David Russell Mosley
28 May 2017
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire
Thanks to Artur over at Cosmos the in Lost, I watched this short video with noted Catholic philosopher Jean-Luc Marion. While I’ve not read copious amounts of Marion’s work and nor have I agreed with everything I’ve read, I loved his statements in this video. Marion’s reason for remaining Catholic is, in short, because it is true. But he gives evidence for it by suggesting that being Catholic makes you happier and smarter, claims many would certainly debate. These, however, are not my favorite points of his—not that I dislike them, but that there is one I like better. He begins his reasons for remaining Catholic by saying that Catholicism is, “much more […] fun.”
A friend recently posted in the Sick Pilgrim community about exorcism. He told us about an exorcist who said that when performing exorcisms, he tells people to go to confession and receive the Eucharist. He says people are taken aback by this. It seems too mundane. They’d rather be told to go dance naked in a pool with a chicken over their head (or some other such action). The sacraments seem too plain, too common, too boring.
What I think both Marion and this priest understand is precisely what I harp on every now and again here at Letters from the Edge of Elfland. The ordinary is extraordinary. The common is uncommon. Alison Milbank, a theologian and priest in the Church of England, used to argue––using Chesterton, if I remember rightly––that heresy is boring, orthodoxy is exciting and unexpected. This is what it means for Catholicism, for Christianity, to be “much more fun” than its alternatives. People see Christianity and think it boring, but that’s to misunderstand the essential and unexpected nature of the ordinary.
Think of the Eucharist, for an example. Every Sunday (really almost every day) Catholics around the world gather to receive what looks like bread and wine, two of the most things in the entire world. And yet, we believe that what our senses tell us is bread and wine is actually, substantially the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Or go further back and think of the Incarnation, the person of Jesus Christ. He is both fully human and fully God. And yet Christianity goes further. It not only says that the person of Jesus Christ is special, but that the beggar on the side of the road collecting money to buy heroin is made in his image and is the most valuable person on earth. Catholicism says that not only is the “meal” of the Eucharist extraordinary but that every meal we eat is special; that Holy Family is not the only holy family. We are a feasting religion, a dancing religion, a drinking religion. We see demons and angels. We play games, we laugh, we cry. And of course it isn’t that you cannot find this in other religions or even in the secular, but that Christianity provides the most unifying understanding of reality; that at its best, Christianity is the culmination of all that has been, is, or ever will be good in this world.
So why remain, or in my case become, Catholic? Because it is much more fun, which is to say it is much more ordinary, which is to say it is much more real.