Thursday, September 16, 2010
"In his view the real religious person lives in uncertainty, thrives on it, as the handmaid of mystery."
- Paul Elie on Czeslaw Milosz in "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"
I'm reading Paul Elie's book "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," about four mid-20th century writers - Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Flannery O'Connor, and Walker Percy - who each wrote from their life journey as Catholics and drew artistic and spiritual sustenance from a shared correspondence. It isn't that a writer makes any specific effort to create a Catholic art, Elie asserts - the art is Catholic because the artist is.
It's making me think - again - about saying I'm a Catholic artist, something I might like to do - unless that identification has anything to do with the structure of priestly hierarchy in the Church and its bulldozing values and beliefs. That circumstance is making it harder and harder to sit within, to even approach the pew of the Church in this era of Catholicism.
As Flannery O'Connor said over a half-century ago: "Usually I think the Church's motto is 'The Wrong Man for the Job...'"
But I'm coming to feel Catholicism - perhaps better catholicism - has nothing to do with the infrastructure of the Roman Catholic Church. I make catholic dance because I say I'm catholic. While I feel the Church has completely failed me it does occur to me that it needs Saving. I might be the Right Woman for the Job.
"We should all feel near to despair in some sense because this semi-despair is the normal form taken by hope in a time like ours." - Thomas Merton