Here’s a clip of 9-year-old Jonny Mizzone playing banjo with his brothers Robbie (13) on fiddle, and Tommy (14) on guitar:
As you can see, he’s so good that it’s a little unsettling. He makes playing amazing music look entirely effortless: he seems to be hardly aware of what he’s doing, the way ordinary humans unconsciously twiddle their thumbs. In any case, that’s how I feel about Marc Barnes, the blogger known as Bad Catholic. He caught my attention last fall, when he wrote a post called Y’All Suck at Sinning, in which he argued that we’d descended past the glamour of evil to the sheer banality of evil:
Jean Vignaud, Abelard and Heloïse,
Surprised by Master Fulbert (1819)
Now obviously, sinning is an awful thing. But the modern world hasn’t stopped sinning, only made sinning unexciting and stupid. Again, less than 100 years ago, I suppose I could safely assume that people sinned because it made them feel good, because it made them happy. Sin was reckless. Now sin is responsible. Think of the reality behind the modern act of pre-marital sex. The woman is on The Pill, making her less attracted and less attractive to her man. She takes it every day, at the same time, as if indulging in a monastic rituals, despite all the health risks involved. The man wears his condom, removing himself from the very act. Really, that’s how you sin? Like clever businessmen, carefully calculating maximum rewards with minimum risk?
And he’s had plenty of great posts since then. Last month, he wrote On Being Made For Infinity, in which he argues that we experience an infinite longing for love – that we never arrive at a place where we don’t want to be loved any more (unlike our desires for other things, like food and drink). Atheism, he argues, is ultimately unsatisfying, since it asks us to accept limits to the capacity to love and be loved, and seeks to reduce love to something merely biological.
In both of these cases, and several others, he’s making insightful arguments like few other bloggers writing today. And then he writes things like this, and you remember, “Oh, right, he’s 18.” And then the whole thing becomes all the more impressive. My point is, if you’re not already reading his stuff, you probably should be.