“Catholic in name only”

21 11 2008


One of the other vices that I have been prone to less and less in recent time is reading the blog, Creative Minority Report. It’s an interesting source of news, and supposedly humorous, though I never quite get their humor. Recently, I was reading over one post that I did not find very funny. Here is an excerpt:

Article 1.1 Be it resolved that any person, whether ordained, religious, or lay may not refer to themselves as Catholics in Good Standing if they do not actually go to church or believe what the Church teaches.

Be it also resolved, in addition to the above requirement, that in order to be recognized in public as a Catholic the individual making the claim of “Catholic” is obligated to sign, in the presence of a journalist and affirmed by a duly appointed notary public, a copy of the Catholic Catechism while positively affirming belief in all things contained therein. This obligation should be taken freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

If the party fails to comply with any of the above requirements, the party immediately forfeits the right to identify themselves in public as a Catholic. Failure to comply constitutes identity theft and is thereby punishable by all the applicable statutes and by a substantial sojourn in the deepest and darkest recesses of purgatory (whether you believe in purgatory or not.)

Which is all well and good I guess. But I sort of marvel at the idea that there is some sort of litmus test for being Catholic, or even a good Catholic. But then again, as I said before, the women in my family were good Catholics and they prayed to the Grim Reaper and “practiced witchcraft”. There are lots of men in Latin America who love the Church and hate the clergy. And if we are going to talk about morality, well, I suppose I am fresh out of stones.

Maybe I just come from an environment where everybody was Catholic, even the Protestants. I once worked with a guy who used to cross himself every time he passed a Catholic church. Of course, he had never actually been in a church since his baptism. I once got in an argument with a Mexican guy who had become an evangelical. He had a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe in his wallet. I called him on it, but he didn’t see the contradiction.

Since the French Revolution, people have increasingly seen the Church as primarily an institution and through the prism of the relations of power. That is because the institutional church itself is increasingly powerless, so it must assert itself by other means. That being said, I find it a bit ridiculous that people, particularly the “neocons” and the “trads”, now throw around the epithet of “Catholic in name only”. Since when did a bad Catholic equal no Catholic at all? There have always been bad Catholics, hell, I’M A BAD CATHOLIC. It strikes me as a little odd that people are now wanting to say that “you must be this devout, or this orthodox” in order to be considered a REAL Catholic.

Paranoia at a non-homogeneous Catholicism is a sign of its weakness, and that paranoia really will lead nowhere.


21 11 2008

The opening of the opera by Philip Glass

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.

O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed…

If, however, you do not perform your religious duty of fighting, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter…O son of Kunti, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore get up and fight with determination.

Bhagavad Gita