Progressive-Church.Com

Wednesday, September 8, AD 2010

The Episcopal Church?

Cardinal’s Mahony or O’Malley’s Archdioceses?

If you guessed any of these you’re pretty darn close!

(Hat Tip:  Creative Minority Report)

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Margaritaville Christianity; God's Way Or Our Way?

Wednesday, July 28, AD 2010

As Europe emerged from the Dark Ages, a growing populace happy for good news and grateful for these positive turn of events in their lives openly and without apology made the Catholic faith the center of their lives. They believed in the Word of God, even if they couldn’t read or write. They hung on to every word of those who could read. Even during the workday, if at all possible those working in the fields would briefly slip into town to see the priest raise the Host during the Consecration at Mass. Though their lives were full of toil and often misery (they weren’t allowed the liberty of attending daily Mass) the people of this era used any opportunity they could to make religion a part of their daily life.

Fast forward a thousand years and we can certainly see that daily life has shifted some 180 degrees. Many of the elite often snicker or poke fun at those who are serious about their faith. Even those who are considered serious in their faith pursuit, often hide the true extent of their faith, for fear of being called a holy roller.

The secular talking heads tell us that we should be more like the modern world we are trying to help and change. Religion should be more like the popular culture they tell us. We should try to glean words of wisdom from thinkers like Voltaire, Marx, Freud and Alinsky and entertainers like Madonna, Lady Gaga or even Jimmy Buffet. Yet, have these secular talking heads ever taken their own advice? Have these leftists ever thought, “why was Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher so popular? What could we learned from them? “ (For more on this read my column, If You Like What The Political Left Has Done To Politics, Look At What The Religious Left Has Done To Religion (Left It In Tatters) along with my article, The Construct of Rebellion.

Some might say wasn’t Jesus somewhat of a cultural outcast, like modern day pop culture figures? Well Jesus certainly enjoyed some fun; otherwise he wouldn’t have been at the wedding feast performing his first miracle by turning water into wine no less. However, he was hardly the type of person that endorsed the “its Five o Clock somewhere lifestyle.” He forgave the woman caught in adultery, but told her to “sin no more.” Incidentally, she probably had more clothes on than some who show up at church on Sunday. However, that’s another story.

Our educated world makes excuses for the behavior of those pop stars like Lady Gaga who make edgy and sacrilegious videos and show up in public (at the New York Yankees club house) clad only in undergarments. Those illiterate peoples that lived in Europe one thousand years ago were smart enough to know that despite the corruption they knew existed in the Church, they were far better off listening to the Teachings of the Church than the whims of the world in which they lived. They and their forbearers had witnessed violent feudal warlords that had plunged Europe into centuries of horrific darkness; a darkness that we face today if we listen to the sirens of militant secularism who want us to return to the dying days of Rome.

We often forget it was in those dying days of Rome that many of the elites longed for the days of their elders, when Christianity was outlawed and orgies were commonplace at homes of the movers and shakers of Roman high society, and violent spectacles took place at the coliseum. Today their descendants are gaga over the likes of Lady Gaga, and treat abortion as if it were some sort of coming of age ritual.

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20 Responses to Margaritaville Christianity; God's Way Or Our Way?

  • It’s odd you pick Margaritaville for the title of this post. As you may recall, the lyrics are a not so subtle progression of the singer realizing/admitting that his woes are due to his own fault. A confession, at least, if not a full repentance. That is closer to Christianity than many of the other things you (rightly) point out.

  • If anything, Margaritaville strikes me more as a purgatory than heaven.

  • Matt, the reason I selected Margaritaville as the title was due to the e-mail I received from the woman I mentioned in the article. There really is no disrespect intended to Jimmy Buffett, only to those who look at the mythical Margaritaville as some sort heavenly location. As I indicated in the article, I enjoy Jimmy Buffett’s music and not only have some of his cd’s, but even some albums and dare I say 8 tracks! I agree with you that the lyrics to Margaritaville, as well as others like Son of A Sailor and Come Monday are more introspective than some might otherwise assume.

  • 8 tracks!! Do you still have the equipment to play them?

  • Too bad the pastor likened heaven to Maragaritaville. Although there is plenty of material in the Bible and Church history itself to work with, if he had to use Margaritaville, seems he could have done a much better job focusing on its introspection. But then, I assume this pastor of a mega-church probably does not believe in Purgatory, which would have been a more appropriate comparison.

    I am personally not a big fan of trying to use contemporary pop culture to illuminate Church teaching (particularly since most of pop culture is garbage) but I suppose it can be done with the rare gems that are around and by someone who truly understands what he is doing.

  • My old stereo, complete with 8 Trak died years ago, but I do have a friend that has an operable 8 Trak player (sort of!)

    As for the entertainment based mega churches, I do believe it is the last stopping off point for Catholics & Evangelicals on their way to total isolation from recognizable faith practices. While we have lost too many Catholics to these churches, Evangelicals are in even worse shape as many of their flock have left serious churches for entertainment based mega churches, never to return to an open practice of their faith. One only need look at small towns in rural America where beautiful old mainline churches seemed weathered and beaten, because many left them after their theology and social views took a sharp left turn in the 1970s. The next stop for these folks was often the non denominational church, followed by the entertainment based mega church. When all the bells and whistles were exhausted, many went home.

