Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rant Against Mediocrity 4.0: "Gee, you're just like a normal person!"

"Normal" Christian theologians wear pink socks, left.

Rants Against Mediocrity is an occasional series: more found here. Stand back, everyone.

You know what gets my theological goat this month? People coming up to me, commenting on my lived reality as a teacher of Catholic theology, and ending with the inspired revelation "Gee, it's great because you're just so normal!"

1. That's a compliment? Um, I was going for the supernatural "in the world, not of the world," thanks. Do you honestly think that's the ultimate compliment you can give a religious person?: "You know, you're just like the rest of the fallen world. Good for you!" It's true I am a sinner like everyone else, but it isn't something I'm proud of, for cripes sake.

2. Or does "normal" mean...human? a woman? I have brown hair? I laugh at jokes? I need bifocals? I'm interested in good literature and world politics? I mean, what the heck do you think Christians do? Shed our green scaly skin at night and curl in a fetal position while we lull ourselves to sleep humming Gregorian chant?

Now I am not so mean and uncharitable (usually) to recognize that the comment is well-intentioned and should be taken as such. And I try. But what on earth do you all you "I'm spiritual not religious" folks think Christianity is about, anyway? Televangelists behaving badly? Bickering scholars in Newstweak? Christopher Hitchens' regurgitated lunch? Is my average working mom self that much of a challenge to what you consider the essence of lived Christianity?

So some radical thoughts:
  1. Go to a Church (while people are in it). Look around. Feel free to stare.
  2. Go to a Salvation Army center. Volunteer. Look at who else is.
  3. Go to a Church-based crisis pregnancy center. Strike up a conversation with the volunteers.
  4. Think just a bit about what you consider normal. And what you now consider Christian. Then let's talk.
Oh, and thanks for trying to make me feel included and welcomed by your statement. But see, I don't care all that much whether I am "normal" or not. If you want to honor me with hospitality, try this: "Tell me what you believe. I'm really interested by the way you act." That, my friend, is a compliment.


I heard wears pink socks.


CMinor said...

Way off-topic, but did you knit your pink socks? It's a nice pattern!

The Ironic Catholic said...

Cminor, I couldn't knit if my life depended on it. But I could wear the cute socks!

Theocoid said...

It's perfectly normal to feel that way, IC.

{grin, duck, run}

Paul Cat said...

"Shed our green scaly skin at night and curl in a fetal position while we lull ourselves to sleep humming Gregorian chant?"


Personally, I prefer Ambrosian Chant. (j/k)

When I get a 'compliment' like that I usually think it means that I am not one of those awkward, nerdy, socially inept Christians.

Ray from MN said...

Weeeeelllll, I had pink socks when I was 16 or so and really liked them. Even when a nun who I liked criticized me for wearing ladies' socks, I kept wearing them till too many holes stopped me.

But, back on topic, I'd better draft a few safe compliments to use when we get together again some day, I.C.

I wouldn't want to become one fo the subjects of your rants. It's bad enough having to deal with Cathy of Alex!

SherryTex said...

Loved it. Amen.

Raising a lighter in your long as that's still considered "normal."

adoro said...

..."Shed our green scaly skin at night and curl in a fetal position while we lull ourselves to sleep humming Gregorian chant?"

Um...actually....I typically pace around in tight circles, staring balefully out of the corner of my eye at anyone present, sipping chewy coffee while alternately muttering to myself and singing polyphonic harmonies.

Are you saying that's wrong?

The Ironic Catholic said...

Adoro--I'm not saying its wrong, but it is very Flannery O'Connor-esque.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Theocoid, I'm going to kick you with my pink-socked foot. :)

Marie said...

I think people are probably thinking more of people like my mom (who ironically was raised Catholic but converted to Protestant when she was pg with me). Who can't say a single sentence without inserting a "praise the lord" or "I'll pray for you," who would rather fling holy water at a sinner than be an example for them, who passes judgment on everything you say.

Allen said...

Adoro stole my comment!

I usually get "You're a Christian? But you're so weird!" To which I grin pleasantly... and lift my pantleg to show off my pink knit socks.

Darn it! They're black again today!

angelmeg said...

Even funnier (or more perverse): I was in a Christian online group for almost a year before anyone knew I was a Catholic. When it finally came out that I was actually a Catholic Christian they were all amazed because I was so, well, normal for a Catholic.

I was never quite sure what they expected from me. I suppose they expected that I would be spouting Latin in each post or something.


Jenny from Chicago said...

Compliments tell you more about the person giving them than about the one being complimented.


You are one flaming Christian chick.

Ma Beck said...

I wish just for once someone would say that to me.

Weird, loud, annoying, brash... I get all those, but "normal?"

Not once.