Faith Is Not Dead In Hollywood

Friday, April 29, AD 2016

Faith based films have seen a marked increase in Hollywood in the last several years. Critics were quick to dismiss the success of the Passion of the Christ some 12 years ago claiming its success was only caused by controversy, and the bankrolling of the picture by a celebrity like Mel Gibson. However, a few short years later came Fireproof and Courageous.  Both these films had an estimated budget of 1-2 million dollars and they grossed about $33,000,000. In 2011 a subtle pro-life film October Baby came out and moved the genre along to more success.

This set up the wildly successful 2014 which included films like God’s not Dead, Heaven is for Real, Mom’s Night Out etc.  The success continued in 2015 and 2016. Word is the big studios are now reaching out to small faith based companies to see if they forge partnerships, which while helpful also presents some serious concerns for faith based companies.

In full disclosure, the writers and producers of God’s not Dead are friends of mine who a few years ago came to a talk I gave at Family Theater in Hollywood, and then took my wife and me to dinner after reading one of screenplays. In a faith based world filled with Evangelicals, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, as well as the crew at Family Theater in Hollywood are Catholic.  For those interested in Family Theater, you might want to read my past article on the late Father Patrick Peyton , the Rosary priest who is on the road to canonization.

In secular 2016, it is hard to believe how well received Father Peyton was in Hollywood.  Family Theater is where James Dean and William Shatner got their starts. A trip inside Family Theater affords one an array of pictures from Hollywood’s Golden Era when Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and Grace Kelly all starred in Family Theater production films. A side note, tucked away in closet at Family Theater is an old film splicer. Rumor has it a young film student from USC named George Lucas used it to edit a Family Theater production film featuring a recently arrived young Canadian actor named William Shatner.

Everyone has their own story on how they ended up in the faith based realm. Chuck and Cary worked with the likes of Sylvester Stallone and other action oriented films for years until they could no longer resist the call to do faith based films. While they like Stallone, too few other people had the heart or character of Rocky Balboa in Hollywood. The initial years were tough, especially when hardly anyone was doing faith based films, they literally went into the valley before they could get back up to see the Promised Land. Needless to say, many thought they had lost their minds saying goodbye to the mainstream and taking the road less traveled.

Some readers might recall my initial 2014 review of God’s not Dead. The film made on a budget of $1,000,000 that initially generated a US box office figure of $60,000,000 and when all the worldwide receipts were accounted including foreign box office, DVD, movie subscription services etc totaled over$100,000,000. Generally writers and producers don’t see the kind of big money on an out of the blue success story like God’s not Dead. It comes later. If one thinks politics can be dirty, one needs to understand how the movie and music industry works.

Some film critics, even those in the faith based community complain that some of the scripts can be predictable, and perhaps the faith based angle needs to be more subtle, grittier and more provocative. Most faith based writers have no qualms with this argument. They are often put in a Catch 22, they either write a film that would be approved by faith based film companies like Pure Flix or risk the big studios saying a more subtle faith based approach is still too “faithful” for them.

Some secular critics showed nothing but venom for God’s not Dead, ( a Variety review actually used the words “Nazi propaganda film” to describe a scene) and the just released God’s not Dead 2 claiming Christians aren’t persecuted by the secular world. Then stories emerged that literally came right out of the plot lines of both films. Yet, these militant secularists give no apology.

While the critics of faith based films will always be sharpening their pens and swords, there is reason to believe that some of the Big Studios are seeing the light–or at least the financial possibilities. As mentioned above, some of the big time Hollywood studios are beginning to reach out to smaller faith based studios. Also, more faith based film companies are emerging. In addition up and comers like Nathan Leon, a talented writer, producer  and director received some notice for his film/documentary Sidewalk Chronicles on Unplanned Pregnancies which led to adoptions that positively changed the lives of so many. He and many others like him are generating some buzz in Tinseltown.

Indeed I met Leon and many other young talented men and women, while I was out in Hollywood a few weeks ago. I had been invited invited by Chuck and Cary for their premier party for God’s not Dead 2, over dinner they shared with me their big plans. They are literally this week putting the fishing touches on God’s not Dead 3 which should start to film in a month or so and be out in theaters next March or April. Also, they have an ambitious blueprint for the future and are seeking investors for their own studio and several projects are already in the works. Who knows where there this will all lead, but there are shoots and blossoms being seen in Hollywood. In a town known for fully embracing the dark side, shoots and blossoms of faith are a very good thing.

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8 Responses to Faith Is Not Dead In Hollywood

  • It’s so typical that the true fascist call foul and use discriptions like; “Nazi,” when they feel threatened, yet the freewheeling extermination of babies is freedom.

    “Work is Freedom,” the sign above the entrance to Auschwitz.

    Freedom to Kill. The new sign put up by our soul-less liberal neighbors. Poor lot.

  • Hollywood….TV, movies, popular music, I would argue has not embraced the Dark Side, but is an agent of the Dark Side.
    Seth McFarlane is at the same trims a talented and disgusting man. His adult cartoons are wildly popular and sickening to anyone of faith. He mocks his Catholic upbringing and he is worth over $100 million.
    I rarely see movies. I wish the best for the Christian filmmakers.

  • … claiming Christians aren’t persecuted by the secular world. Then stories emerged that literally came right out of the plot lines of both films.

    Oh, but that doesn’t count, because it’s not persecution if the target is double plus ungood.

  • Faith based films have always been an excellent way to evangelize. Hollywood is finally waking up to the financial possibilities which bodes well for those of us who long for the high quality production values of a well financed film project. Hurrah for Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman as they tap into what is undoubtedly a deep well of spiritual story telling and a wealth of great subject matter. Truth sells, especially when it is done right. Let’s support these films and other projects like them by promulgating their use in our parish PSR, CCD, and social halls, as well as in our family homes!

  • It’s instructive that great Hollywood actors can portray all different characters in any scenario, but they stay away from portraying the true character of people involved in the abortion holocaust. Hollywood loves sex, violence and death, along with a good scandal and coverup story but they can’t muster up the means to put the truth about abortion on the silver screen even though abortion is all about sex, violence and death and the biggest scandal and coverup of all time.

  • It is clear that fanboys will dole out huge wads of cash to see their favorite franchise even when they know ahead of time it will be just pure garbage, which is why the built in target audience has been so successful.

    The biggest builtin target audience would be the Abrahamic Faiths, of course. I think the general God awfulness of the movies and their critical success proves that people are so starved for faithbased cinema, they will put up with anything.

    Imagine the profit margins if Hollywood really invested in faith based films and made something faithful and not crap. The huge crossover hit that would be.

    The Coen Brothers made films like O, Brother Where Art Thou, and A Serious Man to critical and commerical success, and then of course, Jackson made millions and ade Oscar records with LOTR, so subtlety does well too.

    But i think the success a well done Biblical epic would have today.

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  • I find it very interesting that most of Hollywood will continue to produce trash in large amounts with the hope that, like spaghetti, some will hit the wall and make a profit when all evidence indicates that a relatively inexpensively made film with a traditional theme will almost always do quite well at the box office. Of course they will be ignored at the Oscars as not PC enough. Does anyone seriously think that any of today’s directors will be compared to John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock? Or that today’s actresses can stand up to Betty Davis or Olivia de Havilland? Today’s self absorbed entertainment industry turns out product geared precisely to its idea of itself, creating an endless circle in the process.

A Review of Bill Kassel’s My Brother’s Keeper

Sunday, April 24, AD 2016

I have known Bill Kassel for about 10 years. He has been a big help to me in my publishing and writing efforts. The one thing everyone needs to know about Bill is that when he decides to take on a project, it is going to be done right. Besides being an accomplished writer, Bill is a top notch musician and was spotted as such at a very early age. You get the point Bill knows what he is doing.

In his latest quest for a lofty project, Bill didn’t decide to tackle the Iliad or the Odyssey but in a way he tried to tackle the faith based version of a tremendous struggle and journey. Bill’s latest book is entitled; My Brother’s Keeper which is a somewhat fictional account of the early life of the Holy Family.

Bill must have spent endless hours reading through early Christian history, non-Canonical writings and apocryphal statements about the Holy Family which have nearly been lost in the mists of history. In addition, he also sought the advice of noted Catholic, Evangelical and Jewish scholars. What we are left with his a very serious three part work on the life the Holy Family might have lived, since the Gospels only give us a hint of what life must have been like for Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Think about it, you are reading the e-version (soon to be released print version) of a 500+ page intensely researched book. This serious work technically isn’t a historical or fictional account. It lies somewhere in the middle, since it is well researched. My Brother’s Keeper tells the story of the Holy Family that includes not only Christian figures like the Apostles, but key Jewish contemporary 1st century AD scholars like Hillel and Gamaliel whose influence continues today.

As mentioned earlier, Bill doesn’t do anything easy or pay attention to sales and demographic figures. Many of you are probably aware that the book publishing industry is in a state of near disarray. Like the music industry, the book world has never quite wrapped it’s arms around the digital impact on the business.  Whereas once Evangelical bookstores were the envy of Catholic bookstores owners, Evangelicals now almost wish they had the Catholic sacramental sales to help them through a very tough stretch now that there is no Purpose Driven Life or Prayer of Jabez to help with their sales. It isn’t easy to be a book retailer these days, let alone a faith based retailer.

Bill Kassel has decided that he wants this work to stand on its own despite the fact that this clearly doesn’t fit into the category of the nearly non-existent Catholic fiction section or the Early Church section found in most books stores or online, again hardly a big seller topic, but a topic that needs to be addressed. This book is designed to make you think and seriously ponder the daily grind that was life in Nazareth in Roman occupied Israel. Bill points out the daily struggle for the essentials of life and the close family bonds. Needless to say, James is a principal character in My Brother’s Keeper.

Bill brings to life the many thoughts that must have been racing through the minds of those who knew Jesus and his family as word spreads concerning his ministry and miracles. In every family there exists someone who is definitely a little different, someone who says or believes things others dare not say or perhaps never pondered. It is quite another when something that person said actually comes true and miracles are performed. What must have been the word on the street or village and what must those who were close to Jesus and his family thought? Bill Kassel takes you there. Take a step back in time and imagine how you would have thought had you lived in Israel some 2,000 years ago dealing with the harsh reality of daily life in the cruel world of the Roman occupied Middle East. When you heard stories of Jesus of Nazareth would you have been a believer? Bill Kassel is willing to help you find out.

