One of the things that has kept me from dropping out of the Roman Catholic Church entirely is the sense, faint though it sometimes is, that the Church possesses a certain gravitas, a certain maturity transcending whatever preschismatic wedge-issue bullshit happens to be consuming the shriller elements at the moment and temporarily sucking all the air out of the room. The RCC is rare in this regard, its only serious competition coming from the Orthodox churches, sporadically from some of the more thoughtful mainline Protestant denominations and, on a good day, from the more grounded outliers lost in the happy-clappy emo din of the nondenominational movement. Really, though, that last one is rare enough that it should be cherished above rubies. Nondenominational churches rival the Catholic Church for intellectual heft and spiritual focus in the same way that Todd Akin rivals John Hickenlooper as a gentleman. In a world of unmoored, rudderless churches whose know-nothing leaders peddle mindless woo-woo, the Catholic Church stands out for its sobriety, thoughtfulness, depth, and orientation in something resembling history. It plausibly serves, in a way that would be laughable to claim of some churches, as a strong foundation for its followers’ spiritual, intellectual and social maturation.

That’s an awfully nice thought, in any event. For ideas of how to make a right royal cockup of this ideal, let us turn again to Lady Lejeune, who recently told her Facebook followers that she likes to tweet at Pope Benedict XVI “like we’re pals.” I had a tepid feeling about the Holy Father’s grand entry into the Twittersphere, not so much because he would make a twit of himself as because he would make twits of his flock. Being a Catholic bishop, he tends to give great thought to his public statements prior to publishing or uttering them, and to take nuances into account, which calls into question why the hell he joined Twitter in the first place. If public engagement is what he hopes to achieve, Twitter is a pretty stupid, troll-infested place to seek it, particularly for someone whose organization is as controversial as the Catholic Church. It’s the social media equivalent of Andrew Jackson inviting the rabble into the White House, that they might drop in, grab a hunk of the big cheese, and puke on the carpet as they leave. On the other hand, given that the current presidential administration uses the White House website as a platform to host a smorgasbord of petitions whose overall effect is to worsen the already bad name of direct democracy, the pontiff is not unique in this regard.

The salient truth about Benedict for our purposes is that he has a church to run, a church whose size and complexity preclude his taking a personal role in the lives of all but a tiny handful of its faithful. In the conflict between the immanent god and the transcendent god, he is forced by circumstance to be the latter. To get an idea of the pitfalls of the former option, examine Mark Driscoll.

What, then, should we make of Lady Lejeune’s comment about pretending to be “pals” with the Pope? I say daddy issues. It’s a hunch, but it can’t be too far off the mark. It’s consistent with all the neurotic sexual carrying-on she did in college, standing atop the barricades of history yelling “STOP!” at the rising tide of unchaperoned big girl sex. It’s consistent with her pathological fear that somebody, somewhere on campus was having big girl sex without a single social institution to watch over the process and keep her from getting hurt. In fact, a lot of girls were having big girl sex at Alma Mater; one of the renowned shameless sluts, I was later told, even had sex with a big boy from Indianapolis (and I do mean big) on a fire escape. It’s consistent with her need to adopt God as her paterfamilias, to tell her and Lord Lejeune when and in what manner they may become one flesh. These are two adults, parents raising a family of their own, who insist that their church act in loco parentis and dictate their sex lives. The less obvious corollary is that they insist that their church praise them for their chastity, or in other words, give a shit about what they do naked in their bedroom, because the louche fixation of a celibate clergy on the sex life of married couples is obviously a hallmark of responsible adulthood. Like, duh.

While I’m at it, I should mention a picture that I saw making the rounds in NFP circles on Facebook some months ago. It showed a bishop and several priests blessing a baby at an altar, with a commentary from the young woman circulating it along the lines of, “I love holy celibate men of God who love babies!” With respect to a clergy that had become an international byword for pedophilia and accessory thereto, this sort of statement is either cultlike or utterly tone-deaf. Reading such a thing, it’s hard to know whether to snicker or to reach for an airsickness bag.

That sort of childish drivel is a mainstay in reactionary Catholic circles these days. There is a large, and apparently growing, subset of young Catholics who can’t stay sexually continent or raise families without subjecting those around them to a barrage of this kind of shit. Another favorite is pro-life rhetoric and imagery that is at times strident and poisonous, at times laughably illogical and guilt-trippy, and often conflated with much crazier rhetoric about birth control and noncoital sex. Step back from the fray, and it looks like a bunch of children raising children. Age isn’t an issue when you’re, shall we say, young at heart.

It’s quite reminiscent of Alien Aunt and her ilk calling God “daddy” and beseeching him for presents. Where Catholics want God to be their fatherly cockblock, charismatics want him to be their fatherly provider, the big guy who will take care of them because they’ll always be daddy’s little girl. Worse, these aren’t shameful desires to which the faithful cautiously admit after they’ve opened up, but proudly held ideals.

These are just more reasons why I admire whores. They aren’t women-children who drag others down with them into a morass of childish dysfunction; they’re big girls, and damn straight they have big girl sex.

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