21 April 2006


From Tony Esolen over on the Touchstone blog:
"Man can make a kewpie doll out of anything; he can turn even his own religion into a stark staring idol. For who do we worship when we cheer ourselves for our own mighty efforts in the field of divinity? On some days I think it is simply ourselves; but, to be generous to the worshipers, I guess it might be the Great God Smiley, the vacuous face in the sky who likes everybody all the time, and will make everything all better, in some fashion or other that we needn't trouble about. Smiley is good by definition, mainly because he never asks us to be other than what we already are, which is good. Smiley is our mascot god. It is not a terrible thing to fall into the hands of Smiley; Smiley ain't got no hands, which is no great loss, since we're already all saved anyway and don't particularly care for a god who can grasp us. Sin? Smiley the Selfsame keeps on smiling.
Who is Smiley not? Whose face have the effete auturgists obscured? Maybe the face of a forgotten One, a man of sorrows. I see in my mind's eye Rembrandt's brilliant Head of Christ, tilted to look at an unseen interlocutor; the eyes large and expressive, yet weary; the lips pursed, as if they might speak but not yet, suggesting both gentleness and determination. He has the look of a man who knows all of us, our failings, our petty lusts, our fears, our halfhearted faith, our feeble love, and our wan hope. He knows us all and each, and loves us; he must be infinitely patient with us, because we are weak and foolish. Yet he calls us to holiness nonetheless. He knows us, but nobody knows Him -- the one Man in history whom no one will ever really understand. He was fully human -- more human than we are, because he was innocent; and as a fully human being among us semi-shadows he felt loneliness. The apostles disappointed him all the time; we disappoint him; we leave him alone in the garden to suffer by himself. I think he was left alone all over again at that Mass. Indeed whenever our devotions are not turned toward His face, we leave Him alone in the garden -- and become functional atheists, pretending to adore some Moloch or Smiley we know does not really exist."


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