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One Response to A Review of Bill Kassel’s My Brother’s Keeper

Film Review: Do You Believe?

Sunday, March 22, AD 2015

I have a unique perspective in writing this review for the movie; Do You Believe? In full disclosure, the screenwriters, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman have become friends of mine. I met them about three years back while giving a talk at Family Theater in Hollywood, the old stomping grounds of the Rosary Priest, Father Patrick Peyton.

Later they took my wife and me to dinner after they read a screenplay of mine and expressed further interest in it. At the time, they were getting into the faith based arena after years of working with likes of Sylvester Stallone among others in more action themed movies. I was very impressed with their humility and their desire to want to become better Catholics. They did the all the right things, helping those in need and going to Mass and Confession as much as possible. Needless, to say that sort of humility is in very short supply in Hollywood. They had no big projects in the works and didn’t seem bothered by it. “We just trust in the Lord, He will supply our needs,” said Cary Solomon.

Their continued hard work, despite any faith based success may have culminated in what St. John of the Cross called the Dark Night of the Soul, before their leap into faith based entertainment bared any fruit. That hunger and passion for others to see the truth is evident in their films. Then a couple of years ago they told me they were working on a film, God’s Not Dead, which came out of nowhere and was the biggest grossing independent film of 2014. They had already begun work on Do You Believe before the success of God’s Not Dead was even realized.

In Do You Believe, we have a cast of divergent characters from various ages, racial and socio-economic backgrounds facing various life changing predicaments. We are blessed to have a star studded cast, with likes of Academy Award winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite etc) and other well known stars such as Sean Astin (Rudy, Lord of the Rings etc.) and fan favorites like Cybil Shepherd, Lee Majors, Ted McGinley. In addition there are rising stars such as the rapper Shwayze, Senyou Amoaku, Madison Pettis, Valerie Dominquez and former NFL bad boy Brian Bosworth.

Ted McGinley plays an Evangelical pastor named (Matthew) who ministers to a diverse flock of in Chicago. Pastor Matthew has his world rocked when he is asked by an elderly African American street preacher (Delroy Lindo) Do You Believe in the Cross of Christ? Pastor Matthew then witnessed the elderly street preacher confront a group of street thugs who attempt to steal a van. They threaten to shoot the elderly street preacher while he tells them that Jesus died so they would live a better way. Pastor Mathew relates what he has seen to his flock. He goes on to say that they must truly live the Christian life. In proving their sincerity, Pastor Matthew and his wife take in a homeless young pregnant woman.

The flock begins to fearlessly live their Christian lives; some take the needy into their homes, while others see their jobs threatened for not watering down their Christian beliefs. All of their lives build up and cross in a dramatic crescendo late one dark and rainy night. The cast plays their part to a tee; the rapper Schwayze plays a reluctant street thug who turns from a life of crime and tries to persuade others who simply laugh and threaten him.

Lee Majors character (J.D) is a wise old sage trying to help his heartbroken wife played by Cybil Shepherd deal with the death of their grown daughter. Brian Bosworth may be the surprise of the film, playing a dying ex-con who takes in a homeless mother and daughter. The former college football and NFL bad boy may well be living out a life of redemption before our very lives.

Two of the more interesting roles are played by Sean Astin (Dr. Farell) and Andrea Logan White (Andrea.)  Moviegoers, especially those who enjoy sports themed movies will remember Astin for his role in Rudy.  The everyman’s hero for his years of being plowed into the ground daily on the Notre Dame football practice squad, only to be given a chance to suit up for a game and be carried off the field after an improbable tackle.

Astin (Dr. Farell) plays an ego maniacal doctor who gets perturbed every time he sees a patient show any signs of religious beliefs. His only solace is his power attorney, money and prestige obsessed girlfriend, Andrea (Andrea Logan White.)  They both spend what little free time they have stroking their egos and belittling the hapless religious believers they are forced to endure.

In the past faith based movies have been criticized for low budgets, poor scripts and little known actors and actresses. Obviously not the case here, as we are treated to a screenplay with many twists and turns from a star studded cast. I knew that to be the case when a sequence that included a pro-life adoption undertow was noticeable. I could see tears in my wife’s eyes as the message hit close to home for us.

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5 Responses to Film Review: Do You Believe?

  • Thank you Dave for the review.
    I will search it out.
    btw…Gods not Dead was a good story. It’s refreshing to see good moral entertainment on the screen.

  • Two reviews – one of the film and one of the person who says he just don’t care .. whose protestations might just be bravado of a frightened and lonely person.

    As you say, it doesn’t matter whether one believes God IS or not- God still is. But not to even be able to care enough about themselves to see the logic of Paschal’s wager.
    Perhaps your correspondent is just terribly depressed and can’t believe that he is loved. I hope he will be able to accept that love eventually.

  • The writer went on to say that the world probably reached perfection during the Roman Era, when even the poor could participate in orgies and watch blood sport at the local coliseum. What a sad way to look at life I thought.

    I think “bathetic” better describes the writer’s blinkered view there.

  • “Dark Night of the South” Don, you must have the Confederacy on your mind. Another upcoming article?

The Captain Stephen J. Chaney Story

Monday, November 10, AD 2014

Steve Chaney

The Captain Stephen J. Chaney story reads like a Hollywood script, one starring the likes of John Wayne. However Steve Chaney was a real person who grew up in Marion, Ohio and was killed in action in September of 1969 on a secret mission during the Vietnam War. The Green Beret soldier was only 23.  On May 3, 2013 in a ceremony at the Ohio State House, Lt Governor Mary Taylor and a host of military officials posthumously inducted Steve and nineteen other Ohioans into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame.

Chaney was born in 1946 and graduated from Marion Catholic High School in 1964. A stellar athlete he was heavily recruited by most college football powers. His father was a career army man and sharing the love of the military, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Steve would attend West Point. However, a visit to Notre Dame woke up the echoes for Steve. At South Bend he saw the traditions of his Faith combined with that of the gridiron. Upon returning to Marion his parents were stunned with his desire to attend Notre Dame.

As Steve arrived at Notre Dame in the summer of 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin Incident which sparked the United States’ heightened involvement in the conflict had just occurred. Before there was Pat Tilman (the football star who left the NFL to join the army and was killed in action in Afghanistan,) there was Steve Chaney. After one year at Notre Dame, Steve against the advice of fellow freshman and future Vietnam vet and Pittsburgh Steeler Rocky Bleier, would leave South Bend and a disappointed new Coach Ara Parseghian to enter the US Army. At that point the small anti-war movement only helped to push Chaney further toward doing what he could for the burgeoning war effort. Chaney entered the Army as an enlisted man and left as a Captain.

After one tour of duty he could have left the army, but Chaney saw the deterioration of the command structure and felt a younger leader like himself might help buttress morale. Because he led from the front, Chaney was popular with his men and the man from Marion felt he knew what it took to lead in those critical times. More than once Chaney had to pull aside a fellow officer and remind him of setting a moral example and living with what he was doing in the field, and the consequences a much Higher Power might inflict upon him at a yet undetermined date.

Chaney even confided in his parents, shortly before his second tour of Vietnam, that he secretly longed to return to Notre Dame and get back on the football team. Sadly that possibility never occurred as Captain Chaney was killed in action during a secret mission to Laos in September 1969. Caught in an ambush and a failed air assault, a critically injured Captain Chaney called in more air support all the while trying to locate all of his men. When helped arrived, he clung to life but only for a short time, he died before the helicopter landed at the nearby field hospital.

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4 Responses to The Captain Stephen J. Chaney Story

  • Thank you for sharing Captain Chaney’s story. I am ever amazed and grateful for the young men who are willing to go and defend us in battle. I am also very thankful for those who contribute to our defense by arming and transporting and caring for these young men as best we can off the battlefield.

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  • Thank you for this story. I lived in Marion from 1955 to 1959, 4 or 5 doors from Marion Catholic, on the corner of Uhler Rd. and Mt. Vernon Ave. I remember a Chaney from St. Mary’s elementary, which I attended, but don’t remember a first name. Based on your dates, my brother was a year older and I was a year younger. My older sister was a freshman at Marion Catholic in 58-59. I hope that they will find it as dear as I do.

  • Thanks Tamsin and Steve. Also, thank you Tito for posting it on Big Pulpit. The Chaney’s were wonderful people. I just tried to do my small part through the years of telling others about the Captain Steve Chaney story.

God’s Not Dead; There’s Something Happening Here

Sunday, March 30, AD 2014

There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear…The opening words to the Buffalo Springfield (the band that would introduce to us the likes of Stephen Stills and Neil Young) classic song written in 1966, but released in 1967 certainly resonated to those who heard it whatever their political leanings. There was a sense even before the famous or infamous 1967 events, like the Newport Folk Festival and San Francisco’s Summer of Love that something in society was changing. The same could be said today in light of a flurry of religious themed movies that have come out in the first three months of 2014.

One could argue that the first signs of the secular sea change we have been under were first seen after the mid-term elections of 2006. By November of 2008 there was no doubt the western world was changing. However, for every action there is a reaction. It may have taken the world of faith a bit longer to react but it has. Already in 2013, the Bible mini-series caught the attention of those in Hollywood who notice TV and cultural move watching habits. The Bible mini-series, the brainchild Mark Burnett and Roma Downey literally spun off into the Son of God film which is currently one of the year’s early top grossing films.

However, it seems that what is bubbling under the current is what catches everyone by surprise, and so it is with the year’s first big surprise, God’s Not Dead.  The film’s entire production budget was between 1-2 million dollars, the mere advertising budget of most medium size films. The screenwriters are faithful Catholics Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, whom I met some four years ago while giving one of my talks at Family Theater in Hollywood (founded by Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC also known as The Rosary Priest.) I was impressed by Cary and Chuck, their frequent Mass attendance during the week, their fervent study and practice of the faith (as evidenced by the St. Thomas Aquinas type logic used in some of their arguments in God’s Not Dead,) and their embrace of the sacramental life, especially the Sacrament of Penance.

Both men weren’t living some fantasy of wanting to hobnob with Hollywood’s hipsters. They had been down that road successfully working and mingling with the likes of Sylvester Stallone among others. Cary and Chuck felt called to write faith based scripts. In an interview with me featured in the National Review both men spoke of the hypocrisy that the faithful have to endure in the public square.

