Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mel Gibson and, in America, everybody is a Calvinist

A quote from Catholic and enjoying it on Mel Gibson; HT to The Buck Stops here.
As a good child of a post-Freudian culture, I was raised to believe that what people say when they are plastered, or insanely angry, or deeply afraid, or otherwise stripped of their normal rational faculties is Who They Really Are. We talk that way all the time. "I thought he was a good man until the mask came off and I saw the ugly Truth". That sort of talk is natural as breathing for us.

That's because, in America, everybody is a Calvinist, including the Catholics. We believe that the fall is identical with nature, and therefore believe that when you see a man in sin, you see him as he "really" is. Goodness is the mask, corruption is his nature.

I was corrected in this false and heretical belief years ago by my favorite priest in the world, Fr. Michael Sweeney, now president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. The reality is quite contrary. Sin is the mask. It is not what names us but what makes us anonymous. Sin, because of the fall, is normal. But sin is never "natural". It does not constitute who we are, it *destroys* who we are. It is when the human person takes his place as the redeemed creature God made him that we begin to truly see his face and know his name.

And so, to Mel Gibson. Gibson tells us, "I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable." It seems to me that we have a basic choice: to believe revelation or to believe Freud.

If you believe Freud, then Gibson is a liar when he says he does not believe what he said, because only the subrational outbursts of the drunk, the panicked, and enraged can be regarded as Truly Revelatory. We must see through the Mask of the "person" supposedly "made in the image of God" to the subrational beast composed of tangled desires, fears, hatreds, and appetites beneath. This is, of course, a measure we would not want anybody to apply to us, considering the horrible things we've caught ourselves thinking in unguarded moments (you know what I mean, don't try to kid me). In our own lives, we are deeply grateful for the fact that nobody, including God, measures us by the chaotic and selfish impulses scrambling around down there in the id, but instead respects us enough to know that it is what we choose that matters. We're even more grateful that they judge us by what we choose when we are at the top of our game.
Stepping up our game, as my daughter told me she did at YMCA camp this summer, is the answer.

No comments: