Why am I Still a Catholic? What Else is There?

Why am I Still a Catholic? What Else is There? June 3, 2015

It's merely a disaster. Don't freak out, you're Catholic (William Coulter, San Francisco Fire, 1906; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US-Before-1923).
It’s merely a disaster. Don’t freak out, you’re Catholic (William Coulter, San Francisco Fire, 1906; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US-Before-1923).

The Patheos Catholic channel is doing a roundup of members defending their faith. This is a response to the less than encouraging Catholic numbers in the recent PEW Religion Poll.

They haven’t racked my brains as much as other people. I don’t see what the big deal is.

In this my answer is identical to Walker Percy’s answer in the self-interview “Questions They Never Asked Me,” which can be found, along with other entertaining non-fiction writings and interviews in Signposts in a Strange Land:

Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
A. Bad.
Q: No. I mean are you liberal or conservative?
A: I no longer know what those words mean.
Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don’t know what that means, either. Do you mean do I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: Yes.
A: Yes.
Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behaviorism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That’s what I mean.
Q: To say nothing of Judaism and Protestantism.
A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing.
Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: It’s not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact I demand it. I refuse to settle for any thing less. I don’t see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and would not let go until God identified himself and blessed him.
Q: Grabbed aholt?
A: A Louisiana expression.
Q: But isn’t the Catholic Church in a mess these days, badly split, its liturgy barbarized, vocations declining?
A: Sure. That’s a sign of its divine origins, that it survives these periodic disasters.

Yeah, what he said. I’d only add a rejection of Eastern Orthodoxy’s nationalist tendencies to the list. I must say I especially love the proof from disasters.

All of this might sound funny to you, but it’s also true.

Tradition is also intellectually compelling to me:

Look for more of my writings on Walker Percy here, especially the post where I explain why Walker Percy thought depression is the most normal and appropriate reaction to our crazy world.

See also: the TOP10 offerings from pathbreaking Catholic publishers Angelico Press.

You might also find this TOP10 list of books in Catholic Studies useful.

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