Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Lunatic in the Pew

“Being Catholic is an act of rebellion. A mad stubborn, outrageous, nonsensical refusal to be comforted by anything less than the glorious impossibility of the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”

”In his refusal to be reconciled, Jesus makes possible our impossible hopes, confirms our primitive rebellion against that terrible thing that is the death of those we love. And reminds us—or should remind us, if we could just shake ourselves from the numbing familiarity of the tenets of our church, the platitudes, the rote rituals, and the petty obsessions—that ours is a mad, rebellious faith, one that flies in the face of all reason, all evidence, all sensible injunctions, to be comforted, to be comfortable. A faith that rejects every timid impulse to accept the fact that life goes on pleasantly enough despite all that vanishes, despite death itself.”

“But as we face the church of the twenty-first century, my hope is that we nonfictional Catholics regain the courage to be difficult, rebellious, mad , the courage to refuse to be comforted. That we refuse to be comforted by the familiar, by the way we’ve always done things (priests in charge, laity usering, women running the bake sales). That we refuse to be comforted by our own self-satisfied eloquence about the dignity of unborn life while political or practical imperatives silence our objections to the destruction of life in the ghetto or in the death chamber. That we refuse to be comforted by our good, prosperous lives, by the careful picking and choosing of what words of Christ we will take to heart.

“My hope for the church, for us, is that we recall the adolescent rebellion that seems part of most of our biographies as Catholics, recall our youthful dissatisfactions and objections (whether we voiced them in Dunkin’ Donuts or in our permanent disassociation from the church), and speak them again, Or, if that adolescent rebellion seems too distant to recall, then my hope is that each of us becomes the garrulous drunk in the congregation, the loudmouthed, inappropriate, indiscreet psycho who cries foul over hypocrisy and deception and illogic and cliché, refusing to accept the easy comfort of assurances that the hierarchy will fix itself, that Jesus doesn’t want women to be priests that it is acceptable for Catholics to acquiesce to a politically defensible but morally unjust war.

“At the heart of our beliefs, at the heart of our belief, lies the outrageous conviction that love redeems us, Christ redeems us, even from death. Following this wild proposition, this fulfillment of our most primitive yearnings, every other outrageous thing we expect or demand of ourselves and our church—honest, charity, goodness, forgiveness, peace—surely must begin to seem reasonable, even easy. Every other challenge the twenty-first century brings should seem—even to the likes of us not-so-great Catholics-simple enough: a benefit, no doubt, of the simple grace of being Catholic.”

- Alice McDermott, extracted from an essay titled, "The Lunatic in the Pew," published in Boston College Magazine, 2004.

P.S.
Coincidentally, I ran into this article from America magazone, which is apropos to Alice McDemott's argument.
http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=542

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