I told my therapist I was having all these nightmares about my cult-founding grandfather and she encouraged me to break the power of fear by finding a way to laugh about him. At first, this seemed scandalous.
But then I remembered the tight, little hot-pants my grandfather used to wear on vacation. He'd strip off his shirt and sprawl out on a beach-chair, legs splayed open while holding forth on why Dante's Purgatorio wasn't Biblical. Forget Purgatory! We kids were in our own private hells trying to avert our eyes from the damnable sight that was our Holy Grandfather stuffed into little hot pants.
My therapist was onto something. Once you can laugh at your fears, you stop being afraid.
So, I tried to use the same approach when I started having nightmares about Jonathan Edwards, John Piper or Mark Driscoll showing up at my house and shouting: "YOU'RE NOT ONE OF THE ELECT!"
I mean, it's easy to laugh at Jonathan Edwards whose clerical collar looked like he had two feminine napkins attached to his neck. And then I realized I could also laugh at short, squat Mark Driscoll who probably wears man-girdles under his hip little leather jackets to hide his gut. And whenever I read one of John Piper's sanctimonious tweets, I just imagined Josh Groban singing them.
[cue Josh Groban's operatic voice singing: "Faaaarreewelllllllll Rooooob Belllllll!"]
Today I woke up from a nap and started rapping, "U can't touch this!"
And that's when it hit me. I came to Catholicism because it made me safe. Nobody can touch me here. Not Calvin, not Edwards, not Piper, not Driscoll. Not Mickey, not Minnie, not Donald Duck. Wait. What?
Point is. U can't touch this! Allow me to break out my MC Hammer pants:
Still, some well-meaning, earnest people want to know: "After you were raised in a cult, how could you enter the biggest cult of them all--the Catholic Church???"
What can I say? I'm a glutton for brainwashing! :P
Oh, you wanted a serious answer? Alright. Here it is in list form:
I became Catholic because........
- The Catholic Church is where I experienced God's unconditional love.
- I found Mary--or, rather, Mary brought me back to Jesus .
- Jesus in the Eucharist
But even so, I'm not Catholic-y enough for REAL Catholics because....
- I take the birth control pill (even though I'm taking the pill for medical reasons--my health suffered terribly after the birth of my twins--and NOT for contraceptive reasons)
- And because I regret voting yes on Prop 8.
Then again, maybe I'm actually too Catholic because....
Except how does that even work in my marriage since...
- I'm Catholic and my husband is Protestant?
- Here's how (THIS IS SUPER COMPLICATED, so watch out!).....We actually believe pretty much the same things. It's just that when we say the Apostles' Creed and get to the part about believing in "the holy, Catholic Church," I mean big 'C' Church and my husband means little 'c'! Ska-dooooosh.
The POINT IS....
- I'm a perfectly wretched Catholic
- and also,
- a wretchedly imperfect Catholic
- but mainly just
- so, YAY for the Sacrament of Confession!
Look, all I'm trying to do inside Catholicism is build an authentic relationship with God. St. Augustine said, "If you think you understand, it isn't God."
Which, I think is a shorthand way of saying: "U CAN'T TOUCH THIS!"
Catholicism without relationship is a bunch of highly codified and controlled set of rules. But Catholicism WITH relationship retains that sacred sense of mystery and it's the only system I've found that manages to provide both a tangible framework for religious experience and also act as a benevolent guard against individualistic, religious narcissism.
My psyche cannot thrive in a state of constant flux. I need somewhere to rest, someplace to call home. I don't have energy to re-invent the Christian wheel. Life is too short.
Catholicism is codified but it also has ample room for me to be human with all my flaws and caveats, exceptions and hypocrisies (HOORAY for the Sacrament of Confession)!
So, why Catholicism?
Three words: Jesus is there.
CAN'T TOUCH THIS!