Thursday, March 23, 2017

Budweiser and other Brews

My parents made sure that my siblings and I were exposed to ballet, opera, plays, a monster truck rally, robo-wars, and bullfights (which are totes legal in California - matadors from Spain and South America come to California to train in bloodless bullfights and they are AMAZING). Catholics are a "yes, gimmie that...and that...and OH HELL YES, ABSOLUTELY THAT!!!" kinda culture. We're highly inclusive; we engorge ourselves on being.

Evil is when something that should be lackless has some lack. It follows that anything truly human is truly Catholic, since to be authentically human is to be more what we were created to be (Imago Dei).

But there is a tension between the high-brow and low-brow forms of enjoyment - a conflation that the closer you are to God the more refined your tastes (particularly in art) should be on earth. The more otherwordly and dispassionate, the better (except for The Passion - that's ok)!

Thus it is, for example, that pious religious art drivel is put out and an implicit claim is made that such fare is better for us than movies with no religion in them and characters who do naughty things and perhaps (quelle horreur) show naughty bits.

It is true that man is a rational animal our excellence is acting in accord with right reason, i.e. in loving God and all that naturally flows from that.

It is not true that this entails that it is wrong to desire and enjoy lesser goods.

It is also not true that something which treats of refined/heavenly/rational things imbues it with a certain excellence or necessary priority.

It is, further, not true that a lack of refinement/explicit religious sentiment makes for wickedness.

If I want to kick back with a Budweiser and turn on a mindless anime series, where is the harm in that? There are better things I could be doing - better things I could be enjoying - but that is not the measure by which we measure. The eager convert who jumps straight into seminary is positively salivating for a higher good -- but is it good *for him* and *at that time*?

Life can still be full low-brow stuff like this or high-brow stuff like this. Or a whole range of things in between!

We're affective corporeal creatures with a shared destiny. We don't have to pretend that we like only explicitly-religious things or that we don't have passions that wax and wane and occasionally cause us to explode in a puffball of expletives that stand in contradistinction to the virtue-types proffered by religious films. There is some virtue in madness if it's at the right time, place, etc. It's good to be riled up about some things (abortion, death penalty, euthanasia, unjust wars, etc.) and to express that through various mediums (da solo, in a group, in art, etc.). We also don't need to ignore that there are aspects of human actions that are unsavory, bawdy, or vulgar -- and that sometimes such things are funny (*cough* Chaucer's Wife of Bath *cough*).

If a movie, if a play, if a book, if an event, if a thing leads us closer to understanding those aspects of human nature in its myriad of expressions and motivations - and if our enjoyment of that does not contravene God's laws - then we are better equipped to penetrate deeper into reality, into truth, into being. At least, so I'd contend (with a healthy quantity of caveats and conditions as regards the particular individual and object of their appetite).

We should not despise things that are low-brow or not explicitly Catholic -- or instances where we experience and express human passions -- it might have some worth to it, some goodness, some being. It might be Catholic, just not in name.

As Catholics, we want ALL THE THINGS that are good and we want ALL THE PEOPLE to get to heaven. Budweiser and top-shelf booze are both welcome.

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