1973 - when I started asking questions, like, "Why are we all dressed so funny?"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

That which we (good Catholics) don't speak of

In his fascinating study of violence, scripture and culture, Gil Bailie notes that "myth" is related a word that means silence or shut up (see Violence Unveiled). Thus in M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, the boogeymen become "Those We Don't Speak Of."  In Catholic circles there are some things we don't speak of. Here's a short list of vexation (emendations and footnotes could certainly be added):
  1. Good intentions are enough (TWDSO: the results are deplorable - in art, music and most every form of cultural engagement). Question: Where are our Walker Percys, Flannery O'Connors and Graham Greenes? Answer: Nowhere to be seen on the cultural stage.
  2. We no longer have an Index of Forbidden Books (TWDSO: we have a cramped version of Catholic orthodoxy that insists only certain authors ought to read; put differently, we [the laity] lack the critical skills to discern good from bad so we outsource our responsibility to "safe" sources).
  3. Social justice has made great strides (TWDSO: we underpay lay church workers and justify it with recourse to a spiritualized justification). Ah, yes, Who Would Jesus Exploit? Hello! The social teaching of the Church applies to the Church herself. Duh!
  4. Education is something we do to / for others (TWDSO: we think we have the answers and that we can thus convert them [da pagans], missing the need for introspection -- not to speak of motes and planks!). How many Catholic institutions are merely secular with Jesus as window dressing? Christ should inform every aspect of our teaching and evangelization efforts. Yet we often revert to a kind of Protestant evangelism (tell about Jesus and let Jesus extract them out of the world) versus authentic evangelization (education of the whole person, in his/her circumstances in life and the tools to be salt and light). I need it, you need it, we all need it.
  5. Scandal is everywhere (TWDSO: much truth is left unsaid and we end up preaching only to "the choir."). The question becomes, "Is it safe?" (a la Marathon Man!) not "Is it true?"
Well, that at least is a start.

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