A few years ago I would have thought the title of my piece was too extreme- I bought into the charisma of Barack Obama- never publicly supported him- but I thought he was someone who could bridge some of the serious difficulties that pro-life Democrats faced within my political party. I read his books, I thought he respected the Catholic Church as much as a secular political liberal could be expected to. Around that time I was trying to work from the inside of the Democratic party- running for Florida State House as a pro-life Democrat, and later serving as Vice President for the Florida Democats for Life organization. This was also the time period where I was invited to become part of a national Catholic Democrats listserve which included such notaries as : Vicki Kennedy, Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College, Rev. William D’Antonio and Rev. Anthony Pogorel of the Catholic University of America, Peggy Steinfels of Fordham University, Rev. Thomas Reese of Georgetown, Vincent Miller of Georgetown/U. of Dayton, Dan Maguire of Marquette, Doug Kmeic of Pepperdine, Suzanne Morse of NCR, Chris Korzen of Catholics United, Alexia Kelly of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Steve Callahan of the AFL-CIO, and others (Eric LeCompte, Nicholas Carfardi, James Salt, Morna Murray, Fred Rotondaro, Kari Lundgren). I never agreed to keep all that passed before my eyes confidential, but I never publicly revealed the basic content until now.
My reason for going public now is due to the recent event where the Worcester Bishop Robert McManus weighed in to prevent Vicki Kennedy from speaking at the Anna Maria College commencement. The press I read portrayed the Bishop as being overly vindictive and Kennedy milked the rejection, playing innocent, as though she is doing nothing to try to upend the Catholic Church as we know it- as a Hierarchical Institution. It was my experience on the Catholic Dem listserve that Vicki Kennedy was essentially my nemesis. I defended the Church as a Hierarchy, and the official teachings on abortion et al, and she took me to task almost every time I wrote pro-orthodox Catholic commentary- with plenty of Amens from her fellow travelers on the listserve. I did receive a few positive private emails from some on the listserve, but on the whole it was a very discouraging experience trying to defend the Church as a convert, who would be at a total loss if the Catholic Church put no stock in the teaching authority of the Pope and the Bishops, and taught that contraceptives, legal abortion, and gay marriage were just fine and dandy things. So Soon after posting this on the listserve-
“It is deeply troubling to me that this Catholic Democrats listserve membership seems more intent on finding reasons to pull some kind of palace coup against the Catholic Church Magisterium and Hierarchy in general, than to address specific issues related to the Catholic interests in American politics. I am a convert to Catholicism, I knew what I was signing up for in becoming a Catholic, I accepted the teachings and authority lines as prescribed by the latest Catechism. I simply cannot understand why those who seem to relish openly trashing the Apostolic successors retain membership in the Church- that is something that I can only address as an appeal to someone else’s good conscience. Most of my family is of the Protestant variety, I understand that thinking and worldview but reject it, but they are acting in good conscience- they don’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches about her role, so they don’t invest in the Catholic narrative and authority line. Maybe what I’m finding here at Catholic Democrats are many good protestants but not orthodox Catholics as I understand things?
You can remove me from your rolls if it displeases many here that I don’t conform to the groupthink on display here, otherwise I will continue to offer my two bits to challenge the establishment views of liberal, anti-Catholic Hierarchical voices which parallel the hard Catholic Right- in their wrongheadedness- in my humble opinion anyway. One is certainly free to criticize the clerical/Hierarchical handling of sexual abuse cases over the years- but how this all fits in with being a Democratic Party member is something I can’t fathom. Tim Shipe”
My offer to leave was accepted after Vicki Kennedy wrote a smack-down on me; and shortly thereafter I severed my own Democratic party membership and ended my leadership role with Florida Dems for Life- I took Archbishop Chaput route of becoming a political Independent and remain such today.
To come up to speed- back a couple of years ago- I knew that the most powerful and connected Catholic Democrats in our country were interested in more than just getting more traction on Catholic social justice issues in our American political system- I would describe the agenda/mind-set of Vicki Kennedy et al for the most part as the following:
1. Obama embodies the Catholic social tradition- he’s a better guide than the out-of-touch Pope/Bishops 2. Democrats for Life leaders were not welcome – despite my own inclusion for a time- Kennedy seemingly successfully squashed the idea of Kristen Day being invited to be part of the listserve 3. The Bishops who were outspoken for advocating the primacy of the right to life for the unborn were demonized, mocked, ridiculed, and at times the idea of trying to bring on an IRS investigation on these type of Bishops was being encouraged by some ( especially if they dared to consider withholding Communion from Pro-choice Dem leaders) 4. Bishops were described as “self-designated custodians of ‘the tradition’”. 5. Catholic Dems could aptly be self-described for the most part as “intra-Catholic warriors” 6. The Clergy Scandals were to be used to help bring the end of the Bishops line of authority- teaching and otherwise 7. This authority should pass to those who know best- the secular-minded Catholic professors and their liberal political activist friends- since there really can’t be such a thing as a Holy Spirit-guided Catholic Church with Popes and Bishops playing a key role- I suppose they could still hold onto ceremonial roles like the Kings in Europe.
