Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Long Quote of the Month

I recently found Crisis Magazine's archived articles by John Zmirak (of the Bad Catholic guides fame) and have been enjoying them one or a few at a time. A longish bit from one of them--"Satan: A Tapeworm"--leapt off the screen and right for my brain. Zmirak was saying that it bothered him how many supposedly uplifting Christian movies "are not really “spiritual,” much less Christian; they’re simply bland and inoffensive."

The Catholic faith is neither. In fact, like really authentic Mexican food
(think habeneros and fried crickets), it is at once both pungent and offensive.
It offends me all the time, with the outrageous demands it makes of my fallen
nature and the sheer weirdness of its claims. It asserts that, behind the veil
of day-to-day schlepping, of work and laundry and television and microwaved
burritos, we live on the front lines of a savage spiritual war waged by
invisible entities (deathless malevolent demons and benevolent dead saints)
whose winners will enjoy eternal happiness with a resurrected rabbi, and whose
losers will writhe forever in unquenchable fire. Sometimes I step back and find
myself saying in Jerry Seinfeld’s voice: What’s with all the craziness? Why
can’t I just enjoy my soup?

The Church’s heroes, seen from a worldly
point of view, are a pack of self-destructive zealots who embark on crackpot
projects like lifelong celibacy, voluntary poverty, and (worst of all)
obedience; who leave perfectly serviceable chateaus in France to go preach the
Beatitudes to scalp-collecting Indians in freezing Canada; who volunteer to
sneak into Stalin’s Russia precisely because he has imprisoned so many priests,
then spend decades saying secret Masses in labor camps; who open up pro-life
pregnancy centers in crappy neighborhoods so they can talk welfare queens into
having still more babies we’ll have to pay for . . .

And so on. A
religion like this doesn’t need after-school specials; it needs science fiction
and fantasy, horror films and surrealism to convey the fundamental strangeness
that it believes lies just beneath the surface of day-to-day “reality.”

And that, my friends, goes a long way toward explaining why I am Catholic. The weirdness is palpable and the stakes are high (the highest) and the witness of those who have gone before is amazing.

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