OK, bandying about the Catholic blogosphere is one thing. Lots of good folks out there, lots of good readers, and yes the occasional whack-a-doodle-nut-job but hey that's life. This blog has discussed Shea, Scalia, Poust, and others and still many more left as-yet undiscussed.
That's one thing. Tackling something by Andrew Sullivan is another matter entirely. That's basically Dan Savage territory. Make too snide a point and WHAM-O the entire Internet hates you.
Still, consider this, apparently a conversation (recorded? actually occurred? or stylistically recreated by Sullivan?) between Christopher Hitchens, well-known cultural critic and atheist who died in 2011, and Andrew Sullivan. Very interesting reflection on the place and authority of faith.
And, to refer to this blog's theme, an example of spiritual veganism. The spiritual diabetic consumes and still remains thirsty, since the pattern of previous consumption leaves one unable to digest, break down, and use the spirituality consumed. (I.e., like actual type II diabetes--eat yet still hungry and thirsty, and as we get heavier, the less able we are to burn what we consume.) Spiritual veganism, on the other hand, makes a virtue of forgoing anything deemed 'wrong,' in this case religion itself. It's an attempt to label the apparently spiritual pursuits of the intellectual/cultural elite (like Hitchens, Sullivan, and Savage) who insist that they're not spiritual. If none of this truly mattered, then why did Hitchens spend his last days fighting the religious impulse (which, upon his death, insisted that his soul stood in need of prayer like everybody else's)? Why does "Herr Ratzinger" matter at all to Sullivan and Hitchens? Is the pope that much of a threat?
The emaciated appearance of vegans makes a telling claim. While the vegan mindset fosters self-satisfied superiority ("I'm not like them--I don't consume the harmful trash preferred by the ordinary"), the rest of us see someone who's painfully skinny. Contrasted with the diabetic frame, perhaps that's better--but really? We should surrender on-going, unslakeable spiritual thirst for the thorough-going refusal of all things spiritual? Sullivan's contributions to the conversation indicate a "spiritual vegan"--notice the attempt to claim a 'more humble' view of divinity. This is spiritual veganism; he's willing to forgo the grander claims of belief he identifies with Ratzinger. However, that's precisely what some folks like. Think about it: the bacon-eater simply cannot understand the vegan's self-satisfaction (and self-deprivation).
It's no wonder that some folks continue eating/consuming spirituality forms; they know it's probably killing them, but it seems better than the supposedly healthy alternative.
This is a blog, so there' no need to be coy: the cure lies in the Roman Catholic tradition, which allows for, and celebrates, both consumption and abstinence--spiritually as well as physically. The Church sustains, protects, and embraces life--but in so doing reminds us of life's spiritual foundation. This "diet and exercise" plan, though, like many such programs, rarely seems as rewarding as the diabetic and vegan extremes.
But that's what'll actually put us on the road to health.