Mark Shea is one of the few people I know who can reach down the throat of a typical hollywood tabloid scandal and come out with a profound truth about human nature and basic theology.
Enjoy a snippet, and do go read the whole thing:
Thankfully, the vast majority of people (at least on the blogs) seem to have taken Gibson’s confession of guilt (a refreshingly manful one free of passive “I’m sorry if I offended anybody” BS and chockful of “I did *this*. It was a *disgrace*” honesty) at face value and forgiven him, as is fitting.
The big fart smell hanging in the air, of course, is the content of his tirade: all the swearing at Jews and the anti-semitic ugliness that came pouring out. As a good child of a post-Freudian culture, I was raised to believe that what people say when they are plastered, or insanely angry, or deeply afraid, or otherwise stripped of their normal rational faculties is Who They Really Are. We talk that way all the time. “I thought he was a good man until the mask came off and I saw the ugly Truth”. That sort of talk is natural as breathing for us.
That’s because, in America, everybody is a Calvinist, including the Catholics. We believe that the fall is identical with nature, and therefore believe that when you see a man in sin, you see him as he “really” is. Goodness is the mask, corruption is his nature.
I was corrected in this false and heretical belief years ago by my favorite priest in the world, Fr. Michael Sweeney, now president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. The reality is quite contrary. Sin is the mask. It is not what names us but what makes us anonymous. Sin, because of the fall, is normal. But sin is never “natural”. It does not constitute who we are, it *destroys* who we are. It is when the human person takes his place as the redeemed creature God made him that we begin to truly see his face and know his name.
And so, to Mel Gibson. Gibson tells us, “I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable.” It seems to me that we have a basic choice: to believe revelation or to believe Freud.
See, that’s why Mark is in the 1% Club. Also because he can use the phrase “fart smell” as a metaphor, in a serious essay, and get away with it, because it fits the context perfectly. You try it sometime; you’ll see it ain’t easy.