I can see clearly now that President Obama has been very conscious of this war for control within the Church- and his choice of Vice President and HHS Secretary- Biden and Sebelius, respectively, was a conspicuous power move to set in place the acceptability of dissenting Catholic leaders and thought into the mainstream of American societal structures and popular imaginations. The fact that Obama “evolved” on Gay Marriage with help from his Catholic buddy Joe Biden, and his determination to mandate contraception as a must-have “medicine” through the offices of Catholic Kathleen Sebelius- all of this plays right into the larger goals of the Catholic Democratic party elite. There has been no such evolution in his comprehension and compassion for the thousands of unborn humans killed every day in abortions, and the threat to religious liberties is finely focused on the authority of Catholic Bishops and the official teachings of the Catholic Magisterium. I believe the Catholic Dems elite would like to re-make American Catholic Bishops in the image of the Anglican church in England- with Obama playing a kind of King Henry VIII role in forcing power transfers ( counting on public/Catholic lay apathy).
My conclusion is this- I am not in disagreement with the Catholic Dems elite on an across-the-board basis- I am not a conservative ideologue any more than I am a liberal one. There are political issues where I go left and others where I go right or down the middle- I make the honest effort to stay as close to the official social doctrine teachings of principles, and even the prudential judgment application of those principles as the Bishops and Vatican officials advise. I find that the same powers-that-be that are given Holy Spirit assistance to teach firm principles, are also pretty darn good at putting forth ideas for applying those principles into the real world of political legislation and the like- but I acknowledge it’s not an exact science with one formula fits all simplicities, however. That’s how I would describe my own efforts in being a wanna-be orthodox, faithful Catholic on matters of social doctrine. Others may disagree- I have no doubt that the Catholic Dem elites I list above are well-intentioned- but I believe they are threatening great harm to many souls and to the future of our Catholic Church as the Hierarchical Institution – founded by Jesus Christ. Reforms should be taken up in a spirit that respects the obedience of Faith. I don’t abide by clergy abuses and incompetent administrative decisions made by Catholic bishops- but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater- just as you don’t kill babies in the womb to solve the problems of women and their mates.
The divide between the truth of the election results and the punditry of the mainstream media is seemingly growing every major primary election night. Perhaps none more than the recent Super Tuesday results, especially those of Ohio. How could it possibly be that Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator won the youth vote, all voters under 44, and the married women vote? If one listens to the mainstream media, especially that of NBC, MSNBC and the New York Times one would think the only people voting for Rick Santorum would be rust belt pre-Vatican II ordained Catholic priests, and an amalgamation of southern characters such as Jed Clampett, Mr. Haney, as well as some assorted extras from the set of Deliverance. However, the true exit poll results tell us something quite different.
The mainstream media seemed shocked that Rick Santorum didn’t win the Catholic vote and won the Evangelical Vote as well as the others I indicated earlier; young people and married women. I want to delve into the nitty grtty of the statistics and demographics in a few paragraphs but first let me give you some background on those in the heartland who became liberals even though they grew up in GOP circles and folks like myself who became conservative after growing up in a Democratic household.
I grew up in a working class steel and railroad town in Ohio. My family, like many around us was Democrat in party affiliation and social conservative in our mindset. I was educated in Catholic schools (during the 1970s & 80s) and though it was the warm fuzzy era of Catholic education, our nuns and lay teachers never completely bought into the liberal model that was so the rage in cool, upscale areas. Continue reading
“Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect” Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesian 6: 11-13
Mr. Voris is exactly right. The American bishops are asking for a fight after having failed to feed, train and arm their military. There is no way a single letter, as well intentioned and necessary as it is, read from the pulpit on a single Sunday, urging us to call our elected representatives, is going to save our freedoms and protect our right to practice the faith that Christ handed to us. It will not help catechize the silly young woman mentioned in the Real Catholic video, nor will it educate the nation as to why the Church teaches abortion, artificial contraception and sterilization are evils.
I hate to say this but in many ways the bishops almost deserve to be ignored. Truth be told, they have lost an immense amount of respect among the devout laity (the non-devout obviously having no respect for them). This is not a loss of respect for the position, but for the men and the way they hold it; weak and timidly. The result is a wasteland of liberalism and heresy that is to be found in so many parishes across our nation. Now, after having the President of the US attempt to force them into committing mortal sin, they want the help of those few who actually believe, practice and uphold the faith to come to the rescue. Continue reading
In The Birth Control Controversy; The Mocking of Conservative Religious Women By Militant Secularists Will Soon Backfire
We have all seen the supposed polls indicating that 99% of Catholic women use birth control. However, has anyone ever bothered to look at who conducted the poll? It was the Guttmacher Institute; the driving force behind abortion and other leftist social movements. Finally someone in the Mainstream Media (The Washington Post) has weeks after the fact realized the untruthful nature behind this canard. This is just one of many red herrings thrown at religious conservatives to discredit and mock them. It seems some in mainstream media are making it their mission to ask former Pennsylvania Senator and Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum every question imaginable with regard to birth control. Whatever happens to Santorum in the primary race, it does seem as if the Hand of Providence is helping bring up the topic of birth control and the faithful alternative of Natural Family Planning.
