Crunchy Catholicism

There are so many variations of Catholicism that have ‘C’ words for adjectives.

I’m thinking of Conservative Catholicism which is right wing politically and liturgically, and then there’s Cafeteria Catholicism in which the devotee picks and chooses which parts of the Catholic faith he think he likes and rejects the bits he finds unpalatable. Cultural Catholicism means “I’m Irish so I’m Catholic–and don’t forget: it’s ‘Irish’ first. Catholic second.” Then there is Campfire Catholicism–where the liturgy is folksy with singalong songs and a warm cozy homilly. Don’t forget Coca Cola Catholicism–in which the religion is sweet and fizzy and exciting (but it rots your spiritual teeth) I guess you could add ‘Crazy Catholicism’ which is made up of extreme right wing fundamentalist kooks. ‘Conspiracy Catholicism’ is obsessed with end times, Fatima prophecies, the lack of a proper dedication of Russia to the Blessed Virgin and the three dark days.

You pays your money and you takes your pick. I’m opting for Crunchy Catholicism. Crunchy Catholicism is like my crunchy cereal in the morning. It has, well, ‘crunch.’ It’s conservative, but not crazy (but maybe I am crazy and don’t know it) It revels in the irrelevant and delights in the dubious. Crunchy Catholicism is all for relics of saints and incorrupt bodies and those holy water bottles shaped like the blessed Mother with the crown for a cap. It is happy about saints that are stigmatics, who levitate and bi locate and fall into streams and make wisecracks to the Almighty. It’s for exorcists and eucharistic miracles and friars with long beards and full habits who have given up millions of dollars to serve crackheads in the Bronx. It’s for leper priests and little nuns who wash sores of dying people in the gutters of Calcutta. It’s for first holy communion girls in white dresses and little boys with with coat and tie and their hair combed. It’s for nuns. The ones in habits in convents. It’s for lace and incense and birettas at Mass.

Lest Crunchy Catholicism seem all traddy and reactionary and folk religion or even (God forbid) superstitious!!, it is also for a faith that has intellectual rigor and a zesty willingness to communicate the truth that faith is an adventure. Faith is a trampoline not an easy chair. It’s a risk and an investment in which you give all and receive more than your bargained for in return. Crunchy Catholicism is ready to read Dante and T.S.Eliot and Flannery O’Connor and learn Spanish and Italian and Latin because it’s a good idea. Crunchy Catholicism reads the great philosophers and theologians and has Thomas Aquinas on it’s iPhone reader and Fides et Ratio by the bedside, and Pope Benedict’s latest work along side Evelyn Waugh. Crunchy Catholicism is as rollicking and controversialist as the Chesterbelloc and as tender hearted and compassionate and tough as the Little Flower (who–if she was a little flower–was no shrinking violet)

Crunchy Catholicism dislikes all the other ‘C’ varieties of Catholicism, but it also loves them because it sees that in each of them there is also something crunchy and good. Crunchy Catholicism defies the pigeon holes, escapes the neat categories and refuses to live in a box.

Unless the box says, “Crunchy Catholicism”

  • Michelle

    I am SO with you, Father!!!!

  • Tina

    Let's here it for "crunchy Catholicism"! I think we're all crunchy in some matter what "c" you fall under (by the way, isn't that pigeon-holing:)? We're all just on the journey, each in a different place.Thanks for your humor, Father Dwight. You're cheerful spirit is always refreshing!

  • RichnHim

    Speaking as a Protestant, it seems to me you are describing Protestantism. This is simply Protestant Catholicism. The only exception is that the one thing that is unchangeable throughout history and all the variations of Catholicism is the Eucharist. To your credit, it has remained the same. I'm drawn more to the Orthodox Catholic living in harmony with the Catechism than all the rest because the rest is all that I see in Protestantism.

  • Mike Rhoads

    I have to ask, did you get your idea from Rod Dreher's Crunch Conservative book? Not that it's bad if you did, just the ideas are quite similar.

  • Fr Longenecker

    Yes I had heard of Rod's 'Crunchy Conservatism'

  • Fr Longenecker

    Rich – you are correct. The difference is that despite our different strands within Catholicism we have an overarching unity in both the Eucharist and in our allegiance to the One Shepherd–the successor of Peter. After all, didn't our Lord say 'There shall be one flock and one shepherd?'

  • RichnHim

    "and our allegiance to the one shephard–the successor of Peter."…Fr. Longenecker, from what I've observed, far too many Catholics have even strayed from that stand. I even cringe when I hear of them talk about the "cranky old man in Rome." And when they talk about the freedom to do what they want in worship, they abandoned the chair of Peter. He becomes just another voice or opinion. At least that's what it appears to me. Now what are my feelings about the Pope? I'm sorting that out. I do believe he's more than just the CEO of the Catholic church. (if I may put it in modern terms) And I believe he is God's servant in place of authority to be listened to and obeyed. But the Tiber still is a little too deep for me.

  • shadowlands

    I like the sound of being a crunchy catholic………..or maybe….CaringCageyCalamitousCalculatingCalmCandidCannyCantankerousCapriciouscareless CarnalCasualCatastrophicCatchyCattyCausticCautiousCentralCertainChancyChappedCharacterlessCharismaticCharmingChasteChattyCheapCheerfulChildish/likeChillyChipperChoosyChunkyChurlishClairvoyant!?ClassyCleverClichedClingyCloddish Clownish ClumsyCoarseCocky ColdColorufulCombativeComedicComfortableComicalCommonCompetentCompetitiveComplexompliantCompromisingComputerizedConcernedConfidentConfusingconfrontationalConnectedConnivingConsciousConsensualConsolatoryContagiousContemporaryContemptibleContentiousConvenientConventionalConvivialCoolCordiallyCornyCorruptCostlyCourageousCourteousCowardlyCoyCozyCrabbyCrankyCredibleCreepyCriticalCrookedCrucialCrudeCruel CrustyCuddlyCulturedCumbersomeCunningCuriousCurrentCursedCurtCustomaryCuteBut never in a box! Anyway, over here, crunchies are covered in chocolate and arrive in wrappers! Yum eeeeeeeeeee!

  • Wine in the Water

    My wife and I have long referred to ourselves as Crunchy Catholics. I would add to the description for your consideration:It fights for social justice but is wary of letting something as important as social welfare be handled by a government. It seeks to protect the environment, but because the world is a precious gift from the One we worship, and not because we worship nature. It promotes religious freedom, not only because it knows that lack of religious freedom has often gone poorly for Catholics, but also because there can be no sincere conversion by force or compulsion.

  • Anthony Brett Dawe

    amazing elucidation, fair and balanced, contemporary as well

  • Anthony S. Layne

    I love that description you give! It's like Joyce's saying that Catholicism means "Here comes everybody!" Crunchy Catholicism can be tasteful or tacky, ecstatic or grave … but it ain't bland.

  • Quanah

    Crunchy is good, but there is always room for Cogburn Catholicism. ;-)

  • aka the Mom

    That's me! I'm a Crunchy Catholic! Thanks for this, Father, I needed it this morning.