05 December 2010


Punk Catholic Thought of the Week XVII

One thing I like to remind my readers every month or so is that blogging is the publishing of one's "pantsing" and thus is always open to revisions. Often, what is perceived to be flaky backtracking is actually a firm step forward in a learning process that would not have been possible if the original opinion hadn't been published. (Think: Catch-22--but a friendlier version.) In my own case, I insist that I never know what I'm saying until after I have said it--and true to form, I didn't know what I meant by the term "Punk Catholic", which I've been using for almost a year, until last night.

That is why I really am backtracking on a statement I made (somewhere) that I'd never do another "Punk Catholic Thought" post again. =P I meant it when I said it because I wanted the people who come here for only the explicitly Catholic stuff to give up and go away. And I take it back now, partly because I think they finally have and partly because this is a post I really, really want to write.

Catholic Boy:
My New Favourite Punk Anthem

If you haven't already met him, let me introduce you to Jim Carroll, the poet and musician most famous for The Basketball Diaries, the edited journals of his high school years, when he first became addicted to heroin. He was the original Punk Catholic (not to be confused with James Carroll, the non-punk ex-priest). Next to him, I am a mere poseur.

The lyrics are cocky, inelegant stuff, but they're also absolutely right. Which Catholic doesn't have allies in Heaven and comrades in hell? Which Catholic doesn't bring angels to their (anthropomorphic) knees? Which Catholic doesn't realise that he has nothing at the end but the sacraments?

Carroll has also compared punk rock to the Stations of the Cross, and admitted being surprised when he once, without thinking, made the sign of the cross while passing an art museum.

But I wasn't surprised when I heard about Sister Victoise, a teacher he was very drawn to and who died the summer before he was kicked out of school. She reminded him of St. Therese of the Child Jesus--an impression that stayed with him forever, even if he did not stay in the Church. And that is the light by which I listen to his music, read his books and see his life.

There is more than one way to be saved. May he rest in peace.


Jessica Bell said...

LOL! You have the logic of my sister. ;o)

Enbrethiliel said...


Brilliance must run in your family, then! ;-)

pennyyak said...

I like musical posts so I can surf and listen. Shallow? Perhaps.

Enbrethiliel said...


As long as someone was entertained, then I've achieved my higher purpose. =)

I may think of you whenever I have a musical post in the future. ;-)

So . . . what did you think of the song?

Dauvit Balfour said...

Well, you successfully converted me to the non-Catholic part of your blog. I almost didn't have a comment (I know, you wish I'd left it that way), but I just had to listen to the song (which I like), and that inspired this.

Maybe I'm cynical, maybe you've turned me punk, maybe being stuck in the middle of two ideas about the faith has made me insane. Either way, I think the beginning of my "punkification" (or the culmination, perhaps) was when I was at the sinners' Mass on Sunday evening, clad in jeans and a t-shirt, and decided I wanted shirts made that said "T-Shirt Traditionalist". Oh, how my proper friends would cringe at the thought.

I am Chesterton's paradox.

Ratty clothes and fedoras
Beer, whiskey, and fine wine
Pipes, cigars and hookahs
Blues and rock and chant
Dive bars and Gothic Cathedrals
All of these are mine

pennyyak said...

En: I do like the song. It has... snarling enthusiasm and interesting guitar (or something) riffs -

And reminds me a tiny, tiny bit of John Cougar Mellencamp.

I think you have good taste. It is difficult to explain why I like it - am not a musical person (not my ears, and not my voice).

Enbrethiliel said...


Dauvit: If I had wanted no comments at all, I would have locked the combox. I've done that before. And well, I don't really mind yours!

I don't think you've become cynical--or at least, not so deep in cynicism that you couldn't pull yourself out. (I personally find that cynicism is a hat, which I occasionally like to wear but which isn't necessarily me all the time. Perhaps for you it's a T-shirt? LOL!)

About two weeks ago, I thought about how listless I've been at Mass lately and the way I've been conditioned to think that that is horrible thing. We're supposed to be 100% 24/7, and all that. But then I thought about my half-heathen childhood, my apostate youth, the fervent and fiery years right after my awakening to Christ and His Church, and now the present, when simply showing up has become the cornerstone of my worship. And it occurred to me that the Body of Christ has always "absorbed" me, no matter what kind of member I have been, and that this mystical fact has always and ever shall be enough. When I'm weak, others take up the slack; and when I'm strong, it is my turn to carry them. I'm not in this alone.

There's another Punk Catholic Thought in that, if I can find it . . .

Fantastic poem, by the way. You should make arrangements to have it carved on your gravestone.

Penny: It's a happy song, isn't it? =D It might not be Carroll speaking for himself, but the Catholic boy/man has it right.

Hmmmm. John Cougar Mellencamp doing Punk . . . I'll need to think about that some more, listen to some more old albums, etc.

Oh, would you kindly remark to Christopher--sounding as casual as possible, of course--that you think I have good taste in music? =P

pennyyak said...

Yes, will subtly slip in remark about your good taste when he writes something I can exploit. Ha!