Friday, April 20, 2007

Salem Witch Trial Redux

The Western Confucian also weighed in the other day on the troubling thought post.

Mr. Dreher,

It is a shame that you went into counseling and later schism over the latest in a long line of American mass hysterias, from The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 and The McMartin Preschool Abuse Trials of 1987 to 1990, there is a direct link to The Myth of the Pedophile Priest.

Joshua Snyder
The Western Confucian Homepage 04.19.07 - 11:39 am #

The short Jenkins piece WC cites is worthy of note. He has written a book on the topic of abuse and one on anti-Catholicism (he is not a Catholic) and has been shouting "stop the madness" from the beginning of the priest scandal. Excerpt:

Crucially, Catholic priests and other clergy have nothing like a monopoly on sexual misconduct with minors. My research of cases over the past twenty years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination — or indeed, than non-clergy. However determined the news media may be to see this whole affair as a crisis of celibacy, the charge is just unsupported. Literally every denomination and faith tradition has its share of abuse cases, and some of the worst involve non-Catholics. Every mainline Protestant denomination has had scandals aplenty, as have Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, and the list goes on. One Canadian Anglican (Episcopalian) diocese is currently on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of massive lawsuits caused by decades of systematic abuse, yet the Anglican church does not demand celibacy of its clergy. However much this statement contradicts conventional wisdom, the "pedophile priest" is not a Catholic specialty; yet when did we ever hear about "pedophile pastors"?


To this. Excerpt:

It looks like liberal indoctrination hasn't reached everybody yet. If someone is breaking into your house at night, are you going to call the ACLU? The anti-gun crowd? No you will call the police, but the odds of law enforcement getting there before the intruder breaks in, are somewhere between zip and nada. Where does that leave you? On. Your. Own.

Hillbilly Latin

I got a kick out of this post even though, as Billy Bob Thornton's character in Slingblade says of the Bible, "I read it; I didn't understand all of it, mmm-hmmm."

It did remind me of something a priest friend of mine told me about one of his altar boys who served for the Latin Mass (indult) he celebrates weekly in Pennsylvania. The boy, who was 9 or 10 at the time, is from West Virginia, so naturally he speaks with a West Virginia accent regardless of what language he is speaking. My friend says that he always reflected on the universality of the Catholic Church as he listened to the boy recite the Confiteor perfectly in Latin, accompanied by a perfectly sonorous WV mountain highland twang.

That made me think of another story about the big, global, universal church. Someone who was at the Denver World Youth Day told me he was awakened by loud Mexican music one night around 2am and went out to find a circle of Italian flags and burly Italian dudes with crossed arms stationed by each. Inside the circle a crowd was gathered cheering two black kids from Brooklyn break dancing to the music of a live Mariachi band. They were all there to see Pope John Paul II and had put together this spontaneous, cross-cultural entertainment event.

Sounds like a mystical moment; I don't know if the Italians were charging admission... what say you, Cubeland?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Atrocity as a Rorschach Test

Blogger Rod Dreher provides us with a creative link between the school shooting atrocity at Virginia Tech and the Catholic Church scandal. It obviously takes him awhile, but read it; it's almost as fun as playing "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon". Excerpt:

Understand, I'm not trying to sentimentalize this mass murderer. I'm trying to understand how a human being gets to the place where he can commit mass murder. In the summer after 9/11, I was still so consumed by anger over the mass murders committed by the terrorists (as well as the Catholic church scandal) that I was grinding my teeth at night, and was distracted in various ways by the anxiety it caused. So I agreed to my wife's request to see a Catholic therapist and learn how to let go of the anger. The therapist began by suggesting that what Mohammed Atta et alia had done was something that was within my capacity as a moral agent to do. I angrily resisted this, for obvious reasons, but the therapist was working to get me to see that what those terrorists had done, their act of infamy, was something that I was capable of under certain circumstances. The idea, I think, was to move me toward understanding their act as all too human, and helping me to find some sort of forgiveness, of letting go. It was an infuriating thought, and I don't know how far we could have gotten with this line of thinking in therapy. Our sessions ended abruptly after about a month when the therapist yelled at me for about an hour and told me I was tempting hell by having written critically of John Paul's handling of the sex-abuse scandal.

Two months ago the same thing happened during Rod's movie review of Apocalypto, and a friend pointed it out to me. That's same friend notified me of this latest post earlier today, along with his comments:

This is a ridiculous post. If I were his editor I would not let this post see the light. I would delete it.

At what point is Rod going to write about identifying with the Bishops who were dealing with this over time on a case-by-case basis? If he really wants to be intellectually honest, is he going to put himself in the mind of the perverted priests and try to perform the root cause analysis, by some experience he had when he was a lad?

If he wants to do root cause at this point, he should be analyzing the mindset that doesn't allow C&C types on campus. How about just the criminal justice majors who are applying to be police?

I recently remarked on how the working boy had slowed down on bashing the Catholic Church, but disappointingly, it seems like being anti-Catholic is still "something that is within his capacity as a moral agent to do." It seems like evil, portrayed in the Apocalypto movie and embodied in the horrible multiple murder at VA Tech, reminds Rod of the Catholic Church at some kind of subconscious Rorschach level. My friend's point is on target: the clergy involved in the church scandal don't get the luxury of his amateur root cause analysis that mass murderers do.

