Sunday, March 30, 2008

Response to: "All religions are hypocritical"

"All religions are hypocritical."

This comment was directed to me a few weeks ago and the ensuing conversation has been bouncing around in my head ever since. I asked what she meant by this so I could respond to this statement more effectively, and qualification was obviously necessary. The half-formed answer was something getting at her belief that all religious people think that they are better than everyone else. Now, I can no more speak for "all religious people" than anyone can be correct in saying that "all religions are hypocritical." This is a huge generalization that would never hold up in any sort of formal argument. This isn't about formal argument. I was struck by the idea that someone, especially someone close to me, raised in the Catholic faith, could believe that Catholicism is hypocritical because Catholics think they are "better than everyone else." Anyone who believes this is missing out on the central aspect of the Christian faith: that God became man and died on the cross so that humanity's sins could be forgiven. Christ's death was necessary because of our sinfulness. In order to be Christian, you must recognize that you are a sinner and are in need of a savior. Anyone who doesn't is in danger of losing his or her soul. Consider the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector found in Luke 18:9-4 :

He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others.
"Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this:
‘God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’

But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying,
‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

We have to be like the tax collector, conscious of our sins and our sinfulness, knowing that we need Jesus to be our Savior. Christians with inflated senses of self, viewing themselves as better than others because of their "faith," are like the Pharisee, praying to themselves instead of to God, and are therefore not true Christians. I know that I don't want to be like the Pharisee. So I guess I have to be like the tax collector, conscious of my sinfulness, and constantly asking for God's mercy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Love and Marriage in "Becoming Jane"

I just finished watching the movie Becoming Jane. It’s a 2007 romantic chick-flick starring Anne Hathaway as a gorgeous, extremely fictionalized, Jane Austen, who scribbles with a fountain pen with her dark tendrils spilling down her back, pursing her full, red lips. Aside from the ballroom scenes and lovely scenery, the movie struck me because, not only is James McAvoy charming/handsome/a genuinely endearing rascal, the movie centered on the fact that “love,” erotic love, as C.S. Lewis would call it, between a man and a woman isn’t sufficient to build a marriage on. Jane states this when she leaves Tom/James McAvoy, who she is truly is in love with. Their scandal of a marriage would have been lived in poverty and their love would have turned into resentment and blame, destroying them both. They would have been fools to fail to recognize it and no matter how much they loved each other and wanted to be together, it would have lead them both to ruin. Therefore, the existence of erotic love, no matter how genuine or true, isn’t enough to base a marriage on. It’s really disappointing to realize within the genre of chick-flick too! Some aspects of the movie I thought could have been done better, such as Jane’s initial, well-placed, derision of Tom suddenly changing to passionate love. I bought it, mostly due to McAvoy’s charm, and because of the necessary suspension of disbelief required by the chick-flick genre, but I still felt like I was missing something. Perhaps that’s just part of the mystery of love? This film, though entertaining and sweet, really doesn’t deserve a blog post. It’s the concept that, in some cases, love alone really isn’t enough to survive on, that I’m trying, and perhaps failing, to address. We dealt with these same issues in Christian Marriage, discussing the importance of financial stability, of having a plan, being able to provide for future children, and one another. Marriage, in the eyes of the Church, is forever, and is so monumental and sacred, a true becoming of one flesh, that it deserves more than a blurb in a hasty reaction to a movie. As much as I was disappointed in the resolution of the movie, Jane made the right decision. I would just hate to have to do the same.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'll be honest, I'm not exactly clear on what the purpose of this blog is. I'm a writing major and I like writing. I'm a Catholic and because of that, I can't be anything less than a Catholic writer. Those things considered, I should have some things to say in a blog-like format such as this. For lack of anything else to write, here's a picture of my fish.