I think I finally figured something out about the popular culture's relationship do the Catholic Church while watching Game of Thrones the other night.
For those unfamiliar with the series, I cannot say that I recommend it. While there is some fantastic acting and some darn good writing, it is awash in visually and thematic putridness. As to why I would even watch such a thing, we will discuss later.
The show takes place in a fantasy world with many religions. One of them is called "The Faith of the Seven." It is in appearance and practice very much like the Catholic Church, where instead of a Trinity, you have a Septminity of 7 Persons in 1 God. On the show, the capitol city finds most of the leaders of the Faith of the Seven to be worldly hypocrites.
But then someone new comes along who seems filled with humble piety called the High Sparrow. In the episodes he has been in, he is reminiscent of St. Francis or even Pope Francis. He takes care of the poor and appears wise and lowly. He is then elevated to the level of High Septon (essentially Pope). Then, he is allowed by the Queen mother to have his own army: the Faith Militant.
After the army is formed, we don't see the High Sparrow for the rest of the episode. But his followers smash idols of other religions, they go into brothels and destroy them and they find the most famous homosexual in the capitol and imprison him.
That's when it clicked with me: This is what the pop culture thinks that the Catholic Church is.
I've known that have been distrusting and dismissive of us. But watching this I understood that this is their secret fear. They think that even the most outwardly pious and humble of us (like Pope Francis or the High Sparrow), secretly want an army so that they can punish people who we believe are sexual deviants. Game of Thrones just showed us what they think we would do with any strong political power.
It now makes a lot more sense to me why any acceptance or respect of Catholicism in pop culture must be destroyed. To allow it to flourish is to leave open the possibility that homosexuals will be thrown into prison and people engaged in other sexual sins will be exposed to punishment, violence, and torture.
Now to be sure whenever you give the power of the state and the Church to any group of people corruption is often the case.
But this nightmare of the pop culture sees the Catholic Church as obsessed with punishing those who engage in sexual sins. And if you are engaged in any kind of sexual practice that goes against Church teaching, you are pre-targeted by the Church for the coming purge should we get any power.
I know understand more directly how the pop culture holds the Church in disdain, but it does so out of fear.
The fear, I believe, is irrational.
I remember I was listening to guest lecturing priest at a college I attended who said that we had to get beyond harping on the sexual sins. I can tell you that as a religion teacher, I don't often bring it up if I can help it, because I have bigger things to talk about like Redemption, Transubstantiation, the infinite Love of God, etc. But I do end up talking about it. A lot. The reason why is that so many questions from students have come from their struggles here.
To say the Church talks about sex too much is like saying the leader of a Weight Watchers meeting is obsessed with junk food. Yes, there is more to losing weight than cutting out junk food, but people ask a lot about it so answers must be given.
Nevertheless, Game of the Thrones has given me a new insight into the pop culture.
Whether it meant to do so or not.