Finnegan's Awakeby Megan Finnegan
- Dialed down St. Patrick's Day
- A first time for everything
- Talking religion in 2011
- The uncertainty of prayer
- Smithsonian should have kept "ant-covered Jesus"
Question: What makes Irish people mad?
A) The British
B) Stereotypes of drunkenness
Let’s book review, shall we?
I just finished reading Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning (Crown Publishers 2008), which was compiled and edited by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of RFK. Kennedy interviewed 38 American Catholics (many of them of Irish heritage) – several priests and sisters, actors, activists, politicians, journalists, lay people, business people, and even Bill Maher – about their religion.
The idea is a vital one, pushing a concept that we should undertake more frequently: to question our religion. Each person was chosen, ostensibly, for his or her involvement with the Church; some are no longer practicing Catholics but have a history and an opinion about it. Written in the first person but obviously transcribed from interviews, the essays – for this is what they become when condensed onto the page without quotation marks – sometimes lack coherence and the specificity that comes from deliberately setting out to write something, rather than to aimlessly talk about it. Instead of reading the barely-differentiated details of each person’s Catholic upbringing, we could read the standout details that each person would discern as unique. Then again, people with important things to say aren’t always the best writers (and I better not get that statement turned around on me), and people can be freer with their thoughts when having a conversation.
Posted by MeganFinnegan at 4/17/2009 5:49 PM EDT
Recently, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a statement that ending the unconstitutional “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military is not a priority for the administration right now. They are putting it on the back burner.
All Catholics, gay or straight, are familiar with the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. In my family, it is unspoken policy that you can go about your heathen ways as long as you don’t tell Grandma. Family members actually instructed me to lie to my grandmother about the sleeping arrangements when my boyfriend and I moved to New York together. I chose to respect the head of our family by telling her the truth, but that’s just me.
So we all know that the Church stole Easter from the pagans, right? Well, not exactly. We just moved right in on celebrations of fertility and rebirth and said, Hey, let’s do the same thing but make it about Jesus!
Not that this is a bad thing necessarily, but it’s an important reminder that Christianity did not introduce the world to the concept of celebrating new life and rebirth. The older I get, the more I question if the details of that celebration matter. That is, after all, where the devil resides.
Catholic theology holds that even when people believe they are praying to Buddha, they are actually praying to Jesus. It’s like God has various channels set up to reach him, and eventually, they all bottleneck into a crowded one-way road to the Christian Lord, who in turn acts as the toll collector – negative 72 mortal sins, plus 93 good deeds, you have enough credit to get through. Bear left and then keep going and you’ll get to the Holy Father. He’s lit up like the Griswald’s house at Christmas; you can’t miss him. It’s an interesting perspective when viewed against the Church’s past tendencies towards overzealous conversion of heathens (Protestants included in that category). It’s also a very smug attitude, made more so by the fact that it can’t be disproven. All you Muslims might think you’re praying to Allah, but Jesus is sittingup there intercepting your prayers. Does that mean that a religious institution with a different prayer for literally everything thinks that in the end, the details don’t really matter?