Here’s a parish in the thrall of the Stockholm Syndrome. See the Happy Pastor being profiled by an adoring parishioner. He’s a courageous rebel (“loves the cutting edge”. Quotable quote: “He talked about loving Rome and his repeated visits to Italy – I asked him, “Could you say, all roads lead to Rome? ” He said, “yes, but not necessarily to the Vatican.” Har har. The Old Guy in Rome is a joke, of course. He’s not In Touch and Aware like padre is.) Hear the Baby Boomer “History Begins and Ends with Us” mentality (“The excitement was tangible in those days and he says he knew he “was witnessing history being made” during the years of John Kennedy and Pope John the twenty-third.”) See the self-congratulation: “We are “not a parish just trying to protect ourselves and taking care of our own souls and being a holy and pious people–but a people involved and caring.” (Being involved and caring, you see, is the opposite of holiness and piety.) See the Enlightened Reading List for Thoughtful People. John Dominic Crossan, who informs us the body of Jesus was eaten by wild dogs. “The ministry of Jesus was first and only a social ministry”. “Eisler takes us way back to the time of Goddess worship”. “With the advent of a male god and the creation of the world’s major religions we moved into a time, and continue to be in that time, of domination. This book is a must read.” “O’Murchu continues his theme from his previous book about the need for a creation centered spirituality. In this book he endorses the idea of a time when there was Goddess worship, and sees that as a possible way to a healthier spirituality.”
Personal favorite quack book: Quinn, Daniel. The Story of B: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.
This is a continuation of Ishmael. However, the books do stand on their own. Quinn maintains that we have been lied to, and that human development did not begin only with the dawn of “civilization.” As a matter of fact, Quinn maintains that some ancient “abandoned civilizations” were indeed abandoned because civilization is not the best way for humans to organize themselves. These books by Quinn are informative, and easy to read.
It’s a beehive of activity at St. Joan’s and only a churl could find fault with the fact that there is not a whiff of pro-life work, adoration, or ordinary Christian prayer being done there when there are so many other worthy projects underway such as the neo-pagan ecospirituality task force, the ingenious readings substituted for Scripture during mass, the weekly homilist, the Hatha Yoga in the Sanctuary, the staff bursting with Gay Pride, the Mission Statement indistinguishable from a Unitarian committee on Spelling Reform for Guatemala, the lectures which address the question “Is Jesus God?” with the refreshingly straightforward condescension of the apostate:
Our tradition teaches that Jesus was God come down to make up for and overcome this inaccessibility. Jesus “won back” for us that which was lost due to Original Sin. Jesus, therefore, has to be more than human…for if He is not actually God, then we are not really saved.
But the images of our childhood can no longer always work within our faith. The Roman Catholic “institutional leadership”, however, continues to uphold these images.
and the confirmation class that produces graduates who boast that their faith is “a mix of Eastern Religion and Christianity. ‘My beliefs and I have found a home. I am so proud that I was confirmed at SJA!’”.
Indeed, what comes through is the enormous clubby, back-slapping, “aren’t we fabulous” pride of the enterprise. It hits precisely the same sort of notes as all the gushy, lionizing, “Behold the Future of the Church!” puff pieces that were done on Paul Shanley by his adorers in the 80s. (This is not to suggest that Fr. Wertin is the moral equivalent of Paul Shanley. I don’t know the man. I merely know the tripe on his parish site). But when the day comes that the parishioners are betrayed by somebody who holds the Tradition in contempt as they do, they have nothing to fall back on but the clubby, backslapping, rhetoric of “community” and “The ministry of Jesus was first and only a social ministry” and “goddess worship” and all the rest of the politicized, pseudo-philosophical twaddle that passes for Catholic faith in parishes like St. Joan’s. And so they go on parroting what they were taught and never even know that the people who betrayed them also robbed them and sold their Catholic birthright for a pot of message. Indeed, any suggestion that the Tradition might in fact liberate the Church from those, like Shanley, who despise the Tradition is greeted with hoots by the betrayed. After all, they aren’t interested in being holy and pious people, but a people involved and caring. They’ve grown. And they are way smarter than the Tradition–a Tradition that has “thwarted the development of human spirituality”. Thus do the hostages make war on Jesus, their rescuer. What a world.
You can write the St. Paul archdiocese here if you want to encourage Abp. Flynn with the thought that Catholics would be grateful, not offended, if he made just a bit more haste in cleaning up this mess. If outraged Unitarians at St. Joan’s choose to follow their Fr. Wertin into the basement of the Unitarian Church for continued lectures on Gaia worship, I think it’s their choice. They have been using Church property to attack the gospel itself for years. Time for them to choose whom they will serve.
Bitter irony note for Fr. Wertin: the gospel reading for last week begins, “At the sight of the crowds, the heart of Jesus was moved with pity. They were lying prostrate with exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd.” You are a wicked shepherd, Fr. Wertin, and I hope you will soon be cast down in your arrogance so that the meek and lowly can be lifted up into your place. May the next pastor of that parish be named Matthias.