Years ago my friend Maria came back to the Church. It was the end of the world as she knew it.
In her youth Maria was a heavy metal fan; born, like a lot of people in the 60's, with a deaf wish. But even though rock is now part of the mainstream, and even though liturgical music had it goin' on in the 70's, and even though Bob Dylan did a papal concert, there is still no Church-sanctioned version of Ozzy. So she kissed him goodbye.
After that it was goodbye modern TV and movies. Goodbye to certain fashions from Trends R Us, goodbye to check-out lane magazines and commerce on Sundays.
She came to me in a moment of despair and asked when it was all going to stop. When, when was life going to seem normal again?
I broke the news: never. I'm a cradle Catholic who considers being in a coma the only valid excuse for missing Sunday Mass, and I'm still not done saying goodbye to the world.
First it was goodbye to electronics, shoes, clothes, and toys made in Communist China.
At the same time there was the Disney boycott. Remember that? It wasn't that their latest princessess were feminists who could "take care of" themselves and routinely rescued men in distress with an agility that was almost cartoonish. It wasn't that Cinderella's and Snow White's torsos had been digitally enhanced for the purpose of advertising. It all fell apart when their subsidiary companies started making movies which brought Catholics out to protest with signs and rosaries.
Uh, wait a minute. Maybe this is the place you are boycotting and it's the place you just left that's in the clear.
That was the year the kids got underwear for Christmas.
Then I saw a special on PBS about underwear manufacturers who, in league with the World Bank, are driving third world nations into insurmountable debt.
An underwear boycott is clearly called for here but just how long can it go on?
Then there's the problem of eating. Here you are, reading every label to find out what dyes and preservatives are added that might make your offspring sterile in twenty years when you are safely too dead from cancer to file a lawsuit. Naturally you start shopping at health food stores. On your way in you see a giant poster of a swami. Great. The store is new age. Your conscience says there is another health food store across town. Ten miles. Not far to go to do the right thing. Of course, it's likely that it will also be New Age. You decide to ignore the swami. Where else can you go to get products that look and taste just like the poisonous originals? They cost twice as much but that's okay. You should really eat less anyway. Thus far you've got it all worked out. You're proud of yourself.
Then you tell a friend all about it and she informs you that one hundred percent of the profits from these products go to organizations whose sole mission is to uproot all traces of Christianity from the planet.
In a frenzy you run out and buy seeds. Then you shop around in six different stores for the best price on a chest freezer.
On your way home you are exhausted. You pull into a Burger Bits franchise. Your conscience reminds you that you're supposed to be boycotting this one, due to the fact that last year they were an official sponsor of the NAMBLA Olympics. It prods you to go across the highway to the competitor. Just a half mile down the road then loop around in the u-turn, a half mile up again and ten minutes later you arrive at the competition across the road.
Uh, wait a minute. Maybe this is the place you are boycotting and it's the place you just left that's in the clear. You pull slowly up to the window trying to ignore the smells seeping into your car. You toy with the idea of asking the cashier if the name Donald Wildmon sets off any buzzers. Right.
You ask yourself, WWJD? That's a tough one. He'd probably opt to go hungry. You ask yourself what would Mom do? No good. She'd be at home, cooking. She never did anything half so frivolous as you just did. You suddenly feel very alone.
The struggle to maintain a standard of Catholic culture is suspended. The smells are too much. You've decided to eat there no matter what. An evil voice inside your head says, "Might as well go all the way. Go on, pull over. Eat it in the car, and while you're at it blast the radio. The kids will never know..." You pull the burger from the bag and shove it down without allowing yourself to think. You refuse to care whether the franchise serves a cola that funds a charity that donates to an organization that contributes to population control in countries where the World Bank directs unfair labor practices. Perhaps just last week they switched to a lesser-of-two-evils cola whose only crime is unseemly commercials, but you'll never know. You have no cable so you don't get channels that carry unseemly commercials. You can't even tell one cola from another anyway. Besides that, you didn't even get a cola—due to an article you read linking caffeine with premature aging. You are drinking water. Pure, free, chlorinated tap water with added fluoride... which has been linked to Alzheimer's... in a wax paper cup that makes it taste like blood!
Suddenly none of this matters anymore. You realize you've just eaten a cheeseburger without even unwrapping it.
Suddenly none of this matters anymore. You realize you have just eaten a cheeseburger without even unwrapping it.
You leave with a feeling of self satisfaction you haven't had in a long time. The paper that is now inside you was recycled. You have just done your part in saving the planet!