Cliches are Stupid

Guess who’s posting when he should be doing homework? I am who is. Why? Hey, great question.  Because sharing half-formed thoughts with the bunch of miserable wrecks who follow this site is more important than my future. Actually, the Church teaches that the most important moments in a Christian’s life are the present and his time of death. So maybe I’m on to something.

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Anyhow, number one. (I’m in a numbering mood. If I met you on the street I’d rate you out of ten.)We Christians have a major problem with naming things. At some point, some Christians – probably a reading circle of five elderly Baptists who’d just finished Twilight – found words or phrases to describe certain spiritual experiences, certain holy moments in their lives. Now, for no good reason besides a lack of originality, these phrases are what EVERYONE calls those experiences. We’ve developed what’s known as a Christian vocabulary, containing some of the following gems, all sounding like the titles of a Televangelist’s second or third self-help book: “Letting God into your heart”, “opening yourself up to Jesus”, “accepting Christ as your personal Lord and Savior”, “emptying your heart” etc.

Which ends up looking
like this, but does not include
the insane level of
happiness this creature
is experiencing. Seriously,
someone exorcise this baby, he
is far too content. 

First of all, these phrases don’t work for everyone. They aren’t concrete descriptions like “being forgiven” or “receiving the sacrament of Confirmation.” Or how about “receiving a plenary indulgence on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady by attending Holy Mass and going to Reconciliation within one week of the Feast having the effect of the total remission of temporal punishment in the fires of Purgatory” for that matter. That stuff I get. No, these are metaphorical statements. And for me, it drove me crazy when people would tell me things like “open your heart.” Open my heart? Uh, OK? I will, in some abstract way detach any meaning of the word heart from that organ that thuds away in my chest, and, having done this, I will proceed to “open” this abstract entity that tends to constitute some conglomerate of my feelings, my soul, my thoughts, none of which are things that can be “opened” in any imaginable sense of the word, and I will know I have done this when…when…Oh, bloody hell, it’s hopeless. I just end up screwing up my face and breathing deeply, trying to achieve the whole business.

That’s not to say that the phrase doesn’t mean something great and powerful to someone out there; it just doesn’t work for me. And that’s fine. First, because when describing things that are by definition beyond description, not all words are bound to work. And second, because God loves us individually, and He expresses his Love individually, and we respond individually. Perhaps we should be allowed to articulate individually. So for me, this “open-heart” concept really translates into “humble thyself”. And for others it might translate into “bare your soul.” The point is not that any single phrase is correct. The thing is indescribable – none of them are. The point is to allow yourself and the Church to define your faith. Not the general vocabulary of whatever American Christian culture has to offer. If I wanted you to take anything from this, it’s to not be discouraged if you feel like you aren’t “letting go and letting God.” God has no idea what that means.

That’s all.
Here, listen to the first for minutes of this. The pictures are stupid, but Colbert – priceless.
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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10740611327082314715 Sean

    A good thing to bring up. There's enough Christians now that it's far too easy to slip into such cliches, and do the Christian things and forget why.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04808756472395991237 T. D. S.

    Marc,I was reflecting upon something. Roman Catholicism seems to be… baptised paganism. It has a lot of -superficial similarities- to the pagan rituals: sacral wine, clerical celibacy (the Vestal Virgins vs. priests and monastics), intercessory beings (minor pagan deities vs. saints), high importance of female religious figures (Hera/Aphrodite vs. Mother Mary), liturgical music, and so on.BUUUT. Scripture give those rituals a far different purpose than simply self-advantage.Did that make sense?Respectfully,The pagan


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