While there is some dispute between Catholics and some Evangelicals on birth control; there are signs that many Evangelicals are seeing what Catholics and some Orthodox Jews have long believed about birth control. In my previous book and forthcoming book; The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism, I cite quotes from Chuck Colson and R Albert Mohler, two towering figures in the Evangelical world. They have genuine affection for Pope Paul VI’s 1968 prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae which cemented the Catholic view on birth control in the modern birth control pill era. If you want to really rile up a militant secularist you might mention that it wasn’t until 1930 that the first religious group (the Anglican Church) even approved of birth control. The Progressive Teddy Roosevelt said the idea of birth control was “ridiculous” and even liberal hero Dr Sigmund Freud said the whole concept was “narcissistic.”
Dorothy Day (1897-1980) the late women’s rights activist, who used birth control back before any religious group approved of it, spoke out forcefully against abortion and birth control once she converted to Catholicism later in life. She told men and women that in using birth control they were becoming engaged in a culture that was disconnecting them from God’s plans, along with not using their bodies in accordance with the Holy Spirit. Though her women’s rights and libertarian economic views remained, she became a social conservative, who lashed out at Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, something you aren’t likely to hear or read in the mainstream media.
Families that adhere to the clinically proven facts of Natural Family Planning are treated as if they are some sort of religious nuts. Militant secularists in the corridors of power (Legislative and Fourth Estate) have even thrown out their favorite term “sexually repressed.” Now this term is so widely repeated in our popular culture, perhaps we should examine where it came from. Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) of the infamous Marxist “Frankfurt School” came up with the term. Marcuse left pre-World War II Germany and taught at Columbia. Marcuse believed in free love and surmised that the more narcissistic society was with regard to sexual relations, the better the world would become. Before his death, he claimed his prized student was 1960s militant radical Angela Davis. Marcuse was way out in left field in his day and yet the militant secularists in our pop culture have made him seem as mainstream as Dr. Phil. When societies turn away from religion they embrace the crazies like Marcuse; sadly something has to fill the vacuum and it is usually the ideas which come from the half baked among us that do so. Continue reading
In a bizarre way President Barack Obama, through his Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS) has united religious orthodoxy across the spectrum as never before. In its wake liberal religiosity is going the way of striped pants, bell bottoms and lava lamps; something that is only seen on rare occasions usually when too much alcohol is flowing. At the precipice stands liberal Catholicism, for soon there will be no need for them to retain any religious presence. Liberal Catholic mouthpieces like the National Catholic Reporter are destined to go the way of so many other products whose users outgrew the usefulness of what they read and believed. Mainline liberal churches have imploded all the while the numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals continue to grow. Apparently the liberal religious elite are so smart, they have disappeared into the mists of history. Even if the current baby boomers remain religious, their liberal minded children have by and large abandoned the faith to the whims of Hallmark and Deepak Chopra styled spirituality.
In my last book The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I noted that having worked in the Church with a good deal of liberals I cannot think of a single instance in which their children retained their liberal views and also practiced their Catholic faith. I have met their children and while some have become Evangelicals and others have seen the light and come over to orthodox minded Catholicism; those who have remained liberal would only darken a church door if a close relative passed away. Sadly not only have they left their faith but many can’t find a single good thing to say about it. Their compliments are reserved for Big Government and Libertinism.
I am not writing this to sound clever or flippant or negative, simply to relate what I see. In many ways, the tide is turning like never before, and we can’t say that Jesus didn’t tell us that wheat would be separated from the chaff. Indeed we can’t serve two masters and the liberals by and large have thrown their lot in with the Herod’s of the world. While the liberal elite pretend to live oh so sophisticated lives; they in reality are nothing more than a fallen character in a 1980s hair band ballad video, succumbing to the vices on Sunset Boulevard that the liberal elite relegated to some degenerative red state tourist. As angry as we may be at the religious left’s venom and their apostasy, they most certainly need our prayers and we should never forget that supposedly wise people can be fooled as much as anyone by the dark side.
In my previous article, I noted the striking metaphor of the pall of smoke hanging over the Acropolis in Athens caused by rioting Greeks who could no longer pay for their extravagant lifestyle. They are merely the first example of a culture that has aborted and contracepted itself into oblivion, prophetically predicted by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. For the Greeks, Big Government had the answers and their Epicurean ancestors had the lifestyle that seemed oh so appealing. However in reality they couldn’t pay the bills because charged with the simple mission of reproducing they felt it too complicated of a task. Continue reading
The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism
The militant secular left thinks they have won a victory with President Barack Obama’s “Accommodation” with regard to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate ordering religious based institutions to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and the morning after abortion pill. Some of the left couldn’t contain their glee, one guest on MSNBC described President Obama’s move as “brilliant.” In their distorted thinking they surmise that since not all Catholics adhere to the Church’s teachings, especially on birth control, they can cause a split in the Church.
First of all, the militant secular left continually cites the Guttmacher Institute’s polling, which is about as accurate as the daily pronouncements of Syria’s Bashar Assad. Secondly, it is one thing for Catholics to go against the Church’s teachings, it is quite another to say they are proud of it and want more Big Government telling them what they and the Catholic Church to do. The sheer nuttiness of this was illustarted in a discussion which occurred on Sean Hannity’s the Great American Panel seen on Fox News last week. One of the participants Jehmu Greene told fellow panelist Andrea Tantaros that without birth control she wouldn’t be here. When the incredulous Tantaros wondered how that could logical be, Greene went on a tirade that demeaned women who have children and or decide to work at home.
