Sunday, March 4, 2012

Catholic Counter-Culture and Action Figures

I'm quite serious about my faith. Which isn't the same as being pessimistic, and I've been over that before:
The perennial 'End Times' predictions notwithstanding, my guess is that it'll be a long time before the Last Judgment. I'm more immediately concerned about my particular judgment. (Catechism, 1020-1022, 1051) And that's another topic.

Repentance, Ashes: and Action Figures

Repentance, prayer, ashes, and all that, are part of being Catholic. But we don't have an '11th commandment' that says 'thou shalt not have any fun.'

Take Action Saints, for example. They sell a line of St. Michael the archangel action figures - with St. Therese and St. Maximilan Kolbe "coming soon."

Their website's home page ( says:

"Heroes of Faith in Action
"Fun. Safe. Catholic."

A tip of the hat to LisaHendey, on Twitter, for the heads-up on this. (see February 29, 2012 favorited Tweet)

Now, more seriously:

"Catholic" - "Counter-Culture?!"

I'm part of the Catholic counter-culture in America: Americans who say we're Catholics, and practice our faith.

"Catholic counter-culture" may sound like an oxymoron - a conjoined contradiction, like 'cold fire.'

America's establishment tends to see Catholics as rigid, hidebound, conservative reactionaries: think 'Puritan' on steroids.

And 'counter-culture?' As far as the establishment is concerned, there's only one, the one that ushered in their season of power in America:
groups of young people that adopt an unconventional lifestyle as an alternative to the perceived hypocrisy and inequity of the dominant cultural norm. In the 1960s the counter-culture was characterized by casual clothing and hair styles, rock and roll music, sexual freedom, experimentation with drugs, and opposition to the Vietnam War."
("1968: Glossary," Brown University Library, Brown University, Rhode Island)

Living in a Big World

The world is more than the years since Woodstock, here in America. Also a lot bigger, and that's yet another topic.

Here's a less insular definition of counter-culture (unhyphenated, in this instance):
"a culture with values and mores that run counter to those of established society"
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
The Catholic Church doesn't support the sort of "sexual freedom" that today's American establishment accepts as 'normal,' and becoming an acid head isn't recommended, either. But practicing Catholics are at least as counter-cultural, in the Merriam-Webster sense, as any 'long haired freak' from my youth.

That's because we take the order to 'Love God, love your neighbor' seriously. (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-31)

Treating Human Beings Like People

That 'love your neighbor' thing may not seem all that different from the sort of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)" message that hit the charts back in 1971.

The problem with the Catholic Church, from the establishment point of view, is the Catholic view that everybody is our neighbor. (Matthew 5:43-44; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-30; Catechism, 1825)

On top of that no-exceptions inclusiveness, the Church says that human life is - sacred. That, along with the Catholic notion that all human beings are people, really limits what Catholics are allowed to do.

Here's a short list of beliefs and principles, from one of Friday's posts:
  • Human life is sacred
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258)
  • Murder is wrong
    (Catechism, 2259-2262, 2268-2269)
    • Even if the victim is
  • Concern for health is a good idea
    (Catechism, 2288-2291)
    • Within reason
      (Catechism, 2289)
  • Scientific medical research is a good idea
    (Catechism, 2292-2296)

All Human Beings are People?

The Catholic Church insists that human beings should be treated like people. No matter how old we are:
"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73

"My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74"
(Catechism, 2270)
Small wonder that establishment types get so furious about the "Jesus-eating cult" I joined. Folks who take Catholic beliefs and practices seriously are very counter-cultural.

"The Establishment?"

When I write "the establishment," I mean "folks in America who hold influential political positions, important posts in business or academia, and the many others who like things pretty much the way they are." (September 15, 2011)

Details of what 'the establishment' was like in my youth, and what it is today, have changed. In some ways, though, not all that much changed:
  • Establishment, ca. 1960
    • Looking for commies
    • Pursuing 'the American dream'
    • Maintaining conformity
  • Establishment, ca. 2010
    • Looking for racists
    • Being afraid of global warming
    • Maintaining conformity
      • Ever hear of political correctness?
    (September 15, 2011)
Related posts:


Brigid said...

Bracket instead of parenthesis, no link, and I think the date may be wrong since I know you posted about these before. "heads-up on this. [see March 1, 2012 favorited Tweet)"

Missing an 's': "years since Woodtock, here in"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Oops. Found, fixed, added, and thanks!

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

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.