Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thoughts on Culture, Celibacy and Purina Ape Chow

  • When people say, "Priests should not be celibate!" they don't mean what that implies.  For a Catholic, that implies that priests would raise families - a hefty calling, to be "father" to a parish and "father" to your sons and daughters at the same time.  But people don't mean, "Priests should be free to marry and raise kids while functioning as priests", they mean "Priests should be free to have sex with whomever they want without any consequences, as the rest of us do - then they wouldn't molest children."

  • When fewer and fewer people in the Church believe in Christ, what we get is what we've got - highly artificial experiences - false intimacy, contrived sentimentality, music and art that no one really likes, a great big game of make-believe.  As in the world of theater, the kinds of people who are most attracted to such empty affectation are women and practicing homosexuals.  One of the reasons, then, that we've got a lavender mafia in the Church is it all seems so highly artificial - without true faith.

  • Culture is related to cultivation.  When we cultivate the better parts of ourselves, the better parts will thrive.  "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Gal. 6:8)  For a long time now, our culture has been cultivating the worst things in us, sowing not only to the flesh but to the most base and perverse desires of the flesh.  From what I read and hear, this is true for the culture within the Church as well.  The culture of secrecy and depravity within the club has grown a bacterial culture of death, not unlike the secular culture of death that surrounds us.  Pope Francis has made some noise about fixing this.  But it won't be easy.

  • When I think about the most talented people I know who have gone wrong, it's because they were never cultivated properly and never learned how to cultivate the gifts that God gave them.  A brilliant and caring young woman I know was left fallow by her family, and ended up in a culture that took a character that would have been perhaps a nun or a writer and turned this character into a tramp and a power-hungry vixen.  That's what the culture she fell into produced.  Had she been raised in a more caring culture, other fruit would have been borne.  The point is - this is true for all of us.  We have both apes and angels within us - and if we keep eating Purina Ape Chow, well, we know which of the two will thrive.

  • Our spirits are not being cultivated by a Christian culture.  Our apes are being cultivated by an apish culture, but our angels are simply being starved.  Most of us are hearing either the Prosperity Gospel or the Tolerance Gospel or the Jesus-was-nice-you-be-nice-too Gospel or even the Theology-of-indulging-my-bodily-desires Gospel - false Gospels all of them.  The secular world is offering us rap music and vulgar situation comedies.  The Church is offering us early 80's music and pop psychology.  So it doesn't matter how much we "feel the faith".  The life of Christ will die within us if we don't feed and cultivate it - and no one - almost literally no one - helps us do that.  We "go ape" but we never "go angel".

  • However, in these Last Days we can carry (as my friend Sean Dailey does) the entire works of the Church Fathers on our phones in our pockets.  We can start online communities that can become virtual worldwide parishes.  We can find almost any art, music or literature known to man with a few keystrokes.  The Church may be mimicking the Wasteland of the anti-Christian world, but we have more resources now than we ever have to find the culture we need and to develop it.

  • Again, as Pope Benedict said, "The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb."  And both - saints and art - are a product of Christian Culture.  Let us stop playing games, let us drop the empty affectation and the false gospels - and let us rebuild the Christian Culture, beginning in our homes and in our hearts and in our circles of friends.  For only then, when we become living and breathing saints-in-the-making who carry a reborn and living culture with us, a culture of Christ, will we be able to begin to evangelize.


Tom Leith said...

> We can start online communities
> that can become virtual worldwide
> parishes

Hmmmm. But isn't this also highly artificial? We might be able to use the InterWeb to find each other and to communicate at a 5% sort of level, but online communities are not really communities. Even a bunch of people that became aware of one another on-line and started meeting in person might not be a real community -- it is too self-selected. It could be otherwise if the impetus for the on-line group is broad I suppose. What I'm getting at is there is something sort of random about a real community -- you don't get to choose who's in a real community.

Kevin O'Brien said...

You're right, Tom. Great point. Chesterton says much the same.

I'm thinking not so much about communities as about people shoring up one another's faith. That's what should be going on at the parish level, but as a rule, it's not. And without that, you can't renew Christian Culture.

Paul Stilwell said...

Do we believe in the reality of the sacraments of the Church over and above the constructs of the world?

Or do we only believe in them to the extent that we "benefit" from them, otherwise basing our lives on the seeming solidity and power and manipulation of the world?

To which city do we belong?

The life which the bride of Christ gives us is not merely the life of a beneficiary. The life of a mere beneficiary is the life of a parasite; a parasite that warps the body of its host.

Kevin, towards the end of the post I believe the "apologia" quote is from Pope Benedict XVI and not Pope Francis.

Kevin O'Brien said...

You're right, Paul. That was a typo. I corrected it. Thanks!

Tom Leith said...

Chesterton, eh? I think I may have read something by that guy.