Decades ago the National Catholic Reporter (these days more the National Schismatic Reporter aka Fishwrap) was commanded by the bishop where they are established to stop using the word “Catholic” in their title. The bishop was met with defiance. Fishwrap has been one of the foremost organs of catholic hypocrisy, distorting the Faith, ever since.
Today, at Fishwrap, we find this, from someone named Art Blumberg, who is going for the coveted MDiv at Jesuit Run Loyola University in Chicago.
As part of his course work he wanted to attend a Hindu Temple puja ceremony. He was scared of COVID so he watched a video.
As you peruse this, think of the snarky comments made at Fishwrap about the Traditional Roman Rite, all the “smells and bells” comments, the “couldn’t understand”, the “it’s only sentimentality that draws” B as in B, S as in S. Now, proceed at your own risk, possible with an emesis basin at hand.
A postmodern Catholic divinity student lets go for a moment of grace
The video of the puja begins with a closed red curtain. A voice is chanting. Then someone makes a few announcements in English and Hindi. The same voice chants again. He stops. Then another person chants as the curtain is opened by the priest (pujari). Behind the curtain is a statue of Ganesha, the Hindu god with a man’s body and an elephant’s head. Hindus revere Ganesha as a remover of obstacles to the soul’s spiritual journey. The pujari makes ritual offerings of food to the statue. As the offering continues, another voice takes over the chanting.
I watch and listen. Although I can’t understand the language, I find its tone uplifting. I recognize the word, “Aum.” The way “Aum” is chanted reminds me of the way “Amen” is spoken or chanted in Hebrew prayers.
As the puja continues, the curtain in front of the statue of Ganesha, standing in what I think of as the tabernacle, is closed and then opened. As I take notes, I think that there is something inspiring and satisfying about seeing a religious observance done well. The pujari waves a short-handled stick with flowing tassels. I watch this intricate ritual, wondering what it all means.
It’s then I realize I am doing this all wrong. I am observing, taking notes like a field anthropologist. I am drawing parallels to Christian and Jewish practices.
I am distancing myself.
I am not part of the puja.
I pause the video. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Take another deep breath. Exhale slowly. And again. And again. I restart the video. Shift my focus from the pujari to the motion of the tassels. Listen to the chanting. Then I stare into Ganesha’s eyes.
And something wonderful happens. I am entranced, mesmerized. Ganesha’s eyes seem to stare back as the chanting wafts over me. I slide into its rhythm. One voice, then another, then two together. Not trying to understand. Just breathing. Just being.
Silence. I am startled.
The two voices begin a new and joyous chant. Is that a bell tinkling?
The statue of Ganesha.
The chanting. The distant dance of bells.
For a moment, the eyes of Ganesha are all that exists, all that is there in my world.
As the puja ends, I am still staring into Ganesha’s eyes.
The video stops.
What just happened?
The short answer, in Christian terms, is that I experienced a moment of grace, even as it was in a non-Christian setting. I know that experiencing the divine cannot be confined to a Christian box. But I must find a deeper answer that goes beyond imposing Christian theology and values on a Hindu puja.
I go for dar?an and watch the puja again, tamping down my conscious mind, leaving myself open for the experience.
And I stare into Ganesha’s eyes.
And I breathe.
And I be.
A great feeling of peace comes over me as I surrender to the puja.
For the moment, the story becomes a little more my own.
The pandemic has upended the way we live. Yet even a pandemic cannot stop our seeking, our questing for signs of the Divine.
He surrendered, while staring into the eyes of a representation of a demon. As he did that, and afterward, he felt great.
And Fishwrap wants you to know about this great opportunity, so they posted the video too!
You too can have your very own gateway moment for apostasy and demonic oppression.
Comment moderation is on.
May I suggest that you say the prayer to St. Michael for this man and any others who might be tempted to do what he did? He could be in trouble for what he did.
On the other hand, he might have a bigger and more immediate problem. He’s with Jesuits at Loyola in Chicago.