Which is like saying: "Today's Seattle forecast: Rain."
Yeah, I know, I know--glutton for punishment.
But I make occasional forays over into the stygian waters of NCR just to remind them that they aren't the mainstream, clear-thinking Catholic voice they think they are.
It's the blog equivalent of the Doolittle Raid--not much damage, but, hey--remember us?
Plus, the comboxes are near occasions of hilarity, my recent favorite being an economic whiz-kid who suggested we just print up $4.6 trillion to pay off our bond liabilities. Boom--problem solved!
Great idea, Custer! Nope, can't see the downside to that one!
Yes, there are the usual pelvic fixations, mistaking the secular zeitgeist for the Holy Spirit, shrieking at the episcopate (a universal Catholic exercise, to be fair--and one often warranted) and so forth. However, once in a while you stumble across something obnoxious delivered more subtly.
One of the regulars there is named Jamie Manson, whose byline whacks you about the head and shoulders with an Ivy League M.Div., just so you know. A couple days back, she excoriated Archbishop Sheehan for clearing his throat about irregular living arrangements amongst his flock.
Not a surprise, and to be honest her heartfelt advocacy on behalf of her mother's situation was touching. Frankly, any diocese that charges for the annulment process should be slapped up aside the head (Detroit doesn't, FYI). It's hard not to feel for someone in her mother's position, and mercy should be extended to those in her situation. You don't have to be a progressive to find something deeply amiss with the annulment system.
Then, Ms. Manson, M.Div., Yale, ruins the mood by offering her take on orthodox discipleship and the approach to the sacraments:
The sacraments are meant to work in people’s lives to deepen our communion with God and others, to heal wounds, and to offer meaning and consolation. They are not a prize awarded only to those who follow doctrine and church law to the letter. Few cohabitating Catholics will endure processes like annulment or change their living arrangements in order to be welcomed back into church and its sacraments.
Yeah, the last sentence is the usual ranting "you can't change me!" shinola, but look before it. Examine that middle sentence. Ponder it.
Basically, people who follow the tenets of the Church are apple polishing suck-ups getting their stickers from the mean teacher. And both teacher and student know it.
I suppose it's slightly better to be regarded as an Eddie Haskell rather than the usual tired "Pharisee," (the next generation of Anselms in the combox aren't so reticent) but it's still remarkable.
[By the way, you can turn the tables on the typical Rep opinionist/comboxer by calling him or her a Sadducee. Think about it: the Sadducees were glib, cosmopolitan compromisers obsessed with institutional issues, and happy to toss aside inconvenient revelation. Zing!]
What really rankles are the casual assumptions embedded in that offhand sentence.
You know, the NCReppers are big on pointing to the "lived experiences" of those who dissent, usually very, very loudly, from this or that teaching. Those who struggle yet still follow them? Don't look for a Reporter byline, chief.
You know what else? It's not all beer and skittles for those of us who don't expect our bishops to be a mitered version of Stuart Smalley's mirror.
It's not our prize for being good, Ms. MDiv. It's the grace that carries us through grim financial and emotional turmoil, the cold incomprehension of beloved family members, and the growing and open scorn of strangers (and co-religionists), all for doing our damnedest to take the demands of the Faith seriously.
Sorry if we come across as a tad standoffish toward those who demand that such be disregarded as some kind of arcane, pointless exercise in star-collecting.