The Catholic Church is infected with one of the most deplorable parasites known to man: hipsters.
Hipsters are the living worst. They want everything before everyone else, and once they have it, they want to keep it for themselves. They want to soak in the irregular until everyone else finds it, and when that time comes, they will pridefully strut - noses way the hell up in the air - far from that now-shared interest (which, interestingly enough, was absolutely meant to be shared in the first place). Ranging from obscure music, to undecipherable literature, to underground speakeasy bars, experiences and joys spoil more quickly than guac in the fridge for these pretentious buttheads whenever somebody else *gasp* wants to be a part of it.
Turn your heads now to the Catholic Church. I say again, we are positively crawling with hipsters. Now, you may not have seen many scarves, beanies, Civil War beards, or Animal Collective tees in the pews lately, but I’m not exactly talking about that kind of hipster. Rather, I’m applying the qualities and ideals of that hipster culture to Catholics just to see if anything stands out. I’m looking for "Cathipsters".
You know… Catholic hipsters. Okay, the name needs some work, but you feel me.
You see, we as a church have become obsessed with the idea of standing firm in the Truth against a society of moral relativism and unconditional inclusivity, and I think we’re getting a bit lost in that obsession. While our reality as Truth-bearers puts us in a position to stand against an often misguided society that wishes to play instead of obey (talkin’ ‘bout God), I’m challenging us to question whether we care more about the Truth itself, or simply about the fact that we have it and others don’t, and how special that makes us.
I’ve seen the attitude all over: “I’m right; I know I’m right. You’re wrong and you don’t want to budge, so I guess you’re going to hell. Your fault. Good riddance.” I’m not saying they’re necessarily off the mark about the eventual destination of those who don’t stand in the Truth (“...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” John 6:53 RSV), but at what point did we look at God’s kingdom and start saying “this is meant for only me.” When did we add the “only”?
True, our society today often refuses to budge on issues that they’re unconditionally and universally wrong about, and that estranges them from God’s kingdom. However, that kingdom is still theirs if they accept it. They may not be accepting it right now, but as long as they remain on this planet, the offer stays on the table, and that’s exactly my point.
Apparently, we no longer have the patience to sit around and help “Suzie Feminazi” to fully comprehend the offer on the table because it would involve a lot of uncomfortable discussions about bodily autonomy, women-priests, gay marriage, condoms, and wind energy (It’s not a moral issue but I’ve seen a lot of Catholics get riled up about it for some reason). Either that, or we feel it would take far too much work to share with her our reality, or even more importantly, seek to understand why her reality is what it is without blurting out all the reasons why she’s wrong every two seconds.
Either THAT, or we’re just happy we got to the Truth first and would rather say “suck it” instead of “check this out” for some stupid reason.
Before Suzie even learns our name, we’re day-dreaming the conversation: “My awesome relationship with Christ has nothing to do with your tattered relationship with Him. Your soul’s condition is your own fault. Not to mention that if I’m super lucky I only have like, 80 some-odd years on this planet before St. Peter takes a good hard look at me, and I’ll be damned if I waste my precious time rounding up a couple stubborn and wandering sheep.”
Haha, well, uhm, no. In fact, you just might be damned if you don’t.
Imagine where the world would be if we all prioritized the salvation of the lost above our own? Think about the parable of the lost sheep: “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7 RSV). I believe the invitation of all to the Church to be one of our most crucial duties as Catholics. What’s more is that I believe this duty to involve a hell of a lot more than just explaining why the wrong are wrong. It might even involve a hell of a lot less. There are so many ways to let an outsider in.
Sure, there are many aspects of our faith that cannot, according to tradition, be shared by all in every moment (ie, those in a state of mortal sin cannot receive the eucharist). However, we can share a whole lot of our faith and the beauty therein with outsiders before getting anywhere near breaking tradition. This faith is one that is meant to be shared. No, that doesn’t mean that it’s subjective, or that tradition can be poured down the drain. It simply means that God created each and every one of us with the same end goal: to be His child and a part of His kingdom. It’s not reserved for those currently in the 90th percentile of the Great Race.
All of this is exactly why it’s not okay to hope that terrorists, child molesters, murderers, or hipsters rot in hell. That’s just about one of the least okay and least Catholic things that could possibly run through your mind, much less come out of your mouth. That’s championing the death penalty on an incredibly cosmic level. Plain and simple, it’s pure evil. It shows that we sometimes don’t want heaven for some of God’s people; the people for whom heaven is meant. It shows that we don’t know how love and mercy work, just like a hipster doesn’t truly know how art works. These things don’t get less beautiful the more we share them. They get more beautiful, and it’s always, always a huge loss when an intended recipient doesn’t end up getting this tremendous gift they’ve been offered. Always.
The most important person in the church is the one who isn’t there yet. Focus on them. No, they’re most likely not going to hit up weekly mass right off the bat. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve gone too far. Recalculate. Turn around, take a deep breath, and just freaking talk to them. You only have like, 80 some-odd years on this planet if you’re super lucky, and you just might be damned if you waste your precious time exclusively on those who need very little work.
The truth is, we all need work. If you’re still on this planet it’s because you’ve got more work to do, both within yourself and with others; with the Church. Our Church is beautiful. It’s meant to be shared. Bring it to those it’s offered to (read: “everyone”), just as it was brought to you.
Don’t be a Cathipster.