Saturday, December 24, 2005

Prix fixe? No, prefix.

DISCLAIMER: This entry contains a lot of instances of the word "Catholic." However, this entry actually has nothing of substance to do with Catholicism. And, you know, some of my best friends were once Catholic.

I think the term "lapsed Catholic" is pretty funny. It ranks up there with "spot vulture." Spot vultures, of course, are the people who sit in their cars in the middle of the parking lot aisles, waiting for someone to vacate a parking spot. You know these people. They make sure no one can get around them, and very often they do this even when everyone else is in the store. Then, of course, no one can get their car out anyway, so the vultures honk a lot. But really, if they were true vultures, they would drive around the lot in search of a soon-to-be-departing vehicle. Nor would they honk. Real vultures aren't known for lying in wait, nor are they known for announcing their presence. They dive-bomb, and they do it quietly. Given half a chance, they will dive-bomb your car while you try to change your flat tire, and you won't know until it's too late.

But I was talking about "lapsed Catholics," wasn't I? I could go on a whole thing about how this term is funny because it implies that once Catholic, always Catholic. I mean, if you are raised Catholic and then decide it's not for you, then you become a lapsed Catholic. Which, in essence, makes you a non-practicing Catholic, even though you don't want to practice Catholicism. There's no escape! But I won't go on that whole thing. Really. My whole thing is actually much, much longer.

Some folks who treat substance abuse like to conceptualize "falling off the wagon" as lapse, relapse, and collapse. A lapse isn't necessarily bad. You can have a one lapse during a period of sobriety and still be perfectly fine. But a bunch of lapses can make a relapse. Relapse isn't necessarily bad, either, as long as you are able to commit to getting back on the proverbial wagon. But if you can't get your use back under control, you enter collapse. And collapse is bad.

So what of religious lapses, then? If a lapsed Catholic is someone who has stopped being Catholic, but might start up again, then a relapsed Catholic is someone who has stopped being Catholic, but has started up again. Or is a relapsed Catholic someone who stopped being Catholic, started up again, and then stopped (i.e., re-lapsing)? But perhaps that is an elapsed Catholic.

Then we turn to collapsed Catholics. Do they have bad knees?

And what about prolapsed Catholics? Are they people who support lapsed Catholics, or are they medical conditions?

Eh. Words are dumb.

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