For years the militant secular left has treated pregnancy as a disease and families as inconvenient truths interfering with their own narcissistic ends. Powerhouse television shows like Sex and City helped to illustrate this point. Katharine Jean Lopez of the National Review wrote some time ago how disgusted she felt seeing men demeaned as objects in the Sex and City movie, the very treatment feminists have railed about for years.
However with the narcissistic Sex and City lifestyle comes another reality playing out in the streets of Athens, Greece and soon to come to a city or country near you in the western world. The declining birth rate means the youngest among us will have to eventually have to pay for a culture that aborted or contracepted itself into oblivion. The generous benefits demanded by those cultures, especially from the militant secular left can only last so long. As the old saying goes; “The problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The ancient Greek world gods who hailed narcissism and hedonism and whose lifestyle was proselytized by the Epicureans seem as irrelevant as ever as the pall of smoke hangs over the Acropolis, a fitting metaphor for what the militant secular left has wrought. Continue reading
Occasionally the haughty and arrogant become so full of themselves, they are deluded into thinking that by their sheer will and intellect they will convince a sizeable part of the populace to give up their beliefs. The current administration illustrated this very point when they announced last month that every group will be forced to abide by the dictates of the governmental health care plan. All employers must provide birth control coverage in their health care plans as well as the morning after abortion pill. (Churches were given an exemption but churches are a small part of church related institutions, such as hospitals, schools, universities etc.)
The prairie fire started by President Barack Obama’s Administration wasn’t immediately reported by the mainstream media. Surely some in the mainstream media must have thought few Catholics would care if a bunch of old bishops read a letter from the pulpit that would go in one ear and out the other. Well of course, at least the “enlightened Catholic populace” who voted for President Obama would surely come to this conclusion. Those who would care wouldn’t vote for the President anyway, the liberal talking heads surmised. This shows how ill informed many in the mainstream media have become; for since the last 20 years or so increasing numbers of newly appointed bishops and cardinals have been far more orthodox in their beliefs and far less willing to appeal to the whims of the political world.
When I first heard the news, I thought there must be some sort of mistake; surely any freshman majoring in Political Science would realize that rankling the feathers of any major swing state voting bloc especially that of Catholics would make little sense. Yet even after some in the mainstream media awoke from their militant secular slumber, the White House insisted that this dictate would remain because of the “deeply held beliefs of the President.”
This created an opening for the Republican Primary candidates who pounced on the issue, none more than former Speaker Newt Gingrich who called it, “President Obama’s War on The Catholic Church.” Traditional and conservative minded people of all faiths immediately expressed shock at the decision of the White House. Even liberal columnist EJ Dionne wrote a scathing column saying, “The President had thrown him and his fellow Progressive Catholic allies under the bus.” Naturally the liberal media and the likes of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi rushed to the President’s defense. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, seemingly unaware of the White House decision, wondered what on earth Newt Gingrich was talking about with “Obama’s War on the Catholic Church,” which Gingrich stated in his concession speech following the Florida primary. Former Speaker Pelosi did her best Richard Rich imitation saying she “stood firmly with the Obama Administration.” Continue reading
A very interesting debate broke out recently following my article on the attacks Denver Quarterback Tim Tebow is coming under from militant liberal secularists concerning his public displays of faith. Catholic writer David L Gray wrote this piece and of course there have been many others. The debate shifted to Tim Tebow’s father who is an Evangelical leader and who takes missionary groups to Catholic countries like the Philippines so the people can “Hear the Gospel.” These kinds of statements either make Catholics laugh or get them angry. Whenever I hear these groups say that they are taking the Gospel into Catholic countries I think we should all say, “We have been preaching the Gospel since before the Canon of the Bible came to be,” or “When did your church start? Actually, we have been under the same management for 2,000 years.” The crux of the matter is how do we willingly lead people to a place we think they most certainly want to go?
I have always found that outside of a few fundamentalist crackpots, most Evangelicals respect us when we humbly but boldly tell them about Church History, Apostolic Succession, the Real Presence and other Sacraments. Why? They sincerely want to know all they can about Jesus and with the aforementioned they aren’t even getting the Readers Digest version let alone the Fullness of Truth.
In some ways Evangelicals are the low hanging fruit of the religious world. They are eager people who want to know Jesus and boy can we show them Jesus. What about the Catholic Church Abuse scandals some say; shouldn’t that prevent them from coming home to Rome? Evangelicals are familiar with scandals, in many ways they have a belief that if a scandal brews it is the work of the devil and where the devil is you know that somewhere nearby the Gospel is being preached, otherwise the devil wouldn’t be there. The devil doesn’t waste his time fighting against with fluff, because fluff never saved souls. I dare say that some Evangelicals might also take to sites such as this or even sites like Michael Brown’s Spirit Daily that delve a little into Catholic Eschatology.
Some may say what about Catholics who have fallen away? Of course it is important for our lost brothers and sisters to come home. However, many are working on that, including Catholics Come Home which is doing amazing work bringing Catholics back home. Recently in Phoenix, 92,000 fallen away Catholics registered in Phoenix parishes thanks to a concerted diocesan campaign implement by Catholics Come Home, which included commercials on television and radio.
