Are Fox News' Constant Attacks Making You Lose Your Religion?
This week Bill Maher took on the GOP and their Fox allies for ramping up-- on cue: election time-- their fake war on Christianity again. Watch the video above. Maher was so good that none of his Real Time guests even mentioned that leading the Democratic Party's "war on Christianity" is the left's newest hero, Pope Francis I. Aren't Republican Catholics muttering that the Pope is off the reservation and sounding like Bernie Sanders (or, God forbid, Jesus)?
Does this story from Philadelphia sound familiar? "I went the next 20-some years only whipping out Hail Marys on bumpy flights, only calling upon the heavenly saints and angels when the occasion called for a particularly colorful curse. Save for weddings and funerals, I rarely stepped foot inside a Catholic church."
And then last year happened. In the grand scheme of years, it wasn't notable. But in my tiny world, it was the kind of year that brings you to your knees, that seems somewhere between impossible and unimaginable to get through. I was seriously considering a tattoo of Lisa Loeb lyrics when I realized, Holy Saint Joseph and Mother of Mercy help me, that I had better find something bigger than myself, and fast.
I poked around my yoga mat for awhile, and even stayed after class for meditation. I read everything Deepak Chopra had to say about enlightenment, and then listened to his audio books just in case I missed something. But here's the problem with pop culture zen: The line between cosmic consciousness and "Screw this charade we call reality, let's go eat all the drugs in Ibiza" is pretty fine, and I never had great balance.
What I wanted was a hard pew. A half-assed responsorial psalm. A good talking to from Sister Mary. And a clear-cut rubric for getting on the Promised Land’s guest list.
I wasn’t reluctant to come crawling back to Catholicism because I lack faith. Some days I know there isn’t a God, some days I suspect that there is, other days I watch a lot of Ancient Aliens and look for hidden messages in the Metro crossword. But the great thing about Catholicism-- especially the Northeast’s brand of Catholicism-- is that it’s as much of a culture as it is a religion. If you show up to the beef-and-beer and toss in for the second collection like a sport, nobody asks too many questions while you figure out your adult-onset Lisa Loeb fixation.
What did give me pause was the church’s leadership, both in Philadelphia and in Rome. How could I find comfort in an organization that abused its most vulnerable, that had so little respect for women, that arbitrarily applied the rules of a dusty old book to people whose only real mistake was loving another human?
I’m not saying Pope Francis is the answer for Catholic Church-- it’s racked up quite a few problems over the past 2,000 years, and at least for now, he talks a more progressive game than he seems willing to play. But the considerable compassion and thoughtfulness he’s shown has made me more comfortable on even St. Cecilia’s sadistic kneelers, and I’m happy and honored to welcome him to Philadelphia this fall.
Not that I’ll be in town when he stops by, of course.
Father, forgive me, but I can make $400 a night renting my place on Airbnb-- and I’m not even sure I believe in the Big Guy yet.