  Hartline: I think a faithful Christian, or anyone of faith, feels a lot has changed in the last five or six years. People of faith are often mocked or belittled in popular culture, and the faithful are accused of all sorts of bigotry and ignorance. We are told to get with the times, as if our consciences could really leave the truth behind. It seems the movie is addressing that underlying feeling in the faith community.

Solomon and Konzelman: Yes, that’s definitely the nerve that’s been touched. Secular humanists insist that Christians in general — and Catholics in particular — are supposed to leave their belief system at home when it comes to matters in the public sphere. So according to the rules they propose, their belief system is allowable . . . and ours isn’t. Which is a deliberate attempt to subvert the whole democratic process. As someone else pointed out: Democracy is supposed to be about more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

 I then posed the question as to why some are willing to defend their faith as did the college student in God’s Not Dead, but sadly most do not.

Hartline: College student Josh Wheaton appears to be the nondescript everyman. While everyone else accedes to the professor’s atheistic rants, Josh decides to take up the challenge, even though he’s far from being a theologian. Is there a message there for most of us?

Solomon and Konzelman: It’s a question of being willing to try . . . and fail, if necessary. Mother Teresa got it right: God does not require us to be successful, only faithful. Secular humanism has really been racking up the score in the culture wars lately, largely because of the unwillingness of many Christians to counter their efforts. Unfortunately, doing nothing is doing something: It’s enabling the other side. Every time we roll over and don’t confront the challenge, our forfeit shows up as a win in the other team’s column and encourages them to push further.

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11 Responses to God’s Not Dead; There’s Something Happening Here

  • Very encouraging! Here’s something else: .

  • God is Not Dead. Only the love of God in some men’s hearts is dead. If man is called to love God with his whole heart and man refuses, it is man who has no heart. It is man who becomes heartless, a bully and a hypocrite and practices bigotry.
    When a self-professed atheist says: “I AM”, using God’s name in vain, the atheist contradicts himself. When an atheist breathes God’s air, the atheist confounds himself. When an atheist exercises his free will, the atheist bears witness to his immortal human soul. When an atheist enjoys his freedom, the atheist gives testimony to God. When an atheist exists in time, the atheist is the proof of God.
    Only the love of God is dead in some men’s hearts. As nature abhors a vacuum of the love of God in men’s hearts, the atheist will soon come to the realization that God is love and man is made for love.
    The freedom of religion must remain absolute so that when the atheist comes to the knowledge of God, the atheist may be free to express his love for and his belief in God. The atheist must be free to acknowledge God.
    The atheist will have found freedom from discrimination, prejudice, bullying , hypocrisy and ignorance.

  • Something else is happening here. The NY Times is out flogging the priest sex abuse garbage again.
    I wish Catholics would boycott that birdcage lining waste of ink. Can somebody please advise why that rubbish is “influential”?
    In a somewhat related note, I read a review of the new Jesus movie in Yahoo. In the review, the critic, who is a young Jewish woman, calls Catholic icons (such as her former boyfriend’s crucifix) “trinkets”, and concludes that Judas is the real hero of the passion.
    We should all feel good that the media is taking a brief respite in their war on on our beliefs and morality, but do not kid yourself for a second. Trashing Christianity (and Catholicism in particular) sells. To me, it looks like they may be simply re-setting the target for a fresh onslaught in the near future.

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  • The Supreme Sovereign Being is infinite and everlasting from age to age, before all ages, infinite, and cannot die. God, our Creator, is infinite, the Endower of unalienable rights and the reason there is a First Amendment.

  • Me, my wife, my three kids, and two of my kids’ friends went to go see God’s Not Dead yesterday. We all loved it. Instead of wasting their money on something like Noah, Catholics should be going to see this movie.

  • The infinite God is infinite. God’s Not Dead
    God and The Son of God, Jesus Christ, had to be vanquished from the public square before the government could ignore man’s dignity and confiscate the work of his hands.
    “They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant; they shall not build houses for others to live in, or plant for others to eat. They shall not toil in vain, not beget children for sudden destruction; for a race blessed by the Lord are they and their offspring. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hearken to them.” Isaiah 65: 21- 24.
    The New york Times must be flooded with the truth. Why is the statute of limitations without limit for the Catholic Church for the prosecution of child sexual abuse and only 90 days in New York Public schools? See the open thread at Starry, Starry Night for some rather unpleasant antics of the courts. The Catholic League and Dr. William Donohue will have something to say too.

  • The atheist must be tolerated. Atheism is unconstitutional. Atheism denies the freedom of religion to respond to the gift of faith from God, a relationship between God and man that cannot be interdicted by anyone claiming to be an atheist. No one has ever claimed to be atheism, not ever and especially not even the devil. The devil is not an atheist. The devil knows that God created him and the devil spends eternity frozen in the bottom of hell rejecting God.
    I hope and pray that the New York Times does not join the devil frozen to the bottom of hell rejecting God.

  • Loved this movie! Went to see it with my wife and 6 children!! Also loved the Louisiana flavor as I’m a former Tiger! So thankful for the courage and wisdom infused in this movie as I believe God has called us all to fight!! As St. Francis of Assissi said “Go and spread the Gospel, and when necessary use words”.

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The Real Message From Pope Francis During World Youth Day Rio

Sunday, July 28, AD 2013

I suspect in the coming days, weeks, months and years much will be written about World Youth Day Rio and the message of Pope Francis. Perhaps, the crux of the message can be found streaming on the Vatican’s website late Saturday night, Bring the Gospel to the world. It hardly sounds radical and yet the Gospel message is radical; a message that rejected the decadent Roman Empire’s culture; and here we are nearly 2,000 years later and western culture is doing its best to emulate what was done in Rome circa the time of Caligula, Nero and Trajan.

In our hyperbolic media age many on the Christian right, the Christian left and the secular media in general has been spinning the message to tilt to their objective. The nature of the Secular Left is to make others think their views will inevitably conquer the world due to their intellect. The Right (both religious and non-religious) seems to think we are ever closer to completely buying into the Left’s ultimate goals. Both views are wrong. Salvation history is full of ebbs and flows.

Pope Francis in his address told the faithful, particularly sisters, priests and bishops to get out and preach the gospel. He lamented that too many of them are busy with things of the world. In a way the Holy Father was calling them out for being a bunch of “Marthas” when we really need a bunch of “Marys.”

This really resonated for me because I returned home late Saturday night after attending a Defending the Faith Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville. The eminent Dr. Peter Kreeft gave a talk on how to lose and win “The Culture War.” In a nutshell, Dr Kreeft said too many orthodox minded faithful are putting their hopes in political movements and candidates when they should be confronting what the culture is doing to our faith and society at large.

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8 Responses to The Real Message From Pope Francis During World Youth Day Rio

  • Just a minor point, but New York and L.A. aren’t unhappy by many measures (such as suicide rates), and the number of therapists is simply a reflection of there being a lot of money in those cities combined with therapy not being considered shameful or “weak”. Many of the poor have need but not the money for therapists.

  • Anon, on the surface your point sound valid, but with increased government assistance the poor certainly have more access to therapy than in years past. However, I will relate to you something a Catholic bookstore owner once told me. She said the older clientele she has rarely bought religious oriented self help books so she learned not to stock too many. She related to me that even though they were by and large particularly well off, they spent their time in prayer rather than in therapy. They had particular prayers, saints and of course the Trinity to which they prayed. They learned this in their youth and kept with the practice. It was a particularly revealing conversation.

  • Good on you David. A great article. I am a bit concerned that Pope Francis’ messages seem to keep requiring interpretation in order to point out their orthodox core. Perhaps, this is reflective of just how much pressure there is now days to not say anything too contrary to popular and secular opinion. Maybe that’s why Jesus spoke in parables too. I guess I just wish there were more spiritually extreme Catholics out there making obviously orthodox comments like we read in the lives of the Saints and apparitions of Our Lady. Messages about the power of the Sacraments, our eternal destiny, the value of sacrifice… Maybe that’s my challenge.

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  • “Perhaps, this is reflective of just how much pressure there is now days to not say anything too contrary to popular and secular opinion.”

    I would submit he said many things that are as unpopular and anti-secular as can be. You just won’t get them through the LSM.

  • Callan Leach, you said, “I guess I just wish there were more spiritually extreme Catholics out there making obviously orthodox comments like we read in the lives of the Saints and apparitions of Our Lady. Messages about the power of the Sacraments, our eternal destiny, the value of sacrifice”

    In addition to this excellent magazine, you might consider subscribing to “Crisis Magazine, A Voice for the Catholic Laity.”

    You will discover many orthodox Catholics engaging their liberal interlocutors on a myriad of issues.

  • I’m from the Philippines and maybe the description you gave is from a decade ago. However, even if there are no malls that I know of that plays the Angelus on the loud speakers, there are masses on Sundays inside the malls and probably she heard it there, which is quite loud and may reach a few meters away. The culture of materialism is basically creeping in year on year, more people continue to become lapse Catholics. I hope that the reverence won’t be choked by the weeds or the voices of malicious rabble rousers in media and the legislature which take their cue from their foreign western counterparts.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this Dave! It was a wonderful read! It’s a very good analysis of Pope’s message. It was clear and easy to understand.

Candles In The Dark; The Father Richard Ho Lung Story Written By Joseph Pearce

Monday, June 10, AD 2013

Ever since the phenomena that was the final years of Mother Teresa, the faithful are always looking for the next jaw dropping saint, while those less theologically inclined and more enamored with pop culture are always looking for a saint with peculiar angle.  In Father Richard Ho Lung the Jamaican priest whose family was ethnic Chinese; they have that and more. They have a future saint who lives among the poorest of the poor in Kingston, and a man who at one time competed with Bob Marley on the Jamaican music charts.

In Father Richard Ho Lung they have a priest who developed something called the Caribbean Mass which appealed to the rank and file as well as many progressive oriented Catholics in the western world. However the same priest appeals to adherents of orthodoxy with his stern lectures on morality, and the need to care for the poor, unborn and mentally handicapped. He does more than give lectures, the religious order he helped found personally cares for all of the aforementioned.

Candles In The Wind, The Father Richard Ho Lung Story is told to us by Catholic author Joseph Pearce ( St. Benedict Press) who is most often associated with his knowledge of famed English authors like CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and William Shakespeare. Some of us enjoy endeavoring in Pearce’s quest to prove that Shakespeare was secretly Catholic. There is nothing secret about Father Richard Ho Lung and through the gifted narrative of Pearce we see the life of the man from his own impoverished days in Kingston to his rising star status of today.

