Catholicism, Skepticism, and Glee

Next up in the big pile of articles I meant to blog about but never did is an article about Glee from many years ago. I struggle with my affinity for Grey’s Anatomy, but I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Glee. The characters represent so many extremes that it’s hard for me to figure out whether I agree with any of it. I’ve been watching for so long that I’m not quite ready to give up, but I’m not sure why I’m watching anymore.

Way back in 2010 (yes, I’ve had my “to blog” pile for that long!), Busted Halo* posted an article from one of the co-creators of Glee after the show received an award from Catholics in Media. (Why it got the award, I don’t know, and the site doesn’t say.) It’s worth noting that this was before the episodes “Grilled Cheesus,” “Sexy,” and “The First Time,” where being religious and choosing abstinence were all made fun of as unrealistic or neurotic. Just once, can I get a character who actually waits until marriage, practices a religion, and is happy? Can I get a character who is actually like me? All the people who aren’t like me do.

But I digress. The author and I tend to disagree on the Church and her people. He writes, “I think that being Catholic is a lot like being Jewish. I believe that it is not a set of beliefs, but a heritage.” That’s not true, though. You can be culturally Jewish, yes; but you can be just culturally Catholic, too. I live not too far north of Mexico. I guarantee you a significant number of the people with Our Lady of Guadalupe on their cars could tell you that she’s Mary and she’s Mexican but not any of her story, whether they believe that story or not. Existence does not equal truth.

He also writes:

It’s difficult, as Catholic, to…watch bishops deny communion to people whose beliefs they don’t approve of. Or to hear people throw around the term “Cafeteria Catholics”, as if the tenets of the Church itself were so flimsy that they can’t withstand examination. And, sadly, I think it’s that church that most people see.

I agree. It is difficult to see all of those things. I don’t agree with every Catholic, either (for example, this author). A Catholic, by definition, is anyone who has been baptized Catholic. Technically, I am lumped together with every person who would mark “Catholic” on a survey. I’ve been at least that much a Catholic my whole life, but it didn’t mean anything and I didn’t know anything for most of that time.

I do, however, recognize the teaching and sacramental authority of bishops. By the nature of their office, bishops have the right and responsibility to deny the Eucharist to those whose sins are widely known and influence others. (Reconciliation, which is also a sacrament, is always open to anyone who actually wants to change.) We have bishops, who have spent years in study and prayer, so that we ordinary laypeople don’t have to police one another. That’s what they’re for.

Examination of Catholic tenets (also called “faith formation”) is actually crucial to being Catholic, but disbelieving in or disagreeing with something is different than struggling to understand it. I think “the church that most people see” is made up of uninformed and jaded Catholics. Most Catholics are jaded because they are uninformed. Shown the truth, people desire it. I want to share the truth. I want to end the lack of information.

Spending a few years really trying to be a good Catholic (and to figure out what that meant) did wonders for me. I do what I do because I don’t want anyone to have to live in darkness and confusion like I did. I’m trying to solve the problem, not just share it. What about you?

*Repeated disclaimer: I work for the Paulist Fathers, who run Busted Halo, but my opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Busted Halo or the Paulists.



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[…] parts one and two.) I picked up a few old “to blog” articles (on moral relativism and Glee), and I gave blood for the last time before going to Nicaragua put me on the deferral […]

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