Some Perks of Being a Bad Catholic

Some Perks of Being a Bad Catholic August 13, 2019

I recently reread one of my favorite novels, The Violent Bear It Away. It was Flannery O’Connor’s second and last novel—she died of lupus only four years later. I love the book intensely. Its sweet, terrible assurance that God will not let anyone escape his purpose and will use anything and everything to draw us back to his love is extremely comforting, without being sentimental in the slightest; the book includes rape and infanticide, this is no rose-window-colored-glasses optimism.

I’m comforted by it because (even though I generally feel like this is the sort of thing that could only be true if you didn’t know it) I feel, half-seriously, as though my vocation is to be a bad Catholic instead of a good one. All Catholics are bad Catholics, of course, but many Catholics clearly don’t have their heart in it. It takes a willful, egotistic, irresposible voluptuary to act like a bad Catholic with conviction.

And I worry about good Catholics, truly. Progressives as much as trads. Traditionalism is louder and angrier and more blindly dogmatic because it is more brittle, and it’s transparently the case with a lot of trads that they can feel the dirt between their toes just like I can, which gives me hope. They’ll hurt a hell of a lot of people while they’re thrashing about, but, if they can ever accept the grace to stop thrashing and accept that they’re kind of dirty, they just might be able to make good, messy lives.

Progressives tend to be more innocently idealistic, and that always worries me. I think that part of the lesson, the pattern, of the Crucifixion is that each one of us—whether in this life or, maybe, in Purgatory—has to pass through a moment when everything is lost; and that can really screw with an innocent person’s head. I’ve known a handful of once devoutly orthodox people who’ve wandered away from Catholic doctrine, or even from the faith as such: and (in my limited and probably slanted experience) it’s most always been innocent people, whose horror of the Church’s corruption was apparently more than they could bear.

Which, for the record, is one of the chief things the word scandal means. Discomfiting the sensibilities of the pious is not scandal; it was a favorite pastime of our Lord. Making the Catholic Church look bad is not scandal, at any rate not when it means exposing ways in which she is bad. Driving people away from God is scandal. The supposed greater good you were serving by shaming someone for wearing shorts to Mass or discreetly notating a priest’s molestation as ‘boundary issues’ doesn’t matter.

I come back and back to this idea of being a bad Catholic as being, somehow, my purpose. Not sure what to make of that. Maybe it’s a sigil of the fact that, Protestant criticisms to the contrary, we’re not a works-righteousness religion—not any more than they are, anyway. I think all good people are tempted to believe in works-righteousness in their hearts; it’s the price they pay for being better than me.

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  • Naters

    Does firing married gay couples from Catholic schools when the same is not applied to straight divorced and remarried couples also count as scandal?

  • Ame

    Good Country People sums up everything wrong in the world today. Revelation sums up everything wrong with me.

  • RPlavo .

    I never hear anything about the good times unmarried seniors have at their senior living villages. “Wink. Wink”

  • I am suspicious of the focus on our sinfulness. If we’re busy tearing ourselves down for real or imaginary faults, we went see the faults in the church. And I feel like that’s the point: look at the log in your own eye, says a bishop, maybe I abused a child but you had a lustful thought, and doesn’t that mean you don’t have the right to throw stones?

    So if I were to say: well, I actually think I am a pretty good person, I haven’t done that, I think I have the right to criticize…. Catholics would say this was proof that I was prideful. You can’t win, you see. It’s not humanly possible to be perfect enough to criticize the church.

  • The answer to that is to fire the straight divorced couples. I am convinced the correct answer to gay marriage, in fact, to all of the abwrosexual nonsense that goes on today, is to oppose straight divorce and straight contraception.

    If we sent a clear countercultural sign that anything outside of married procreative sex is rape, then maybe contraceptive sex would be less prevalent.

  • I do, and find it to be a dangerous and foolish pasttime. The human body was not designed to live that long.

  • Naters

    But I think what I’m trying to say is that Catholics schools don’t fire heterosexual divorced couples, and that’s the scandal.

  • And what I say is we should. Years ago, when my mother was working in the Archdiocese of Portland schools we did.

