Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nobody wants to be mistaken for the crazy uncle

I've been accused in recent days of having it be my "schtick" to make fun of traditional Catholicism or traditional piety.  Which is a little unfair, because my "schtick" has always been to make fun of everybody, myself included.  I'll offer a few examples:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit E

Exhibit F

Exhibit A pokes fun at both "radtrads" and "neo-caths."  Exhibit B pokes fun at women priest wannabees.  Exhibit C is the recent "Benedict X V I" parody song which pokes fun at "ultra-trads."  Exhibit D was written after the controversy around an open lesbian demanding Communion at her mother's funeral; Exhibit E is poking fun at women priest wannabes again, and Exhibit F is poking fun at radical leftist nuns.

From this you can clearly see that I only make fun of people on the trad side of things.  Er, no.  If anything, leftist nuns and women priests should be the most angry at me, because in addition to the above parodies I tend to sling the occasional outrageous arrow of fortune at them more often than I do at anyone else.

And yet, the only people I ever really hear from are the traditional people, who seem to think that any humor directed their way is proof positive that O.F. types hate the "real Mass" and everyone and everything associated with it--which would come as news to my big sis and her husband and their seven boys and their Latin Mass community none of whom I hate in the slightest.

I do understand, having been alive during the Four Silly Decades of the Post-Conciliar Apocalypsicle (not to be confused with the actual Apocalypse, during which people will actually physically die horribly instead of being near-lethally annoyed at Mass), how people whose spirituality is best served at Masses said according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite are somewhat pardonably inclined to be a bit gun shy and occasionally just slightly touchy about people being unaware of their long and hard-fought struggle to be allowed to have the E.F. Mass in Latin and how in some dioceses permission for this has been handed over so sparingly as to be rather stingy of the ordinary instead of generous and loving as the Church seems to have intended it to be.  And I also understand how very tiresome it must be, if you're an average joyful Catholic who loves the E.F. Mass but doesn't mind the O.F. either and is actually quite pleased that the Church offers both, to be lumped in with a particular breed of Sour Internet Trad who at the slightest provocation will tell you seriously that while he accepts the O.F. Mass for now, he knows that it was all a Masonic plot funded by a Jewish conspiracy group to undermine the once-likely resurgence of the glorious and Holy Roman Empire, instead of which we have the likes of Obama, Snooki, the Karadashians, and Honey-Boo-Boo as our political and cultural apices--none of which, of course, your ordinary joyful E.F. Mass-attending Catholic thinks.  Nobody wants to be mistaken for his crazy uncle, after all, and the average E.F. Mass Catholic shouldn't be.

That said, though, I really think that learning to laugh at ourselves is the first step toward true humility.  People are funny, and groups of people are even funnier.  As Catholics our behavior and ideas are sometimes inexplicably hilarious to other people, while I find atheists a riot at times and have been known to chuckle at materialists as well, though of course they wouldn't believe it unless a) they were there at the time and b) they could rule out choking or an asthma attack.  I've heard stories of cradle Catholics attempting to convert non-Catholic friends by handing them books showing pictures of incorruptible saints, for instance, and not even realizing that a book full of photos of dead bodies might not be the first or best argument to make in favor of the notion that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ intentionally founded as the ordinary means of salvation for all humanity.  I don't mean any disrespect to God, to the incorruptibles, or to the zeal of those sorts of Catholics when I say that that is just screamingly funny.

And sometimes we do things that are so contradictory that to fail to laugh at them is to fail to embrace our own humanity.  Have you ever, for instance, been really, really annoyed with someone at Mass, only to have the Offertory hymn be announced: "Christians, Let Us Love One Another," and had to choke back an appreciative giggle at the coincidence?  Have you ever written a really insightful blog post about love and families and then caught yourself screaming at your kids over something as inconsequential as dirty socks or unmade beds not ten minutes later?  Or, perhaps, delivered a passionate speech to six friends at a coffee shop about how you can't possibly engage in public speaking?  Have you been telling a friend on the phone how wonderful homeschooling is just as your child has a major math meltdown and insists she isn't going to learn any more stinking numbers?

