Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rod Dreher writes that part of his turn toward Orthodoxy is motivated by American Catholocism being too feminine.

I can relate somewhat to the complaint -- engagement in a modern US parish means doing a lot of small-group sharing, hearing treacly stories about people's "spiritual journey," and in general being in an environment that only Jim Nantz would find comfortable.


Is this desire for a masculine Church true or "truthy?" Are we really looking for a Church that makes us comfortable but others uncomfortable?

By which they mean, in general, an atmosphere that downplays or even denigrates the virtues associated with manliness: courage, honor, physical bravery, and so forth. I know, I know, women can be and are brave, honorable, yadda yadda; but you know what I'm talking about here: many parishes honor the virtues typically associated with women and nurture.

Dreher says that the American Church stresses nurturing too much. Well, when Jesus said who would get to heaven, he seemed to put a lof of emphasis on nurturing. Too feminine? Too bad.

Anyway, this is the kind of thing that I was talking about in my previous post, about why something snapped in me in my former Catholic parish on the Ash Wednesday when the pastor told the congregation he wasn't going to talk about sin and repentance (his actual homily, I forgot to mention, was about how we all need to be better to ourselves). I am sick to death of this wimpy American middle-class approach to religion, in which we are challenged to do little more than feel better about ourselves and be nice to everybody. I don't think most men relate to that at all. We look for challenge, for something to overcome (evil in ourselves, evil in the world), we look for something to defend.

And then your "wimpy" Ash Wednesday homily. Please take a look at the Gospel for that day, especially this passage:

"But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden"

It seems to me that taking care of ourseleves is a more valid commentary on that passge than the sackcloth sermon you thought was appropriate.

Maye not what Mr. Dreher wanted to hear, maybe not what American Catholics need to hear at this moment, but it does flow from the Gospels.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the Temple. But it seems to me that Mr. Dreher is asking for a religion that stresses this side of Jeusus more than the ratio of this episode to all Jesus' tachings about the beatitudes (not exactly a tribute to Western Masculinity), turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, forgiving people over and over, et cetera.

I guess what I find most frustrating is that Mr. Dreher says he wants a Church that diesn't make people comfortable, but that seems to be exactly what you're looking for. You just want it to be uncomfortable for other people.
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