Cranky Old People Demand Church Reform

The latest flavor of Futurechurch has deployed their mightiest weapon in the fight against Catholicism: the badly designed website with a long list of stale talking points.

Mark Shea links to the certain-to-fail project from the perpetual adolescents who style themselves “progressive Catholics.” Their motto for the past 40 years? “Too lazy to convert to Protestantism.”

Because that’s what “Authority in the Catholic Church” is pimping: it’s just plain old Protestantism, and not even the good, healthy kind that generates converts and seeks out new mission territory, but your weak-tea mainline kind that’s hemorrhaging members at a steady clip by abandoning the preaching of the Gospel in favor of the preaching of the zeitgeist. I don’t look at the glorious Catholic Church and think, “You know what would make this better? If it was run by Episcopalians.”

 The website is good for a few laughs, from the weird design and attempt to cram as many dead buzzwords into a limited space as possible, to the squished pictures and inappropriate use of stock art. Behold, Futurechurch’s solution to the management of the faith:

Yep, that’s what I want: a Church that’s indistinguishable from Dunder-Mifflin.

“We shall solve our problems by deploying the mighty power of generic photos featuring lots of white people at computers.” Can you imagine how that place would be run? It would take a month of meetings and five subcommittees just to figure out which fair trade coffee to buy for the solar-powered vending machines.

Their complaints are the usual litany of tediousness: less pope, more sex. That’s really it. That’s what it all boils down to: children who don’t like being told what to do with their genitals by an adult. It’s not like they’re in a screaming hurry to rewrite our understanding of the dual nature of Christ in the incarnation, or dismantle the preferential option for the poor. They’re only attacking this make-believe boogeyman (“authority”) because it’s in the way of gettin’ biddy.

Their prescription is lots and lots of voting: voting on everything from bishops to condoms. Democracy may be a fine fit for running the occasional town meeting and deciding who gets eaten first when the rations run out on the lifeboat, but apply democracy to eternal truths, and you’ll have those Ten Commandments whittled down to three in no time at all. And that’s what they’re suggesting: putting the faith up to a vote. First order of business is to amend “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” to add “unless she’s totally HAWT!” Can I see a show of hands? Sorry, Mr. Kennedy, you may only vote once.

And, oh look! Who’s name is up at the top? Hans Kung, the answer to a question no one asks. Ever. The last time anyone really wondered, “What’s Hans think?” America was busy being invaded by four lovable moptops from England. It’s all been downhill since then for Hans as his entire reason for being crumbled like ashes around him. At age 84, this is his final attempt to shove the poison apple down our throats. Pardon us in the younger generation if we offer you a hearty “Nein!”

The biography pages are high comedy. As growth in the Church is being driven by the very conservative Catholics of the southern hemisphere, there’s not a non-white face to be seen among the ministers of Futurechurch. Nor do many appear to be under 60 years old. It’s going to be a damn short future, from the looks of them. Futurechurch wants to collect its social security check. Futurechurch hasn’t been this upset since that time Macy’s ran out of slacks. Futurechurch needs to take a nap but it will get right back to formulating a theology of glorious contraception once it wakes up and has its Ensure. Futurechurch is irritated that its turkey-on-white sandwich doesn’t have any mayo. Futurechurch just wants to put on Sgt. Pepper and dream of better days.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • Joanne K McPortland

    Reading (as avidly as I’ll ever read a 1,000+ page volume that isn’t by George RR Martin, and in which all the footnotes—one-third of each page—are utterly unhelpful biographical details on the many clerics mentioned) Yves Congar’s My Journal of the Council now, and besides being utterly amazed that there even IS a Church, as Dunder-Miffliny as the whole thing was from a logistical standpoint, I am laughing at how The Usual Suspects are still singing the same exact tune 50 years later. Less pope, more sex, indeed!

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    I’ve read a bit of it as well. I need to start blogging it for The Boss. Congar is a hard man to figure sometimes.

    I started writing a thoughtful meditation on the catechism for the start of the Year of Faith. I wound up with this. I’m a horrible person.

  • victor

    A horrible-ly FUNNY person! The line about the fair-trade coffee made me Guffaw Out Loud.

    Seriously, though. If this is all it’s gotten us — a bunch of old Boomers who are STILL obsessed with sex — I think that inventing Viagra was a big, big mistake.

  • Blog Goliard

    But it’s brilliant and funny. Please carry on being a horrible person if it produces results like this!

    (This exercise in consequentialism sponsored by D̶u̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶M̶i̶f̶f̶l̶i̶n̶ Futurechurch.)

