WARNING–DARK SHADOWS SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THIS POST–
Whoever came up with the term “revert” needs help. Grammatically if nothing else. I have to admit, although raised as a well-catechized Catholic until age 14-15, and then spending just over 35 years outside of the Roman sector of the Faith, I just totally cringe when I hear that term. And I mean totally.
It is much like when I was a child and people called me “Dickie.” While not nearly so much back then, the rather undesirable implications of that nickname (or “Dick” as well), coupled with the fact that it sounds almost nothing like my actual name, Richard, these days just makes me feel like running my fingers up and down a chalkboard. Yet I went by that “nick” until I was in my mid-30s, as I was named after my great-uncle Richard, and “Dick” is how the world knew him too. So it really was not until after my lovely mother’s death (it was her uncle I was named for) in 1991 that I finally bit the bullet and started calling myself Richard, which was and always will be my legal first name.
Now back to this “revert” business. When I was growing up, there was this absolutely scary and fun television show called “Dark Shadows” on TV. It was on at 3 PM, and I lived 2 blocks from the school. School ended daily at 3:03, so by running home, I caught at least 20 minutes of it each day. Much later, after finding that there has been a cult following of this rather macabre show, complete with conventions and the entire 5 year series (over 1000 episodes) on DVD, I am a fan all over again. And one of the interesting things mentioned over and over in “fandom” is that this was the “show you ran home from school to watch.” At the time I had no idea I was making history during those 2 block sprints to the new color TV as I breathlessly flew to the living room without even greeting my family.
If you have ever followed “Twilight,” “Forever Knight,,” “True Blood,” “Angel,” or a host of other shows within the vampire genre, they each owe their very existence to the late great Jonathan Frid‘s sensitive portrayal of the “reluctant vampire” from DS. Until this time vamps (such as Dracula) were almost always portrayed as cold and heartless–and to be sure, he could be as well. But Barnabas Collins, his character, for the most part just wanted to be loved. And he had a secret from the world. He had to pretend he was his own descendant to be accepted by his family, and could never really explain why he tended to visit them mostly at 3 AM!!! And he wanted to be cured. Human. Live. Die. And eventually he got his wish, due to a mad scientist/general practitioner Dr. Eric Lang and a dedicated blood specialist who was also a psychologist (now who ever thought of that combination of studies???), Dr Julia Hoffman.
But they were always worried that one day he (Barnabas) might “revert.” Something could go wrong with his medications or his blood, or his returned-from-the-dead witch/wife Angelique might re-curse him somehow. No true fan wanted Barnabas “reverting.” Ever. No way, no how.
Jump ahead 35 years and I hear once again that word, ‘revert,” only this time applied to me. “You are a Catholic revert!!!” they would say. And I would get that chalkboard feeling all over again, the same one when someone married into the family and started calling me “Dickie,” even though I had been going by Richard for now 24 years. To me that is what “reversion” is. Going back to what I was. The person I used to be. And, while Catholic again and planning to forever remain so, I am not that person. I hope not anyway. I am not the young naïve altar boy who never had really researched the Faith, and who had no real idea what was between the covers of the mysterious Bible we all as good Catholic families owned but had never read. Nor am I a “bachelor” nor a virgin, having been married nearly 13 years and let’s just say dating quite extensively during my years living within the LGBT life. And I am not (usually anyway) a “dick.”
So maybe that is why “revert” annoys me endlessly. I didn’t revert to anything. I did not “backslide my backside” back into the Church. I returned. Jesus once stated that He gave His life willingly, and that no person was able to take it from Him. He just went to the Cross, not because of the Romans or the Jewish leaders, but because of us. It was thoughtful and deliberate on his part. To me, right or wrong, “reversion” sounds like something that inadvertently happened to you in the night when you were sleeping, and after forgetting to take a proper dose of meds or something. Similar to the fear Barnabas felt when he finally saw the daylight but always wondered if it would be his last one to see. At the end of the series, he reconciles with his wife Angelique and she once and for all lifts the curse. And he never worried about “reverting” again. He had returned to life. To me that is what Christ, through the Church and His Sacraments, has done for me.
I am alive, not “reverted.” And I have indeed returned to a dynamic walk with Him.
- Two original ‘Dark Shadows’ movies coming to Blu-ray and DVD for Halloween in October (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Jonathan Frid, Dark Shadows’ original vampire Barnabas Collins, dies at 87 (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Reverts and Converts Affairs: Interview with Mercy Boeck (muslimahvoicesbafts.wordpress.com)
- A Collection of Video Vampires (mrmovietimes.com)