Why I don't read many Catholic blogs
The Internet is not the best place to express one's indignation. The ability to self-publish your thoughts quickly and having perfect strangers read them is not a healthy thing. At least in older forms of publishing, the difficulty of printing something physically meant that "gate-keepers" were always present to calm the hottest heads, revise the most impertinent comments, or even just correct grammar and orthographical errors. This, however, is not the place to lament the loss of a mandatory imprimatur on whatever one writes. Nevertheless, one must at times speak one's mind about things, at the risk of perhaps alienating some people.
I found the above picture on this site which I will not give the dignity of naming. To think that someone could depict the torture of a human being and the Cross in the same painting is completely lost on me. Granted, Pius V was an Inquisitor before he was a Pope. And, granted, the individual who manages this site did not paint this image. If anything, it probably hangs in some august gallery, even a church, inspiring horror to all but the most sadistic minds. So why post it again in a public forum? Why celebrate it? Why this need by some circles to celebrate our bloody, intolerant past?
I will say this right now: I much prefer to raise my children in a society with "gay marriage", relativistic morals, and secularism than a society that threatens its citizens with torture. This image is not funny. It's not even cute. It is thoroughly disgusting, and if we celebrate it, we deserve every accusation that an atheist like a Marx or a Christopher Hitchens can throw at us about religion being "the oppium of the people" and "barbaric".
But there is a deeper issue involved, one that I think the Catholic hierarchy gets but not some more zealous Catholics. The argumentative and triumphalist tone that many Catholics take towards their Protestant and other non-Catholic neighbors is a direct result of this bloody discourse. It may have been cleaned externally of the blood, but it is still very much a product of the time of the rack, the stake, and the auto-da-fe's. Vatican II, in spite of its unwarranted capitulation to the modern world on many issues, aimed at the very least to heal this overly-militant discourse.
It is good to correct your neighbor, especially if one does it out of love. But to appoint oneself as a instrument of correction is something that someone should think twice about before embarking on a one-man crusade. Whatever happened to dialogue, real dialogue, which in spite of my thinking that it can be a four-letter word at times, is still very necessary?
Notice that this blog does NOT have a maximalist Roman Catholic identity. I will sometimes slam Protestantism and agnosticism, but I don't want the people who hold these views to stop reading. The label "Roman Catholic" is a necessary one; it invokes the fact that I belong to the Church that the Apostles founded, and that I am far more certain of my own membership in the Body of Christ than of someone's who is not Roman Catholic. But it is a distinction that I still very much lament. For I would have it that all men were members of the Body of Christ in the fullest possible sense, but I cannot say that this is the case. It is the vocation of all humanity, indeed the entire cosmos, to be grafted into Christ. The necessary label, then, makes it an issue of "us" vs. "them", and that is an ethos that the Roman Catholic Church is trying to move AWAY from. This ethos is ineviatbly a result of sin, violence, and injustice. And I would a thousand times prefer to live in a society where the Truth was the minority than to have obtained hegemony by violent means that contradict that Truth.
It will always be the case that we Christians are apart from the world in a fundamental way, but, as in all of the dichotomies that we Christians must balance, this does not give us license to de-humanize the other. We are still engaged members of this pluralist, postmodern society, like it or lump it. To flaunt our differences without necessity is the ultimate form of counter-cultural navel gazing. And this is why I don't read many Catholic blogs. I am just not very fond of "rooting for my team" especially when that "team culture" is the result of a non-Christian attitude. I am a member of this all-too-human society. And you have to be a human being before you can be a Christian.