Sunday, March 27, 2016

Worst Catholic ever.

Yes, now that's it Easter, I feel the need to unburden my soul. I am, as far as I know, the worst Catholic in the entire universe.

He's disgusted.
It may be a common feature among Catholics. There is a legend that when asked "What's wrong with the world?" G. K. Chesterton said, "I am." It's unconfirmed, but it sounds like him.

As Catholics, we are taught right from wrong; that ignorance of morals is a mitigating circumstance, but those of us who have received the blessings of the church must shoulder the full responsibility for our actions. So I may have better morals than Heathen Harvey, but his bad behavior may be the result of ignorance, while mine comes from stubbornness, selfishness, pride, greed, all the usual stuff.

Now, there may be plenty of lapsed Catholics who don't think of themselves as Catholic anymore whose behavior is abominable. They can't claim ignorance, but they have removed themselves from the church, so I can't count them among worst Catholics. (From the church's point of view they still are, unless they very specifically and officially renounce their baptism and demand excommunication, and very few do that.)

As for me, I suck. Here are some reasons why I am the worst Catholic ever.

1) I hate social justice. I hated it even before the Social Justice Warriors began using it as a rallying cry to commit despicable acts in the name of goodness. The French Revolution and the Chinese Cultural Revolution began their butchery the same way. There is no question in my mind that in the modern sense you cannot have any kind of "justice" without someone being punished. And yet the church and many Catholics love and embrace the term, as if it were not a well-trodden path to violence and societal collapse. The term may have come from a Jesuit in the 1840's, but is generally used more by people who want to burn and break than help and aid. Their interest is not so much in elevating the lowly as tearing down the high, a purely Communistic instinct. We should not be making common cause with Communists of any shade of red. Given the choice between ruining the rich and saving souls, they'll grab the guillotine every time.

2) I am a bad person. I get furious with God. I keep thinking I am receiving heavenly guidance on matters important to me while I am probably just listening to my own wishful thinking crap, and then I get my heart broken and I blame Him. He made me, but He didn't make me a moron. I do that to myself. And then blame Him.

3) The viper's nest of greed, pride, cowardice, and spite deep in my heart is nothing I have been able to vanquish. I can't get anywhere with it. St. Paul and C. S. Lewis said that becoming Christian naturally brings us to better things, makes new men of us, but try as I might I'm still the same old jerk. I have changed nothing about myself except out of the most dire and selfish need. This is progress?

4) I'm told to love God, which I still can't figure out how to do, and to love my neighbor as myself, and I'm not sure my neighbor would be happy if I did. As you can tell, I'm not always high on Freddy. Lewis knew he could be that way, and pointed out that even when he didn't like himself, he always loved himself, in that he wished he would be better and be happier for it. Maybe. Doesn't feel like the kind of love that moves one to action, though. And love without works is like faith without works.

5) All too often I wake up in the night with my faith in doubt, thinking about death. Oh, well, back to sleep! (Atheist Philip Larkin wrote about this in "Aubade"; his friend Kingsley Amis advised him to get up and do something, or "put the light on and read Dick Francis.") If I had the slightest solidity to my faith I am sure I would not have these nocturnal bouts of horror.

6) That leads to another issue, which is that I have the same amount of emotional control as a toddler. I'm not sure you can be a good adult Catholic and behave like a twit. I would like to be one who carries on with the light of faith burning inside through failure, heartache, sickness, disaster, straight to the door of death, but I'm a whiner and a dope, and I complain for fun.

7) I don't want to wash anyone's feet in Calcutta or anywhere else. There, I said it. I want to write a check once in a while to feel better about myself and not have to think about the poor and suffering and lonely and sick and otherwise miserable, that vast ocean of humanity that is worse off than I am. I don't want to meet them, I don't want them in my house, I don't want them on my lawn. Here's twenty bucks, sad people. Go away.

And that's why I'm the worst Catholic in the world. I can't see into anyone's conscience, so I can only judge me, and on that basis I have to assume I'm the worst.

So, if you're Catholic, deep in your sins, relax; you're at least one ahead of the rest of the world. And if you're poor, sick, and needy: get off my lawn.


Mm Thomas said...

Hey Fred, I came from Lileks. Most of this describes me, too. Like you, I'm still plugging along and hoping for the best. I think my 18 yo daughter is doing a much better job than I am. I guess that's a point in my favor. Stay strong.

Fred Key said...

Thanks, Mm -- I'm sure I'm lousier than you, but we'll keep trying!