Catfish God

A little over a year ago ago a buddy of mine told me that I needed to see this documentary called Catfish. I hadn’t heard of it, but he told me it was very awkward and weird it was, so I was completely curious. If you haven’t seen it, here is my Twitter-style synopsis:

Guy meets a cute girl online and the two become friends. Inconsistencies in the girl’s story begin surfacing. Girl is not who guy thinks.

After Catfish was released and gained notoriety, Nev, whom the movie follows, began receiving correspondence from people with Internet friendships that they were becoming suspicious of. Nev began following up with these stories and Catfish the TV show was born. One person shares the details of their mysterious Internet friend with Nev. He then does puts his Internet stalking skills to the test to find out as much as he can about who mysterious internet friend says they are. He contacts them and tries to set up a meeting to bring the two friends together. This roll of the dice is where the magic of the show happens. Who exactly will the person on the other side be?

Like a lot of other Millennials, becoming friends with people over the internet was a significant and important part of my adolescence. I never met these people (except one, actually!), but we developed strong connections through sharing life stories and experiences and beliefs and all of our adolescent, earth-shattering complexities. I never doubted who these people were. They were real. They were who they said they were.

Catfish fascinates me. Sometimes the person on the other side is exactly who the other thinks they catfish_revised_logoare, and their meeting is full of happiness and excitement and joy. Then there are times when the person on the other side is someone completely different than their internet persona. Deception, lies, half-truths, and bewilderment now muddy the connection the two had established through social media, instant messaging, texting, and phone conversations. There was a real person on the other side the entire time, yet there was a different face or body or story or wound that was hidden and is now revealed. The one deceived is put in the position of navigating how to connect to someone they knew but never really knew.

Catfish fascinates me because it narrates my experience of God.

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How do I know that God is the God who I’ve been talking to all along? Why won’t God ever meet me? What does it mean to love and feel connected to this God whom I do not see or touch? Is this even real?

I came to know God through a particular set of stories and epithets and texts that I read, heard, and was fed. I eventually had doubts about who that God was and doubts about who I was. I needed to meet that God and find out who he was. I needed to know whether or not I was really as terrible as I thought, and whether the people who didn’t love God really were terrible. I had questions about the nature of love and about goodness and pain. I had questions about questions. I did meet that God.

She was nothing that I expected and everything I hoped She would be, wanted her so badly to be. And I saw Him in the trees before they became paper and before there were words printed on them that told me who He was.

And He loves. Really loves. Is love. She is that which takes my breath away in the moments when I am so struck by peace, and He is that which fills my lungs up with air when I am dumb. And He invites me to love. She gives me a voice that is her voice. He gives me ears to hear and eyes to see. I’m called into another way. The way of prefigurative grace, where everyone is welcome and everyone is loved, and where power is set aside and I’m just your brother, your servant, never your master.

I met that God and He was not what I expected. But I’m still here. I still want to know Him. I still want to walk in Her light, if ever I can find it and its warmth and share that warmth with others. Will you show it to me and invite me inside it?

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6 comments
    • peterjosephgarcia said:

      Thanks for that, man. I appreciated reading that. This morning when I got up I was really pondering “faith” and I wish he went more into his exploration of sola fide. What is your take on that reformed understanding of faith? It is central to Pauline teaching, but I think we place too much weight on faith.

  1. Pete, my lack of ability to communicate at your level of education leaves me to rely on the words of others with whom I agree. So forgive me if I add a link after this comment, to an article by someone more prepared to give you an answer. I will say this though. In the study I’ve done Martin Luther had issue with the Gospel of Luke simply because of the verse (I forget the exact place) where it seems St. Paul is contradicting, (paraphrased: it is by works that we are saved.) The Orthodox understanding is that without works one has a dead faith. Many will say Lord, Lord and the Lord will say depart from me.This is what our Lord was saying. So the equation as I see it is this …Faith + Works = the Christian life. There are no guarantees for salvation but we trust that our Lord is merciful. This trust is our Faith.

    To simply pick up and run the race, everytime we fall, is to live the life that we are called to live. One does not need an emotional construct to do this. One only needs to place his life in Christ and the sacraments, and trust in the process. Be as little children, who trust in the father to take care of them.

    I will give you a link and a little more thoughtful answer when I return. In the meanwhile, prayer is our hope.

    One caveat that has always stuck with me about learning too much is that we are responsible for what we learn. This knowledge has not hindered me, but it does haunt me nonetheless.

  2. Faith is the substance of things hoped for! We should revel in this. Our hope is in Christ. In orthodoxy there is no conflict between faith and works. Without faith there is no good work. Without work, there is definitely no good faith. One does not exist without the other and certainly not without Christ.
    As St. Paul was teaching, was he teaching a specific language of Theology which was to be taken as the final word on dogmatics? No. He was addressing the needs of the local churches. Luther was attempting to defend the faith against what he thought was awry in the church, but without the assistance of the Patristic wisdom set before him. The Gospel is living and not just a set of books. The oral, holy tradition came before the scriptures, transmitted through the liturgy for the edification of the faithful. Who better to explain the scriptures than the church which had established the Canon of books to be regarded as holy writ? Should we then cast aside the interpretation which has been handed down for our own interpretation? Solar Scriptura falls apart when one views the history of the church and with it, Solar Fide.

    Faith is lived my friend. It can not be fully expressed except in living the experience of the knowledge of the life of Christ and a direct relationship with Him through the Eucharistic communion with His flesh and blood in the church. Unless you eat of His flesh and drink His blood, you have no life in you.

    You know, for as much as Luther argued for faith being sufficient for salvation, something strikes me about his writings which he misses so easily. In the liturgy of St. Basil and later St. John Chrysostom, the prayer of preparation before communion states, ” I have never done anything good in Thy sight… But like the thief do I confess Thee. Remember me O Lord in Thy kingdom.” Our faith is insufficient. God receives us in spite of this.

    He said to the woman with an issue of blood that it was her faith that had saved her. Was this to be taken so literal? If so than we should tell those who pray and still suffer that their faith is not strong enough. But you and I know this is a lie. The Lord is merciful and He blesses us anyway. Let us be inspired then in the mystery which is that He blesses us with a constant outpouring of grace. Should we receive it welcoming, we will experience heaven. Should we reject it, like a consuming fire we will experience His love as Hell.

    Here is another link by the same author… May it find you in peace. http://orthodoxbridge.com/saint-paul-and-the-works-of-the-law/

  3. I believe in my second post I made the mistake of saying that Luther took issue with St. Luke’s gospel. But was it St. James of whom Luther said that his gospel was like straw or tinder and should be burned as such. He wrestled continually with the issue of faith v. works. What could he offer without turning to the holy Fathers?

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