Some may say that reconciling the split with the Orthodox Church which took place in 1056 is the most important step, after all aren’t they closest to us in ideology and practice, and hasn’t reconciliation with the Orthodox Church been the primary push by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI? Yes the last two pontiffs have made a big push with our liturgical friends to the East. However, here are a couple of points. There are more Evangelicals in the United States alone than there are Orthodox Christians in the entire English speaking world. Time is running out to bring our Evangelical brothers and sisters home. Why? Sadly most Evangelical organized churches outside the Southern Baptists are in a statistical freefall due to being raided by non-denominational mega churches. These mega churches which are increasingly becoming entertainment oriented churches have no sound theology to which to build their foundation. We all know what Jesus said about what you need to build your foundation on. (You might want to read the following article one on what liberals have done to churches in an article entitled: If You Want Liberals To Run Governments Look At What They Have Done To Religion; Left It In Tatters & the effect of entertainment churches on society in an article entitled; Margaritaville Christianity, God’s Way or Our Way?
This leads us to one of the most underreported religious stories of the year; the Catholic Diocese of Orange, California buying Dr. Robert Schuler’s Crystal Cathedral, the nation’s first mega church which had gone bankrupt. Some folks got caught up in the argument over whether a Catholic Church could even use something that hardly looks like a traditional church. However, think of the significance of the event. Rev, Robert Schuler was such a powerful name, his words were listened to and his church started an entire movement. Yet, look where his church ended up, going back home to Rome. What a metaphor for going full circle back to the Fullness of Truth, the Catholic Church.
While working on our upcoming national cable television show Non Negotiable, Producer & Director Christian Peschken talked about this very subject. Christian implored me that I needed to make this a bigger deal than it already was going to be for my upcoming book. He felt the symbolism of this the nation’s first and once most powerful mega church being turned over to the Catholic Church could not be understated. They who built their foundation on sand have now put their foundation on the Rock of Peter. Continue reading
When it comes to the media, nothing seems draw its members more than a group of Catholics who are protesting Church teaching. It doesn’t matter much where the protest is staged, outside of a local parish, a diocesan cathedral, a chancery office, or even at a bishops’ meeting. Listening to the protesters who are getting their “face time” on television, one might walk away with the mistaken impression that there’s absolutely nothing the Church has to say about anything that is of any worth for today’s world.
Arguably, the biggest protests—coming from those who claim “the People are the Church”—have to do with the Church’s alleged “misogyny.”
Contrast that image of publicity seekers with that of a group of Catholic obstetricians and gynecologists, MaterCare International (MCI).
Last week National Public Radio ran a story called “Narcissism on Rise in Pop Music Lyrics.” It opened up with,
On this very day in 1985, the number one song on the Billboard Top 100 was…”We Are the World” (“We are the world. We are the children.”) Fast-forward to 2007 when Timbaland’s “Give It to Me” featuring Nelly Furtado topped the charts: “…love my a$$ and my abs in the video for ‘Promiscuous.’ My style is ridiculous.”
So more than two decades ago, we were holding hands and swaying to a song of unity, and these days, we’re bouncing to pop stars singing about how fabulous they are. Psychologist Nathan DeWall has had the pleasure of listening to it all for research, and he found that lyrics in pop music from 1980 to 2007 reflect increasing narcissism in society. And DeWall is an associate psychology professor at the University of Kentucky.
Dr. DeWall proceeded to explain:
I was listening to a song that, really, one of my favorite bands, Weezer, had on one of their albums recently, and it’s called “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” and I kept wondering, who would actually say that out loud? “I am the greatest man that ever lived. I was born to give and give and give.”
The ironic thing is it’s a song about how I’m the greatest person in the world, but it’s to the tune of “‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple,” which is a song about humility. And so what I wanted to do, instead of relying on self-report measures of personality like narcissism, I wanted to actually go into our culture, our cultural products, which are tangible artifacts of our cultural environment. And so, for that, I thought maybe song lyrics would be a very good jumping-off spot.
What we found over time is that there’s an increasing focus on me and my instead of we and our and us. So, for example, instead of talking about love being between we and us and us finding new things together, it’s mostly about how, you know, for example, Justin Timberlake in 2006 said, “I’m bringing sexy back. Yeah. Them other boys don’t know how to act. Yeah.”
There is no doubt that DeWall is correct. Pop music is becoming more narcissistic. The broader, age old question is: Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? The answer is probably some of both. Our culture is increasingly narcissistic. In the spirit of the NPR article, which was about music, I wish to propose a possible antidote for narcissism: the liturgy, specifically liturgical music.
Unfortunately, we must first distinguish between music that might be heard in any given liturgy and liturgical music, properly speaking. While the Catholic Church has been plagued with bad versions of the four-hymn sandwich for decades, the fact remains that Holy Mother Church has given us a liturgical hymnbook: The Graduale Romanum, In this book, one will find the ancient Gregorian chants. But what many will be surprised to find is that the Church has given us specific chants for every Sunday of the year in the places that we currently sing “hymns.” For any given Mass, there are prescribed chants for the Introit (think here of the “Opening Hymn” you are used to hearing), the Gradual (“Responsorial Psalm”), the Offertorio (“Offertory”), and the Communio (“Communion Song”). Most of these date back more than a thousand years. Of course, in the Graduale Romanum, one will find the chant written in Latin. However, vernacular versions of these exist. What is key is that the liturgical rubrics, while they permit hymns, call for a preference given to these chants. Vatican II itself held that the Gregorian chant tradition should enjoy a “pride of place” in our liturgies.
