instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, April 19, 2004

Pharisees and Herodians

You know George Carlin's joke about drivers? "Ever notice that everyone who drives faster than you is a maniac, and everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot?"

That, plus the definition of "religious fanatic" as "someone who takes their religion more seriously than you take yours," plus Pansy Moss's tale of woe about parish gossip (never a problem in St. Blog's, of course), makes me think that there might be a joke in the idea that there are three kinds of Catholics: Pharisees, who take everything too far; Herodians, who take nothing far enough; and me.

The words "Pharisees" and "Herodians" appear in the same verse twice, both in Mark:
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against Him to put Him to death.

They sent some Pharisees and Herodians to Him to ensnare Him in His speech.
As a historical matter, Pharisees and Herodians did not have much common cause; some wonder about the historicity of the Gospels because they show the two groups working together. But who is not with Jesus is against Him, and on the most fundamental matter in creation they were on the same side.

I suspect the Pharisees and Herodians meet together in the hearts of a lot of us; we condemn laxity over things we want to be rigorist about, and rigorism over the things we want to be lax about. But Christ will ever be between, and opposed by, both camps. So maybe the three kinds of Catholics are Pharisees, Herodians, and those who remain with Christ on Golgotha.