Tag Archives: Catholic

On Tarzan and Conversion

28 Oct

I do not hug trees. I do not drink out of aluminum water bottles. I did buy some adorable reusable grocery bags at Forever 21, but half the time I forget to bring them along. Due to overexposure to Investigation Discovery and living in a city with one of the highest violent sexual crime rates per capita in the nation, when I’m alone I drive everywhere, even if the location is only a mile or so away. I’m not actively trying to slaughter the earth – but frankly, I’m just too busy/lazy/rebellious to do anything super active to SAVE the earth (more on this later).  All this to say, I am not usually a fan of environmentalist agenda that is entrenched so deeply in much of family entertainment these days. I am hyper-critical, I fully confess, and if I’m not careful I can find an evil conspiracy behind the most innocent of things (ugly disclosure time, you guys!). I am actively trying to combat this kind of negativity, though.

So the other day, when my young charges chose Tarzan as their daily movie choice, while I was elated that I did not have to watch Thomas the Tank Engine for the seventy-billionth day in a row, I was getting ready for a pompous, arrogant, IntellectaDouche criticism of the One World Peace Lovin’ Damn Frickin’ Hippie diatribe I was sure to find in this film that, in my far more ignorant, unenlightened childhood I counted among my favorites. Ahem. Unfortunately, I forgot that I’ve been praying to find God in every…single…thing like my daddy can. Forrealsz, he can get a divine revelation over a McDonalds Happy Meal. So, my expected 90 minutes of wild critical abandon was cut short by, you know, Almighty God?

If you haven’t seen the movie (and you really should – the writing is great, and the soundtrack is squee-inspiring), the basic premise follows the classic Tarzan story – Tarzan’s parents are killed by a cheetah, Tarzan is raised by gorillas, or apes, or something like that, and then the mandatory Disney romance transpires between Tarzan and the explorer Jane. So much of it reminded me of the conversion process that I just sat on the couch crying, with a snotty-nosed little boy asleep in my lap and a near-200-lb St. Bernard slobbering at my feet. Like Baby Tarzan, left to die in that tree house, our beliefs, our expectations, have been murdered. Our entire spiritual culture is gone – we know we have to find something different, but we don’t know what. We have to find shelter, but we don’t know where. I am so unbelievably blessed to have a family that loves me dearly, and for the most part either supports my decision to convert, or is getting over it – I did not lose my family in the conversion process. But I know of so many other converts who HAVE, and for them, they have to find an entirely new emotional home.

When you’re in that bleak chasm of I-can’t-keep-doing-what-I’ve-been-doing-but-I-don’t-know-if-I-can-really-make-this-leap, it is a genuine crisis. You’re terrified of what might happen if you stay, but you’re equally terrified by what might happen if you go. It’s not that God has abandoned us, it’s that we’re still too busy rationalizing and emotionalizing things within ourselves that we’re not willing to reach up and grab the hand that’s trying to pull us out of the abyss. And for far too many of us, the enemy is all too willing to seize that moment and whispers the lies that maybe, just maybe, ALL of this is a farce…maybe staying where we are is okay…maybe God will understand…maybe he’ll make an exception for us, this one time…maybe converting will spark a Beauty and the Beast style “Kill the beast!” villagers uprising and we’ll be martyred before we’re even able to be received into the church and made a Saint.

But when we’re faced with the beauty, and the peace, and the blazing, raging, earth-shatteringly silent roar of truth, we know.

We know what we have to do.

We know we have to obey God.

We know we have to follow this strange, new, thing that is so unlike everything we’ve known, and accept whatever comes next.

We have no choice. We’ve been burned by the flame of truth, and if we try to run there will be an ugly, blistering wound left behind that will kill us slowly.

Is it easy? Do we get everything right immediately? Do we have an instant metamorphosis into a beautiful CathoButterfly? No. We have fights. We have opposition in our new spiritual home. . .we have to fight battles just like we had to fight before. But it’s different this time. We have an entire community of Saints and Believers that have gone before us that are fighting and praying with us. We’ll fall down. We’ll screw up. But in the end? We win. Against doubt, against fear, against pain, and brokenness, and suffering, and starting over, we win. Not through our own strength, because we have none. But through the sweet, precious power of Christ, we win. We’re home, and nothing can ever, ever drag us out.


Also, the little elephant in the movie? Totally adorable.

Fundacatholics: why they make me want to jump off a cliff.

28 Sep

 I can see it coming. The glimmer in their eye that sparks as soon as I say something edifying about a Novus Ordo (or Eastern Rite) parish in town. When I’m caught entering the sanctuary without a headcovering (usually because unknowingly to me it floated off while running from my car to the church doors). When I quote Pope John Paul II on Facebook or mention reading the CCC or mispronounce a word in Latin.
Enter the Fundacatholic: “Pardon me ma’am, but your Vatican II is showing.”
Yes, well, the putrid scent of your Catholic arrogance is overwhelming me. When I decided to convert, I thought I was leaving denominationalism behind – unfortunately, it just tends to take on a different name in the Church. We call it Vatican II vs. Vatican I (or The High Holy Purveyors Of Truth). Do I consider myself a Traditionalist? No. Do I consider myself a Modernist? No. I’m Catholic. Period.

 I love the Traditional Latin Mass. It touches corners of my soul that before I began my conversion only ever came out of the shadows in the cold, dark, damp ballet studios where I poured out blood, sweat and more than a few tears. It’s personal to me. It’s coming face to face with God. The majesty and the imagery make me tremble before the Almighty, and I realize just how small I really am in Eternity – and just how powerful my God is.

 But the Novus Ordo is equally special. It’s like a family reunion. There are the cousins that irritate you. The grandfather that tells embarrassing stories. The crazy uncle who does things like hula hoop in a coconut bra in the middle of a barn. (True story. From family reunion. Not Mass). Is it as earth shatteringly beatiful as the TLM? Hardly. But it’s coming together in simplicity and union, and meeting God in community. Where the TLM, for me, is interior and vertical, the NO is exterior and horizontal. Both are necessary. Both are valuable. I recently attended my first Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy, in the Maronite Rite, and it added even more to my spiritual life.

 I’m tired of the rigid “My way or you’re a heretical schismatic.” vitriol. My personal favorite is when it’s announced that non-Religious (and the definition of Religious is limited to only those who are anti V2) have no business studying the theology of the church, and should leave that to “The Intellectuals”. ?????

 But you know what? However blood-boilingly angry Fundamentalist-behaving Catholics make me, they are still my brothers and sisters, and I have to love them – just like I do everyone else. Just. . .in the meantime, please make sure you cover your Fundacatholicism when you’re in public – I can see your knees.

Mad Hatterdash

21 Sep

There’s nothing like a day or two of throwing myself back into the neo-Fundamentalist moral teaching and courtship literature of my past life for the sake of fair writing and accurate portrayal to make me crave a radical swing to the other end of the theological lines and praise sweet Jesus for orthodox Catholicism and shop for confirmation and Christmas mass dresses with wild abandon – no limits at all…except my undergraduate nanny and ballet teacher’s budget. What does this say about me?

I’m looking for a Jackie O style veiled hat – don’t ask me why, I am just super into the look right now. But I am young, white, and inexperienced in the ways of millinery, so I’m asking – imploring – begging for the advice of my readers. Do you know of a fabulous milliner? Do you have a fantastic hat like that that materialized beside you as you read this that I could purchase? I’ll throw in extra $$ if it can make me invisible.