortunately, and contrary to popular belief, they don't have special vestments or other obvious characteristics. No, the best way to distinguish a Sci Fi Priest is in conversation. Sometimes this can be tricky because, instead of stopping in the fellowship hall for coffee after Mass, a Sci Fi Priest may slink back to the rectory to read a C. J. Cherryh novel. If you suspect a priest is a Sci Fi Priest, you have to corner him, and you have to do it fast.

But then, how do you find out if your suspicion is correct? The trick is to ask a religious question as a pretext, and then casually slide the conversation into, shall we say, more speculative realms. Observe how suavely you can accomplish this:

You: Father, I wondered if you could explain to me the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Priest: When the bread and wine are consecrated, they become in substance the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, though the accidents of bread and wine remain.

You: Thanks, Father. And what do you think of the new season of Battlestar Galactica?

At this point, the priest will respond in one of two ways. Observe him closely. Does he appear dumbfounded? Taken aback? Caught off guard? If so, chances are this is not a Sci Fi Priest. However, if he replies quickly and confidently, you know you've made a good choice. Observe--

Priest (shaking head): I just can't get into that show. Who the frack thought it was good idea to cast Starbuck as a woman?

You: On the contrary, I think Katee Sackhoff was a bold and excellent casting choice.

Priest: Come with me, then. You need to go to confession.

See how easy that is? Now, instead of going through an ordeal like the confession I described above, your next confession can look like this:

You: I thought the film version of Starship Troopers was better than the novel, I neglected to make a costume for this year's ComicCon in San Diego, I read comic books on company time at work, and I wrote my fan fiction masterpiece when my wife wanted me to do the dishes.

Priest: Hmm...say five Hail Marys.

You: Oh, I almost forgot--I also think Piers Anthony's play-on-words are clever.

Priest: Ouch. That's a latae sententiae excommunication.

So there you have it. By finding a Sci Fi Priest, you will have a much easier time confessing your sci-fi sins. I hope this short guide has been helpful.
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