I often talk about things I know little about. After all, I’m a schoolteacher. I also, rather inexplicably at times, make it a point to write about things I know nothing about. After all, I’m a “blogger”. Perhaps as explanation of the inexplicable, it seems we are drawn toward that we know so little about.
Which gets me to the Catholic Church.
I really know pretty much damn close to nothing about being Catholic. I mean I know quite a bit of the history regarding the Church. When an entity is involved with everything from legitimizing the savage pseudo-attempt to “convert” Incas to running a huge, extremely helpful charity organization, it’s not hard for even a dullard like me to find out a little something.
But there’s another layer, and yeah it’s kinda of a scary layer to someone outside the Catholic loop, that puzzles and intrigues me.
Two current blog posts and resulting comments are evidence of this additional, mysterious layer of meaning.
First is the reaction to Barb’s post at “Democracy For New Mexico” about the tabling/defeat of the proposed Domestic Partnership Bill. Those will similar obscure interest in finding out “how Catholics think” are suggested to read the comments by someone going by the handle of “Larry”. In addition to the words from “Larry”, notice how the word “Catholic” has some sort of code meaning throughout many of the other comments in the thread. Curious.
What do people really think about when they say/write “Catholic”? It’s obviously fraught with all kinds of nuanced, perhaps tortured meaning, but I’m left with the same feeling I get when I go to Slashdot and try to understand the lingo of those talking about “open source virtualization clients”. It’s the use of English as another language, one I just have to admit I don’t get.
As this use of the language seems to have quite an impact on my life in the, supposedly, Catholic Church-controlled state of New Mexico, I want someone to break down the code, preferably by screaming out exactly what they mean by use of the word “Catholic”.
Second is yesterday’s post by former ABQ mayor Jim Baca. Mr. Baca has been on a roll in recent days, and his post entitled “Taxes! and the Seven Works of Mercy” is written with a sense of fury only possible by someone who’s been there:
“Wasn’t one of the “Seven Works of Mercy” we good Catholics were supposed to do called “Visit the Sick”? That was what I was taught at Our Lady of Fatima School as a child. Well, I guess that was only for certain people. Pedophile clergy were provided with health care and counseling I am sure. Of course one of the other works of mercy was “Bury the Dead” and maybe this fills in the gaps for not helping the sick.”
Being from Texas, I understand a state run by Evangelicals. I know what that code word means. But the use of the word “Catholic” in New Mexico still escapes me after 15 years here. How can something so ridiculed, and whose followers say such ridiculously un-“Christian” things (like “Larry”) still have such a hold on this place? Or is it really just a code word for something else less politically correct to bash (e.g., Hispanics)?
Inquiring refugee minds from Evangelical strongholds want to know. I’d love to see/hear/read some REAL dialogue by native New Mexicans (or close to it) on the subject. I need a Catholic mindset flowchart. I need an online translation program.
I just don’t get it.