Several years ago, I wrote a piece describing the difference between Jewish guilt and Catholic guilt. It was done in obvious jest, and it received many comments—mostly positive.
However, the preponderance of the negative feedback came almost solely from tight-ass Catholics. And since I’m about as solid a lapsed Catholic as there is, I rejoiced in it; it proved my point.
Well, the competition is on again. And—trust me on this—NOTHING has changed. So I’m going to revive that piece with a couple of minor tweaks.
And as before, this is a simple, tongue-in-cheek parody on the stereotypical reputation of Jewish mothers specifically, and Roman Catholics in general, when it comes to the manufacture and distribution of personal guilt.
For centuries now, comedians by the millions have done a job on Jewish mothers and the guilt they’re capable of heaping on their children.
I’ve also known my own share of loving Jewish mothers. And while a couple of them were a bit heavy handed with the guilt trips, the majority of them wouldn’t have been able to hold a candle to my own late mother’s ability to delegate extreme guilt, and SHE was a devout Roman Catholic.
It’s not the guilt, itself, that makes Jewish mother guilt different from Catholic guilt. If this type of guilt were to be criminalized, Jewish mother guilt would be a misdemeanor, while Catholic guilt would be a felony.
First of all, Jewish mother guilt is cultural in nature, always centering on various interpersonal themes.
The guilt is interpersonal. Its main premise is that the BEHAVIOR in question is positively awful. You know… like when a Jewish daughter decides to marry a house painter instead of a neurosurgeon. What a TERRIBLE thing to do to a Jewish mother.
Roman Catholic guilt, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. It’s neither cultural nor interpersonal. It’s an endemic guilt, going to the very essence of humanity itself.
It’s not a matter of Catholic parents dropping a guilt trip on their children. This guilt comes directly from Catholic theology! Catholic parents and Church teachers are merely the conduits through which the guilt is passed on to ensuing generations. Here’s how it works.
Christians, in general, believe that Jesus Christ became man by being born of the Virgin Mary, and in the end, He suffered an unimaginable degree of physical and emotional pain while being crucified for OUR sins.
God sent His son to suffer and die in retribution for humanity’s sinful fall from HIS favor after that terrible “Applegate” scandal back in the Garden of Eden, thanks in no small part to that temptress she-devil, Eve.
God was a prick back in those days. This was the OLD TESTAMENT God, a nasty-tempered dude who would toss fireballs, raging floods, and hideous, disease-ridden plagues at people who pissed Him off, even small children.
I mean, after all those years of leading the Jews through the desert, He wouldn’t even let his favorite buddy, Abraham, into the Promised Land and, from all the reports at the time, Abraham hadn’t done anything to deserve being banned. Now, THAT’S a prick.
Then, somewhere along the line, God found humanity’s version du jour of Dr. Phil.
He underwent a complete makeover, and a new God emerged: the NEW TESTAMENT God. He was a kinder, gentler, less edgy, and a way more personable God; the one who would eventually send His own son to get humanity off the eternal damnation trail.
In other words, Jesus would eventually die for ALL of humanity! EVERYONE who was ever born! EVERYONE alive today! EVERYONE who will ever BE born, right up to the end of the world.
Here was the nicest, most loving, most helpful, sinless person ever to grace humanity. A living personification of goodness and mercy!
He healed the sick, raised people from the dead, forgave hookers, walked on water, even fed thousands of people during a single afternoon using just a few fishes and containers of wine.
And how did WE repay Jesus? We KILLED him. That’s right! After all HE did for us, we caused him to be scourged, crowned with thorns, nailed to a cross, and left to die between two sinning scumbags.
Now THIS is guilt. It makes Jewish guilt seem like child’s play. All Christians are subjected to it. But Catholics, however, have raised the guilt bar to even greater heights.
Not only are we guilty for every “sinful” ACTION we’ve ever taken, we’re also JUST as guilty for even thinking about such things, especially when it involves SEX. In other words, thinking about doing it is the same as doing it.
You see, thoughts are no problem for you Jews and most other Christian denominations. But for us Catholics and Episcopalians (Catholic Lite) a passing impure thought could earn us an eternal reservation in Satan’s raging inferno motel.
You Jewish folks out there just have to accept the fact that when it comes to guilt, there’s no contest. We—not me; I returned my ID card—Catholics crush the daylights out of you when it comes to laying on GUILT.