    Joel Osteen and even Rick Warren have had to make special financial appeals. This reminds me of an e-mail I received shortly after my book, “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism came out.” Someone e-mailed me as to how exciting Joel Osteen’s services were, and then went on to poke fun at the “boring Catholic Mass,” or so they thought. The e-mailer concluded, “we have fireworks after our service, do you?” I was tempted to say, “not even at gunpoint.” However, I thought that perhaps some liberal Catholic parish might have done this so I held off.

  • This is funny – a few years ago I walked into a liberal Catholic church and was greeted by a huge picture of what looked like to me as Jesus the beach bum. I dubbed it “Jesus of Margaritaville.”

  • Wow Jane that’s wild. My view about liberal Catholic churches is once you think you have seen it all, something like this pops up. Once on vacation, I remember hearing a priest give a homily in which I wasn’t sure if he was talking about Jesus or Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. However, judging from his tie dye vestements, maybe he thought they were one in the same.

    For the longest time the liberal establishment shunned the mega churches for they perceived them to be part of conservative America. However, following the news that some of the same mega churches that went heavily for GW Bush in 2004 went for Barack Obama in 2008. Now it seems these mega churches aren’t all bad to the discerning liberal in mainstream media or his liberal Catholic follower.

  • Great article. I get frustrated when I read in the news about “Catholics” who want to change our faith and interpret the gospels to their own liking. I think it comes down to obedience. These “teens” have never grown up. You can’t tell them what to think, how to dress, who their friends should be, etc. Plus they are just lying to themselves about the good they are doing when actually they are causing great harm.

  • This morning three young girls in tee-shirts and short shorts took up the offeratory. But normally it seems it is the older men who mostly wear shorts to church. And here in the mountains, you would not think you would find attire more suited to the beach but you do.

    Yes, I have had the sad experience of a world traveler pastor who with his men friends went to Hawaii beaches, Las Vegas, etc. He decorated the church with a bunch of hanging fabric and told us how Jesus ate and drank Hiw way through the Gospels and how we are to enjoy life ‘abuntandly’. He dog has been at the altar and jumped in the baptismal pond during a baptism once. Everyone seems to find it amusing as well as the sometimes off color jokes. One finds mroe reverence and a non=denom entertainment church sometimes.

    Considering the lack of catechesis for 40 years and the ‘liberal’ (unfaithful) bishops who stay in power until either age or the civil authorities remove them, it is something that a remnant remains. But then our church WILL last until the end of time, irregardless of what we sinners do.

  • Very interesting article and comments. I have spent the better part of the last 15 years writing letters to priests, bishops, “Catholic” newspapers, etc., and in general making myself persona non grata to those in my home parish and diocese in New York. Be that as it may, I certainly didn’t write to become popular or well-liked, merely to beg them to consider that they may be failing those of us on the other side of the altar, and how hungry we were for something more than they were offering. What should one do in these instances? I remember that we are called to humility, to refrain from judging others, but when we sit week after week, listening to wishy-washy homilies, never hearing enough about the fact that we are sinners, struggling, or authentic Catholic teaching, seeing EM’s step into the sanctuary in shorts, sloppy pedal pushers, tee shirts, short skirts, skimpy tops, etc., and young people in skirts that barely covers their buttocks, or short shorts, taking up the collection, etc., and you just sit there thinking “what is wrong with people”. Well, here’s what’s wrong….as was mentioned previously, a whole generation of Catholics who were not properly catechized, who are now raising children, who, through no fault of their own, don’t get it. How do you undo years of weak-kneed, spineless bishops, (not all but some) who were more concerned with the bottom line, their standing in the community at large, etc., then to be shepherds to their flocks? How to undo this? It has taken every ounce of self-control I could muster to keep silent, when I sit a row behind a female EM, with a husband couple of young children with her, as she chews gum all throughout Mass, only to get up onto the altar to give us Communion, and she in tight “walking shorts”, and sleeveless tops….I should not have to be distracted from my prayer by this, nor feel the urge to say something to her about her manner of dress or her gum chewing….that should come from the pastor, but needless to say the pastor at this particular church in the diocese of Raleigh, NC, is more concerned with being well-liked and thinking what a great parish he’s got and how wonderful he is, and singing his homily every Christmas at midnight Mass, projecting every baptism, at every Mass, onto the ceiling of the Church, and parading each baby held in the air, up and down the aisles; its all about bells and whistles, and so not about the state of our souls, or a deepening of our spirituality. At 60 years of age, I have almost given up hope, I attend Mass, but look for nothing from it besides the Eucharist, and fullfilment of my obligation, and I watch my grown children, who were raised to love the faith, with reverence and respect, wonder what in the world is going on here, what has happened to the Catholic church. I realize more than ever, we are pretty much out here on our own, and we should learn not to depend upon anyone other than Christ himself.

  • David, the article is a bit long….the problem range from having the cake and eating it too…to Catholics having an identity crisis…they want to identify with the world and its spirit, they don’want to abandon self and self-interest, they do not want to acknowledge their faults and
    sinfulness, they don’t want to imitate Christ nor do they want to imitate Mary the Mother of God. Once all the interior spirituality is suck out of the soul they are left with this empty hull, a graceless void, that will now be filled with the errors of modernisms…dead, dried branches separated from the vine…good for nothings other than to burn. What is the remedy: renewal of theit baptismal vow through consecration to Mary, returning to sacraments of confession for starter…limit your worship at institutions with the 4 legitimate marks of Christ’s True Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic…and upholds the pillars of Faith via: Holy Scripture, the Magesterium, and Oral Tradition. These duplicious, heretics hide behind the rubrics of the Catholic Church do so much harm.