    It is irrational to allow somebody to be in a moral position of authority who refuses to be moral.

  • Mike Panic

    More anti Gay bullcrop from the katlik side of hell.

  • Mike Panic

    And your book of voodoo incantations, fairy tales, talking animals and genocede at its start is a moral guide? Your bible condones slavery, misogyny, mass rape, filicide, infanticde and other assorted atrocities. Calling it a “moral” guide is an outright lie. It deserves to be called a warning about the evils of monotheism.

  • Mike Panic

    It is calledxs “deflection.”

  • Why should a divorced persom be allowed to teach kids?

  • Mike Panic

    Who died and made you moral arbiter over what others do with their own bodies? Are you so against pleasure that you deny not only yourself but others that right? Extremely presumptuous of you. But that is what judgmental cathlic busybodies do.

  • Mike Panic

    People staying away from a god that p;ermitted 17 centuries of chilod rape. Sorry, but your god whacking itself while watching child rape just means that god is every bit as evil as the church that covered it up for 17 centuries.

  • Mike Panic

    Firing anyone for consensual sex between adults is an abomination. The hypocrisy of a church that condoned child rape for centuries and fires adults for consensual sex is monumental.

  • Better than spreading AIDS because you believe the government’s U=U homosexual execution lie.

  • Nobody needs to, it is clear to anybody who knows right from wrong that adultery is wromg and homosexuality is abuse.

  • Agellius

    I have no idea what the hell your point is. You seem to be saying it’s good to be a bad Catholic, in which case sorry, you’re good too. In fact you think it’s better to be bad since then you avoid Pelagianism.

    Why are trads “blindly” dogmatic? Can’t they just be dogmatic? And why is their faith “brittle”? Who ever said they can’t “feel the dirt between their toes”? Do they not admit their sinfulness? Don’t they go to confession more than anyone?

    Absolutely we’re not a works-righteousness religion. But we’re also not a sins-righteousness religion. What we are is a repent-and-believe-righteousness religion. Not just believe but repent too. Embracing badness is to spurn repentance. Repentance is too hard so you persuade yourself that sinning is your “purpose.” This is patent nonsense (funny how those words go together, sort of like “blindly dogmatic”).

    What you are, my friend, is mired. By transference, or projection, or whatever it is, you accuse trads of inflexibility. But trads are the flexible ones. They go to confession and resolve to be good. Then they commit sin. But once fallen into sin do they stay there? No, and do you know why? Because they’re *flexible*. They’re not content to remain there like a rigid, cast iron bar. The devil would like that, if they were to lie down in the mud and let it dry around them and immobilize them until they’re dried out and inflexible like a mummy. Rather, while the mud is still wet they shake it off and head for the nearest firehose. Not so the wicked, not so! (Ps. 1:4.)

    Trads go through endless cycles of sin and repentance, never content, never good enough! A constant striving to overcome their own natures. No, they’re not brittle. Tough maybe. Sinewy from fasting and with callouses on their knees from praying. Little sympathy for whiners.

  • Sympathy is a good thing. That, more than calluses, is one of the things prayer is meant to produce.

  • Agellius

    Agreed. Calluses are a side effect.

  • Mike Panic

    Your only reply is an ad hominem attack. Why do you do this? Is it because you have NO answser to facts about your supposedly holy book that exposes your god as pure evil? Maybe you should have chosen a better one. Why do you keep putting your meddlesome noses where they don’t belong?

  • Mike Panic

    Why should a single person be allowed to teach? Or a married person? We all know what married people do in bed with their naked rutting. Just think of some poor cathlic kid thinking “I know what you and your wife do in bed.”

    Just imagine the revulsion kids feel when they seed A priest and wonder if that is one of those kiddy diddlers?

  • Mike Panic

    Sin is a concept valid only to those stupid and gullible enough to believe in such foolishness.

  • Mike Panic

    Because some imaginray godthing says so? Your goddy will have to get over here to tell me in person. I have heard enough lies and contradictions that I now believe everybody is lying about his hate mongering god thing. Now get over here, goddy boy!!! HERE BOY!!! HERE GODDY GODDY!!!!!!!

  • You are the one starting with ad homienem attacks, atheist homosexuals always do.

