As a very small child, I was amazed at the statues in All Saints Catholic Church. At the front, back, & sides of the building were various life-sized representations of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus as a baby; Jesus as a young man; and a miserable- or dead-looking Jesus nailed to the cross wearing only his circa 30 A.D.-era underwear, blood dripping everywhere.
The statues’ shock value stemmed from my belief that these were real people who stood very still during Mass, looking at me. And the dead man with the blood was horrific to my young mind. There was a bloodied, tortured guy hanging on the wall at church and nobody seemed to notice or care. I didn’t know the words “grotesque” or “macabre,” but I understood the concepts completely.
I still remember my immense relief upon learning that these “people” were just statues and not flesh-and-blood human beings. But I continued to be bewildered as to why a place of worship would assault its patrons with such bizarre images placed everywhere. It was like “Night of the Living Dead” or “Dawn of the Dead” in real life.
(Note to self: examine psychological connection between Christian images of dead Jesus and horror movies with dead people who have come back to life.)
Somewhere around this time, I developed a new belief: that the Catholic priest celebrating Mass was actually God. I stuck with that one for a few years, too. Of course, some priests actually do try to be God so my error is quite understandable.
–By the way, isn’t it odd that Catholics refer to it as “celebrating” Mass when everyone seems so miserable throughout the entire service?