Stuff I Don’t Like That Much: Catholicism Edition
D.G. Hart, this one’s for you. . . .
Most of you won’t know this, but Darryl and I kind of used to be pals (in a professor/student kind of way, of course). He was my faculty advisor at Westminster, and he oversaw my work on a directed research project examining Calvin and Edwards on the issue of assurance (a project for which I not only earned an A, but which Darryl described as an “impressive study” [hey, turns out that when I was a Protestant I could do history to Hart’s liking!]). A few years later he even wrote a blurb for my first book.
But it wasn’t all hoity-toity academics: Once at seminary, D.G. selected a handful of students for what he called a “Big Lebowski Night,” which included dinner at In ‘n’ Out Burger, a bowling tournament between the Caucasians and the Nihilists (which Darryl’s team won, resulting in his doing victory laps around the ball dispenser hoisting the Lebowski Cup aloft [which he had made from a Folger’s can, green paint, and stick-on letters]). The night was capped off by, you guessed it, watching The Big Lebowski and drinking White Russians.
But these days? These days Darryl doesn’t like me too much. His reasoning has a lot to do with this idea he has in his head about how I consistently fail to tell the whole truth about Catholicism by talking up its good bits and covering up the bad ones. He even suggested in a recent comment here that if I would just admit that the Church has significant problems, his feud with me would end. So in the interest of putting this beef to rest, I will now disclose all the stuff about Catholicism that I don’t like, in random order:
1. I don’t like it when priests molest people. They should be castrated and imprisoned, along with those who enable them.
2. I am uncomfortable with some of the pomp and excess of the Vatican, and when the culture faults the Church for it in the light of worldwide poverty, I think, “Well, if you’re going to sit in a chair like this one, you’d better brace yourself for some justified criticism.”
3. Same goes for Francis’s whole “Follow me on Twitter and get out of purgatory quicker” idea. Now, I know that that’s not really what he said, but it’s close enough that the unbelieving media pretty much gets a free pass to make fun of us on this one, as far as I’m concerned at least.
4. I don’t like it when popes back in the old-timey days threw their weight around politically, or treated their office as a means for earthly wealth or power.
5. I think Vatican 2 confused a lot of people, as evidenced by the fact that it has taken 50 years to get back to the idea that lesbian priests doing puppet shows at Mass is not what the council had in mind.
6. Moreover, I can see that there is a lot of tension (at least at first glance) between the idea that the Church retains a single and once-given deposit of faith, and the idea that doctrine develops to the point of seeing Protestants as separated brethren. As my mate Zrim likes to say, “I liked you guys better when you just consigned me to hell. At least that I can understand.”
7. Whatever the truth is behind this whole Inigo Montoya thing that Darryl’s been raving about, I will happily go on record as saying that no, popes shouldn’t kidnap babies. They shouldn’t kick puppies or waterboard people, either. I can’t emphasize this enough: If something is a crime, and a guy does it who’s also the pope, it’s still a crime (perhaps even a worse one). Francis, I’m looking in your direction here. Don’t go stealing any kids, or Darryl’ll never let us hear the end of it.
8. I hate almost all contemporary Catholic art and web design. I constantly have to brace myself before clicking a new link, because my equilibrium can only handle being teleported back to 1997 so many times before I my soul starts to slowly die. And what’s the deal with that ’70s Jesus shooting rainbows at people? It’s like he’s the kinder, gentler alter-ego of the Emperor from Return of the Jedi.
9. I really don’t like the Breaking Bread worship hymnal. I don’t like Air Supply either, for similar reasons.
10. Lastly, the Crusades? Not a fan.
So what am I supposed to do, given all this? The impression I get from Darryl is that he thinks I should be a SSPX-er or sedevacantist or something. But what he doesn’t understand is that I left behind the whole holding-the-church-hostage-to-my-personal-preferences thing when I ceased being a Protestant. I have only one Mother and I don’t get to choose her, and Christ has only one Bride (albeit an often wart-covered one). So rather than searching high and low for a church that has just the right hymns, just the right leadership, and just the right amount of plausible deniability so as to take credit for the Nicene Creed while blaming others for the Inquisition, I’ll just keep on believing in one holy catholic and apostolic church, blemishes and all.
And for the record, if anyone out there is considering Catholicism and stumbles upon this post, all I can say is that being a Catholic can be one of the most rewarding, and embarrassing, things in the world.