August 6th, 2014Some Good Catholic Men Answer the Question, “Where are All the Good Catholic Men?”by Kevin O'Brien |

Jeremy can't see Candace tonight.  He's "discerning".

There were some very thoughtful comments on my post Where are All the Good Catholic Men? - and some are on my blog, but others were on Facebook.  Here are some highlights.

Brian Lester said ...

I think there's several concurrent phenomena. 
1) It's certainly the case that young Catholic men are more susceptible to "discernment" (read: prolonged wheel spinning non-discernment), during which time there can be half-hearted dating attempts, and the "I might be called to the priesthood card" can avoid having to be a man about the breakup. Dammit guys, if you at all think you *might* have a call, then get your application to seminary or novitiate in, and let the community actually discern along with you. Get it over with.
2) Frankly there's probably a group of guys who are using porn regularly, and either have enough integrity to not pursue dating until they've kicked it, or having started dating don't want to propose until they've kicked it, or they are the guys Kevin refers to where: "The lack of sexual activity during courtship doesn't even seem to be a motivating factor for marriage for many of these guys - which is not a good sign." Right, it's not a good sign, because it likely points to porn.

Joe Grabowski said ...

Time was when you talked to a girl that it was just about trying to show her who you are and see who she is and establish relationality or a sense of sympathy.
But in these kinds of places/gatherings, it doesn't feel like that. (I'm talking about Catholic youth events, etc.) Here, it's like everyone is out to prove themselves by another set of expectations, of holiness or whatever.
The secular analogy is, say, a libertine night club. There people are trying to prove themselves according to outside stereotypes. Guys try to act all macho, etc. But even there at least there's something in it that recognizes the "play" aspect of flirting. Flirting at a Catholic party doesn't have any sense of play, but it feels like a cold calculation and ticking off a list of "suitables." ... 
It's like this:
The charismatic Catholic youth culture makes people excited about Jesus.
But then it makes them feel like they must, at all costs, remain excited about Jesus all the time, and even if they don't feel it, they should fake it, cuz it's just what's done.
There doesn't seem to be a sense of how enthusiasm isn't the real test or the point. They're all about being "on fire" so on days when they're down and rained on there's this existential disaster going on inside them as they feel like it's something they did wrong.

My gloss ...

What Joe is describing, I call Unreality: the contrived, ginned up, artificial, insincere religious sentimentality that only occasionally and by accident intersects with real life.  To paraphrase what they used to say about Chickenman, "It's everywhere!  It's everywhere!"

Joe continues ...

So the secular world has its pretentious hipster bars and cafes where people talk about being "deep" and lob Faulkner's name around ... and that's what makes it all work.  And there's a lot of fakery in it.
At Catholic Youth parties it's like that, except about religious matters.
Whereas for a normal, level-headed 21 year old guy (say) who isn't trying to BE anything, but is comfortable and mature enough at least to just sorta be okay being him, well he goes to a sports bar and drinks Bud Light and when a cute girl comes up, he doesn't care about being deep or whatever. He just talks to her and they get to know each other. Nobody's keeping inventory.

Brian counters ...

It's not the charismatic influence, it's that to have a shot of meeting a fellow serious Catholic, you need to go to this group under a ministry umbrella which is self-consciously Catholic about everything. Whereas Chestertonians get to be naturally catholic about everything.
I'll say that these groups don't necessarily have to be dysfunctional. I was involved in one that led to a couple dozen marriages, and the ones I've kept track of all seem healthy, and other very healthy friendships. The key was the group of normal people just needed the group to meet people, and then could do their own thing with it, always outnumbered the needy and socially awkward, who approached the group to get something out of it from the church. There was a weekly Bible study of the Sunday readings, but then when the group went on a hike or a concert or to play football or drink, it wasn't put through ridiculous filters of "what would Aquinas say about this concert?", or "what does the theology of the body have to say about this trip to Six Flags?" 

And to paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy, it makes me happy that I'm married, because I don't date nearly as much as I used to.

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