    You don’t understand the difference between good and evil to begin with, so how do you know the God is evil?

  • Mike Panic

    PROVE me wrong about what I called your sorry book. Calling your book for what it is is not an attack, but a criticism. But to those who killed millions in the name of some godthing any criticism is seen as an attack. Standing up to hatred shown against others by cathliks is what I do. SIN was developed as a cudgel to beat hatred into your hearts. Now get the goddyboy over here to tell us your BULLSHlT in person. Your word means nothing to billions. Now take your goddyboy and shove the hate mongering cretin.
    A recovered FORMER cathlic

  • Not until you prove your actions are not evil. For instance, you seem to support spreading AIDS to random people and you support the genocide of the unwanted through abortion and euthanasia.

    Atheists like you have killed their billions to, in the gulags of Siberia and in the death camps of Cambodia.

    You don’t know the difference between good and evil, so who are you to judge God based on what some brain-dead nun told you in Catholic School, when you didn’t even listen to her?

  • No, because you have yet to prove that YOU know right from wrong, and in fact, you keep attacking precisely to spread chaos and destruction, just like every other atheist with daddy issues out there.

  • Only those who are proven to know the material should be able to teach. This guy, in the original article, has proven that he doesn’t know how to be moral enough to teach Catholic Morality.

    Just like you.

  • There is such a thing as too much sympathy, however, just as there is such a thing as mercy that destroys justice.

    Prayer didn’t help the victims of Uncle Ted McCarrick and his merry gang of atheist homosexuals.

  • It isn’t consensual if it is homosexual. It isn’t consensual if it is contraceptive. Aberosexuality destroys consent, and is nothing more than the same abuse as child rape.

    There is no difference between Uncle Ted McCarrick and the homosexual or divorced person. All three examples are just different forms of abuse.

    And that, in the end, is why I say that athiests like you are pro-abuse.

  • Mike Panic

    Thank you for yet more attacks on me. I get this for standing against your unjust god that teaches you HATE is a virtue. Genocide is a virtue. Mass rape is a virtue. Mass abortion is a virtue. Slavery is a virtue.

    You accuse me of abortion? LIAR!!! I have never had an abortion. Another lie pushed by frankie And his minions of evil. You point fingers at tyrants playing god and killing, yet you praise the god that killed every living thing on Earth in a flood because it was 69PO’d. No wonder you are seen as pure evil by sol many.

    Now you have the temerity to accuse me of having no morals. You attack even your own faith in a fit of blasphemous anger.. I stand up to your church and god’s evil ways based on some itinerant goat herder stories. Now prove your god. Get the evil little son of a 69bitch over here to explain its evil ways. Get the 69goddamned god over here to PROVE sin is a valid idea. PROVE being Gay is a sin. You showsed your evil hatred when you forced millions ofGays to fight all the way to SCOTUS for their right to marry the man or woman they love. Instead youj control freaks insisted on telling them who they may marry. Now your sorry “church” loses 6 people for every news fool it gains. Google it.

  • Mike Panic

    Your knowledge of right and wrong is totally ludicrous. Praising
    genocide, mass murder and mass rape, endorrsing slavery and burning
    people at the stake after you tortured confessions out of them.
    Millions are estimated dead in witch hunts and inquisitions. Stick
    around–I have a lot more dirt on your sordid litlle coven.

  • Mike Panic

    “catholoic morality” is a total oxymoron. Again, thank you for the gratuitous name calling. And you wonder why your god is called evil? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mike Panic

    Yet you claim some god has dominion over you. Is that consensual? Did that godthing get a signed contract from you? Your idea of consensual is rape according to your god and its bible.

    Uncle ted was a pedophile hiding behind a dress and a funny hat. Cathlics were lulled into giving the perverted pedo access to their kids under the guise of a god with a 17 century history of loving child abusers.

    My spouse and I have consensual sex. Even when I was shown how Gays make love by an older “good cathlic” by it was consensujal. I was 13 and he 15. We both enjoyed it and I was a more than willing participant. And that enjoyment is obviously why you hate so m,any. They enjoy sex and you will not allow yourself that pleasure as lust is a”sin.”