Fantz in Your Pants: Heresies, Pharisees and McConaugheys

Let’s wax philosophical, middle-aged men need not apply

The celebrity midlife crisis has stretched way beyond dropping crypto on a Lambo.

Kanye West ran for president. Snoop Dogg is baked baking with Martha Stewart. Will Smith is life coaching in a new book.

The best, though (obv), is the Tao of Matthew McConaughey, who has morphed into some sort of Texan prophet with an incessant urge to share existential revelations.

“We cannot fully appreciate the light without the shadows,” McConaughey pens in his book “Greenlights.”

Shh. You can buy shadowless light with your couch change.

Ah, musings and maxims from middle-aged celebrities whose epiphanies swiftly drum up a writing career. They were bored in lockdown. The billion-dollar struggle is real.

However, I invented writing about shit that nobody cares about. So get off my lawn.

Let’s discuss my epiphany.

Speaking of lawns, I recently acquired a church pew for my backyard. It’s old, tattered and split, but it’s a lovely ornament that I’m also mildly intimidated by — I feel like I should genuflect when I walk through my yard.

My pandemic epiphany — not the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus or McConaughey’s trip through ayahuasca — landed at a striking realization that a theological institution has inflicted severe PTSD upon my rattled being.

Hello, my name is Fantz in Your Pants and I am saddled with religious trauma. I loop through grief stages, but I usually get wedged in the anger phase. Then a priest will get popped for child porn and the RAGE stage settles in.

I idle there for way too long.

Fear the wrath of God! Be prepared for the second coming of Jesus! Bear crippling anxiety for the flames of hell! Get on your knees and beg for God’s forgiveness! All nonsense that consumed 33 years of my life.

A more tame memory that sticks out was when I’d accidentally eat a bite of cereal 57 minutes before communion. (One must fast 60 minutes before cannibalizing their savior.) I’d have to march my ass to the sacristy before mass and ask a priest for forgiveness. May I receive the sacrament, father? My breakfast cut 3 minutes into the fast.

Plus, I never knew what to say in confession because I never thought I did anything wrong.

“I got mad at my brother and we got into a fight. I said the ‘sh’ word in front of my little sister. I didn’t do my chores.”

Typical 14-year-old tomfoolery that most likely garners the same penance as a serial rapist or a pedophile priest: Say the rosary and beg for forgiveness.

I could go on, but newsprint is pricey and the meds are running low.

Despite this trauma, I have a strong affection for Catholic art and culture. I love religious iconography as art, I have the Immaculate Heart of Mary tattooed on my arm and I dig the festive celebration of various feast days, like Dia de los Muertos.

Growing up, every family vacation was a pilgrimage. I count myself privileged to have visited some of the oldest cathedrals and basilicas — masterpieces of Gothic architecture — and to have seen Catholicism’s most famous works of art around Europe and South America.

But it’s the fear-based tenets, steadfast rules and fierce judgement that were shaken into me. The guilt has consumed me, memories elevate my anxiety and constant judgement from devout elite disrupts my growth as a loving and peaceful human. Sifting through 33 years of religion-inflicted trauma and fearing its almighty leader (as a bargain for salvation) is enough to juggle.

My salvation need not rest on any shoulders but my own, so shove your hypocritical values in your pants and “pray for me.” As we conclude this sermon, I’ll leave you with the words of Prophet McConaughey:

“Guilt and regret kills many a man before their time,” the actor waxed philosophical in 2015.

Not women, then? Alright, alright, alright.