Saturday, August 07, 2010
Go Ahead--Make My Te Deum
There's a certain something about Catholics. You can call it charisma--since that is what we do call it.
Who is famous for being charismatic? John Paul II, surely; John Kennedy; Pierre Trudeau.
All Catholics. You don't have to be Catholic to have charisma--Elvis, Bill Clinton, Obama aren't. But it seems to be more common among Catholics.
This is significant, I think, because charisma is, literally, a spiritual gift, a gift from God. Assuming that is true, it implies that the Spirit is more fond of Catholics than others--which is a good test of a true religion.
Not, mind, that the fact of having charisma seems to be any guarantee that the individual is good or Godly: Hitler and Mussolini had it too. (Both raised Catholics, interestingly.) But that is inevitable; it has to do with man's free will, and the fact that this truly is a "gift" from God, not something personally earned and dependant on good behaviour.
But a concentration of charisma among Catholics still looks significant. Here's why: charisma, or "savoir faire," which seems to be about the same thing, seems to have to do with a kind of inner certainty: a charismatic person radiates a sense that he knows something ultimate, that he is in touch with truth. Such a sense most naturally and fully comes from true religion; even if it can have other sources at times.
Someone who is directly in touch with truth is less likely to be swayed or frightened by immediate events--the bomb goes off behind him, but the tough guy does not flinch, continuing to walk steadily towards the camera. Being Catholic seems to be especially good for actors in "tough guy" roles: Gary Cooper; Nicholas Cage; James Cagney; Sean Connery; Clark Gable; Mel Gibson; Al Pacino; Gregory Peck; Arnold Schwarznegger; Martin Sheen; Sylvester Stallone; Spencer Tracy; John Wayne; Patrick McGoohan.
Notably missing: Humphrey Bogart, an Episcopalian; and Robert Mitchum. Generally, though, it does seem that being Catholic produces a certain steadiness of hand in the face of worldly events, even if only on celluloid.
This tendency to charisma among Catholics seems to me to be yet one more proof of the truth of Catholicism. "By their fruits ye shall know them": and here are visible fruits of the spirit.
Of course, the dominance of Catholic actors may have much to do with a general dominance by Catholics of the arts, both in America and internationally.
But this too speaks of the gifts of the spirit. What else is art but visible inspiration?