Why do I see this as an antidote for narcissism? The surest way to deal with this problem is to give people the sense that they are not the center of reality, nor are they the source. The Cartesian turn to the subject has flipped classical metaphysics on its head so that people come to view reality as what is in their own minds rather than what their minds encounter on the outside. The liturgy is a reality that is given to us, not one that is created by us. In fact, it is in the liturgy itself that we find our own fulfillment. When we go to Mass, we participate in reality itself, something that is much bigger than us. If we see the Liturgy as something that we fit into rather than something that fits into our lives, we can come to understand that we are not the center of reality: God is.
The problem is, as has been observed on several observations over the past decade, there is an increasing narcissism even within the liturgy itself: both priests and people come to think that the liturgy is something that can be created and recreated with the fickle winds of changing culture. In fact, the lack of narcissistic language in the new translation of the Roman Missal has been pointed out in comparison with the current, defective translation. Currently, there are several places in the texts that seem to order God to do certain things and to give a primacy to the people over the divine. The new translation, being more faithful to the Latin, has sought to correct many of these errors. What remains to be fixed is the same problem in the hymns that are often chosen for Sunday worship. Many of the modern hymns focus on man rather than God (think here of “Gather Us In,” or the ever-elusive “Sing a New Church Into Being”). Quite simply, these hymns are self-centered rather than God-centered.
Contrast this with the use of the Graduale Romanum. These chants have been given to us by the Church, each carefully constructed around sacred texts in order to serve as a sort of lectio divina for the readings of the day. Indeed, when Gregorian chant is properly performed, it seems as if it is not of this world. Part of that is due to the inherent structure of the music, for chant lacks a strict meter (though it has an internal rhythm of its own). Unlike a hymn, which marches forward towards a climactic conclusion, chant allows the listener to rest in contemplation, a mirror of the eternity which we, God willing, will experience someday. But another part is due to the words, which become primary (unlike modern pop music, where the words are often a later add-on to an already existing rhythm/chord structure).
Perhaps the most important point, however, is the fact that the music of the Mass inevitably (forgive the pun) sets the tone of the entire celebration. It stands to reason, then, if we employ a music that is provided for us by the Church (not to mention encouraged by the rubrics), then the people will better understand that the liturgy itself is given and not created. If they come to understand the liturgy, which is the objective center of reality, in this manner, then they will come to see that they are not the center of reality. Thus, my rapid fire, probably incomplete, but hopefully coherent, argument that an antidote for the rise in narcissism is Gregorian Chant. Save the liturgy, save the world.
A reader writes into Fr. Z to ask why Gregorian Chant is to be preferred at Mass to hymns like “Gather Us In” which the reader, a newly minted Catholic, happens to like. Fr. Z responds here, and the commenters also chime in with responses that hit the mark.
Fr. Z writes:
As a preamble, music for liturgical worship is not a mere add on or decoration. It is liturgical worship. Therefore the texts used should be sacred texts. The texts of those ditties mentioned in the question are not sacred, liturgical texts. They are not the prayer of the Church.
He then discusses the quality of the hymns under discussion. This is a more subjective argument. After all, there are people who think the hymns located in the Gather hymnal are quite extraordinary. I question the sanity of such people, but that’s neither here nor there. This is a country that consistently puts American Idol at the top of the ratings, so I’m obviously a bit out of the loop with my musical tastes.
Besides, even non banal hymns seem out of place in our liturgy. On Holy Thursday I attended Mass at St. Mathew’s Cathedral. As always, it was a beautiful, reverent, and yes, Novus Ordo liturgy. I don’t remember the entrance hymn. It was a nice hymn – something more fitting than one of the turds from the Gather hymnal. And yet there was something a bit off. It was a fairly upbeat hymn, and as Cardinal Wuerl incensed the altar it just felt jarring. Here is this solemn moment marking the beginning of the Triduum, and the accompanying music just does not fit what is happening up there in the sanctuary. It’s the sort of thing that just snaps you out of the moment, and that’s the problem.
The liturgy is prayer, not entertainment. The reason that these hymns are generally inappropriate, no matter the quality, is that they simply don’t fit in with what’s supposed to be happening. Instead of amplifying our prayers they drown them out. That’s why I find the incessant need to have some kind of music playing at all times whenever there is more than five seconds of silence so frustrating. You’ve all probably heard organists vamp when the hymn ends before the Priest has reached the sanctuary, or after Communion when not all have returned to their places. Why can’t he or she just let silence reign for a few minutes? Why is there such a need for constant noise, especially when it does not fit in appropriately with that moment in the liturgy?
In my first article The Coming Open Rebellion Against God, I spoke of a time where God would reveal his omnipotence and some would simply leave their faith behind. Why? Because just as in John 6, some would say it simply doesn’t make sense and walk away. Some have prayed that if only God would show His omnipotence; many would fall on their knees and believe. I truly believe the time is coming when some of our intelligentsia, including clergy will see the hand of God and say; “No thanks, this doesn’t mesh with my worldview.”
