Today I’m going to challenge you to “deconstruct” a picture of my parents (below). The event was a dinner hosted by the Catholic diocese on Long Island (where my parents lived) to honor couples who had been married for 50 years.
That dinner – part of the Church’s ongoing struggle against the secular trends of casual sex and easy divorce – had an additional, unexpected effect. My mother was a lifelong Lutheran; my father was Roman Catholic. When they married, Catholicism took a dim view of what were then called “mixed marriages.” My parents weren’t even allowed to have a church ceremony – they were married in the priests’ residence. My mother always felt hurt and demeaned by the Church’s attitude towards her.
The anniversary dinner astounded her. She felt honored by the photograph with the bishop (below) – but what really astounded her was having the priests in the diocese serve the dinners and fill the coffee cups. For the first time in 50 years, my mother felt recognized and respected by the Church. It was the healing experience she’d been waiting for.
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Now let’s start our deconstruction project. I’ve already given you an up-close-and-personal look at that anniversary dinner. Now I want you to figure out what this picture says about the Roman Catholic Church (and possibly about similar institutions). To do this, I invite you to think about these two questions:
- What details in the picture (below) reveal the challenges that Roman Catholicism is facing?
- What contradictions do you see? (I hope you’re already latching on to something important about deconstruction: it’s a form of critical thinking, and not just the word game that some critics take it to be.)
Here’s a hint to get you started. Imagine that you’re watching the photographer snap the picture of my parents. What happened before the click of the camera – and after?
Go ahead and make your list. You can compare it to mine in my next post, two days from now.