Each week they pick a topic and then explore it with 1-4 short segments about everyday people and their lives. I was way behind in listening to the shows and wanted something light so I chose their Christmas podcast which they called: Comedians of Christmas Comedy Special. One story really caught my attention it was titled:
Act Three. Little Altar Boy:
Despite our nation’s attempts to make Christmas all about toys and shopping, it is still a religious holiday. Mike Birbiglia tells this story about Catholicism and his mother. Mike is author of the memoir Sleepwalk With Me.
In a nutshell, Mike tells the story of growing up Catholic and what it was like to be an alter boy. He has some funny things to say about his experiences and what it was like being the little brother who went to church in contrast to his older brother who went only at Christmas and even then he was less than a perfect congregant. (He made up his own words, for example.)
The part of the story that really caught me was was when he started to talk about his mother getting sick. He decided to come home and care for her as she tried to recover from painful surgery. It wasn’t long thereafter that the drugs his Mom was talking started to cause her to become disoriented and confused.
Mike shares with us the moment his mother took him aside, and in a quiet and matter of fact way said to him:
“Mike I am dying- and I am going to go to hell.”
You can imagine Mike’s reaction- first there was the dismay of thinking his mother might be actually be dying and then the shock of hearing this life long faithful Catholic woman, who never missed mass and did all the right “Catholic” things concluding that she was going to hell.
This week I want to explore why so many good Christians think they are going to go to hell. Where does this warped understanding of sin and damnation come from and is there any merit to this type of belief?
I want to ask- Why are we so worried about it?
Mike the comedian shared that this rattled him and his faith so completely because of all the people he knew his mother was the a sure ” first round draft pick for heaven” .
He closes the story by sharing with the audience that he stopped being Catholic that day and has not been back to mass since- except for maybe on Christmas Day.