Friday, November 17, 2017

Pauli Theorem 3

I'm working on something new called Pauli Theorem 3. Don't worry about what theorems 1 and 2 are. They are not germane to the discussion.

By the way, there are many more than two Pauli Theorems, but as the theorem formerly known as theorem 3 has been disproved I thought it would be good to recycle the number. It's like when you are at the deli and you have to use the bathroom so you give your take-a-number slip to a French guy who is jonesing for cheese.

The topic of the theorem is the seemingly permanent, ever-growing news story of famous men behaving badly. There is absolutely no way for the media to ignore it because FacebookTwitterDrudgeInternetSexyGirlHits and—barring a mass castration of the male population—information is being collected and incubated even now which will be hatched later to derail careers at the proper time, or to attempt to blackmail people, or simply for revenge.

Depressing? Yes; but here's my theory:

Famous men who have publicly attacked the Catholic Church or Christian beliefs are more likely to be caught in sexual scandals.

Obviously this is a theorem and the converse does not have to be true to be a valid theorem. Roy Moore is almost assuredly a serial power-abuser and he seems to at least have the veneer of Christian piety. And of course you have the many televangelists which you can add to the list of bad male actors, along with high profile priest scandals like Thomas Euteneuer and John Corapi, although the main scandal for these priests was the violation of a vow of chastity and seemingly not unwanted advances or rape.

I have several reasons to propose this theorem, and the first of them is theoretical yet fairly obvious. The Catholic Church teaches the highest standards of sexual morality in the world, and most of the traditional Protestant churches agree with 95% of the its teachings. People mad at the church are usually mad because of these teachings—along with the prohibition against abortion, many times related to fornication and infidelity—and not because the church condemns stealing, bearing false witness, or monophysitism.

Back in the late nineties I was working in an office which coincidentally employed a lot of other Catholics. I had a conversation with an atheist colleague that went like this:

Pauli: You say you are an atheist in the tradition of the famous philosopher John Hume, so what do you think of all the Catholics you are working with now?
Friend: I actually like religious people, and I'll even say they are much easier to get along with than other atheists.
Pauli: Well, you're a really honest atheist. But you were raised Catholic; why have you left the Church?
Friend: The reason I left the Church is because I don't want to follow the rules about premarital sex.
Pauli: You are the most honest atheist I ever met.

Moses came down the mountain and said "I have good news and bad news. Good news: I talked Him down to Ten. Bad news: Adultery still stands."

The empirical reason I am proposing this theory is because of my familiarity with William Donohue and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Long time readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Bill Donohue and have rare disagreements with his take on political and cultural matters. I began noticing several weeks ago that many of the names of Hollywood men being accused of sexual misconduct were former subjects of Catholic League press releases. Here is a list for starters:
  1. Louis C. K.
  2. Harvey Weinstein
  3. Bob Weinstein (yes, he's Harvey's brother)
  4. Al Franken (Donohue has also praised Franken when he was deserving of it.)
  5. Leon Wieseltier
  6. Michael Oreskes
  7. Ben Affleck
  8. Oliver Stone
  9. Kevin Hart
  10. Kevin Spacey
  11. John Edwards
Another person I thought had been taken on by the Catholic League but who did not show up in my search on their site is Joss Whedon. Donohue has not taken on Whedon whose ex-wife recently penned an excoriating account of his serial affairs while married. What I might have been remembering was Bishop Robert Barron's criticism. Bishop Barron did take on Whedon's philosophical atheism and noted his penchant for "on many occasions, signal[ing] his particular dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church."

A lot of religious people reading this might roll their eyes and say "Oh, this is so obvious... everyone knows that Hollywood is decadent and doesn't particularly like Christianity or religion in general." Decadence is sleeping around a bunch, cheating on your wife, etc. You know, partying too much. This is something else; it's powerful men taking advantage of the less powerful. It is beyond decadence and in Weinstein's case, it is way beyond decadence. Just like the molesting priests are predators, theses men are preying on those in weaker positions.

