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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Old Hippies Are Funny

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It goes without saying that hope for the ever-on-the-horizon New Springtime to finally come to our withering Church, has been relegated to the True Believers, and by that I mean the Old Timers. I suppose that makes sense: after all, their ideas have hardened with time, making such folks less liable to change their views, even when confronted by the cold light of reality. I stress that this goes without saying. Everyone who has a stake in the Catholic game knows that it’s the Old Timers who cling to the Myth of Vatican II with an ungodly, stubborn strength.

It’s the old folks who are the most extraordinarily irrational concerning the question, What is to Be Done? We all know that it is among our Church’s charming geriatric community that we find the last remnants of the most ridiculous of unfalsifiable premises—namely, that Vatican II still needs to be cashed out, if only we give its ideas a bit more time, if we attend to the Project with a bit more energy and attention, and if we hold the line a bit longer…if, if, if we just strip down the church even more, if we just get a bit more hip and relaxed and groovy, if we entirely ditch all of the pomp and circumstance and smells and bells and Latin and incense and formality and rules and dogmas, if we just quit acting like we’re the only show in town, if we get a bit more tolerant and accepting of other religions and ideas and attitudes, if we just loosen our collars a bit (or take them off), if we lighten up a bit more, if we embrace a bit more simplicity and iconoclasm and quit parading around in our Renaissance gear, if we quit acting like we’re part of some monarchial hierarchy, if we cease with the formality and titles and special outfits, if we just get rid of all of the aesthetic decadence that forever attaches itself to these ‘old ways’, and if we get a bit more vague on the whole morality thing….then, then, well, you’ll see! People will see the Catholic Church for the hip and awesome and simple and humble and groovy institution that it is. All of these ancient customs and ceremonies and outfits, and all of these dogmas and laws and rules and rules and rules…they are getting in the way of our true appeal! We’re turning people away with all of our gilded and stuffy customs!

If you wreck it, they will come!

Today (February 17) the world press reported that Pope Francis has obtained an Argentinian passport and identity card under his former name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and that he “would like to keep traveling around the world with the Argentinian passport.” That is, although he already holds a Vatican passport as Pope Francis, head of the Vatican city state and Vicar of Christ, he would like to continue to be known, and treated by immigration authorities, as simply Jorge Bergoglio, citizen of Argentina. In yet another display of an endlessly praised humility that is becoming a titanic spectacle, Pope Francis—or should I say Jorge Bergoglio—insisted on personally paying the processing fees to the Argentinian government. In the “Church of the poor” there is no money to waste on fees for the Pope’s alter ego passport and ID card, but $28 million was readily available for a massive three-hour rock concert cum Novus Ordo Mass on the beach in Rio.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Catholic Vignettes: Debating Points

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I believe many Catholics today have been lulled and propagandized into a too-defensive position, causing them, mostly unconsciously, to feel hesitant, if not embarrassed, to proclaim their Faith. Although parts of the following little essays may seem a tad pugnacious, keep in mind that any points readers may find worthwhile must be expressed with tact, prudence, and, above all, charity. Choose your audience well, perhaps your golfing buddies.

I. Are You a “Catholic Christian”?

My first reaction to hearing this often-repeated phrase was negative, but I could not understand why. Now I think I do. Consider these situations: Would you say to your wife, “Please pass me a fork utensil”? Do you say to your neighbor, “I enjoy baseball sport”? Do you ask your grocer if he has “oranges fruit”? Rhetorical questions, to be sure; we don’t normally find it necessary to identify a sub-category with its category—unless the person doesn’t understand the connection. If you uttered any of the above quotations, your listener might think you a little odd, or, at best, speaking in near-redundancies.

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