  • Interesting post. I left the Roman Catholic Church for the Byzantine Catholic Church because of the abuses in the liturgy. After suffering liturgical dances, heretical (and unsingable) hymns, invented eucharistic prayers, sermons on the need for “vacations”, extraordinary ministers of communion handing out the Eucharist like mere crackers (without reverence or knowledge of what they were doing) I couldn’t take it anymore. The Lord led me to the local Byzantine Rite Church — I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
    I was raised in the Latin Rite, but the Novus Ordo is pure torture to me now. Give me a Tridentine Liturgy or the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom/St Basil any day over the watered down liturgy of the Novus Ordo. It’s no wonder that so many Catholics have left the Church in the last 40 years. We’ve been wandering in the desert for that long. I only hope the Latin Rite will reform itself and go back to the Tridentine mass. There was (and is) nothing like it for worshiping the immutable, omnipotent God.

  • These souls move from one pleasure to the next and pay heed to whomever tickles their ears. Suffering and sacrifice has no value, consider something to avoid at all costs, and an annoyance and an inconvenience. This darkness makes them foolish and blind for if they encounter a faithful soul’s correction their either mock, flee, ignore, or take offense…and always always always attack the church, its priests, its Pope and its Teachings, and Scandalize the souls of the faithful first, the innocent second, and the ignorant last…they are the poison arrows and darts hurl at the Church from within. To often the impact of these individuals are minimized to sighs and complaints while casualties of souls occurs because of them. They have trully loss their Catholicity…its a wonderment why do they stay…

  • I’ve worshipped with the Byzantine Mass very, very beautiful…what stuck me most is the humilty of responses and acknowledgement of one sinfulness and repeated prayers for mercy and forgiveness from God…the entire Mass is sung…I will stay with the Latin Rite but my second love is the Byzantine…I hear a Maronite rite will be coming to my city soon…I hope to experience that Mass soon…it is wonderful the beauty of the different rites in union with the Pope and these poor soul forgo this beauty to attend non-denominational gyms.

  • The mention of the Sisters of St. Mary in Ann Arbor brings to mind the recent salutatorian speech in Latin, which wowed the crowd, by a Harvard grad who will be joining the convent. Perhaps Lady Gaga draws a bigger response, but we all know where the path that is wide and easy leads to.

  • Mr. Hartline,

    I admittedly only skimmed your article due to its length. However, I have to heartily and emphatically disagree with you about something you said in the last paragraph ‘There’s nothing wrong with having a cold one or listening to Jimmy Buffet’. The second part of this sentence is where I take issue. I too rather enjoyed Jimmy Buffet. But not too long ago, I made a conscious effort to throw away every last tape and CD of his I owned into the trash. The reason? Buffet promotes rampant promiscuity, lewdness, and drunkeness in many of his songs. As I’m sure you’ll agree, this is completely antithetical to our Catholic faith and morality. It may be ‘fun’ music, of which I listened to it for many years, but it ultimately debases the dignity of women and the beauty of sexual intimacy as God intended between husband and wife. God bless you.

  • Great article and comments! Dave, I used to read The Catholic Report almost every day and I loved your writings there! You might remember that I’m the blind guy who works in Christian radio and we used to correspond occasionally. I know you have good reasons for discontinuing The Catholic Report, but I hope that God will lead you to bring it back someday.

    As usual, your comments are right on target and I agree completely. That’s why I love priests like Father John Corapi. I wish there were more priests like him at our parishes. I would love for Father Corapi to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast or a similar event. Unfortunately, we had to endure Obama’s liberal secular rants and Secretary of State Clinton really made my blood boil when she spoke! Can all of you imagine what it would be like if Father Corapi spoke at one of these events? The way he and others like him preach the truth would make a lot of people squirm but more importantly, it might lead to some conversions.

  • Victor, so good to read your comments. I remember you well. I pray for you and all of the fine folks who were apart of the Catholic Report. Life keeps me busy with faith, family, employment and writing articles. The fact that the so many people are upset at the Church shows that the Church is doing what is necessary. We stumbled for a while, but as with other times in Church History the stumbles are often followed with great bursts of faithful evangelization.

  • I agree with the poster who threw out his buffett cd’s. He is an ex-Catholic and often ridicules the church and specifically altar boys. His music is a scourge that has taken millions down the wrong path in life. He even idiotically blamed bush for the recent gulf oil spill.

What The Week Long LeBron James Ego Charade Can Tell Us About The State Of the World, As Well As The Catholic Church

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

UPDATE  Check Back On Monday To See What Time The Scheduled Appearance On The Al Kresta Show Will Take Place. Al Kresta Is Heard On EWTN Radio ( Over 100 Affiliate Stations) Check Your Local Listings Or Click Here To Listen Live

The LeBron James saga was particularly painful for those of us who live in Ohio and are Cavaliers fans. However a cursory glance at some of the national columnist’s reaction, to the week-long ego charade broadcasted by ESPN, gives me hope that many others have seen through this smoke screen as well. (Check these columns here here and  here.) What we witnessed Thursday night and the excuses made for it, along with sucking up by some of the national powers that be, gives us some insight on a world full of instant gratification and the desire to party on in South Beach, rather than roll up their sleeves in places like Cleveland. Talk about a metaphor for the Catholic Church.