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5 Responses to Candles In The Dark; The Father Richard Ho Lung Story Written By Joseph Pearce

  • Thanks, Dave, for the tremendous recommendation! I jumped right up, got the Kindle version of this and read half of it yesterday afternoon. God must have meant for that to happen, because the usual workday email and phone traffic was non-existent. That never happens.

    There’s no mistaking the Holy Spirit’s work through this amazing man, and the story is a call to find one’s life’s true purpose in simple service to Christ. Nowhere else can we, as Created people, be more true to our nature than in being servants to each other, as Fr. Ho Lung is to so many, that we were created to be.

    I fear that I will be obnoxious in my urging of friends and family to read this book.

    Thanks again.

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  • um, the title is “Candles in the Dark” 😉

  • Mr. Hartline—your post brought back a rush of memories. About five years ago I traveled to MOP Jamaica with a small group of lay people, many of whom were almost regulars. We lived and prayed and worked with the MOP brothers. That “spiritual” adventure is available to anyone. The MOP works with the “unwanted” of Jamaica primarily in the slums of Kingston–those “unwanted” are the mentally and physically disabled, those suffering from AIDS, unwanted and physically deformed infants, and too many others to name. MOP has missions in other countries as well—Haiti, India, Philippines…..

    I have not been back but carry that experience with me especially in contemplative moments. I recall two very important lessons from Father Richard and his followers. One, part of the MOP mission is to invite us to serve the poor at a primary and unfiltered level. As Father probably says often, the poor are always among us but his ministry introduces us to salvific charity. As a corollary, opportunity for salvific charity is to be found among us when we return to our communities. Thus, it is his prayer I’m sure, that we return home with an enlivened reception for the Holy Spirit in our lives so that we try to live charity. It was an amazing, but for me it was also a difficult, experience. Prayers and contributions to MOP and through your local parishes some might want to consider organizing a “spiritual adventure”.

    Thank you for your post

Review of Father Dwight Longenecker’s Book; Catholicism Pure & Simple

Sunday, June 9, AD 2013

For those accustomed to Father Dwight Longenecker’s pithy and insightful blog posts, the thought of reading one of his books leaves us some questions, namely will it be like his blog? Thankfully the answer is yes. Somehow Father Longenecker is able to transfer his tactful writing abilities to the printed page or electronic device (whichever you prefer.)

I would recommend this book not only for those folks interested in Catholicism, but especially to those inquisitive souls who just want to understand religion, any religion and the formation necessary to subscribe to any belief system.

Father Longenecker first weaves his way through the thought process that makes up our belief system, or lack thereof, and melds our thoughts into a cogent pattern that helps us better understand why we believe what we do and why. This sort of devil’s advocate approach helps us realize that security in which he places his beliefs.

As Catholics we are obliged to preach our faith with love, charity and conviction. This is certainly not easy in an increasingly western secular world that hates anything that smacks of black and white. The secular powers that be love gray. In Catholicism Pure and Simple, Father Longenecker explains the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church in a way that makes the reader shake his or her head in understanding.

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3 Responses to Review of Father Dwight Longenecker’s Book; Catholicism Pure & Simple

Francis Has Returned As Pope?

Wednesday, March 13, AD 2013

The signs are as unmistakable as they are stunning; Francis has returned to rebuild the Church. The first New World Pope, who happens to be the first Jesuit Pope, has taken the name of Francis. It didn’t stop there. St Francis known for his miraculous ability to communicate with God’s creatures may have sent a sign. It seems a stubborn seagull kept landing on the Sistine Chapel smoke pipe a couple of hours before Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the very modest living prelate from Argentina was chosen.

About the name Francis, could it also be for Francis Xavier the famous Jesuit missionary to the Far East? Who knows for sure but perhaps it is a very deft touch by the man from Buenos Aires. In addition, was it not a Franciscan Pope (Clement XIV) who famously suppressed the Jesuits in France in the 1700s, which many believe helped the radicals of the French Revolution in their bloody but unsuccessful attempt to destroy the Church? Another sign; perhaps a nod to reconciliation? The Conclave began on March 12, the day both St. Ignatius (founder of the Jesuits and St Francis Xavier, perhaps the second most famous Jesuit saint) were officially canonized in 1622.

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9 Responses to Francis Has Returned As Pope?

  • Dear Lady, please guide that evangelical into the fullness of Our Lords Body amén! A nudge!

    Very interesting post, a conservative Jesuit is like finding the prize in a catholic cereal box!

  • Not to pick but, did you say Dark Ages for particular purpose? It is generally used to slandar the Church as in “there was the greatness of Rome, then a dark age of religious superstition that remained unbroken until the Reformation ushered in an age of enlightenment.”

    The choice of Francis is interesting and I’m sure a few of the career Vatican clerics are squirming as they try to determine what it means for them. “Simplification” strikes me as an odd choice in calls to arms for the Church though.

    Catholicism is catholic because it encompasses the diverse needs of human souls. God, in His infinite wisdom made our intellects and emotional selves unique. Some need the simplicity of the simple country church and some Notre Dame. Vatican II was speaking to this need, not the corrupted view that has dominated the Church in the West for 40 years, a view that all of the grandeur of the pre-Vatican Church was discordant with Church teaching.

    Before we “herald in a new age” of “simplicity,” we had better be sure we know what that means for the Church.

  • Ioannes, great post. The beauty of God will always draw people to the Church if they allow their hearts to succumb to God’s love, truth and beauty. David, with all due respect because some anti-Catholic writer somewhere in the mists of time used a quote about the Dark Ages to attack the Church means we don’t use the word Dark Ages? The word Dark Ages was coined by the Church, or at least those monks who kept the world illuminated during that time with their scholarship. In those days, few could read and write and the Church was under attack from the Dark side via various Barbarian invasions and heretical movements and individuals.

    As far as simplification; the Holy Spirit (if we listen) is always equipping us with our needs for that time. In the era of Pope John Paul II it was communication to a world hungry for truth. In the age of Pope Benedict XVI, it was the emphasis on proper liturgy, devotions and scholarship so lacking in this secular age. Now it appears Pope Francis will use the weapon of simplicity. We might recall that St Francis used this “weapon” to rattle the consciences of the detached wealthy he encountered in Italy as well as Muslim soldiers he met in the Middle East.

    The key to the Holy Spirit’s gifts is our desire to use them. I was struck that even the secular mainstream media showed that fascinating image of that bird perched atop the Sistine chapel’s smokepipe. They showed similar images of the same seagull like bird perched on St. Francis in some of the earliest paintings in which he is depicted. Perhaps in small signs such as these we see the mind of God, if only we will listen.

  • Ioannes: “Very interesting post, a conservative Jesuit is like finding the prize in a catholic cereal box!”
    A beautiful prize.

  • Great post. The new Pope’s humility was inspiring. He will be good for evangelization generally and specifically for Latin America and for Jesuits who have been on the verge of extinction. There will be more orthodox candidates discerning vocations to the priesthood. I hope they can find enough orthodox Jesuits to teach them..

  • Unitl this election, I had just assumed some others were of the SJ order.

  • Fantastic post of yours, Dave.

    I studied in jesuit school in Brazil, full of layman communist professors. But, confirming your point, the school was much better administered when a conservative director arrived.

    I used to love jesuits, but many of them went to liberation theology, then I turned to Dominicans. I am stunned to see a conservative jesuit that dislikes liberation theology. God´s Spirit.

  • Thank you for your kind words Pedro. The Argentines love to speak of the Hand of God World Cup Soccer Goal via Diego Maradona. Well this Argentine Holy Father is the real Hand of God at work! It seems both of our lives have some parallels. We both worked with Jesuits and Dominicans, but it seems we both more recently worked with Dominicans. May God Bless both of their orders now that they are intrinsically linked with our new Holy Father!

  • God love his church so much ! the election of Pope Francis I is one of the most powerfull sign of how the holy spirit will continue working, cleaning and building the church. The Catholic Church is the guardian of the faith and the truth , the truth give and teach by Jesus him self. Yes , we as catholic we are fail in many things and I as catholic many times I am not the best example as well, what is the motivation the help me to go back on my feets and not give up even when I feil ? is the understanding, faith and mercy of God . I try to do my best day in day out , and what always help me is to remember how many times Jesus feil down carrying the cross? Yes, 3 times – how many times he back up ? 3 times- what for me Jesus is not just tell me but teaching me is : no matter how many times we mess up and feil , what really is important is to go back in our feets , move forward , ask God forgiveness and try to do our best.

    With this election Pope Francis I , I see the best of the two elements needed rigth now , a solid formation as a priest ( as all know Jesuits are known for that ) and a very prophetic Name Pope Francis I ( who all we know , Francis was call to help rebuild the church – with his simplicity and humility – what a similarity with our new Pope ).

    Let try to stay faithful to God love and be always glad of His mercy and forgiveness .

    God bless Pope Francis I and us , as one .

The Conclave; A Glimpse Into Heaven

Monday, March 11, AD 2013

Cardinals speak of feeling as if the weight of the world is on their shoulders. While we watch the awe and majesty of a Conclave to pick the next pontiff, the Princes of the Church speak of it with trepidation, some with fear. The 115 cardinals who will pick the next pontiff rightfully feel their solemn responsibility. The Church’s greatest task is to save souls and the man who will figuratively grasp the keys given to St Peter by Jesus assumes an awesome responsibility.

The procession from St Peter’s to the Sistine Chapel may be one of the most moving and beautiful events a believer (and even a non-believer) may ever witness. As the Litany of the Saints is chanted the cardinals process into the Sistine Chapel, pulling themselves away from the outside world to pray and vote for the Successor of St. Peter. For the truly faithful, the days of the Conclave are often one of the rare moments in the public life of the Church where the mainstream media isn’t dictating who the cardinals should pick and why the Church’s Teachings need to be changed. Now some will attempt to do just that, but it often comes across as shallow and shrill due to the solemnity of the moment.

Monday on ABC’s World News Tonight, Diane Sawyer interviewed South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier. His Eminence, who was present at the last Conclave, was asked what it was like picking the future pontiff. The Cardinal from Durban spoke of looking at Michelangelo’s Last Judgment painted above him in the Sistine Chapel, and pleading for Jesus to help him make the right decision.

