exercises in compound storytelling

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"meat for lunch for Lent"

NEW ORLEANS - FEBRUARY 05:  A reveler wearing ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
There is so much I do not understand about Catholicism. So much so that when I see a sequence like the following I'm pretty sure I'll never understand what it's like to be Catholic, and I'll double-never-understand what it's like to be ex-Catholic.

Here's Ross Douthat from the Times; I think he's decrying the do-it-yourself of American religiosity, particularly of American mysticism:

In a sense, Americans seem to have done with mysticism what we’ve done with every other kind of human experience: We’ve democratized it, diversified it, and taken it mass market. No previous society has offered seekers so many different ways to chase after nirvana, so many different paths to unity with God or Gaia or Whomever. A would-be mystic can attend a Pentecostal healing service one day and a class on Buddhism the next, dabble in Kabbalah in February and experiment with crystals in March, practice yoga every morning and spend weekends at an Eastern Orthodox retreat center. Sufi prayer techniques, Eucharistic adoration, peyote, tantric sex — name your preferred path to spiritual epiphany, and it’s probably on the table.
I have to admit that I'm so American that I'm genuinely of two minds on this: I love having the freedom to make a mess of my own spiritual practice, but I'm sometimes put off by the messes other people make of their spiritual practices. See e.g. my attempts to make sense of Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man.

But then there's Mary Valle, who I have to thank for mentioning this article:

Ross, do you eat meat for lunch every day otherwise? Really? It’s lunchtime and you’re all “Time for a hamburger! I think I’ll have some chops! Whoa, is that brisket? Garcon! Wheel that meat cart over my way, if you please!”
And I swear I've walked into the middle of a conversation uninvited. In a language I do not speak. Or words to that effect.

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