From First Things, April 2008, number 182:
The comedian Bill Maher recently delivered himself of some rather decided views on religion in general and Catholicism in particular. On a late-night talk show he said, "You can't be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you're drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god. That doesn't make you a person of faith. That makes you a schizophrenic."...[We] might ask whether the Mahers, at least at times, do not, however inadvertently, render a service in pointing to the astonishing nature of Christian truth claims. Astonishing if they are not true, and more astonishing if they are. We are not schizophrenic, but we are keenly aware of the tension and, at times, the conflict between the gospel and culturally conventional understandings of reality. Christianity is indefatigably dialogical but never without an edge. Matthew Lickona puts it nicely in his memoir of a young Catholic, Swimming with Scapulars: "Let's be open and clean. Let's drag this out into the light and discuss. let's not be shocked and resentful; let's love the lonely. Perhaps, coming from a fanatic, the message of God's love will regain some if its wonderful outrageousness. 'Listen. I have a secret. I eat God, and I have His life in me. It's the best thing in the world; it leads to everlasting life. But first, you have to die to yourself.'"
Richard John Neuhaus draws into sharp relief the fundamental foolishness of the whole enterprise. We, we cool American dudes, shy away from the bizarre nature of the gospel: that the creator-God came "down to us" as a first-century Jewish handy-man named Yish and let Himself get murdered by the Romans, but came back to life and is now, once again, Master of the Universe. Oh, and this was all according to plan, and, hold on, He wants us to join Him in what He variously calls a mission, a kingdom, a creation, a war, a race, a gathering and a death-march.
What good is it to draw attention to the, ah, odd members of the theological family? Can't we focus on raising children, on images of trees by water and sheep sleeping under the watchful eye of a shepherd, on food magically multiplying and other cool stuff? Well, and this question betrays my "westerness" with its concern for usefulness, but I think there are two results of ignoring the fantasy beneath our faith: