“How can I understand my Catholic loved ones in order to relate more effectively to them?” The question is constantly asked. I usually respond by saying that in addition to doctrinal beliefs we must also grasp the deep complex of cultural differences which separate our traditions. A fine example of this, for instance, appeared in Andy Le Peau’s recent Books & Culture article titled “As Different as We Think.” As the title suggests, Andy’s observation concerns the particular ways that Catholics and Protestants reflect upon divine truth. In what follows, Charlotte Allen provides a glimpse of how this difference includes such things as garlic and cannelloni.
“I am a Catholic, but I married a Protestant. My husband has steeped me in Protestant lore: Protestants get results. Protestants think ahead. Protestants save (Catholics spend). My Protestant in-laws had to endure our Catholic wedding, their faces rigid with polite distress as they took in the crucifix over the alter with its bleeding Christ and the candles flickering in front of the portrait of the dusky, brilliantly garbed Virgin of Guadalupe. In turn, I politely endure my mother-in-law’s Protestant cooking: no garlic, no onions, no spices, no wine at the tables. Catholics invented Côtes du Rhone and cannelloni; Protestants invented the airplane and the thirteen-week T-bill.”1
1. Charlotte Allen. First Things. “The Protestant Ethos” August/September 1992.