Monday, January 31, 2011

White Plastic Crosses / sanitizing catholicism for mass marketing appeal

Catholicism really is all those aspects that Protestants abhor. Little Black Cordelias, dripping blood crucifixes, wine and spices, incense and rituals. It's a Faith that luxuriates in God's creation. It’s shadow and light, procession and sanctuary. The tabernacle as house of God, where the material, the intellectual and the spiritual all are directed and focused on Christ and his sacrifice and the sacrifice of the mass. It’s a cross with a Christ.

What Catholicism is not, is a luxuriating in paganism as now commonly found whenever there’s some ‘traditional’ celebration where the celebration is turned into a recession from the light where darkness is hearkened to in fond remembrances such as where the Aztecs and their demons are reverenced in some false display of cultural pride.

Is there anything less culturally and historically authentic and absurd than grown women dancing and prancing about in the sanctuary doing liturgical dance? Or than grown men stomping about in the sanctuary beating on Indian drums at a pow wow mass?

Catholicism is sacramental because we’re both form and matter. that is we are both soul i.e. the form, and matter i.e. the body. We’re form and matter, soul and body. Culture is the form that informs us and we in turn form society as matter into that cultural form.

Catholicism really is what it is because of what we are. And part of what we are is the society we live in which in turn forms us as members of that society. As Catholics we can see the world for what it is, and reject it. And in turn reject those aspects of our society that are worldly. But we are what we are. A tautology which says much and likewise directs us in how we should act as Catholics.

It’s a tautology that likewise tells us what we are not. We are not liturgical dancers and tomtom beaters. What we are is fully western and fully modern american. We are fully human and God created us by nature to live not just anyway, but within a limit. A nature with limits where the encyclicals do much to guide us. A limit and nature that is further limited and formed by our being western and modern americans. So that our society as Catholics is both western and modern american.

And as fully human as I wrote previously, we all have by our nature a sense of the poetic that each part of God's creation signifies, and sometimes with multiple significations. We recognize them intuitively, such as when building placing stones below & lighter structures above and we feel uncomfortable when they are reversed. Or the translucency of light as signifying the immaterial.

It’s also why we recognize and are moved by the one point perspective of longitudinal church design because it does focus us. Or why we are moved by the tabernacle as aedicula because they speak to our poetic selves. So likewise with bloody crucifixes and rosaries, and sacramentals. They are all both form and matter. Sign signified in the material world.

So that as Catholic, we embrace our western modern society while further limiting and forming that society to our poetic, sacramental, Catholic selves.

In contrast, plastic white crosses are likewise a sign. A sign of protestantism of which they are progeny, just as modernism in general is progeny of protestantism. So likewise are the directionless churches and the simpering crap commonly found at novus ordo masses also the progeny of protestantism. They have all the substance and appeal of flavorless jello. But yet this sanitized catholicism, this protestantized catholicism, is what we are expected to sell to those who are thirsting for living water.

Why are we doing it? Is there anything less culturally and historically authentic and absurd than Catholics pretending to be protestants? Consumerism and its legion of siblings are progeny of protestantism, they are the plastic world we reject.

"I'm a barbie girl in a barbie world life in plastic its so fantastic." are part of the lyrics to a song and video originally by Aqua and now marketed by Mattel. A song and video which could serve as paradigm of what our culture has become.

There's nothing wrong with little girls playing with Barbie dolls, and the Barbie movies couldn't be better. But there is definitely something wrong with treating tasteless jello either as nutrition or as a delight for the senses.

We rightly reject those plastic crosses and all, and with good reason. And instead embrace our Catholicity with all its incidentals, and rituals, and life. Just as we similarly embrace life itself with its wine, and spices, and family traditions and rituals.

We sell the Faith to our children by loving them and nurturing them and caring for them and teaching them, and in doing so, we impart the Faith to them as sign of that love we give them. And part of what we impart are our traditions, sacramental and the like, because they give outward visible sign and memory, for our children to hold on to. They give us Catholic cultural memory.

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