For years now many faithful orthodox minded Catholics have painfully watched friends and loved ones leave the Catholic Church for either the local hoopty do mega church (Mother Angelica’s words,) or for no church at all, claiming they needed to feel better. They didn’t like a Church who couldn’t get with the times, had too many sinners in the pulpit, or talked to much about sin and not enough about heaven. Perhaps the LeBron James fiasco has given us the perfect recipe for what we should do; give it right back to them.

I grew in a small town (or city depending upon your classification) full of hard working class folks (and farmers who came into town from the outlying areas) where flowery words were few and far between and one would be easily called out for his actions. Now we all know the Church has had some difficult times in the last few years. However, this is because we wanted to be liked, instead of doing it God’s way, whether that was politically correct or not.

Today we have a new crop of orthodox-minded young seminarians, priests and women religious who are pious, but not above calling people out concerning their phony excuses for not taking their Faith more serious by not practicing it, or leaving it all together. In my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I outline the increase in vocations, especially in dioceses which are more openly orthodox in their approach. The Father McBrien’s and Kung’s of the world are being replaced by younger versions of Father Corapi and Father Pacwa. Though these two priests have different approaches, they are not above calling out the phony reality show world we often seem to celebrate in our culture and religion.

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20 Responses to What The Week Long LeBron James Ego Charade Can Tell Us About The State Of the World, As Well As The Catholic Church

  • LeBron will be lucky to get any contracts to endorse anything outside of Miami. The last athlete to fall this hard was OJ Simpson. No good comes from stabbing people in the back.

  • Strange the comments were about Lebron and not the comparing of the event to so called ‘catholics” in the pew, who have forgotten or have been swayed by the glitter of change and culture. They have forgot or never understood, our Lord did not give us rules that were elective in nature, but tenets that were set for all eternity regardless of occurences or changes in our world and scripture that fully explain what occurs when we forget that fact.

  • I read the letter to the Cavs fans by the owner guaranteeing that the team will win a title before LeBron does. If that happens, he’ll be left feeling like the Prodigal Son, ashamed of himself for letting greed and glitter get the best of him.

  • Lebron who?

    re: getting people back on the road to eternal life. The Pelosi-Obama-Reid regime may be a blessing in disguise. Tens of millions of unintended consequences of their misrule and the devastations of the economy and our way of life may bring people to realize that this glitzy world is a chimera and their true home is Holy Mother Church and in Heaven after repenting, confessing, doing penance, amending their lives and through good works glorifying Almighty God, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit.

  • Goodbye Clevland.
    Turn down the rock and roll
    Turn out the light.
    Goodbye Clevland.
    Goodbye, Good luck and goodnight.

    ~ Robert Earl Keen

  • Sorry, I have not been following the Lebron thing, and don’t follow basketball in general. But I don’t see much of a comparison between Lebron and the state of the Catholic Church.

    Lebron left because apparently he believes the Cleveland team is not good enough to win a championship. He decided that winning one was important to him , so he left for team that he thinks could get him there (an he could get them there). Has Lebron played for several teams for short periods of time? Has he hopped around a lot (I don’t know)?
    I can’t blame him – how many of us would leave their current job for one they felt was better (either better pay or better conditions, or maybe both?)? More importantly, how many of our employers would keep us around if we started sucking at our job? How long would the Cavs have kept Lebron if he suddenly started to suck (and how many fans would be clamouring for him to be cut)? Loyalty is a two way street my friend, and Big Sports, like any other big business treats it one way only.

    In the end, Lebron’s situation is an employee/employer one, not anything having to do with loyalty to one’s faith (employer/ee loyatly died decades ago). Just completely different situations.

  • LeBron who indeed.

    What an appalling waste of time, energy, effort, talent, and other human resources, speculating about the fate of a ball tosser.

    Enjoy it on your own time, have a beer, cheer when your team scores, boo when the other guys do, fine. To get this involved in a sports game and a sports figure is… I can’t use the word I’d like to use, but it begins with f, ends with ing, and is followed by ridiculous.

    Our Church is in crisis, and our government is out of control. Our southern border is menaced by marauders, Europe is being overrun by Islam, and the US is on the verge of another Great Depression.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19205.htm

    “If the world is unwilling to continue to accumulate dollars, the US will not be able to finance its trade deficit or its budget deficit. As both are seriously out of balance, the implication is for yet more decline in the dollar’s exchange value and a sharp rise in prices.”

    Worry about that. Not where some ball player decides to continue putting the ball in the net.

  • A couple of points. Yes, the whole LeBron fiasco is pretty ridiculous, which is what the article was attempting to point out. However, we don’t live in the world of our choosing, we have to deal with the cards we are dealt. Perhaps, this is why St Paul used sports anologies. If he didn’t, he would have been just another egg headed itinerant preacher in the 1st Century Roman Empire. Geeks by their very nature don’t attract crowds, perhaps this is why St Paul among many others through the centuries, including our present Magesterium have brought in sports anologies. Our own beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI used the World Cup in his remarks to highlight the need for teamwork in the realm of Faith.

    This blog is revelant because it addresses many current issues, I believe Tito and myself have thrwon in sports anaolgies simply because sports is a mainstay of our society, and yes we enjoy it.