Not a surprise. Get an editor, Rod.

Fred is Right

I'm not always "on the same page" with Texas Fred, but he just put up a post that I heartily agree with. It is certainly a point worth making. It's also inflammatory, but that's Fred. We don't want him to change his mind. Or, God forbid, apologize for saying what's on it. Excerpt:

I am going to say this in plain English, this debacle was brought on, at least partially, by the political correctness and feel good politics that our children are being taught at home and in our liberal controlled colleges and universities, our students are taught to NOT fight back, our children are being taught that there are no losers in life, that we’re all equal and it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game, they are taught to just submit and accept the consequences, and I personally feel that this attitude is as much responsible for the massive loss of life as anything...

Our children are not being well served by this progressive teaching, and it’s that same progressive teaching that is going to be the complete undoing of this once great USA, we’re becoming a nation of well educated wimps, and if we don’t reverse that trend, wimps is all we’ll be in 2 or 3 more generations...

This is the related to the topic of my latest survey, so feel free to weigh in over there in the right column. Speaking of, in the last "unscientific straw poll" survey, Sam Brownback won. Actually he tied with Richard Nixon, but since we don't really have him to "kick around anymore", we'll hand it to Samwise.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Weigel on Mount Athos

Well, not actually standing anywhere on the mountain itself. He might not be allowed, even though he is not a woman or a "female animal". Speaking of, I got to meet Mr. Weigel last Friday at the GCC conference. He's a very friendly chap, as funny as he is smart. He didn't remind me of Gandalf, but you can't have everything. (Inside joke, sorry....)

He penned this recently, commenting upon the hopeful reunification of East and West that Pope Benedict and his predecessor both share with many Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Snippet:

To be sure, Athonite monasticism, “the non-negotiable guardian of the Holy Tradition,” is a particularly stringent form of Orthodoxy. And if the monks of Mount Athos have their dubieties about the ecumenical openness of Patriarch Bartholomew, it is, perhaps, not surprising that they imagine Benedict XVI as a usurper and a teacher of heresies. Yet this Athonite intransigence reflects a hard truth about Catholic-Orthodox relations after a millennium of division: namely, that, for many Orthodox Christians, the statement “I am not in communion with the Bishop of Rome” has become an integral part of the statement, “I am an Orthodox Christian.”

The obverse is not true. I very much doubt that there are more than a handful of Catholics around the world whose confession of Catholic faith includes, as a key component, “I am not in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople.” The truth of the matter is that, outside historically Orthodox countries and certain ethnic communities, the thought of how one stands vis-à-vis the Patriarch of Constantinople simply doesn’t enter Catholic heads. Perhaps that’s a problem, but it’s nowhere near as great an obstacle to ecumenical progress as the conviction in some Orthodox quarters that non-communion with Rome is a defining characteristic of what it means to be “Orthodox.”

I imagine some people, Orthodox and Catholic alike, might be bothered by this article. It would be interesting to see which parts bothered them the most; I'd especially like to know what they would think of the mention of the Islamic threat at the end.

Look Out, Yoda

More there is to being a Jedi dog than sitting up and begging.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Right to Remain Silent

That's the right that should be exercised by this J. d. J. Miranda character. Nuts like these are great at getting publicity. I guess I'm giving him a little more, but I can't help it, I'm a sucker for kookiness.

A former heroin addict who was briefly imprisoned as a youth in his native Puerto Rico, Miranda, 60, talks openly in a video on his website about how he loved cocaine and dreamed of working in a Colombian drug lab.

He has the number 666 identifying the Antichrist tattooed on his arm but says he is Jesus Christ reborn on earth, arguing Saint Paul's teachings show this is what Antichrist means.

He says other priests are "faggots", and makes fun of Holy Week customs in Latin America, calling heavy statues of Jesus that Catholics parade though streets "little dolls".

The story reminds me forcibly of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood in which a deranged man named Hazel Motes starts a church called "The Church of Christ Without Christ". It just shows how unimportant sound theology or even non-contradiction is for the ol' cult of personality business model. Viz:

In one video, the leader of the Growing in Grace church, sporting slicked hair, tailored suits and gold chains, rolls up his sleeves to reveal the number 666 tattooed on his forearm.

Hundreds of followers have now tattooed themselves with the number saying it is a symbol of love and not the sign of Satan. They say there is no devil, no hell and no such thing as sin.

The ministry has no formal membership system, but church representatives say his television audience numbers in the millions, bringing multimillion-dollar donations.

Some of his more generous followers have given him businesses, luxury cars, jewels and opulent houses in Houston and Miami Beach.

The "no sin, no hell" thing does represent great short-term marketing. I seem to remember that financial support for the original Christ didn't include large property deeds or businesses, but He reportedly didn't wear pants either. Hopefully Miranda's next stunt will be to attempt death and resurrection. We wish him to be at least partially successful in that endeavor.