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Pope Benedict XVI’s Helicopter Ride Full of Historical Images and Analogies

Sunday, March 3, AD 2013

It was a stunning video, one full of historical and modern analogies all pointing to back to the man (Pope Benedict XVI) and the institution he ran (the Catholic Church.) The helicopter ride Pope Benedict XVI took from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo flying over modern Rome and the ancient landmarks known the world over, such as the Coliseum and the Apian Way made for a breath taking array of images. For faithful Catholics one of the illuminating high points of watching papal transitions is the fact that the mainstream media is not always in control.

The historic images speak for themselves which must be somewhat maddening to those who have to throw their digs into the Church that Christ Himself started via Peter. NBC News anchor Brian Williams made the mainstream media’s point Friday on the lead off segment of the NBC Nightly News when he stated the Catholic Church does images well, but there is scandal behind the images we see. One could say the exact same thing about the mainstream media’s coverage of the White House and yet nary a word of that sort is heard.

Perhaps the helicopter ride of the Holy Father made many of the media’s gatekeepers cringe because those historical landmarks (the Coliseum, the Apian Way) were like many modern secular government’s landmarks, supposedly everlasting. If someone would have told the Roman power structure in Diocletian’s time that within 100 years Rome would be Christian and the empire would be gone, howls of laughter would have echoed through the Pantheon. Modern secular leaders and the often militant secular scholars whom they follow, view traditional Christianity much in the same way those in the seats of power in Rome once did, something that should have no influence or bearing on the affairs of its citizens.

Though a towering intellectual giant, Pope Benedict XVI is a simple man who never wanted to be Pope and pleaded that Pope John Paul II let him go back to Bavaria and write when then Cardinal Ratzinger reached the age of 75. His gentleness was seen in the Conclave when it was said he won many of the Third World Cardinal’s votes. It is said that he did so because he showed a kind father or grandfatherly hand when other princes of the Church were perhaps not so welcoming upon the Third World’s prelates arrival in Rome. This sort of gentleness coupled with a refusal to water down the truth made the man from Bavaria a towering figure in the history of the Church. Often the stature of towering figures grow with time, unlike our pop culture heroes whose legacy becomes all too often faded and forgotten.

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9 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI’s Helicopter Ride Full of Historical Images and Analogies

  • Dave Hartline-
    Poetic words for a “towering man.”
    You captured the man and the pulse of this moment in time.
    Thank you.

  • I am just now getting around to reading this, like it so much going to share the link with some groups to read. When I read good articles like this I think of Saint Augustine’s “City of God”. As you wrote the media will look for anything ‘black’ in the Church but not look at the ‘black’ in front of them.

  • How awesome is the Pope Emer.?

    My Mormon neighbors are sad that he resigned. (also very curious)

  • He wasn’t as prolific or as profound a thinker as John Paul, though he seems to have shared much in common with him.

  • Jon

    I would say Benedict XVI is every bit as profound a thinker as JPII was, albeit in different ways. BXVI is much better at making complex theological truths accessible to the average person than his predecessor.

  • Foxfier:
    With Pope Benedict’s resignation, surrender of his Title and Chair of Peter, and title of Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI has promised to remain the Servant of the Servants of God, the most beautiful title he holds. Realize that when Pope Benedict XVI removed himself from the Vatican, the head of the Lavender Mafia was crushed. All heads of departments in the Vatican are vacated as well, a new era of holiness and trust may be established, akin to St.Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. I love Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

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  • This is a beautiful tribute to Benedict XVI and Mary De Voe’s comment puts the icing on the cake.

  • It has been amusing to listen to the secular media trying to make what they think are relevant comments on the renouncing of the papal throne by Benedict and the upcoming conclave. It reminds me of an old lesson on the art of writing. Write about things you know. They certainly sound foolish and it becomes obvious that their concerns are not ours. Pray for us, Benedict XVI as we will pray for you.

Armchair Pontiffs Come Out of the Woodwork

Sunday, February 24, AD 2013

Perhaps because it happens in sports, entertainment and politics, we knew it was bound to happen with pontificates. However, judging the accomplishments of holy leaders is a little different than judging whether a coach should have used a 4-3 defense, a President has the right tax policy, or a film director allows too little or too much dialogue.

Our friends in the mainstream media, especially those of the unabashed liberal persuasion (they seem less bashful in using that term these days) have certainly not backed away from critiquing Pope Benedict XVBI’s pontificate. However, even our friends on the political and theological right have taken their shots at the Holy Father as well.

Watching Morning Joe on MSNBC can certainly cause an orthodox minded Catholic to contemplate pulling their hair out. A recent episode in which Mika Brzezinski and Mike Barnicle, two northeast liberal Catholics, critique the current Holy Father’s pontificate and implore the upcoming conclave to change the direction of the Church by listening to the criticism of militant secularists seemed more than a little ridiculous. The Reverend Al Sharpton chimed in to tell the audience that African cardinals certainly don’t represent his views on the world (Thank God.)

The whole episode should have been a Saturday Night Live skit, but sadly they meant every word of it. The Western Left shouts from the rooftops about diversity, but when it comes right at them via the Third World, well then it really isn’t diverse. The Left preaches change but would never change their views to reflect reality, i.e. the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (among others) insisting Washington doesn’t have a spending problem. All too often they unwittingly enjoy relishing in the Dictatorship of Relativism (coined by Pope Benedict XVI.) By doing so they unknowingly echo the words of Pontius Pilate, who said, “What is truth?”

In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I note that the infamous American Bishop Shelby Spong dismissed his fellow African-Anglican clergy’s views on social teachings because they were in his words, “only one generation removed from Animism and their brand of Christianity was superstitious.” In rebuttal to Bishop Spong, the late Catholic priest, Father Richard John Neuhaus noted that there were a higher percentage of African-Catholic Cardinals with PhD’s than were those from Western Europe or North America.

Sadly, even some of our friends on the theological and political right have taken the opportunity to pile on what they view as the mistake prone pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. One of the more interesting critiques came from Joseph (Jody) Bottum, the former Editor of First Things. On a personal note, I owe a great deal of gratitude to Mr. Bottum who referenced a very early article of mine in one of his First Things article. Actually the positive reaction that stemmed from it helped convince me to right my first book. However, some of Mr. Bottum’s assertions in this Weekly Standard article on the pontificate of Benedict XVI should not go unanswered.

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12 Responses to Armchair Pontiffs Come Out of the Woodwork

  • I judge Pope Benedict XVI’s term to be a success. Poep Benedict issued the motu propio Summorum Pontificum, which grants priests in the Latin Church the unfettered right to celebrate the Mass according to the Missal of 1962. Many in the church hated this, but too bad for them, as they are the one who must enjoy liturgical dancing, etc.

    The other great success is the Anglican Ordinariate. The number of Anglicans who come into the Catholic church may never be a huge amount, but the fact that this was accomplished was a success.

    I care not what the American media says, any of it, about Pope Benedict. The American media is infested with fools.

  • Let the dead bury the dead. That’s all I have to say about MSNBC.

  • Ha! I think the dead are the only ratings demographic that MSNBC would win!

  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, called to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was always with Pope John Paul II and John Paul II with him. I remember the day when it was announced by Pope Benedict XVI, that the Latin Mass had never been banned by Vatican II, that Latin, kneelers, altar rails and kneeling to receive Holy Eucharist had never been banned. Pope Benedict XVI wanted the kiss of Peace to be made before Consecration of the Mass, so that the consecrated hands of the priest would not be profaned by shaking hands of the laity. Some priests do not keep their index and thumb fingers solely for the Holy Eucharist as they have promised to do and go about shaking hands of parishioners as though their parishioners are not in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, WHO is on the altar after Consecration.
    Pope Benedict XVI brought the translation of the Liturgy to refect more accurately the Holy Trinity, the Persons of God.
    Pope Benedict XVI ‘s Ash Wednesday homily characterizes the devil as constantly trying “to exploit God”. The Pope advocated for more exorcisms, especially in the West. He brought ecumenism that had run rampant and roughshod over the church into confomity with orthodoxy, without heresy.
    A good exorcism would force the devil to return Gary Wills soul.

  • Jay Leno said things are so bad over at MSLSD that last week they laid off 300 Obama spokespersons.

  • If all these armchair pontiffs think they know so much, then why is it that
    they were all caught flat-footed by the Holy Father’s announcement? Now,
    if one of these self-appointed ‘experts’ could demonstrate that they’d thought
    his resignation was a possibility, then I’d be willing to give my attention to
    whatever else he/she had to say.

    I understand that most of these folks get paid to publish their expert opinions,
    but in this matter their musings should be issued with a disclaimer, something
    like “this is only idle speculation– actually, your guess is as good as mine”.

  • Now I am no fan of Jody Bottum. In fact, I thought his being hired as editor at First Things was a huge mistake on the part of the late Fr. Neuhaus. I don’t agree with everything he says in his Weekly Standard article, but he does make some valid points.

    What I find most refreshing about his article is that is a departure from the shill fest quasi canonization we have seen from the rest of the orthodox Catholic ivory tower regarding the pope’s decision to resign.

    Mr Hartline asks for evidence that the next pontiff will be looking over his shoulder while Bendedict is still alive. Don’t you think it is rather self-evident that he will at least be tempted to do so? To be sure, the former pontiff will do everything in his power to prevent that, but, again, it will remain a natural temptation to say the least. It is at least reasonable to question the wisdom of the pope’s decision to resign. Even Benedict XVI himself seems to imply this when he, in his annoucement recognized the seriousness of this decision.

    Did Pope Benedict make the right decision? I don’t know. Neither does anyone else. What effect will this have on the Church in the long and short term? Again, it remains to be seen. I think it is premature at this point to say one way or the other.

    Now as far as whether or not Joseph Ratzinger’s pontificate has been a failure or success. In my mind, it has been something of a mixed bag, as I guess any pontificate has been. In the positive, I think he has, as pontiff, done well to remain, for the most part, silent on matters outside the Church’s competence like whether or not penal systems are adequate enough to protect society without recourse to the death penalty as one example. This is a marked improvement over the previous pontificate, which I believe created much confusion regarding this issue. I think he has done much to disabuse the rock star image that has been attributed to the papacy during the pontificate of the more charismatic John Paul II. In the negative, he appears to have failed miserably to bring much needed reform to the Roman Curia. In his pre-papal days, Ratzinger was rather critical of the over bureaucratization of the Vatican, but yet created a whole new bureaucracy with erecting the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, even though there already exists a whole Congregation for Evangelization. As important as I think the New Evagelization is, creating a whole new bureaucracy not only not helps such an effort, but in fact probably hinders it.

