Friday, June 1, 2012

Anna Quindlen was Catholic?

Anna Quindlen - seek her not among the pewsitters

Not only that, Quindlen claims to have sat in a pew on occasion, and hints that she has done this even during Mass.  Yet, at a point in time which, despite its supposed significance, Quindlen can place only within several years, Quindlen determined that all this pewsitting she claims to have been doing was actually a ratification of things she had no wish to ratify.  In other words, an observer who didn't know better might take her for an ordinary Catholic.  Recoiling from this horrid possibility, Quindlen, to the extent she had been sitting in pews at all, stopped.  Furthermore, Quindlen resolved to continue not sitting in pews forever, and recently declared this resolution to a not very astonished world.

Of course, I was aware that being of a mixed Irish and Italian background, Quindlen was familiar with and felt a certain attachment to Catholic things.  However, whenever Quindlen raised a Catholic subject in her writings, it was invariably for the purpose of dissenting from or criticizing the Church's teaching on that subject.   So naturally I assumed Quindlen was not a believer.  In a newly published book, Quindlen has again taken up Catholic beliefs, once again with a view towards criticizing and dissenting from them, but there is a new finality to her attitude this time.  Indeed, as Quindlen disclosed on NPR (where else?), she has "left the Church."  The telling part, to me, is Quindlen's vagueness about when exactly this happened.   Which is a bit like not remembering when exactly your house burned down.  Or when exactly your child died.  Deacon Greg has more here.



According to Hemingway, a good writer needs a "built-in, shock-proof, sh*t-detector."  Anna Quindlen doesn't have one, or it's broken, or it doesn't work on her own sh*t.  Get a load of this, (taken from Quindlen's NPR interview):

"I think not going [to Mass] anymore made me realize how much of the good had been imprinted deep inside me, and how much of the rest I didn't need," she says. "I don't have to listen to the Gospel on Sunday to know the stories of the New Testament. They inform so much of what I write that they're practically like a news scrim that goes through my brain 24/7. And I don't have to listen to a sermon to know what to think or feel about them. It's almost as if I absorbed completely what mattered most to me, and the rest could go."

"But Quindlen says she still relies on her faith.
"I still walk around some mornings and look at the world and think, 'Oh my God. This is so fantastic, and there's so many opportunities to do good and to be happy,' " she says. "And I think that comes from some deep-faith place that started in religion and now transcends it."

Did even so great a mystic as St. Teresa of Avila enjoy the grace of having the Gospels run through her brain 24/7?  Nope, but Anna Quindlen does, though one gets the impression from her blase treatment of this spiritual marvel she regards it as no big deal.  Did even so great a saint and intellect as St. Thomas Aquinas enjoy the grace of absorbing the New Testament in its completeness?  No again, though Anna Quindlen received this privilege some time ago, along with the wisdom of determining what in the New Testament might safely be discarded.   Did even so gentle and lowly a saint as St. Francis of Assisi ever claim to walk around thinking of nothing other than doing good and being happy?  No, but Quindlen enjoys this experience regularly.  Quindlen even has the presence of mind on these occasions (sounds like they might be triggered by entering Zabar's) to congratulate God for having made such a "fantastic" world as she strolls about blissfully.   

I, for one, rejoice that Anna Quindlen has left the Church.  Worshipping our present Deity keeps me occupied sufficiently, so I don't have time for worshipping an additional one.  Perhaps the realization that in the Catholic Church the position of God is already filled motivated Quindlen's decision to "transcend" the Church.  Doing so has certainly facilitated Quindlen's delusion that she outranks God.

Still, if Quindlen should ever detect within herself a curious longing to return to a pew (and over the centuries there has been considerable testimony that pretending to outrank God eventually produces a terrible ennui), there are several I would happily recommend.

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