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.