She’s almost 30. She’s been promiscuous, but not more so than other secular women her age. She’s seen the movie “My Cousin Vinnie”, in which actress Marisa Tomei performs the “Biological Stomp”, telling her marriage-resistant boyfriend that her biological clock is ticking and emphasizing that fact with several stomps of her foot. She is beginning to realize that these guys she’s dated and slept with over the years are losers. She feels the cold approach of death and recognizes that there’s a longing for marriage and motherhood within her, despite what the feminist worldview says. She has no prospects in sight. Her “relationships” as she calls them have been entirely sterile – they have produced no children (there’s almost a 50% chance she’s conceived but had an abortion), and they have produced no commitment, no family, no love, no nothing. She’s an attractive and moderately intelligent young woman and she is beginning to panic.
I’ve known lots of ladies like this. I’ve worked closely with young actresses for almost 20 years now, and this is very typical. I’ve seen them even go so far as to pay lots of money to join dating services and start hyper-dating, and I’ve seen them on the phones with their boyfriends, or (if they’re shacking up with them ) their “fiancés”, and I’ve heard the lackluster conversations. And I’ve even met some of the guys.
And I can tell you this.
It’s all about lowering expectations. It’s all about an ugly desperate compromise. Most of these girls don’t end up with “the man of my dreams” but with “the man I’ve settled for”.
A while back I wrote on “Bad Catholic Art”, on how Catholic artists are marketing to the ghetto, the embattled few who are so used to the cockroaches and rats and slumlords that they’ll eat up anything a Catholic artist puts out there, no matter how bad it is. I wrote how this prevents a true evangelization or engagement of the culture. Why do we settle for this? I asked.
He’s almost 50. He’s spent most of his career producing theatrical productions and a few films. He knows very well the limitations of starting and trying to run a Catholic drama company. He meets resistance at all levels – poor mouthing from the parishes that want to book the shows, and a ton of nonsense from the actors who travel with him putting on these shows. He realizes that if acting is indeed a vocation, as he keeps telling everyone it is, and if an actor who’s evangelizing through drama is a secular anti-Christian in his real life, as almost all actors are, then there’s a fundamental problem there.
But he compromises. He settles for things. He sets the bar low. He says, “It’s impossible to run The Theater of the Word Incorporated. It simply can’t be done. There’s no way we can find a cast of four actors who are talented, reliable, available to tour, and devoutly Christian. There’s no way we can charge what the shows are worth. We might as well work the system somehow and do our best. Great idea, God! Thanks for putting me in a position to run this theater company and evangelize through drama, but since it can’t be done, I’ll just settle for second best and fake it as best I can.”
Until one of his anti-Christian actors quits and he’s forced to replace him – with of all things a talented, reliable, devoutly Catholic actor from Hollywood (of all places). And suddenly we end up with four people on stage who are giving their lives to this, who want more than anything to use the talents God has given them to spread His message and engage the dying culture.
My friends, it is so tempting for us to compromise, to settle, to think that although God is asking us to do the impossible, we can’t take Him seriously.
I have a friend whom God called out of the boat to walk on water, and so he did it, and God has given him the grace to dance delicately on the waves for a decade now. I know other people who have been asked to step off the diving board and frolic on the surface of the pool - to walk on water - but they don’t even think that the water is there. The pool might be empty. It’s one thing to step out of a boat, walk for a while and sink, as Peter did; it’s another thing to step off the diving board and come crashing down onto the concrete below.
And so out of fear we splash around in muddy puddles on the street, when God is calling us to far greater things.