Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Post-Catholic thought

Despite my admiration for what Catholicism once was --its present state a cause for face-palming--, its effect on me has not been one-sidedly positive.

From my current POV, and I emphasize the particularity of this moment in time and in my life, one of the harms it did was to present me with an impossible vision of how the world ought to be. Even including my characterological biases and needs, it very much got in the way of me dealing with the world as it actually is. Including myself.

I dimly recall an article by a Catholic psychologist about the perils of constantly living with the presence of what he called The Twice-Born. These are the perfect and perfected beings that dominate the Catholic imagination: Jesus and Mary and the saints. I usually speak of it as the infection of perfection, being innoculated with a drive toward a humanly impossible goal. It drove Martin Luther to invent Protestantism.

This great imbalance is the case with all monastic religions, the dharmas of India and Buddhism as well as Christianity. And it can even find a sort of home in householder revelations like Judaism, Islam, Sikhism. Perhaps it is the price of conceiving The Absolute. Pagan religions have their own drawbacks, to be sure. Imperfect gods lead to a different kind of impasse. But growing up with the propaganda of the perfect eventually became a problem in itself. I freely admit that the vehemence of my reaction to moralisms of all kinds has its root there.

My appreciation of Jung and the Gnostics is certainly connected because in them, themselves both wounded and irrevocably shaped by Christianity, I heard a voice that recognized the human condition on planet Earth as an inherently conflictual dilemma. Not of our own devising. And incapable of being other than it is. As dark as that sounds, to me it was a great relief.

It told me that I was not, and we as a species are not, as guilty as I had been led to believe. And that God was not so innocent.



Anonymous said...

I think Catholicism could very well have been the product of this very ache that you feel. It is not only that Catholicism comes from European Paganism more than Judaism, it comes from the Pagan who is beginning to realize the cost of civility. In many respects, they can't be Pagan anymore. The desire for perfection is seen in Man's unquenchable, unyielding lust.

As Europeans began to lose understanding of their own culture, for whatever reason, the more visceral aspects of Catholicism's teachings began to fade and Charlemange's Church devolved into Vatican Two and some thinly guised lesbian singing Ave Maria.

Perhaps something new can come from looking back at the lost beauty and study of where they went wrong? Perhaps sometimes something new really is needed?


DrAndroSF said...

Interesting reflections.

It has only been as the robust and un-evangelized side of Europe has died and the continent has become utterly domesticated that I realized how much of the power of Catholic Europe came from being only partly Catholic.

I cannot see Christianity re-establishing itself in the Old Continent. Perhaps it will be like Buddhism, born in one country but eventually only flourishing outside it.

If Europe (and the whole West) is to avoid dissolution in a Third World soup, something new will have to emerge. What that might be...

Anonymous said...

I have said it once, I shall say it again. Europe needs all of its gods, the new one and the old ones: the Carpenter did not slay the old gods; he bound them, and said, "When the time comes, and the children of your peoples are in their moment of need, I shall release you from your bonds, and we shall ride forth together. And on that day, your names shall be spoken alongside mine."

Then shall Odin Allfather compare the scars of his crucifixion with those of the Carpenter; Mercury shall ride alongside Gabriel; dour Morrigan and grim-faced Michael shall fall upon the enemy; the Queen of Heaven show Juno a kinder motherhood.

Why else would the names of the old gods be uttered again? It is but a whisper now, but soon it shall be a roar. The day is coming. And the children of Europe will remember what it truly means to worship a god.


Anonymous said...

Morrigan could whip Michael's ass. Anyway, I kind of like the idea of the Ethno-Linguistic groups of Europe embracing their Old Gods with pride again. The problem is that in this day and age, Heimdall can be portrayed by a black man. A handsome one but, it reflects that most modern Pagans just see the movement as an excuse to slutwalk. I have no idea what development something like a real reconstruction would look like in America. Though, the old Anglo traditions are really cool, there are very few surviving in writing.

I must ask you, Sean, to also beware the Pastiche. The Old Gods themselves said they were going to die. The Annointed One just did not realize he was going to die too. Something new has to match the needs of the People who make it and be usable in the hands of Aristocrats to update it as needed, to plan to evolve it. The Old in any faith is just a very important artifact to share the wisdom that we all lost in the 1700's. They will never really come back from the grave. Wish that they would.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry...I forgot to let you all know who I was.


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