You may have noticed that our recent pictorial on the lives of the saints (standard fare really — St. Valentine in sunglasses, St. Brandon in a wheat field, St. Francis with anal rosary beads) — drew some outside attention. One Catholic who was offended conveniently makes his cyberdwelling at ivycatholic.blogspot.com. And, God love him, his blog — For God, For Country and For Yale — like St. Sebastian, will be punctured by the arrows of our BMOC critic’s scrutiny. Or something. (That critic, btw, is Kathy Gilsinan.)
NonCatholics, I think, will find this blog just as offensive as Catholics find the photography. More offensive still, I think, because personally hurt will be liberal Catholics like myself. I fall into the school of so-called “cafeteria Catholics”; I admit that I choose what I like about the religion — teachings that I don’t find offensive or outdated or in place solely to perpetuate a benighted patriarchy — then I pray the rosary and basically feel good about myself. And my relationship with conservative Catholics such as this blogger runs thus: I find it offensive to exclude gays from the community of believers, he finds it offensive to make saint-porn. Tomato, tomahto.
I’m not saying our altar boy should apologize for his beliefs. Perhaps, having had the misfortune to read IvyGate, he feels persecuted for the sake of righteousness. As a defensive end on the football team, he is certainly persecuted for the sake of Yale. (But check out his championship ring!!) And he is wounded, he reflects, by the “disasters modern society has wrought.” What might these be? AIDS, modern warfare, rapacious capitalism? Not so much. He’s more concerned with the evils of contraception and absolute gender equality. (Though the extent to which the latter has actually been “wrought” is debatable, anyone who feels particularly oppressed by progress in this direction can take refuge at the local parish.)
Another big deal, apparently, is naked artwork. He gets huffy in his posts on the “Theology of the Body”, wherein he lauds chastity and contemplates the lies of feminism.
My problem with this blog is similar to my problem with much of the catechism: It asserts what’s right, sometimes counterintuitively, and leaves off the work of persuasion. Or maybe it’s just that I don’t find him persuasive. Maybe it should be enough for me that he quotes Aquinas as saying that the reason women shouldn’t be priests is because they are “in a state of subjection.” Maybe I should nod submissively when he tells me that God asks “we do not do anything to artificially hinder or block … sexual activity from reaching its natural end (no contraception).” Stephen confidently asserts that, well, “Jesus is the Truth,” and I guess that’s fine. But what does that even mean? And does some football player at Yale think he can tell me on blogspot?
There’s no winning or even having an argument with faith like this. What kind of scholar refuses to ask why?
But then again, what kind of Catholic insists on it?