    While one can certainly take issue with Bottum’s assessment, it is by no means over the top.

  • I find it interesting that the secular media wants the next pope, and therefore the Church, to model itself after the secular media’s ideals. They just don’t get it that it’s Christ we should be looking at. We do not conform our lives to the secular world. Rather, we need to conform our lives to Christ, through the Church. Ignore those people. They’re looking in the wrong direction. They truly have nothing to say to us.

  • Instant assessments of any pontificates tend to be worthless. Case in point Pius IX. Any assessment of his pontificate immediately after his death would have emphasized the loss of the Papal States and the animosity between the Church and the new Italian state. As the decades have piled up, both of those have become increasingly insignificant in judging the lasting impact of Pio Nono’s pontificate while Vatican I looms ever larger, along with his pioneering attempts to form a direct link using modern technology between the laity and the Pope. Perspective is needed when assessing any papacy, and the most important element in forming that perspective is the element of time.

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  • I found Bottum’s article stupefying. It relied quite heavily on unsourced assessments of the Pope’s daily routine, unsourced assessments about the social dynamics of the Vatican apparat, held the Pope responsible for the obtuse and malicious character of elements of the media, and added a comment about the Institute for Religious Works, as if Bottum knew banking from bingo. Andrew Greeley used to put this sort of tripe into his columns. It is conceivable that George Weigel is acquainted with enough people employed at the Vatican to produce an assessment of this nature, not Bottum (now resident in South Dakota after the board of the Institute on Religion and Public Life handed him his walking papers).

  • The next Pontiff will stand tall on the shoulders of Pope Benedict XVI, the Servant of the Servants of God. I believe that this is one title Pope Benedict XVI will keep and epitomize ever more.

Pope Benedict XVI, A Pontificate Steeped In Humility

Monday, February 11, AD 2013

Pope Benedict XVI has taken the ultimate step in humility and has decided to resign, because he felt the duties of the Petrine Ministry were too important to continue in a diminished state. I have no doubt that this will be the wave of the future for successive popes. Our previous Holy Father, Pope John Paul II soldiered on to help the show the world that disability was no disgrace. However, Pope Benedict XVI must have felt that since that example was already shown to us, he would chart a different path.

The humility of the Holy Father was first seen when then Father Josef Ratzinger had his sister listen to his homilies and his college seminary lectures for he did not want to go over the heads of his parishioners and seminary students. The Holy Father was somewhat of a prodigy as a child. Though he liked to play soccer with the rest of the boys in Traunstein, a small town in Bavaria, he realized he would never become a great athlete, so he throw himself into his studies and into the History and workings of religion in general and Catholicism in particular.

During the eight years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI reached out to everyone, the poor, the marginalized, the wealthy and creative, those of other faiths, schismatic Catholics as well as those whose world views were totally different than his. However, the man from Bavaria never compromised on the issue of truth; he railed against the Dictatorship of Relativism and against the idea of social engineering which seems to have engulfed the Western world.

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3 Responses to Pope Benedict XVI, A Pontificate Steeped In Humility

  • The last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415, at the Council of Constance

  • Many great saints have tried their best to shun power. Francis of Assisi and Martin of Tours avoided becoming priests. Ambrose was cornered into being a bishop. Frances de Sales did everything he could think of to avoid promotion to the Archdiocese of Paris. Philip Neri set up the Oratorians with an eye to making sure that he didn’t have power over the other houses. Francis of Assisi stepped down from leadership of his order as soon as he could.


Knute Rockne & The Eucharist

Monday, January 7, AD 2013

After the college football national championship game, faith filled fans of Notre Dame Football need something positive on which to dwell, so how about a miraculous story surrounding Knute Rockne? Many readers may be aware of legendary Notre Dame Football Coach Knute Rockne’s winning prowess on the football field. However, he was also a budding scientist and man of faith. Before becoming a coach, then promising student Knute Rockne worked with famed Notre Dame Priest and scientist Father Julius Nieuwland who helped invent synthetic rubber and is the only priest in the Inventor’s Hall of Fame. Father Nieuwland CSC believed that a bright future lie ahead for his promising Chemistry student named Rockne. Both Father Nieuwland and the future Notre Dame Coach were immigrants, Father Nieuwland from Belgium and Knute Rockne from Norway. However, the labratory was not to be for Rockne, for it was the college gridiron where he would earn his lore.

While Rockne was surrounded by Catholicism, he was a Norwegian Lutheran. However, it was Coach Rockne’s players that helped convert him to Catholicism. What was it about Catholicism that did it? The Eucharist.  During the early 1920’s when the Four Horseman strode the gridiron in South Bend, Coach Rockne was worried that all of the new found fame might make his players stray from the straight and narrow. The late George Gipp was known to do just that and a slightly older 30something Coach Rockne didn’t want that to happen again, so the coach would often keep a close eye on his players.

One morning Coach Rockne noticed several of his players leaving their dorms in the wee hours of the morning. He followed them to early morning Mass. Before practice that day he asked them about their movements in the wee hours. They informed him that they had early classes and couldn’t get to Mass any other time.  “It’s that important to you,” Coach Rockne asked?”They told him that the Eucharist was just that important.

Coach Rockne then discussed the matter with several priests who gave him books to read about the Faith. In 1923, Knute Rockne was received into the Church, thanks in great part to the personal witness of his own players.

Knute Rockne is hardly alone in being a faithful example of Catholic leadership on the gridiron at Notre Dame. While Coach Gerry Faust will hardly be remembered for his record, no coach stands taller as a faith leader than Coach Faust who would tell anyone who would listen about the Catholic Church and “Our Lady.”  Coach Faust was certainly helpful to me with regard to my first book and went out of his way to help me promote it. Keep in mind he didn’t know me from Adam only from meeting me at a high school football game, talking on the phone and reading the book’s manuscript. He spends many days a year at small Catholic school fundraisers that help those schools keep their doors open.

He is much beloved by his former Notre Dame players as well as those at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati where Coach Faust garnered his fame. While some have gone on to become college and NFL stars, others have achieved success in many different venues. In the late 1960s, one overachieving young man who played for Coach Faust at Archbishop Moeller High school came from a large working class Catholic family. He would go on to become the current Speaker of the House. Speaker John Boehner and Coach Faust remain in contact to this day and speak highly of of another.

I would be remiss in not mentioning former Coach Lou Holtz who also does his fair share of fundraisers for worthy Catholic charities. He can rattle of the names of every grade school nun who taught him back in East Liverpool, Ohio. Obviously there is so much more I could write, but I go into much more detail about this and many other matters in my book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn. I hope this helps paint the picture of Knute Rockne and two other coaches at Notre Dame who were leaders of men and personal examples of faith.

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9 Responses to Knute Rockne & The Eucharist

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  • My first experience with Lou Holtz was when he was coaching at the University of Arkansas, and through the years my respect for him as a coach, as a person, and now as a sports commentator has really deepened. What a great credit he is to the sports world.

  • Please spellcheck post, then delete this comment.

  • Pauli is your comment directed at me? I would worry about my own posts before I take on the role of being Der Kommissar of the Language Police.

  • Wonderful article! The Eucharist is the heart of all life!

  • CK thank you for your kind words. It is a pleasure to write about such inspiring, but little known stories. I must confess to having a pet peeve at those who find it necessary to correct posts that seemingly need to correcting. If I sounded a bit harsh in my last post directed at Pauli, it was not my intention. However, it was my intention of bringing to light the problem some have with taking away from the joyous tone of articles such as these.

    I have worked with a number of editors and the funny thing about editors is they disagree and will readily admit that one can agree to disagree over grammar and style. Jesus reminded us that we shouldn’t get worked up over gnats.

    Robert, great comments on Coach Holtz. I am amazed as to how many of these busy men gave of their time to be quoted in my two books, when they didn’t know me from Adam. They only knew I was writing a positive book about the Catholic Church. I will be forever grateful to Coaches Faust and Holtz, as well as a former Catholic basketball coach (University of Detroit now called Detroit Mercy) turned big time college basketball commentator, Dick Vitale. God Bless them all.

  • Great catholic stories from ND but don’t forget Fr. Teddy who along with so many liberals has destoyed the Catholic university system in our country. Love to discuss how he allowed the smoke of satan to flow from the golden dome to all the Catholic universities. What a great man who was the ceo of the infamous Rockefellar Inst. that financially supported hitler, yes i said the H word and all their diabolical acts not to mention planned parenthood,ect let the debate begin!!

  • Increased reverence for the Body of Christ will eventually put an end to the murder of His innocent miracles

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Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?

Sunday, December 16, AD 2012

Sadly it often takes tragedies for religious faith to grow. It seems an unfortunate part of our fallen nature. We have been hit by a spate of tragedies as of late; in its wake we often see churches full of worshippers seeking answers where once there were but a few. Following both world wars, there existed a religious resurgence that unlike the recent tragedies did not ebb and flow. It remained constant due in large part to the horrific loses of human life.

Modernism was alive and well and condemned by the likes of Pope Pius X even before the Guns of August began in 1914. The Catholic and Protestant churches were increasingly seeing relativistic elements entering their seminaries. However unlike recent times, they were quickly addressed. Though we are gaining the upper hand, it has been 40 years since Pope Paul VI lamented that “The Smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I speak about the positive events occurring within the Church, as well as those movements who aim to do us harm. In addition, the book delves into how we got into this mess in the first place.

Following World War I there was a great return to religious devotions, especially those having to do with the Blessed Mother. The events of Fatima which had occurred during the war and were being followed closely around the Catholic globe. As I mentioned in my article on the Schoenstatt Movement, the likes of Father Josef Kentenich chastised theological authorities who were giving short shrift to these devotions as well as those who dismissed popular devotions to those who recently passed away like the future Saint Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower.) Father Kentenich reminded these scoffers that Jesus did indeed say that we must become like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom.

The well heeled of Europe and many American ex pats found their way to Paris to rebel against the religious side of the equation. On the whole, they were a gloomy lot who seemed to drown their sorrows in all matter of drink and sexual exploits which only made them more unbearable. Some even found their way to more exotic locales like Casablanca, as did the fictional Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the epic film Casablanca.

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7 Responses to Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?

  • In Spain, the Franco regime and its views led to pent-up hostility towards the Catholic church after Franco died.