Laughing at ourselves is the first step in learning not to take ourselves too seriously, and not taking ourselves too seriously is the first step toward humility, and humility is one of the lower rungs on the ladder of wisdom.  There may be times when we can be justifiably upset over the mocking of our Lord or His Church or other sacred things, but we have to realize that there's a difference between someone making fun, say, of the E.F. Mass itself and making fun of an old Internet debate regarding whether buckles are required on clerical footwear at same (and it should be noted that Father Z. seemed to be taking the matter far less seriously than a few of his commenters), just as there is a big difference between making fun of the O.F. Mass itself (e.g., calling it "happy-clappy" or invalid) and some of the unfortunate trivialities associated with that Mass, such as a song we'll be singing this week which changes its time signature, I kid you not, ten times in fourteen measures of music--come on, what is up with that?  If I couldn't make fun of stuff like that, I think I'd pop, or something.

The point is, this isn't a Trad-bashing blog.  It's an everybody-bashing blog.  But only when we take ourselves too seriously over things that aren't.  Because this is also an everybody-loving blog, when it comes down to the important point that we're all children of God, however flawed, silly, sinful, or corrupt, and so long as we're all working out our salvation together in fear and trembling or at least open to the possibility that God and salvation are real things and that people working toward them are sincere about it all, I think we'll all get along just fine.


Charlotte said...

Amen and all that!

Tony said...

When I was young, I used to get picked on in the playground. When things got out of hand and someone was crying, the standard follow up was an innocent look, and a "whatsamatter? can't you take a joke?"

You know that I have no problem poking fun at heresy, and I recorded your "priestess" song for you and did the overlay on "Ordain a Lady". Some things require ridicule to show how silly they are ant to not take them seriously.

Let's take a look at the little girl on the the card issue. Sure, her dress is off the shoulder. That's what happens when secular card artists try to appeal to Catholic customers. And you have to look really close to see it. So close the censors might have missed it.

Trust me when I say I understand the silliness on both sides. I actually ran for a while with that precise focus. As I've matured in my faith, I have begun to understand that we need common ground. Not compromising on unchangable truths, but being able to be flexible on those things that are able to be changed. In other words, no women priests ever, but married priests are a possibility.

I prefer Latin chant, but "Gather us in" doesn't prompt me to make a face like I just bit into a lemon. (Though I still will not sing: "Sing a new church".)

It's been tough for me because my pendulum swung way right in response to the "spirit of Vatican II", and now I'm trying to move it more to the center.

Oh, and I've passed my psych testing (which should surprise a lot of you here), my wife and I passed our marital assessment, and we have an appointment in April to go before the Diaconal Formation Committee. If we pass that, I speak with our Vicar General and if all goes well, I'll know by June if I'm accepted into the Diaconal formation program. If I am, classes start September, 2014 and I will be ordained in 2018.

If not, this isn't what God is calling me to do, and I will have to discern what that is. :)

Red Cardigan said...

Okay, Tony, I honestly think you missed the joke about the card. The blogger who posted it received it from Baptist friends who know she likes vintage stuff. There is NO EVIDENCE that the card was ever marketed to Catholics at all! It's just that today, people see a card featuring a little girl with a lace veil and think "Aww, a vintage Catholic Valentine!" instead of "Aww, a vintage Valentine with a little girl pretending to be a bride!" And--here's the kicker--back when that Valentine was printed and when little girls wore headcoverings to Mass, most of them wore hats with pinchy elastic or ties under the chin (to keep them from taking the hat off at Mass), not an easily-removable bit of white lace.

So that was the joke--the idea that this was a "vintage Catholic Valentine" instead of a "generic vintage Valentine" based solely on what modern Catholic women seem to think ladies and girls wore to Mass every Sunday before Vatican II, even though apart from Jackie Kennedy or women from certain ethnic groups most women wore hats to Mass.

Congratulations on seeking the diaconate should God be calling you! I think that's great.

LarryD said...

You haven't blogged until you've made fun of other Catholic bloggers. Just sayin'.

Kate said...

Hi, Erin! I recently found you and think you are one of my people, for many reasons outlined in this post. Not the least of which was your comment about the multiple-measure monstrosity that had me shaking my hands in the air and yelling, 'THAT'S WHAT I"VE BEEN SAYING!!" Who on earth thought that "Gift of Finest Wheat" was easier for a congregation to read than simple chants? Anyway, thankful to have found you!

Red Cardigan said...

Thanks, Kate! Welcome to this blog! :)