    The second point: As for why LeBron James. He is a Akron St Vincent-St Mary’s grad, a historic Catholic high school in northeast Ohio. He has donated money to the school and helped to promote. In addition, he received one of his NBA most Valuable Player Awards at his high school, something that I believe has never happened.

    The point I was making about his shameless treachery of self promotion is very pertinent in our world where faith takes a back seat to me first promotion. Sadly, it seems LeBron has taken that road, a road he promised he would never take. As much I detest all of this pop culture nonsense, to ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist would simply be sticking our heads in the ground. We are not called to be Essenes but to live in the world, just not be of the world.

  • Dave,

    You certainly make some valid points. But this goes too far:

    “The LeBron James saga was particularly painful for those of us who live in Ohio and are Cavaliers fans.”

    Painful? Really? It caused you pain?

    St. Paul may have used sports analogies (where was this exactly?), but he never endorsed the gladiator games at the Colosseum. I’m not saying you endorsed the modern equivalent, but when I look at the madness that overcomes sports crowds – especially in a time of political, economic and social crisis – I don’t see a bunch of regular people enjoying sports.

    I see the bread and circuses of Rome, with which the people were distracted while civilization collapsed. A pacifier, a placater, a sedative – followed by irrational emotional outbursts and torrents of rage, all directed at some ridiculous non-event instead of at the people who are imposing a new tyranny upon us.

    I agree fully with the need to relate to people and their interests. I’m no ivory tower intellectual, I detest alienating and obtuse language, esoteric jargon, etc. But at a certain point, people do need to be slapped in the face with the truth, and they need to be told bluntly that every second of real and genuine PASSION they waste on a sports figure subtracts from the struggle they could be mounting against the growing threat to our liberties and security as citizens.

  • Joe, a very interesting post. I shall do my best to answer questions. With regard as to do I really feel pain regarding LeBron James leaving the Cavs. Yes, I do. Now pain comes in many stages for example; I have been stung on my left hand by a bee and that was painful but rather scant compared to the pain experienced when I broke that hand some years later. I hope you get my drift. I recently felt a sad pain when a fellow Catholic told told me that his business partner, also a practicing Catholic, took liberties with the business and the money causing great scandal and hardship. I felt pain for the injured and the knowledge that some non believers would get a kick out of the matter. To say that one can only feel pain when something major happens to them or some great tragedy in the Church, nation or world sounds rather cold and Dr Spock like to me.

    As for the whole Roman bread and circuses analogy first floated by the American Left in the early half of the last century and floated again by the likes of Libertarian Alex Jones, it just doesn’t make sense. The Roman population was by and large illiterate and caught up in violence and warfare. Are your really saying that modern sports fans want to see others torn apart in their local stadiums?

    The interesting assertion made is that intelllectuals in Europe are not sports minded and therefore Americans are rather ignorant. As a matter of fact TV ratings for soccer’s World Cup dwarf that of the US Super Bowl American TV ratings. Henry Kissinger has often commented that European intellectuals, espeically in Germany and England often treat World Cup defeats as some sort of national period of mourning and or deep period of introspection abou their place in the world.

    We must remember because of social engineering, sports is one of the few places where honest to goodness competition can take place, which is perhaps why Europe with all of their Social Democratic-Statist governemnts likes sports so much.

    I can’t help but think of the Saturday Nighr Live skit (of all things circa December 2000) when the presidential outcome was still up in the air. The skit consisted of a spook of the future if each of the candidates, GW Bush or Al Gore were elected. The future showed a relentlessly sighing (remember those odious debate sighs) Al Gore bemoaning the poor performance of Americans on his interactive quiz results. He would leture the public for hours on end concerning Western Civics, Economnics and the Environment and still not everyone was up to his standards.

    Joe, do you really think the problems in the Church and the world of politics would be solved if everyone was as smart as you think they should be? Perhaps this why Jesus said the poor will always be among us when Judas and some of Apostles threw a hissy fit at the pentitent woman use of the expensive perfumes on Jesus. Perhaps it was the Jesus’ way of saying; don’t think your way can fix every problem. Even if everyone watched TV news, read a plethora of newspapers and websites; the problems would remain. Perhaps this is why the late WIlliam F Buckley said he would rather be goverened by the first 1,000 names in the Boston Phone book, than by the Harvard Faculty.

    Whether it is Faith or Governance, it isn’t all about knowledge, it is courage and perserverance and lots of prayer that are needed for success. For example, General McClellan graduated 2nd in his class from West Point, while General Grant graduated in the bottom half of his class. However, as Shelby Foote noted; General Grant had 4:00 in the Morning Courage and General McClellan had none during the Civil War.

    The Church is going through a tough time now, but it has been far, far worse. After the Reformation, many Northern European cities had few if any priests to administer the sacraments. Check out the life of St Francis DeSales; when he arrived in Geneva as bishop he was treated to rotten fruit being thrown at him and few if any little old ladies in the pews. When he died, half of Geneva had come back to the Church. I am sure had he convened a strategy session of the best and brightest; they would have said your talents would best be served in a more receptive location. Well, just some of my thoughts on what you wrote.

  • Since we’re engaged in a spiritual battle for souls, it’s only fitting that sports analogies be used. The recent firing of the Catholic professor at the University of Illinois is one example of the intelligentsia putting down the “small people” for wanting to take the path that is hard and narrow but leads to life in Christ rather than the path that is wide and easy but leads to destruction–or in the case of the French soccer players who don’t do hard work, a trip back home in coach class.