Father Dwight Longenecker recently wrote a review of the movie The Rite Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, a movie somewhat inspired by a real life Italian exorcist. The movie was given praise by many Catholic writers including Father Longenecker for actually showing the Church in a positive light. Perhaps this was due to the film’s producers using a California based exorcist Father Gary Thomas who actually was present at the filming of the movie. In a key passage Father Longenecker pondered the fact that far too many in this modern rationalistic world see the idea of the devil and demonic possession as beyond them, even though if they truly followed their rationalistic approach, they would come to see that there simply was no medical or scientific explanation for some cases. Sadly, for too many the sin of pride all too often is their downfall.
Recently Father Gary Thomas was interviewed by Leticia Velazquez of Catholic Exchange; some of his remarks about the way in which the teachings of the Church with regard to evil were defiantly rebuked by some within the Church including bishops were more than a little disconcerting. This movie review of The Rite by Father Raymond Schroth SJ associate Editor of America Magazine is one such example. As you can see, the devil is so passé to Father Schroth SJ. It hardly jibes with the high mindedness of those to which he and his urbane friends associate. Check out the comments section in the article, some of the comments left are as elitist and depressing as his treatise on who God is and who He should be.
George Weigel has noted the sad state of some quasi dissident bishops that Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have had to confront. They came from a mindset that preferred the adulation of the dissident intelligentsia of the Ivy League rather than the working class Catholic roots from which many came.
With regard to Jesus and the devil, Jesus spent a good deal of his time fighting the devil and his minions, but alas those who don’t believe in such things seem to indicate that Jesus and the Gospel writers got it wrong, Jesus was not fighting demonic powers but those who were dealing with bouts of depression and epilepsy. According to these liberal dissident elites, Jesus was the precursor to Dr Phil and Deepak Chopra helping those poor seemingly possessed people get their groove back and find their Zen destiny. Never mind what the Church teaches on the subject or the fact that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have specifically spoken of evil and the needs for more exorcists in the Church, these elites know better. Talk about hutzpah, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been labeled as intellectually brilliant, even by their detractors, but no matter to those who don’t believe in such archaic things as the devil. Perhaps we should ask those in the Church, especially in the Church Hierarchy, if you don’t believe what Jesus said about the devil and the manifestation of evil, what else don’t you believe? Continue reading
Q: What kind of Catholic are you?
Q: No, I mean are you liberal or conservative?
A: I no longer know what those words mean.
Q: Are you a dogmatic Catholic or an open-minded Catholic?
A: I don’t know what that means, either. Do you mean I believe the dogma that the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Q: How is such a belief possible in this day and age?
A: What else is there?
Q: What do you mean, what else is there? There is humanism, atheism, agnosticism, Marxism, behavioralism, materialism, Buddhism, Muhammadanism, Sufism, astrology, occultism, theosophy.
A: That’s what I mean.
Q: To say nothing of Judaism or Protestantism.
A: Well, I would include them along with the Catholic Church in the whole peculiar Jewish-Christian thing.
Q: I don’t understand. Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?
A: It’s not good enough.
Q: Why not?
A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer, “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact, I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less.
It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many in engage in hand wringing and doom and gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview with Peter Seewald turned book Light of the World. Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control. Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled. Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails from some who surprisingly seemed ecstatic to point out that my book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.
Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, a simple university professor in the famed German town of Tubingen, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.) However, the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing. They in turn left posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry. Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”
The Holy Father was merely engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team x played historical team y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy. The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lie with those in the Vatican’s Public Relations Department in making sure the ubiquitous editor Giovanni Vian didn’t somehow put the Holy Father’s abstract scenarios into an excerpt for the L’Osservatore Romano. The comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fallout.
Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the amount of miracles and jaw dropping examples of God’s Grace, that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican’s walls, still amazes him to this day. However, on the flip side the amount of sinister almost demonic style attacks amazes him to this day as well. The evil one knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem. Continue reading
National Public Radio’s ludicrous firing of Juan Williams and a subsequent mainstream media article on Catholic bloggers may seem to be two separate issues. Some may say what does the overwhelmingly conservative leaning Catholic blogosphere have in common with the liberal leaning Juan Williams? The answer is quite simple; both scare the mainstream media because Juan Williams and the majority of the Catholic blogosphere put forth interesting solutions to often discussed questions.
The modus operadi of some in the mainstream media is to find a couple of unnamed fringe Catholic bloggers, who few read, and then make them become bigger players than they really are. Combine this with a Juan Williams quote which most of America agrees with and voila you have it; the ultimate straw man from which you can tear apart any minority who appears on Fox News or any Catholic blogger who faithfully defends the teachings of the 2,000 year old Catholic Church.
In this Associated Press article on the Catholic blogosphere, the piece mentions Thomas Peters and Michael Voris (who is known for his videos not his blogging,) but focuses on harsh unnamed Catholic bloggers. The article quotes John Allen who calls elements of the Catholic blogosphere “Taliban Catholicism.” The highly respected Mr. Allen, who though working for the dissident leaning National Catholic Reporter, is often known for his many high ranking Church contacts and his fairness. He should have know better than to give the quote that he did. To take a few bloggers from the right (or even from the left) and call them the Catholic blogosphere is the type of journalism that would not pass muster for a high school paper, let alone the AP. This would be akin to taking the worst rated college or pro football team and telling the world this is the best of American football, or perhaps watching the Walla Walla Community theater production of Hamlet and saying this is Hamlet at its finest. John Allen should have realized where this article was going and chosen his words more carefully.
