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*Image (above): Les agapes (or Love Feast among the Early Christians) by Alexis-Joseph Mazerolle, 1877 [Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, MO]. Below: Ferrari v. Ford.

By R.J. Snell, The Catholic Thing, Dec. 19, 2020

R. J. Snell is visiting lecturer at Princeton University and a Director of the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, NJ. His most recent book is Acedia and Its Discontents: Metaphysical Boredom in an Empire of Desire.

R.J. SnellA friend and I enjoy good-natured debates about the Church. He’s a serious Protestant but knows and admires Catholicism. I was a Protestant for most of my life, so we have shared experiences and commitments that allow for good disagreement.

We were recently discussing how some Protestants view the Catholic Church (and Catholics) as somewhat out of control, while still fascinated by the Church. It was, we concluded, borrowing an image from the 2019 movie, akin to Ford v. Ferrari. The Catholic Church has the cachet of Italian design and the misfortunes of Italian maintenance. To Protestant eyes. the Church can seem like an aged Ferrari, sputtering and backfiring at low speeds, brakes a little iffy, wobbly suspension, while its driver, a shockingly gorgeous woman in a headscarf and oversized sunglasses, who may have had several glasses of prosecco at lunch, careens about the highway. The Ferrari, despite maintenance issues, can do 180 miles per hour. ….

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