Thursday, September 8, 2011

'From Sour Saints, Deliver Us'

As a Catholic, part of my job is interior conversion, penance, repentance, and learning to control my desires. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1430, 1431, 1434, 2015, for starters)

Sounds pretty grim.

Or maybe not so much. Sure, you've probably run into folks who sing "Joy to the World" as if it was a funeral dirge: but there isn't an eleventh Commandment that says "thou shalt mope and moan, even as one whose pet parakeet hath died."

I think the odd assumption that smiling and practicing religion are incompatible got started in America with some very earnest folks:
"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
H. L. Mencken, The Quotations Page
I suspect that Mencken's witticism isn't entirely fair. Anyway, it's not just Puritans. And I'm not going to get distracted by Gnosticism, Calvinism, and strange notions about original sin.

Individual Catholics may try to out-Calvin the Calvinists, but the Catholic Church says joy and humor are good things.1

That shouldn't be a surprise: We follow Jesus, whose first miracle was getting drinks for a wedding. (John 2:1-10)

Looking at the Big Picture: Or, WE WON!

Let's see if you recognize this sort of remark:
  • America's economy is
    • Crumbling
    • Done for
    • Doomed
  • American society is
    • Collapsing
    • Disintegrating
    • And doomed
Then there's the familiar refrain of
  • Global warming climate change will
    • Bring an end to civilization as we know it
    • Flood our cities
    • Kill cute animals
  • Big Oil
    • Controls the world
    • Destroys beaches
    • Kills cute animals
Fear is a powerful motivator. Just look at many insurance ads.

Between advocacy groups, political campaigns, and the nightly news whipping folks up with dire threats of the day: maybe it's no wonder that some folks seem so eager to share the latest story of destruction, desolation, and despair. Just simply everybody's talking about it!! And that's another topic. Topics.

I do not think that 'God's in His Heaven, and all's right with the world.' Quite a few posts in this blog are about what's not right with this world.

I think it's important to be aware of what's going wrong. That's an early step in making things right.

I also think it's important to be aware of what's going right. Maybe being cautiously optimistic isn't 'spiritual,' or 'relevant,' or whatever: but I think it's sensible.

That's because I'm about as sure as I can be that God is large and in charge. And because about two thousand years back, something wonderful happened. I've gone over that before:
Other related posts:

1 "Joy and humor" encouraged? No wonder some of America's angstier acolytes of acerbity think the Catholic Church is a Satanic cult. Here's a rather dry discussion of popular piety and getting a grip:
"Pastoral discernment is needed to sustain and support popular piety and, if necessary, to purify and correct the religious sense which underlies these devotions so that the faithful may advance in knowledge of the mystery of Christ.182 Their exercise is subject to the care and judgment of the bishops and to the general norms of the Church.

"At its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life. The Catholic wisdom of the people is capable of fashioning a vital synthesis. . . . It creatively combines the divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and emotion. This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God, establishes a basic fraternity, teaches people to encounter nature and understand work, provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a very hard life. For the people this wisdom is also a principle of discernment and an evangelical instinct through which they spontaneously sense when the Gospel is served in the Church and when it is emptied of its content and stifled by other interests.183"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1676) [emphasis mine]


Brigid said...

Extra word: "are incompatible comes got started in America"

What? "Catholic Church ways joy and humor are good things"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Oops. The "w" and "s" were too close to each other on the keyboard. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. ;)

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I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.