Pilgrim’s Progress

Let’s talk about faith. Faith and Mexico. Faith in Mexico. A conversation that implies discussing mine as much as theirs. They’re Catholic here. Yes, there are Mormons living out a Romneyesque exile and Evangelicals and a Baptist mission just moved into the town down the road. But they’re Catholic here. So am I, and that makes things for me easy. Easier, at least, than for the handful of Jews and Protestants and the profusion of atheists in our group. I mentioned in a much earlier post the strange lack of overlap between granola crunchers and rosary fondlers and that holds true still.

Being Catholic, I know the dance if not the song, and with a scrip in hand I’m well enough at home. I can enlighten my fellow Volunteers as to why a statue of a saint is not a sacrilege and why fetishizing Mary is more or less kosher, even the reasoning behind the pantheons of virgins that hold sway over the countryside and Guadalupe who rules the whole.

Uncontested Comandante en Jefe

Uncontested Comandante en Jefe

I can reassure Lupe time and again that I’m baptized and confirmed if not recently shriven and that I’ve taken the body and blood. My Catholicism comforted and comforts both of my host mothers. I know that the one in Querétaro, no matter how the Peace Corps has accustomed her to the Orientals and Hebrews that she previously prejudged, took pride in that I went to Mass when she invited.

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Backlog 1: Religion

Hey, so I missed a few weeks there. Like, maybe seven or eight of them. Who’s to say. In site, back on track, working hard, blogging again. Gonna run through a couple of still-relevant backlog posts along with my regular stuff, now that there is regular stuff again.

They're breeding!

Like the man says

Here we go:

My mother Natalia is real religious, muy católica, and it’s creeped out of her in more than a couple of conversations. If this gets back to anyone in the family, you folks know I’m Catholic and I’m far away from criticizing. I think that in the US, religion has gotten so wrapped up in wedge politics and has been so captured by the Reagan big-tenters that it’s difficult for any liberal to go in wholeheartedly. At one end you’ve got evangelicals trying to oppose the truisms of modern science at every turn (and not even the stuff that matters anymore, they’re fighting century-old battles like evolution or new ones like climate change that, when you think even medium-hard, have nothing to do with religion). At the very worst, empiricism says that there’s no evidence for the Divine, and that if you want it you’ve got to take it on faith, which is, you’ll recall, about the same boat we’ve been in since Aquinas.

The problem is that once you’ve gotten into political ground, everything’s got to take on a dialectical opposition.  So if you aren’t a snake handler or a Borat-featured misunderstander of what speaking in tongues actually means (hint: ‘tongue’ means language in this context, not gibberish you make by waggling your own) you find yourself in the secular camp, which in recent years has taken on a haughty, self-satisfied smugness towards religion, which in the Western world played host to all the great minds for the last two thousand years. It’s not a bevy of idiots, is what I’m saying, but that’s lost on us because of its current most visible representatives. Another trainee told me he was glad he didn’t have enough Spanish to understand the Mass because that way he could get through it without laughing. I’m sure he didn’t mean it so badly, but he expressed a feeling exemplative of the current climate.

It’s a viewpoint that chooses to ignore the centuries of thought and philosophy that went into the ritual of th emass, and even if you think all godliness is ridiculous, there’s a beauty to be had regardless. It’s a worldwide body, expressing their prayers and their hopes and their fears in unison, and that’s a level of brotherhood seldom achieved. You’ve got to keep it in mind, even if the bishops in the US have their hearts set on corralling the sexual world and casting their hard won positions into the political arena.

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