I don’t know where it was that I first heard some goofy liberal clergyman explain that the ‘real miracle’ of the feeding of the 5,000 was that everyone shared their lunch. I was brought up with red blooded Christianity and had never heard such poppycock before in my life, so over the years I have asked people whether they’d heard such a sermon and what they made of it.
Christians from virtually every denomination (apart from conservative Evangelicals) claimed that some pastor or priest or teacher had tried to shovel this stuff on to them and the weird and wonderful thing is, everyone who agreed that they’d heard this lame brained ‘demythologizing’ of the miracle thought how stupid it was, and the well meaning liberal preacher, through his words, had not taught them to share their lunch or anything else. Instead they only came away thinking how dumb the preacher was, and “if that is all there is to the gospels you can keep it.”
It reminds me of the story about Flannery O’Connor who was having dinner with some posh writer folks in New York City and the hostess said she thought the Eucharist was ‘a symbol’. Eventually one of the snobs said, “And what do you think about this Miss O’Connor?” Flannery (who all evening had been intimidated and silent) said, “If it’s only a symbol to hell with it.”
This sort of platitudinous demythologizing is just about the most nauseating thing anybody can do with Christianity. It replaces the wine of the faith with Coke Zero–something sweet, but which doesn’t have calories or caffeine and doesn’t even quench your thirst properly. Explaining away the miraculous in religion actually changes it from being religion at all. Who wants a religion without the supernatural? Religion without the supernatural is just a set of table manners.
I don’t care a button for a religion of good works and ‘sharing’. I want full blooded miracles please. I want religion to be about the hope of heaven and the fear of hell and angels and demons and the glory of the saints. I want Padre Pio bi locating and St Theresa of Avila levitating and St Bernadette seeing the Blessed Virgin and then her body not corrupting. I want St Agnes dying for her virginity and Fr Jogues, who was granted a dispensation to celebrate the Mass with no fingers because they had been chopped off and eaten by the savage Iroquois Indians who he insisted on going all the way back across the Atlantic to minister to.
That’s the sort of ‘sharing’ I’m in favor of, and all this sentimental clap trap about ‘wasn’t it wonderful that the little boy shared his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and so inspired everyone else to share their lunch too!” Makes me want to puke.