  • Dave,

    On your personal pain: different strokes, I suppose. But you didn’t quantify it originally. A “small” amount of pain is fine. The utter grief that some appear to be going through is, in my view, a disproportionate response.

    You say of the bread & circuses argument:

    “it just doesn’t make sense”

    Well, it does make sense, and you don’t seem to be arguing against the “sense” of it as much as you are its mere existence.

    ” The Roman population was by and large illiterate and caught up in violence and warfare.”

    Our population isn’t illiterate by Roman standards, but it is less educated by the standards of the developed world. And there is plenty of apathy to go around, even if people have basic reading skills.

    As for violence, have you paid no notice of our sex and violence saturated entertainment “culture”? It’s everywhere, it’s a constant feed of increasingly horrific stimuli.

    “Are your really saying that modern sports fans want to see others torn apart in their local stadiums?”

    The rioting that takes place on occasion suggests that at least some are. So is the immense popularity of professional wrestling, “ultimate fighting championship”, and other increasingly bloody “sports” contests.

    In any case, the main argument is that people are distracted. I don’t have to prove that they are violent, or potentially violent, in order to show that they are investing time and resources in sports that would better be invested in politics.

    Frankly I think the American founders would be horrified at the cult of sports in this nation. Entertainment, or what the founders in their classical republican worldview called luxury, was considered to be the enemy of moral AND civic virtue. The extent to which the people indulge in games and vices is the extent to which they diminish as the sort of responsible citizens that a free republic needs to exist.

    As for Europe: I couldn’t care less. I’m not hung up on Europe, I don’t idolize Europe. I don’t see the relevance.

    Please don’t compare me to Al Gore. I don’t want to bore people with lectures. But as student of Aristotle’s “middle way”, I recognize that there is another extreme we want to avoid, which is hyping people with meaningless distractions.

    We have to appeal to both the passions and the intellect. In fact I’m much more about appealing to passions right now than I am intellect, because many issues are over-intellectualized. But I want to direct that passion AWAY from sports and entertainment, and TOWARDS politics. Politics can be as passionate and competitive as any game or any concert – and it is precisely because of this truth that these other distractions are dangled before the people.

    So I think you misunderstand my aim, especially when you ask,

    “Joe, do you really think the problems in the Church and the world of politics would be solved if everyone was as smart as you think they should be?”

    It is NOT about intelligence, so no, I absolutely do not think that. What I think is that people, regardless of their intellectual abilities, should care more about politics than they do sports or the media-created popular culture. One does not need intellect to participate in politics, any more than they do religion.

    ” Even if everyone watched TV news, read a plethora of newspapers and websites; the problems would remain.”

    I submit that they would be less severe with a politically active populace, and this was the unanimous opinion of the founders of this republic. This is what self-governance means. This is what liberty requires. Slavery and oppression are the defaults of this fallen world; freedom is rare and must be actively fought for and maintained.

    “Perhaps this is why the late WIlliam F Buckley said he would rather be goverened by the first 1,000 names in the Boston Phone book, than by the Harvard Faculty.”

    I think he said it because the elites at Harvard, moreso now than even in his day, are self-hating, self-destructive, and isolated from the people. I agree with his sentiment entirely – but in order to govern, those 1,000 names would have to put down the beer and the remote.

    It is precisely because I DON’T want an elite to run our lives that I DO want the people to stop focusing on nonsense and become better citizens. Don’t you see that? You can’t just say that sovereignty lies with the people, and expect it to stay that way without their involvement. If the people don’t exercise their power, others – the elites – will do it for them. Nature abhors a vacuum. If the people create one through the abrogation of self-government, then the masters will step right back into their comfortable position.

    It is vital that you and others understand this.

  • Joe, I think you are completely missing the point here. No one that I have heard is saying that people shouldn’t take their civic responsibility seriously. Believe me, I have spent 20 years in Catholic education, not to mention the five years I have been doing writing and speaking (all of which at little pay) to answer a call that I believe God has for all of us to be involved with Church and State. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the problems will be solved if we all get involved.

    It seems you don’t understand what I am saying about sports and entertaintment. First of all professional wrestling is not sports, it is entertainment which is why the World Wrestling Federation had to change their name from that to World Wrestling Entertainment. The reason people like sports is that our culture is so involved in social engineering that it has taken away our God given talents and the right to compete with them.

    The pop culture silliness such as who Paris Hilton is dating has nothing to do with competition. She hasn’t done anything with whatever talents God have her; she has merely been born to enabling parents who let her do whatever she wants. There is a big difference between that and the field of athletic competition.

    The three men most attacked by the intelligentsia for their lack of supposed intellect were President Truman, President Reagan and President GW Bush. Do you really think the nation would have been better served with the likes of Governor Dewey, Vice President Mondale and Vice President Gore?

    I am for civic participation, I have spent my life doing it and teaching the necessity of it. However, I am under no illusion that by simply doing it, we will live in a better world. According to your line of thinking the state of Vermont and the US citiies of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam would be the greatest places to live, because they have one of the highest civic participation rates in the world.

  • Dave,

    I wasn’t aware that there was only one point – I tried to address all of your points.

    “However, that doesn’t mean that all of the problems will be solved if we all get involved.”

    Who said it meant that? Certainly not I.