    France began slipping away from the Faith at the time of the Revolution and not even the numerous apparitions of Mary have been able to return the French to her former status as Eldest Daughter of the Church.

    The unification of Italy in the 19th century unleashed hostility towards the Catholic clergy, seeing them as privileged (gross oversimplification).

    Germany, Holland, Austria….others know the reason for the decline better than I do.

    In the USA, I blame the turn in popular culture as well as the Kennedys. In the 1950s, during the beginnings of the Cold War, Hollywood made many movies based on Old Testament stories. Fr. Peyton and Loretta Young made Catholic themed programs and Bishop Sheen was popular.

    The 1960s…there was the heartwarming Dragnet episode where the little Latino boy returns the Baby Jesus to church before Christmas Eve Mass.

    The 1970s were indifferent to religion.

    Today, there is open hostility to religion from Hollywood and academia, and far too many young people eat it all up.

  • Dave.
    Fr. John Hardon, (d.2000) gave striking warnings of a future American landscape if Catholics didn’t return to the sacraments.
    Catholics because they are the privileged members of the Body of Christ.
    Fr. Hardon; “If American Catholics do not return to the true faith, return to frequent the sacraments, then they will experience the sufferings of First century Christians.”

    The battleground is Christian America.

  • Penguins Fan wrote

    “France began slipping away from the Faith at the time of the Revolution…”

    The “slipping away” began almost a century and a half earlier, in the aftermath of the Wars of Religion in France (1562-1598) and the Thirty Years War in Germany (1618-1648) These ended in a stalemate; the Reformation gained no new territory, but it proved impossible to restore the unity of Christendom. The all but inevitable result was the growth of scepticism: both sides could not be right, but they could both be wrong. Theology, as a science (a means of knowledge) was generally viewed as discredited. It was to such people that the Pensées of Pascal were addressed.

    On the eve of the Revolution, few of the middle classes went to Mass in the great towns, hardly any of the artisans. The faithful were a sincere though ill-instructed and dwindling minority. Nothing better illustrates the condition of the Church than that priests like the Abbé Sieyès and bishops like Talleyrand were not untypical. Acton notes that “Those among them who had been chosen by the Church itself for its supreme reward, the Cardinal’s hat—Rohan, Loménie de Brienne, Bernis, Montmorency and Talleyrand—were men notoriously of evil repute.” Maury, afterwards Cardinal and Archbishop of Paris, was a man whose character was below his talents.

  • ‘However, what price will it take for our hubris and narcissism to defer to God’s love, truth and reason?’

    Vital question. Something like pulling the plug or a ‘forty’ day or year span of character building or voices to balance the scale in culture.

    ‘In the USA, I blame the turn in popular culture as well as the Kennedys. In the 1950s, during the beginnings of the Cold War, Hollywood made many movies based on Old Testament stories. Fr. Peyton and Loretta Young made Catholic themed programs and Bishop Sheen was popular.’

    The 1960s…there was the heartwarming Dragnet episode where the little Latino boy returns the Baby Jesus to church before Christmas Eve Mass.

    The 1970s were indifferent to religion.

    Today, there is open hostility to religion from Hollywood and academia, and far too many young people eat it all up.’ –

    … to the point of Churches being locked due to the victimization.

    The violent insane seem to attack the defenseless, such as in schools, theaters, and gatherings. What provokes violent behavior are celebrated elements of the culture which have lost civility and balanced character traits of decent restraint.

    I think of some not funny comedians, the loss of board games to computer ones played alone, the gang phenomenon, the irony of the women’s liberation movement and the outrageous displays of today’s women, artisans becoming ‘artists’ of the useless, and more, and vaguely, electronic replacement of human activity/work. Mental inability and illness, loss of human care to gov. regulations and courts strangling progress.

    ‘On the eve of the Revolution, few of the middle classes went to Mass in the great towns, hardly any of the artisans. The faithful were a sincere though ill-instructed and dwindling minority.

    … a man whose character was below his talents.’ ***

    Education becoming unrelated to the character building of good judgement or virtue. Lifetimes given to learning from the inspirations and beauty of our Creator have value. So what will bring more than a temporary turn to religion in reaction to sorrowful tragedy is what M P-S wrote. Character. The culture of death is deterring religious growth and its strength of character; so maybe, simply accepting God’s gifts of Faith, Hope, and Love (in even horrible circumstances brought on by evil afoot) would serve to rebuild His recommended culture of life.

    People finding the great comfort of a more religious life, however found, will grow to see the discomfort in a solely material world and loss therein. Hunger and thirst for more works both ways.

  • I think this is a complete misreading of the past century.

    WWI saw the collapse of faith in state, royalty, race, and progress, which were the reigning beliefs in Europe. The facade of faith was slipping away, and France drifted into despair. Nihilism, drugs, and eventually existentialism did little to fill the void. Russia fell. The US won the war and retained its optimism or something like it, until the decadence of the 1920’s collapsed into the Great Depression. Germany went a different route, re-embracing race and progress in an awful way. By the end of WWII, the spirit of despair ruled most everywhere. European countries gave up their empires and gave in emotionally to the Soviets. America held together because of its devil rather than because of its god.

    There are little ripples throughout history which can make it seem like one decade is holier than another. And we are affected by (not controlled by) our culture, so I shouldn’t say that all of us within a given country move in lockstep. But the trendline for the past 100 years has been ugly. The wars led to loss of faith among millions.

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  • There are some great posts here. Yes, Penguins Fan when faith begins to slip it can fall in a hurry, much like someone climbing a mountain, a momentary slip can take the climber a great deal of time to return from where he momentarily slipped.

    Philip, Father Hardon was prophetic, he was fond of saying the modern rebellion began in the 1930s. I can’t remember exactly the date he was referring to but it had to do with a group of priests in pre- WWII (Belgium?) taking liturgical matters in their own hands. He saw the slipping away of reverance and the degree to which the sacraments were being dismissed as a harbinger of something awful to come.

    Michael Paterson Semour, yes few realize the true impact of the Reformation when it was put into the hands of men like Jean Calvin who saw to it that mystery was dismissed. In addition, Calvin saw to it that churches were closed during the week to prevent “superstitious rituals” like Marian Devotion and Eucharistic Adoration from continuing. Putting doubts in people’s minds certainly set the stage for the unholy terror that was the French Revolution. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton saw it for what it was but even thinkers like Thomas Jefferson were fooled into thinking that it was an Englightened event.

    PM, yes as I indicated in my article it is hard to believe that Hollywood helped the faith with many fantastic films, and it even had powerful messages in TV dramas as late as the 1970s. However, Father Peyton saw the troubling signs years before and tried to prevent the catastrophe which is now controlling our media culture. In the 1940s, Father Peyton believed Hollywood could evangelize the world through films, but he also knew it would also become a target of the dark side.

    Pinky, true we are responsible for our actions but wealth and prosperity have always been the tool to which the dark side lures societies going back to Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh, Rome etc to walk away from God. However, tragedies have sobered people up long enough to see the error of their ways. For a decade starting in the mid 1990s, Poland was ordaining half of Europe’s priests. Look at the saints France gave us after the nightmare of 1789.

    It is important to note that we will be the last man standing so to speak. The faithful will come our way because Jesus predicted that it would happen (The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.) Let’s hope and pray that in the final showdown large segments of the populace see through the demonic disguise of the evil one.

The Schoenstatt Movement Nearly 100 Years Old

Saturday, December 15, AD 2012

I must admit a certain reticence to writing this article because I don’t think in one article I can truly do the Schoenstatt Movement justice, but the movement’s nearly 100 year old story and that of its founder Father Josef Kentenich really needs to be told. In 1914 a young German priest Father Kentenich started a movement that was so unique it took nearly 50 years before many would understand the groundbreaking effects it could have on the Church. This future saint would not only survive the suspicions of some on the theological left and right, but he would also survive Dachau. He died in 1968, the same year as another misunderstood priest, Saint Padre Pio.

When writing my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn,  even I was stunned about the new movements that keep cropping up within the Church, even as so many have written off the Church. Indeed this is the History of the Church, when one thinks she is coming under attack by the dark side, she only grows stronger in faith due to her burgeoning movements.

However, Father Kentenich left behind an amazing outlook which every believer should emulate and a perseverance that few could imagine. In a modern world full of individuals making millions of dollars on self help, pep talks and new age “spiritual guidance,” Father Kentenich reminded everyone that Jesus is our true Spiritual Guide and His Blessed Mother the model for us all to follow.

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7 Responses to The Schoenstatt Movement Nearly 100 Years Old

  • I do not share your optimism about the Catholic Church, but I am not saying it to look for a retort. However, feel free to make one if you so desire, although I will not reply to it.

    That being said, the following is not true:

    “However, the father doesn’t really show his until the baby is placed in his arms for the first time and his paternal instincts of protection and education immediately come to the surface,”

    I loved our children and understood my place and obligations long before each of them were born and in fact, from the moment I learned of their conception was praying for them, my wife and myself. The priest was very naive, to give him the benefit of the doubt. It was not a fitting quote and I wish you would disavow it. It sounds quaint but really is harmful and demeaning to fathers. I am sure it was not intended that way. It was a naive statement of his belief in that regard.

    I delivered our first child because the OBGYN had the perception to see my devotion and my capabilites.
    Years later, that child returned that little delivery favor and, literally, saved MY life, when she was about 12 or 13. No one placed her in my arms, I held her from the moment her precious head presented itself to my waiting hands. I am grateful to Dr. Hainje for having allowed me to deliver our first daughter. The older she gets, now a mother, herself, she and her siblings are growing aware that, one day, my life will be in their hands. That daughter knows well, she will, then, hold me as I once held her. There is not a doubt in my mind that her hands will lovingly care for me, saying goodbye, as mine did welcoming her.

    For that, I do not have sufficient words to thank God.

  • Karl, I will continue to write about the Church as being our last best hope. It is not my opinion or hope. If Jesus said it, I believe it. In my writings I have delved into the good happening in the Church, as well as the continuing attacks we are under and have always been under. It is what it is. We will be the last man standing so to speak. It doesn’t mean we will not go through a tremendous trial, but the faithful will come to us, because Jesus said it would happen. He also spoke about the everlasting consequences for those who think they don’t need God.

    Perhaps you misunderstood the words of Father Kentenich, I certainly hope so for he has been one of the smartest men to come our way in a long, long time. He was not saying that men don’t spend lots of time praying and thinking about their unborn children. He was simply making the case that for us it is different than it is for the woman. God made us different for a reason, which is substantiated scientifically, medically and theologically. I would hope you would reflect on this and see the true meaning in what he was saying.

