More on the problem afflicting many fellow Catholics

America screenshot

Here I am again posting about my other recent obsession (as opposed to the one about what the web is doing to our brains and society): Trying to pull back some fellow Catholics from their recent political (and theological) madness.

Reading frequently on this topic, I realized recently that I’d find a lot of good stuff (such as Jeannie Gaffigan’s great column I wrote about before) in America magazine, the Jesuit publication. So I subscribed. And yesterday they alerted me to this piece, which I thought was good.

It’s headlined, “The same Catholics who condemn ‘relativism’ and a ‘culture of death’ have built a deadly, post-truth world.

True, sadly.

An excerpt that sums up the point:

To speak of the “culture of death” and “dictatorship of relativism” is to invoke a recognizable formula that neatly sums up a particular sense of Catholic countercultural identity that has increasingly allied itself socially and politically with evangelical Protestants and the Republican Party. In this usage, this combined mantra has become a truism at best and a slogan at worst, even beyond its Catholic usage. Worse still, it has become a performative contradiction and scandal that makes a mockery of the Gospel.

In its final days, the Trump administration went on a killing spree, executing federal prisoners at an unprecedented rate; the number of Americans killed by Covid-19 broke 400,000; and five people died in a violent failed insurrection at the Capitol. Add to this the ongoing refugee crisis, the existential threats of climate change, the rise of populist authoritarianism around the world and the struggle against anti-Black racism in America, and it is not hard to see that the culture of death is alive and well.

But those who are most prone to support capital punishment and refuse Covid-19 safety protocols, who explain away and excuse violent insurrection, reject refugees and migrants, and deny the reality of climate change and racial injustice, are precisely the ones who have decried the “culture of death.” The tragedy and the farce of this situation is perhaps only rivaled—or sharpened—by the graphic and horrific images of Blue Lives Matter flags flying in the same place where a Trump-supporting police officer was bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher. A culture of death, indeed. Lord have mercy….

It’s worth reading, if you have access (and they allow a certain number of freebies to nonsubscribers).

Oh, by the way, I post these items in the hope that some of my fellow Catholics will see them and engage. The rest of you are certainly welcome to join in — even those of you who use all such posts as another opportunity to express your distaste for us nasty papists. Whatever, knock yourselves out.

But my fellow papists out there — this is mainly for you, so I hope to hear from you…

7 thoughts on “More on the problem afflicting many fellow Catholics

  1. Bill

    I’m going to create man and woman with original sin.Then I’m going to impregnate myself in a woman so that I can be born.Once alive,I will kill myself as a sacrifice to myself to save you from the original sin that I originally condemned you to.

    1. bud

      If you read that in the internet you’re branded as a kook. But if you get that “information” from the pulpit you’re celebrated as enlightened.

      1. Bill

        But,you know,I spent the best years of my life with a REAL Catholic,not a fake one like Brad;he got special permission to a monastery after his divorce from a Jewish Princess,and had gone to Catholic School in Connecticut..Brad’s really a Baptpartisan…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, on this subject, last night E.J. messaged me via Twitter to make sure I saw his column that’s on the broader version of this problem, “Biden bids to be a peacemaker in Americans’ religious wars.”

    As E.J. notes:

    Our public discussion of issues related to religion has gotten ever narrower. The instant religion is mentioned in politics, we typically assume that the debate must be about abortion or LGBTQ rights. It’s as if the Black church, which has challenged consciences throughout our country’s history, didn’t exist; as if the day-to-day work of religiously inspired volunteers and care workers matters not at all…

    Yep. That happens because secular media don’t know of any other way to cover religion. It only exists when it runs into some issue that they recognize as a big political issue. And when I say “political issue,” I mean a “yes or no” political issue. How to deal morally and competently with immigration, for instance, is too complex. Reporters want to say, “Oh, yeah! Those are the people against abortion!” This is related to the way they cover politics, which is the same way they cover sports: This is a game and there are only two teams, and one will win and one will lose! Don’t bother us with facts, or people, who don’t fit into that formula!

    So faith gets covered that way. And bizarrely, the way it gets covered eventually influences, for some people, the way faith is practiced. There is no other explanation for about half of Catholics voting for such a creature as Trump. Only people who have persuaded themselves, “Oh, we’re the people against abortion” (and nothing more) could make such a leap into the darkness. (And as I keep saying, you even see it happens with priests. And bishops! Which is amazing. I can see it happen with a layperson who just doesn’t think much about things. But someone who has been to seminary should know better.)

    Anyway, you’ll see me mostly fret about the Catholic part of the equation — because that’s big enough to be overwhelming, from my perspective.

    But it’s a problem beyond the church as well…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I just flashed on Fritz Hollings, sitting in our editorial board room and castigating my friend Lee Bandy, about that very subject of how press people covered politics. Fritz would want to talk about issues of importance to the country, he said, but he couldn’t get past “The Bandy hurdle!” Then he would illustrate that hurdle by impersonating Lee, but in his own voice of course: “Who’s up? Who’s down? Who’s winnin’? Who’s losin’?”

      Lee, who would sit in when we had a distinguished visitor from Washington, would just chuckle.

      Now, they’re both gone. And they were both good men…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        “And they were both good men.”

        And that, by the way, is the way Joe Biden sees the world. Which is why he’s my guy…

        Fritz, of course, was his good friend…

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