    And it just doesn’t matter. See, I think you’re missing the point with things like that. It doesn’t matter whether or not all problems will be solved, such a guarantee is not and never should be the requisite of political participation – the bottom line is that no problems at all will even be addressed by an inactive citizenry. That’s certainly what the elite wants.

    You say I don’t understand your argument about sports. I submit to you that I do understand it, and disagree with it.

    “There is a big difference between that and the field of athletic competition.”

    Insofar as both serve as a distraction from issues that matter, there is no difference. Other differences may exist, but they are not relevant to me.

    “Do you really think the nation would have been better served with the likes of Governor Dewey, Vice President Mondale and Vice President Gore?”

    Why are you asking me this? I invite you to read my previous post for the answer to this question. Carefully, perhaps, this time.

    “ccording to your line of thinking the state of Vermont and the US citiies of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam would be the greatest places to live, because they have one of the highest civic participation rates in the world.”

    I’m not sure what “civic participation rate” is, or measures – you can break that down for me if you like.

  • Joe, this could go on and on. However, I think we can agree that our western culture is too pop culture oriented and more people should attend Mass, know what the Catholic Faith is all about, and become more participatory in our civic responsibilities. However, to say that sports and entertainment holds too much sway on our society is bordering on nanny statism and eggheaded pontification. I am sure you wouldn’t suggest the following. However, it could lead to some actually thinking that if Broadway, Hollywood, Major League Baseball, the World Cup and the National Football League and college football took the rest of the year off, and everyone went to town hall meetings to resolve the various problems plaguing our country and world, the world would be a better place.

    Sadly, some people don’t care about their souls, or the state of the world or country, try as we might and pray as we might, they all won’t change. I have tried to illustrate this in my previous posts, using examples from all over the world. I will throw in a couple more. In the last five years or so, my writings have taken me to see and hear many great things happening in the Church. As you can probbaly figure out from the title of my book, “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism,” I am an optimist. However, I am a realist as well. Some people just don’t care and some people who claim they care, just want to control others.

    For example, you asked about what I meant by participation rates in reference to my statement that the state of Vermont and the cities of Cambridge, Massachuseets, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam have high participation rates. What I meant was voting participation and membership in civic clubs, neighborhoood groups, school organizations etc.

    These whacky far left locations would hardly be my cup of tea. Their foil of civic responsibility is really a foil for state control and the opportunity to attack religion, i.e. the Catholic Church at every turn.

    Some people chose to be ingorant and or commit various sins ad nauseam. The late Bishop Sheen spoke of a man he met in Paris (I believe it was the 1920s.) This man, (who was British) played piano in the lobby of the hotel that then Father Sheen was staying. They chit-chatted during one of his breaks and the British piano player agreed to have dinner with Father Sheen. The piano player seemed to boost to the future famous bishop that women couldn’t keep their hands off him, some had even left their husbands. The piano player went on to say that after a few months he gets bored with each woman and then moves on to another. Obviously Bishop Sheen was shocked so he met with the man for the next few days. When the time seemed right, he took him to Sacre Coeur to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. The man stayed all night and thanked Father Sheen for his insights, prayers and time. The piano player said he was a changed man. A few days later they agreed to meet again for dinner. When they did, the piano player came with another woman on his arm. It has happened again the man explained. Father Sheen pulled him aside to see what was really happening and the man explained the sinful life was far more enjoyable, even if it could result in a horrible end for his soul. What I am trying to say is that not everyone does what they should.

    Jesus was faced with two similar situations. The first occurred when the penitent woman poured perfume over him and Judas and some of the other Apostles protested saying it could have been sold and helped many poor people. Jesus answered; “The poor you will always have among you.” It was his way of remdinding the Apostles that though we should help everyone we can, it still doesn’t mean that it will be solved the way we think it should be. One more example involves the parable about the rich man asking to go back from (hell or purgatory) and tell those other rich relatives and friends of his to change their ways lest they end up in the same horrible predicament that he was encountering. Jesus told him that they wouldn’t listen to the prophets, why would they listen to him. Joe, I think we can agree that we should all be more involved in Church & State affairs. However, trying to tell people that sports and entertainment should be severely curtailed when so many of our saints and Holy Fathers were involved with both sounds a bit over the top.

  • Dave,

    You’re simply wrong. I don’t know if it is a logical or a rhetorical issue. Only you do.

    “However, to say that sports and entertainment holds too much sway on our society is bordering on nanny statism and eggheaded pontification.”

    It really is no such thing at all. Stating what I believe to be a mere fact in no way necessitates a nanny-state, and it is hardly an observation limited to the ivory tower.

    I could just as well say that ignoring the sway that these forces hold over society is to engage in bad citizenship and willful ignorance – but I don’t.

    To fail to participate is NOT an intellectual failure – IT IS A MORAL FAILURE. All but the mentally handicapped are culpable for their moral choices, regardless of their intellect.

    So you’re really barking up the wrong tree with this constant accusation of eggheadery. If intellect is the requisite for voting, then we have no business with a democracy or even a republic – we need Plato’s philosopher king. But it isn’t. It is virtue, not intellect, that is the primary requisite for voting. It is a free choice made by individuals, and not innate abilities, that is responsible for this decision.

    Now, if you don’t get my clearly stated point this time, what else can I conclude other than that you’re making excuses for people’s civic sloth?

