A tale of two altar boys.
I was trying to figure out why the constant references, like that of Mo Dowd, to the junior Senator from Massachusetts' tenure as an altar boy was so grating. It's done as a supposed bona fide, and my initial reaction was "Wow--an altar boy?!?! An actual real, live altar boy? You somehow survived the gruelling training regimen? Whew--I'm chuffed!
Why aren't you Pope?"
That's no disrespect intended to those who served at the altar--it's an admirable service and a fruitful source of vocations. But, even so: is it one of the first things you list as a defense of your faith?
Didn't think so.
Sure, part of my visceral reaction to it is the ludicrousness of it, the equation "Altar Boy = Unimpeachably Catholic. So stop picking on him."
But then I started realizing another source of my ire: I've heard it before, also wielded as a bona fide.
By hard-core, Catholic-bashing fundies. If you have a moment, wade through the testimony Messer Gendron. Make sure to strap yourself into a crash-couch first, though. The leaps of illogic and dazzling inconsistency are guaranteed to put a strain on your mind that can be measured in "Gs". I also enjoy immensely the naively clueless verse-slinging, and you will, too.
But, at the end of the day, I find myself with a certain grudging admiration for the fundamentalist former altar boy that I cannot find in me for the Senator.
Bear with me.
At its core, there's a forthright candor to the Gendron heedlessness--he sure as Hell doesn't agree with the teachings of Catholicism, and is unambiguous about that fact. Ditto JFK II. But here's the catch:
Gendron proudly trumpets that he's not Catholic. The Senator asserts loyal son status like a snapping banner.