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  • The paragraph beginning with “Following World War I” needs some editing. The first two sentences contradict each other.

  • My sister is a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary and I, myself, am a Third Order Carmelite. I had not realized our two religious directions were so linked, and I appreciate your article. Mys sister, Ann, (Sister M. Anna Astell) who is a Shoenstatt sister of Mary has always had a devotion to the Little Flower and I believe she is working on a book about Teresa of Avila. My sister teaches at Notre Dame in Indiana high level theology courses although her background is in Midieval literature. She is an example of Father Kentenich’s spirituality, being very simple and childlike despite a very brilliant career and writing a number of books, one on the Eucharist which I especially liked is titled “Eating Beauty” (I designed tje cover for that book). Schoenstatt spirituality is very down to earth and family oriented and while I was called to the Carmelites, I do feel a kinship with their movement and its great devotion to our Blessed Mother. The rosary movement has been a source of love and spiritual kinship for many.

  • Thanks for your kind words Mary, so glad to read of your personal testimony regarding your sister who is a Schoenstatt Sister. Father Kentenich was such an amazing man. Greg the Obscure, sorry to contradict your editorial advice, but no they don’t.

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Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days

Sunday, December 2, AD 2012

Their stories are as old as time but worth repeating in this present age where so many seem to think they are too smart for God, religion and all of His love and grace. I must admit that being a fan of contemporary music and literature, I threw the stories of Jack Kerouac, John Lennon and Bob Marley’s late in life embrace of faith and tradition into my book without giving it much thought. However, I am surprised to find that so many who have read or perused my just released book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn have stated that they were not familiar with these stories and found them very revealing. Perhaps it is because our rebellious society has lionized figures who want to throw out God or just leave him as far distant as possible. Yet all three men realized that the traditional values, in which they were raised and the love of God they were once shown, was too important to forever jettison.

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24 Responses to Jack Kerouac, John Lennon & Bob Marley All Embraced Traditional Faith & Values In Their Latter Days

  • Thanks for this, I’m going to have to buy your books! i tried reading a biography of Kerouac and threw it away in disgust before I even got half way through; all that ‘behaviour’ with Ginsberg, Burroughs, et al. It put me off his books too, which I had enjoyed in my rebellious youth. This sheds a new light on him, for which I’m grateful; it’s never nice to have to give up on someone.

  • There has been much discussion of the “Catholic turn” in French philosophy, i.e., the way in which the most original and prominent thinkers of contemporary France seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague and Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac.

    The Faith is alone capable of answering the existential challenges posed by modernity and post-modernity and more and more people are recognising this.

  • Now if you could get more than 3% of the population of France into Mass on Sunday …

  • I suspect that John Lennon had a bit more of a conservative/traditional streak than people think as evidenced by his rejection of the “overpopulation” propaganda of the time:

    Is it possible that one reason we don’t hear more about Lennon’s conservative leanings is because Yoko Ono, who has spent the last 30 + years as the keeper of his legacy a la Jackie Kennedy, wasn’t completely on board?

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  • Lennon also stated in his last interview that he was a “most religious fellow”, and that he had come to appreciate what Christ had taught in his parables. He had outgrown the childish nihilism of “Imagine”. It’s a shame that so few people knew about this.

  • Sources please? What are your sources?

  • I heard this many years ago about John Lennon, but rarely is it mentioned. Let’s hope he’s at peace with the Lord. Even in his earlier days I never felt that he was evil, just very confused. Unfortunately, his “Imagine” is still used as a socialist national anthem. I’m sure he regrets it. Also, from what I’ve read, Bob Dylan too has embraced Our Lord, though he keeps a very low profile these days.

  • Elaine, yes the whole Yoko question is one that might never be truly answered, but it certainly seems both John and Yoko were headed in very different political and religious directions. Pete, the book has extensive endnotes that reference the sources for this and every other segment of the book.

    Siobhan, Bob Dylan has always been somewhat of an enigma. After the 1963 March on Washington, he became disillusioned by the Left and some on the Left became upset at his lack of support for their causes. He never ranted against God or any particular faith as did some of his generation. In addition long before his Christian Slow Train Coming period, Dylan had lyrical references to God. Incidentally, the Slow Traing Coming album might be the finest religious album ever written and recorded by a non-religious oriented artist. Today Bob Dylan seems to be part of a Messianic Jewish group, but I am not sure anyone really knows.

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  • Imagine! John Lennon in heaven.

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  • I, too, have never heard about these men embracing traditional Christianity in the latter part of their lives. I am interested to learn more.

  • I read an article recently that discussed how Andy Warhol lived a devout Catholic life, though he was surrounded by people who liked to party. This was a complete surprise to me. It was a very interesting article. I recommend doing an internet search on the topic.

  • As Pete says, sources please! I have to be frank: I don’t believe any of this. It sounds too good to be true. It sounds to hard to believe. It sounds like urban myth. Please provide sources with quotes.

  • I have to admit to being slightly stunned. I have been writing articles here and other Catholic sites, as well as political sites like the National Reivew, for some time. However, never have I been sought out in this demanding of a manner, via e-mail and other communications to provide details for the sourcing of this article. The lack of faith in the conversion of souls is rather revealing. As I indicated in a previous post, this information is thoroughly provided in the endnotes of my book. However, here are a couple of links for those who fall into the category of a Doubting Thomas. Read and believe!

  • This is truly amazing. I was a huge fan of Dylan, Marley, and Lennon in high school and college. They all certainly pined for something greater than themselves in many (not all) of their songs and lyrics. Marley got me interested in the Psalms in a better way than the Christian rock music of my day, and Dylan’s Slow Train Coming stopped my in my path. After I commented to my friend’s roommate how much I loved that STC and why it was so relatively unknown, he simply said that Dylan’s music producers thought it was just too Christian or religious and they just did want to promote it. It took Dylan years to get the songs released, he explained to me.

    I am forwarding the article to all of my 80s and 90s hipster siblings. I was just so heartneded to hear Lennon reject the overpopulation myth as presented in his time. And I like how he just rejected the interviewer’s snarky retort. Thank you so much!

  • I believe it was Fulton Sheen who said that at the end of time, we’ll be surprise to see who the Lord will put to the right and who to the left. Another rock star that comes to mind is Jim Morrison, who on the surface, was a pretty bad dude (though in my younger years I was a fan of his.) I read that after he died in Paris, they discovered notebooks of his “poetry” which were later published, though one notebook they found he wrote on every page, “God help me, God help me” over and over again. Now did the evil one snatch him away before he was able to convert, or did God hear his cry and take him? Time will tell.

  • Excellent post Siobhan, Jim Morrison is one of those figures that electrifies the militant secualr left, for to them the Lizard King seems to be thumbing his nose at God or worse throughout his life. To see him scribble and plead for God to help him shows humility, another characteristic the militant secular left hates. We could go on and on about major rock stars coming full circle. For example Rick Wakeman of Yes, who not only plays benefits for Conservative Party candidates in his native England, but also has embraced his childhood church.

    If more of these stories became known, it would be blow the lid off the facade that our popular culture has tried to cultivate about faith and traditional values.The idea of John Lennon challenging Jesus or Jim Morrison getting arrested for lewd behavior on state behavior in Miami is the kind of thing the militant secular powers that be want us to remember. They don’t want to see the late in life humility shown by Lennon and Morrison and their pleas for God’s help.

  • “I was a huge fan of Dylan, Marley, and Lennon in high school and college. They all certainly pined for something greater than themselves in many (not all) of their songs and lyrics.”

    That is a quality I see in the much-maligned “Imagine” — Lennon’s attempt to envision an un-fallen world, where there would be no NEED for religion in the sense of conscious submission to beliefs or morality (it would “come naturally” to us), or nations, or possessions; where there would seem to be “no heaven” since it would be one with earth, and “no hell” because no one would go there. Of course where he went wrong was in thinking this un-fallen world could be produced purely by human effort — sort of like a child thinking that all that mumbo-jumbo about aerodynamics and airplanes was bunk and people could fly just fine without it if they simply flapped their arms hard enough.

  • Imagine there’s no Heaven. It’s easy if you try. No Hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today. You, you may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will be as one. -John Lennon.

    It’s a beautiful message. But I think it’s a little late to start claiming John Lennon for the “Traditional Religion” Team of Heavenly Pick-up Basketball.

  • Russ, you might want to check your facts. Imagine was written and recorded in 1971. John Lennon started having doubts about his utopian views by the mid 1970s. As referenced in my book, “The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn” through various sources including the links below among others, by the mid 1970s Lennon had a serious change of heart about his political and religious views. It was a full fledge change of heart by the late 70s.

  • Jean-Louis Kirouac (as baptized) and the sad reality of the mythical Jack Kerouac.

    It is on page 143 of “One and Only – The untold story of On The Road” (Gerald Nicosia & Anne Marie Santos – Viva Editions) ) that one can find the most paradoxal photo of Jack Kerouac, taken in his bedroom while looking through his photo collection of his girl friends. On the wall, in a little black frame, the Black Cross of Temperance; hanging from the luminaire, his black Rosary.

    But all that has not kept him from rejecting before her birth his only and legitimate daughter Janet (Jan) Michele Kerouac (from Joan Heverty, his second wife), an abandonned child to whom he left knowingly a whole hell of misery and sufferings.

    But it is with that myth called ON THE ROAD, written in a long fit of frustration that poor Jack continues to mystify all his fans. Read One and Only and Kerouac will never be the same… for the worst and the best.

  • “Help Me To Help Myself” – demo not included on Double Fantasy album but produced as part of that project.

    Well, I tried so hard to settle down
    But the angel of destruction keeps on houndin’ me all around
    But I know in my heart
    The leaves are shining in the sun,
    That we never realy parted.
    Oh no, oh, help me, Lord,
    Oh, help me, Lord,
    Please, help me, Lord, yeah, yeah,
    Help me to help myself,
    Help me to help myself.

    They say the Lord helps those who helps themselves,
    So I’m asking this question in the hope that you’ll be kind
    ‘Cause I know deep inside
    The leaves are shining in the sun,
    I was never satisfied
    Oh no, oh, help me, Lord,
    Please, help me, Lord, yeah, yeah
    Help me to help myself,
    Help me to help myself.

    Who knows?