I've actually found a number of things I'd like to talk about, but I'm leaving town again, heading up Ellyn vonHuben's way - and Chris Lugardo's too, I think - so, again, I don't have time.
One item that caught my attention was TSO quoting Zippy (who is occasionally worth quoting) who in turn sent me to a place I've never been before where I found out a most curious thing: a Catholic journalist is thinking of leaving the Catholic Church. The one with a capital C. Sometimes the Catholic has a 'Roman' in front of it. The journalist's name is Rod Dreher, which will be of interest if you know who he is. My guess is that most Catholics in this country do not. If you're a reader of National Review or the Shea and Welborn blogs, you do know him, because he's not happy with the Church's governance and screams real loud about it. In fact, he says he's "burnt out" on it, Catholicism, that is. That's what happened with me and MacDonald's, so I switched to Steak 'n Shake, but the service was slow, so I cook a lot at home now.
It must be a pretty important event because there are over 250 comments in the box. I'd wade through them if you paid me cash money. You won't, so I'm safe. It reminds me of the longing I've seen expressed in some quarters (by Dreher among others) for the conversion of Christopher Hitchens. You'd think they were anticipating the second coming of G.K. Chesterton. Maybe some of us need to re-read G.K. - who considered himself a journalist - to remind ourselves of the enormous gap in talent, sensibility, and intellect that separates him from our modern practitioners.
A few things occurred to me while reading his...article, I guess you'd call it, though it's more like a diary entry thrown open to the public. First of all, who cares? (That wasn't in the article; it was just a thought that plagued me while reading it.) I would expect those close to him to care, but over at Zippy's Mr. Disputations makes a decent point: "I confess to being puzzled by the number of bytes uploaded on this... who would think he is representative of any measurable number of Catholics? How many people are there, really, who will become Orthodox if Rod does first?" Not me. And not you either.
Now if TSO or Zippy or Riddle or Terry or Ellyn or Peony and some others went haywire, I'd be upset because I feel I know them in some limited way. If Culbreath went, I'd know the world was coming to an end. But they wouldn't get much sympathy from me. If you can't keep a promise, you're either a weakling or you didn't make it in the first place. Maybe what Dreher needs is an annulment. Too bad we don't give them out for schism and apostasy, which in today's world looks like another therapeutic cry for help.
Second, Dreher says "that Julie and I are considering Orthodoxy." Some guys have all the luck. It's a team thing. If I told my wife that I would in future be attending a church different than the one with a Pope at the top, she'd collapse to the floor in a weeping heap of despair - before rising to perpetrate some violence against my person.
"I became enamored of Eastern Christianity as a parishioner at the Maronite cathedral in Brooklyn, and came to value the intensely poetic and mystical Eastern Rite liturgy." (I had thought the Maronites were in union with Rome, but maybe I'm misremembering.) Enamored? I've been enamored of lots of things (especially girls) in life, but it's not the word I'd use to describe my devotion to the liturgy, however mystical or moribund.
- Then there's the matter of perspective: our boys are dying in Iraq; my mother is chronically afflicted with one thing or another; a blogger I've never met is suffering from a pernicious affliction to which he can see no end; another, a very talented Catholic wife and mother, is being crushed underfoot by a husband who will not allow her to exchange emails with fellow Catholics or to practice her faith; there is genocide in Darfur - but what say let's all take some time out of our day to write long, sympathetic comments in commiseration with someone who likes one religion one day and another the next, whose moral seriousness in his outrage (as a Catholic) over the Church's governance during the scandals has now been totally eviscerated because he was never one of us to begin with.
- I love this part: "The point is, wherever I end up, if I am saved, it will be because of Christ, not because I entered communion with this or that Church. The Church is the Way; it is not the Destination." (An obvious question occurs: if the Church is the Way, how can one be sure of getting to Christ outside of it?) But lots of "churches" claim to worship Christ 'in spirit and in truth.' I wonder which one is the "Way." And just the sentence before he decries religious relativism. Suppose I complete his phrasing as follows: the Church is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That would be to identify it, in its holiness (as in one, holy, etc.), with Christ Himself. Which, from the moment of my swearing in, I have always done. To betray the Church is to betray Him. If the Pope's a nazi and all the cardinals visit whorehouses on the weekend, I have nowhere else to go.
Like Dreher, "I see no real prospect of things getting significantly better in my lifetime." Well, tough. Even if I can't be a saint (or won't be, that matter of the will), I'd like to think that during the several hundred years of the Arian heresy I might have done one thing right and clung to the true faith - maybe even fought for it, died for it; and it was in fact the faith of the people that kept it alive during the reign of those heretical bishops. But Dreher would not have been among them; he can't even make it through twenty.
These days, based on personal observation and the nature of much catechesis, when someone tells me he's converting to the Faith, I'm tempted to ask, "So, how long you planning on staying?" I'm tired of this already, so pathetic it all seems. I'm burned out on burn-outs.