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Bishop-Elect Barron on Stephen Colbert, J.R.R Tolkien, John Henry Newman…

Bishop-Elect Barron on Stephen Colbert, J.R.R Tolkien, John Henry Newman… August 26, 2015

and the Providence of God.

I have remarked in this space in the past that Colbert is a garden variety lefty Catholic who really, albeit imperfectly, believes the Catholic faith.  This has miffed some of my more culture war readers, for whom opposition to abortion takes away the sin of the world and who likewise believe that  Colbert’s support for Planned Parenthood makes all other professions of faith null and void.  For similar reasons, I am declared by such folk to be a fake Catholic or even an atheist because I regard Colbert’s faith as “imperfect but real” and not as a lie by an enemy who needs to be destroyed.

I am therefore heartened by Bishop-elect Barron, who likewise sees the glass as partly full when Colbert gives an interview, in GQ of all places, where he reflects on the tragedy of his childhood when plane crash killed his father and brothers and is able to express gratitude to God for the suffering he has endured and for the mother who raised him to be grateful to God:

Discussing the trauma that he experienced as a young man—the deaths of his father and two of his brothers in a plane crash—he told the interviewer how, through the ministrations of his mother, he had learned not only to accept what had happened but actually to rejoice in it: “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was ten; that was quite an explosion…It’s that I love the thing that I wish most had not happened.” Flummoxed, his interlocutor asked him to elaborate on the paradox. Without missing a beat, Colbert cited J.R.R. Tolkien: “What punishments of God are not gifts?” What a wonderful sermon on the salvific quality of suffering! And it was delivered, not by a priest or bishop or evangelist, but by a comedian about to take over one of the most popular television programs on late night. 

I cannot read that without hearing somebody who is responding to the grace of God–and I cannot but be grateful for it.  Does that make him a saint or right about everything?  Of course not.  But what is the sense of rejecting somebody as a brother in Christ wholesale because he is not perfect yet?

The sensible thing to do is treat imperfectly formed Christians as Priscilla and Aquila treated Apollos and “explain to him the way of God more adequately”, not treat him as an enemy to be destroyed.

I’d love to see Barron forge a relationship with Colbert.  I think they would be good friends.

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