    ” if Broadway, Hollywood, Major League Baseball, the World Cup and the National Football League and college football took the rest of the year off, and everyone went to town hall meetings to resolve the various problems plaguing our country and world, the world would be a better place.”

    Language is key. I absolutely believe it would be a “better” place – I don’t think it would become a perfect place, a utopia with no problems. It might be a little bit better, it might be a whole lot better – participation isn’t the only thing that makes a society bad or good. But I’d submit that while it is not sufficient for a good society, it is necessary.

    If it WOULDN’T make society a better place, then it is nothing but a baby’s pacifier granted by the elites to their stupid pets, serving no actual good and right purpose. It would have no rational justification, even if it can be said that voting is, or is the result of, a natural right.

    Is there a rational justification for universal suffrage, or is it just a societal ornament? If there is a rational justification for it, then we can only conclude that a widespread failure to use that right is irrational.

    “I am an optimist. However, I am a realist as well. Some people just don’t care and some people who claim they care, just want to control others.”

    But this is all off the main point.

    Here’s my question to you – is it your view that invoking the drama of LeBron James will politically galvanize folks who otherwise wouldn’t pay attention to anything? They’ll make the transition from sports to politics this way?

    If that happens, and it works, I’ll eat my shoes with ketchup. In all seriousness, I’d be interested to know if that works, or if it ever has. If it has, I say, go with what works.

    ” What I meant was voting participation and membership in civic clubs, neighborhoood groups, school organizations etc.”

    Those are all good things in themselves. It is unfortunate that secular leftists would seem, if your claim is accurate, to have a leg up in that department, since the vision of the founders was for this to be a universal phenomenon.

    I also have no problem with Vermont. I like their gun laws more than I dislike Bernie Sanders. And I say, ultimately, that power belongs to those who take it. Within our political system, Christians have the means to become just as involved, and have their values just as represented. It is simply irrational for them to cede the arena to hostile forces.

    “What I am trying to say is that not everyone does what they should.”

    For goodness sakes, you say that as if it is novel. Who the heck argued otherwise?

    But does this fact somehow absolve us of a responsibility to proclaim the truth, to proclaim what ought to be done? Again, I am with Aristotle. There are two extremes – there is pie-in-the-sky idealism on the one hand, that says anything is possible and people are capable of anything. Then there is fatalism – the view that things are what they are and cannot be changed.

    The rational, position is genuine realism – understanding what can be changed, and what cannot be changed. Understanding what can be influenced, and what cannot. Understanding what your power is, and what the limit of that power is.

    Your view, to me, is closer to fatalism than realism. The Church proclaims that civic participation is a moral obligation. It doesn’t matter if “people don’t do what they should” – people shouldn’t have abortions either, but the Church will never cease to proclaim that it is wrong, and that they should choose life.

    So I will continue to proclaim, along with the Church, and in the spirit of the American founders, the importance of civic virtue and I will continue to denounce those influences that weaken and corrupt it.

    “Joe, I think we can agree that we should all be more involved in Church & State affairs. However, trying to tell people that sports and entertainment should be severely curtailed when so many of our saints and Holy Fathers were involved with both sounds a bit over the top.”

    This is your problem – I said no such thing. When did I say “severely curtailed”? This was a false inference, or, poor choice of words. A fallacy or a gaffe.

    I do not propose to infringe upon ANYONE’s right to be a lazy idiot. But I certainly do propose that we use our first amendment rights to remind people of their moral and civic obligations, and to denounce the garbage that obstructs them.

    Do you understand that it is possible to oppose a thing without violating another person’s right to that thing? If so, then we have no quarrel, sir.

  • Over on another blog I found a list of humorous Twitter responses to the LeBron James announcement…. among them was the following:

    “I wanted to announce my Second Coming at 9 p.m. tonite, but it looks like you all had other plans — Jesus Christ.”

  • LeBron James had every right to leave Cleveland. You talk about his “week-long ego charade” but that entire week LeBron said very little to the media. LeBron made no appearances on ESPN or any other network until his special. You’re blaming LeBron for the fact that everyone on TV was talking about him non-stop. Further more you failed to mention the fact that LeBron’s marketing firm agreed to only do the special if the sponsorship dollars would go to The Boys and Girls Club.

    The reason so many people have left the church isn’t because they want some razzle-dazzle experience when they go to church. No, it’s because of the fact that for the last sixty plus years a small portion of priests and clergy members have been raping and sexually exploiting children around the world. Every clergy member who ever abused a child and every church official who covered it up and didn’t report these people to the authorities should be thrown in jail. So before you start criticizing completely innocent and upstanding athletes clean up your church first.

  • Chris Russo, then how do you account for the fact that many fans are quick to forgive and forget the sins of the Kobe Bryants and Tiger Woods of the world rather than ditch them? I don’t see that happening for the priests who betray their flock, so that says a lot about the effect of pop culture’s alluring but false promises of fame and riches on society, especially those who build their homes on shifting sand rather than rocks. Perhaps LeBron may be like the Prodigal Son and find that his ego got the best of him.

    Thankfully there are many other priests to do us Catholics proud, including superstars like Archbishop Raymond Burke, who certainly wouldn’t pull a LeBron act despite the Creative Minority Report humorously imagining such a possibility: http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/search?q=LeBron

  • ESPN’s ombudsman vindicates Dave, blasting the network for its LeBron coverage: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/post/ESPN-ombudsman-blasts-network-for-LeBron-coverag?urn=top-257681