Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pop Goes the Church - or the Errors of Pop Catholicism

Paul Stilwell writes

Within us is the desire to give - an eternal positive - and to have that giving of our dignity reciprocated, and thus have our dignity confirmed, indeed, the truth of our eternal being put beyond all shadows, eternalized, by way of "conversation" - conversation with God, face to face. We are not satisfaction receiving objects.

The Westians enforce the starvation diet because they focus on desire.

This is so utterly true.

It also rings with the echo of unrequited love, which is the flip side of what Paul is describing.  What hurts is not when you love a person or a project or an idea or anything you give yourself to entirely; what hurts is when that self-giving seems for naught, a cry into the abyss, a sacrifice without meaning; when love is - for whatever reason - unreturned.

But either way, the essence of such a tragedy (the tragedy of unrequited love) or the essence of the comedy that comes when love is reciprocal and fruit-bearing, is not the frustration or satisfaction of our own selfish desire; it is something greater.  For the attitude I-Want-What-I-Want-When-I-Want-It is of the world, and especially of the modern world.  But a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of another, to make a gift of self in love - is of the Spirit and finds its greatest triumph on Golgotha.  That is a stumbling block to the world.

The writings of Christopher West and Matt McGuiness have nothing to do with sacrifice, and hence nothing to do with love.  That's why Westianism is a kind of pop-Catholicism - because our pop culture is all about desire; it's all about taking and never about giving.  It is at best Christ without the cross; but it is hardly Christ at all.  (By contrast see St. Paul's program of preaching, as described in 1 Cor 1:23).  Their heaven has more than 72 virgins; their heaven is an eternal welfare state, a Giant Teat that finally makes us stop our incessant crying.  Odd heaven, that.

But the real Kingdom of Heaven is among us, and it is not so much about receiving as about giving.  "It is better to give than to receive," Christ said (Acts 20:35) - and He wasn't talking about Christmas presents, but about something much more essential to the human condition and to the nature of existence.

As Gaudium et Spes teaches us, man "cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself."  Pornography and other sins borne from lust are all about taking, not about giving, all about gorging our incessant appetites and not about love, which is always about a service to the other, about dying to ourselves to better live for the other.

Pop Catholicism ain't Catholicism. It has nothing to do with the truly Catholic worldview, which must always recall the words of Our Lord

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Mat. 16:25)

This paradox shows us the true meaning of sexual desire - which culminates both in and out of the bedroom in the lifelong mutual self-sacrifice that is married life.

1 comment:

Michele Quigley said...

"As Gaudium et Spes teaches us, man 'cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.' Pornography and other sins borne from lust are all about taking, not about giving, all about gorging our incessant appetites and not about love, which is always about a service to the other, about dying to ourselves to better live for the other."

Yes, exactly! This is what keeps coming to mind as I read this stuff. Giving of oneself and giving without counting the cost or even expecting anything in return. This is what I see manifest in my own life. It's only in that seeking God above all else and giving without thought for MYSELF that I am at peace, that I grow in love, which has to be our aim.

There's just so much focus on self in the message [of TOB ala West et. al.] and yet the saints show us that love must be about the other [God!] and never about me.