Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bad Orthodox Catholic

Throne and Altar's Bonald has a must-read post not quite in praise of, but at least in sympathy with, "the half-practicing, openly sinning, 'give me chastity, but not yet' kind" of Catholic" — The end of the orthodox bad Catholic. Several people came to this blog from that post. I thought maybe Bonald was on to me! I am, however, not specifically mentioned, although I could well be offered up as a prime example of the species. Instead, he offers himself as an example.

After debuking "[t]he stereotype of traditionalist or just orthodox Catholics as 'pharisees' and 'Pelagians'–that is, obsessed with rules and puffed up with pride over their supposed spiritual superiority to average sinners, whom they despise as reprobates," Bonald reminds us that "it [is] become[ing] less and less possible to be a bad orthodox Catholic and think one can avoid going all the way for either God or the devil," and asks us to "remember that most Catholics have chosen the way of heresy instead, adjusting their beliefs to match their behavior rather than vice versa." An excpert:
    Like the Mexican priest in The Power and the Glory, Catholicism’s worst representative finds that he must shape up, because he’s getting to be Catholicism’s only representative. If you’re the only person in your workplace who believes that contraception is a sin, for example, it’s kind of important that you not be contracepting. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bad ambassador for chastity; you’re all there is.
In addition to the Graham Greene, his The End of the Affair, is a great work of bad orthodox Catholicism, as is Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and Flannery O'Connor's A Temple of the Holy Ghost, to name but one of her stories that falls into this category. And what about Walker Percy, whose protagonist in Love in the Ruins laments, “Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?”

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Blogger Pints in NYC said...

I quickly thought of Percy when I was going through this post. I've been on a Percy kick for a few weeks now. Just started "Love in the Ruins" last week. About 60 pages in. Got to love his breakdown of the 3 camps of Catholics, one of which plays the national anthem during the elevation of the Host at Mass.

Interesting writing, that Percy is.

I'd recommend checking out J.F. Powers, as well, though for a more Prairie Home Companion type approach to "dappled things."

November 24, 2013 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Yes, Love in the Ruins is pretty hilarious. I also liked The Moviegoer, an earlier, less fantastical but probably better novel.

November 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM  

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