  • Erin Manning

    You’re not a horrible person, but an incredible writer, Thomas, with the instincts to prove it. This is an amazingly good piece, and spot-on. I still remember the first time I used the word “outdated” to describe Spirit of VII stuff to an older woman. I’m still not sure if her reaction is more accurately described as “apoplectic” or “apocalyptic,” but it was definitely one or the other.

    On a more serious note: isn’t the “free sex” stuff kind of creepy from this crowd? No offense to anyone’s personal struggles, but if you’re an octogenarian whose primary material for confession every month or so (assuming you still do that “confession” stuff as a liberated child of VII) involves violations of the Sixth Commandment, all I can offer is sincere prayer and the hope that God will spare most of the 80-and-up crowd so great a trial (especially if, by the grace of God, I live that long). Honestly, I sometimes get the sensation that this group isn’t really worried about free sex personally so much as they don’t want to have to admit to having been wrong about it in their youths–just like the Baby Boomers who still insist that divorce is liberating and good for the children, etc.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    That older V2 generation passed from a “repressive” sense of sexuality through a Freudian-influenced intellectual ferment and into the “liberated” 60s like they were riding the whirlwind. I think we’re going to need a couple generations to fully shed their influence. They believe they represent a healthy approach to human sexuality, when in fact they represent an unhealthy obsession with it in contrast to the Church’s more balanced view. Some of us lived through their libertine wonderland, and saw (and see) the damage. We know better than to trust them any more.

    At some point, adults should mature to a healthy sense of sexuality that finds balance in its proper place within a full life. They don’t seem to have done that. Instead, marinated as they were in a generation of sexual excess, they remain as fixated on the topic as the sex-haters they hold in contempt. Both sides–the pre-V2 people who had unhealthy negativity about sex, and the post-V2 people who had a distorted view of the proper place of sexuality in human life–were simply two forms of obsession. Whether or not they realize it, they’re still buying into a Freudian model that puts sexuality at the center of human experience, when in fact it’s merely one facet among many.

    Their time has passed. We’ll spend a long time cleaning up their messes, and I can tell you one thing: that time won’t be spent following them down any more garden paths. If they think we’ll let them do any more damage, then they’re sorely mistaken. We played their game already. It failed. Now the ball is passed to the next generation, and the best thing they can do is get off the field and let us repair the damage they did.

    PS: And thanks!

  • Erin Manning

    “Whether or not they realize it, they’re still buying into a Freudian model that puts sexuality at the center of human experience, when in fact it’s merely one facet among many.”

    Isn’t that the truth! Sadly, there are a lot of people in the wider culture who still buy into that model, and the consequences for our culture have been even more disastrous than this mindset has been for the Church in America.

  • Blog Goliard

    Except they’re veeeeery slow in getting off the field…and they’re also masters of pulling up the ladder after themselves. (I’m speaking more here from a career perspective than a church perspective.)

    But at any rate, it’s my belief that the true Vatican II Church–not a new thing, but a fresh expression of the eternal thing–will only emerge once both the rebels and those of us whose worldview was formed in fighting them have given way to newer generations, who were never recruited into the wars of the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s.

  • Thomas L. McDonald

    Agreed. I get peevish at them sometimes, but I’m patient because I already know the ending. (Pssst: Jesus wins. Pass it on.) I write with a little more acid about those things I think damage souls, faith, and the body of Christ. The Spirit of V2 folks have done a lot of damage and led a lot of souls astray. Perhaps they served the purpose or pruning the vine so it could be stronger at the root, but I hate to think of the people damaged by several generations of bad thinking.

  • D’Arcy

    You are certainly correct that we have played their game. Examine the list of sponsors, college professors throughout Europe and the U.S., and think of how many students they have influenced. On the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, can we honestly declare that the Council documents were successfully implemented?

    I am saddened to think of the number of good, honest, orthodox theology PhD. graduates who are seeking work while this crew continues to sponge off their tenured faculty positions.

  • Jordan

    “We shall solve our problems by deploying the mighty power of generic photos featuring lots of white people at computers”

    Excellent, hahaha. It is sad to think of the extent of this way of thinking’s influence (plenty of my adult relatives, for sure). It’s hard to persevere and try and truly follow the church when those who were supposed to guide YOU are telling you why contraception’s ok and women should be priests, yada yada. Whew. Come, Holy Spirit.

  • pratcrat

    It appears the international overseeing office of “fairness” is overwhelmingly female.