The AP article continues by naming a Church official who seems worried about the Catholic blogosphere. One wonders if the Church official would know the difference between Father John Zuhlsdorf from Father Richard McBrien, Amy Welborn from Aimee Semple McPherson, Mark Shea from Mark Sanford, Rocco Palmo from Rocco Mediate, or Tito Edwards from Tito Santana. I worked for years in a diocesan office and I have yet to meet, even in my travels, a diocesan official who is well versed in the blogosphere. It seems to be a generational thing and most diocesan officials are not to be confused with the younger, more conservative seminarians or young priests being ordained.
While some in the mainstream media snicker at the Pope and Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Catholic Church) they in reality have their own magisterium. In their secular magisterium anyone who believes in the Catholic Church’s authority is hopelessly outdated, because according to gatekeepers in the mainstream media, true thinkers are those in the dying liberal churches who don’t know what they believe. Sadly, GK Chesterton prophetically predicted this would happen. He said, “It’s not that atheists and agnostics believe in nothing, they believe in everything.” In modern parlance, “It’s all good.” How sad that some who proclaim to be “open minded” can’t see the obvious; liberal Christianity is dying on the vine.” Continue reading
In a recent column Washington Post columnist, E J Dionne noted that the Tea Party movement is a great scam. Quite an indictment coming from the self described progressive Catholic who still thinks government can never be big enough and the Church should tell the faithful more about the teachings of the agnostic Saul Alinsky than that of 2,000 year old teachings of the Catholic Church. Dionne has made it his business to comment on all matter of politics and religion for quite some time. His partner in left wing chicanery is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd who never hesitates to go for the jugular. Though she says he she comes from humble Washington DC roots, you would never know it by how she mocks those who really came from humble surrounding and never forgot it. She probably grew up with many Sarah Palin’s and Christine O’Donnell’s around her. Yet, I doubt she mocked many to their face as she gleefully does now to the backs of Palin and O’Donnell.
Dionne and Dowd seem to have it backwards, they don’t think citizens should voice their views about the fallacies of liberal Big Government, but they do believe everyone knows better than the divine about religion. This is quite common for liberals who often seem to think they are divine. Dionne and Dowd are part of a movement who thinks they should control government and religion, and those who disagree with them are often labeled as unintelligent; the worst sin as far as liberals are concerned. However, who is the unintelligent one? Big Government has never worked. It has only brought huge debt which has to be repaid by future generations. Individuals who go into debt face a series of tough measures. Yet Dionne and Dowd seem oblivious to this and advocate the same disastrous path for the government, the end result being tough measures for everyone. In other words Big Government is a disaster that doesn’t work.
However, Big Government isn’t the only disaster Dionne and Dowd advocate. They want the Catholic Church to turn her back on its 2,000 year old teachings and embrace the Dictatorship of Relativism, so named by Pope Benedict XVI. Dionne and Dowd are happy to embrace dissident Catholics who espouse this sort of thinking. It seems Dionne and Dowd are more comfortable with the views of Marx, Alinsky and Freud than they are with Christ, St Paul, St Thomas Aquinas, St Joan of Arc and Pope Benedict XVI. Continue reading
It would appear that those in the mainstream media who want to do hit pieces on Pope Benedict XVI need to take a number. The latest to engage in Yellow Journalism is CNN. The “network of record” dispatched Gary Tuchman to do the dirty work. One might recall that it was none other than Tuchman who remarked how distressing it was travelling in the heartland during the 2008 Election campaign. He complained that some who recognized him told him that their Middle American views and ideas were repeatedly mocked by the mainstream media, all the while those of the liberal establishment were hailed. Tuchman’s words were quite revealing when it comes to this story.
CNN has been advertising their hit piece on Pope Benedict XVI as if he was already guilty of some sort of cover up, even though during the Abuse Scandal it was none other than the New York Times who praised then Cardinal Ratzinger for tackling the tough problems. What tough problems did he tackle? The most notable example being Father founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Father Marcial Maciel was one of the few prominent conservatives caught up in the Abuse Scandal, most of the abusers were Church liberals who wanted to change the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger took on Father Maciel at the height of his power and popularity. One might recall that Father Maciel was quite close to Pope John Paul II. So from this example we can see that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) showed no favorites and pulled no punches. The Legionaries of Christ were shaken to the core and as pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI removed their leadership and installed his own, hardly the work of someone who was timid.
The CNN piece was perhaps even more despicable than the New York Times hit piece, because in the interim much of the modus operandi of the Old Gray Lady was exposed. Still CNN used the same material and claimed that they had something new. There is nothing new here. The crux of their argument comes from material provided by Jeffrey Anderson the attorney who has made millions off the scandal. Anderson says he is one a mision to “reform the Church.” What kind of reform would that be? Some Catholic dioceses have been forced into bankruptcy, which means the poor whom they dioceses assisted through their social programs are left in the cold. For all his concern of “reform” Anderson hasn’t provided a penny to these particular poor.