Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I am Johnny Foreigner

I am Johnny Foreigner

I must admit that the prospect of the gloomy days of January was lightened by knowing that Downton Abbey would be returning on January 6.  Too posh to really call a guilty pleasure.  And this is enjoyed by much of the family, not just one of my PBS 'lady's shows' like the rebooted Upstairs/Downstairs or Call the Midwife.  So, naturally, it has given us something to talk about.  This week it was not just Mrs. Hughes' new toaster, though it did reopen the debate over whether or not we need to get exactly that type of toaster.  There's one up at the UP farm and my husband has never given up on his intention of smuggling it home or finding one just like it on eBay.  Like Mr. Carson, I think it has disaster written all over it.

I knew that some chafing with the spectre of Roman Catholicism would be on the horizon.  Not just sensing it because of Sybil's marriage.  I admit I've found a few spoilers from which I could not avert my eyes.  This week I had a bit of a chuckle when the Crawleys were entertaining the Archbishop of York and Lord Grantham remarked that there "seems to be something of the Johnny Foreigner" about the Catholics.  That's not kind, as restrained as his banter was, but it was true.

Catholics -  Big C Catholics - the Church, catholic, universal is always going to have something of the Johnny Foreigner about them.  Because they are not British; they are universal.  They are catholic.  And the foreign will always be something of a threat.  But that's also the homey part of being among the universal Church - you may often be a foreigner, but you will also be able to find family just about wherever you may go.

The Johnny Foreigner remark brought back a funny memory from the birth of our third daughter.  I spoke on the phone to my husband's grandmother (our version of the Dowager Countess) not long after the birth.  When I told her that the baby's name was Bridget, the rather icy reply was "That's so......Irish."*  We were not yet Catholic - though that seed had long been in my heart - but I could hear the underlying anti-Catholic bias in the calmly enunciated words.  She may as well have said there seemed to be something of the Johnny Foreigner about that name; and would have been presciently correct.  Bridget is Johnny Foreigner.
So's her dad.  And her three sisters and two brothers.  And her mom.

I am Johnny Foreigner. There are over 1.2 billion of us.  We are legion.  We are family.  That makes us not so foreign at all.

* Irish, as in my great-grandmother, Bridget Pentony.  Irish-born Catholic American.

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