On the other hand, a lot of non-religious people might say "Nice try, but correlation doesn't prove causation. Some of the people on these lists match up. So what?" True, this evidence is anecdotal yet still curious. Many people were criticizing the Catholic Church's response to priestly abuse and even making strong condemnations of bishops' mishandling and they did not show up on the Catholic League's radar. The line these actors and comedians crossed was stating in many ways, comedic and non-comedic, that these people were bad because they were Catholic priests and bishops not in spite of that fact. To them, the Catholic Church is just an institution perpetuated to give creepy guys access to sexual abuse victims. When these showbiz people are not focusing on the creepiness of the crimes of pedophile priests, they are going on about "hypocrisy". How can the Catholic Church teach its members to be pure and chaste when these priests and bishops are screwing little boys? And then arrange hush money payoffs?

This can be seen as effort to shut the Catholic Church up. Quit preaching these standards if you are not able to live up to them. Well, does Hollywood ever preach? on topics like feminism, to name one? Uh, yeah, and with much greater ferocity, consistency and volume than the average parish priest addresses homosexuality or adultery. So behold these scandals, and realize that the "hypocrisy" is just as foul at the highest levels of power in Hollywood as it is within any religious denomination. And my prediction is that we are going to hear even more sermonizing after these revelations since these people are in the wordsmith business and know little else about how to deal with issues. Don't expect any real repentance or self-examination, however. Possibly uncomfortable joking about serious matters, but little more.

This all illustrates a spiritual principle which is that those who exhibit the same faults as our own become our biggest irritants. I forget what spiritual writer or saint pointed this out, but it was after hearing many confessions at a convent or monastery. Imagine how this irritation translates into the world of nonspiritual persons without the self-control or self-examination of nuns or monks, yet possessing commanding media pulpits. It becomes uncontrolled rage.

I do not wish to suggest that there has not been any self-examination or introspection in some circles over this rash of scandals. Matthew Yglesias has gone on record regretting the cultural left's dismissiveness of President Clinton's* sexual predation. David Brooks broke the topic of Clinton/Lewinsky as a starting point for all this last weekend and, of course, we conservatives have been quoting Brooks more than usual as a result.

But we have been talking about this for so long it really makes these people look late to the game, and I mean fourth-quarter, two-minute warning late. Here's Donohue again from 14 years ago. Excerpt:

There’s something else going on here as well. The New York-Hollywood axis of smut, and those who support it, want the Catholic Church to fail. What it comes down to is that these people do not want to be told that their promiscuous lifestyle is sinful.

Sadly, this represents the Clintonization of our culture. In other words, shamelessness has been mainstreamed. Because it is nothing if not shameless that the same men and women who rush to put a medal around the neck of celebrities for sexually abusing children rush just as fast to put a millstone around the neck of priests who do so.

* - I love the fact that I can write President Clinton and everyone knows I mean Bill Clinton.

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Mother Cabrini's Feast Day; now let us work

The Mass today was for the first American Saint, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. The priest mentioned in his homily that Mother Cabrini only lived 67 years, but she founded 67 charitable institutions in her lifetime. I was born in 1967, 50 years after St. Frances died in 1917, so I have a fondness for the number 67. In fact, I picked the number 67 in a sideboard raffle recently. I didn't win—typical.

I used to have a prayer card somewhere with her famous quote on it, which I like and try to use as a motto. It is "We shall have Eternity to rest. Now, let us work." I have tried finding that quote online, and I finally found one result which I found in a Google Books reference to the book Discovering Jesus in the Least by Chris Ramsey. Here's the entire thing.

Mother Cabrini was known for her tireless, pioneering work establishing a variety of charitable organizations. An amazing woman of God, the Chicago Sun-Times (2003) credited her with "founding some sixty-seven orphanages, schools, hospitals and convents in Italy, France, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and the United States."

How did this amazing nun and her Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart accomplish all this?.

Perhaps we can gain and inkling of how she and her sisters achieved such feats when she told her sisters: "We shall have eternity to rest. Now, let us work.".