Some clarifications for the pitchfork wavers in my comboxes and elsewhere.
1. I never said Michael Voris is evil.
2. I never said Michael Voris told people to leave the Church.
3. I never said or suggested that Michael Voris is somehow heterodox or that he should be silenced.
4. All I said was that it was dumb to say, “if the priest even so much as breathes a word about Earth Day, throw nothing in the collection plate, finish your Sunday obligation and resign from that parish on Monday”
and it is even dumber to obey this dumb command. Today, I would add that it is also dumb to defend this dumb command with accusations of malice, satanic influence, or some plot to “destroy” Voris.
The reason I said what I said yesterday was because such dumb pronouncements sow factionalism and unthinking adherence to shibboleths instead of actual Catholic thought. Personally, I can think of a dozen ways in which one could “breathe a word about Earth Day” in the context of the Triduum that would be perfectly orthodox and even a tonic relief from the dimestore Gaia worship of Trendy People. In fact (irony of ironies) I actually wrote a little piece earlier this week (before the Voris business broke) about the curious confluence of Earth Day and Good Friday (which will post on the Register blog on Good Friday and which I guess some people will now assume was written to spite Voris, though it wasn’t). But Voris’ instructions to the legions knows none of this reasonableness and charity, because it is an edict calculated to teach the mob to roar at an acoustic cue, rather than to think.
The proof of this, of course, is seen in my comboxes, due to the fact that a mob was sent here by Pewsitter to roar in my comboxes and offer all sorts of speculations and accusations about my dark motives for daring to criticize a dumb thing said by Michael Voris. Did you know my real reason for criticizing Voris’ dumb edict was because he’s bringin’ the truth and I feel threatened and jealous of an upstart? Me neither. But plenty of comboxers, by their mystic arts, have read my soul and learned this. I am also motivated by Satan himself, as are all who criticize anything Voris might say. I’m also gay, by the way, as I discovered on one board in which a reader has cleverly dubbed me “Mark Sashay” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more).
In all this, the mobocracy of the comboxes have abundantly illustrated my point, which is that lots of people tend to anoint some fave rave celeb–sometimes me, sometimes Voris, or Scott Hahn, or Jimmy or whoever–as their real magisterial authority and to treat any question or criticism directed at their favorite media celeb as a direct assault on our Lord Jesus and his Holy Church. That’s what I was warning against.
Notice something: That means my primary complaint yesterday, was not at Voris’ dumb edict. (Anybody can pop off and say something stupid. I do it all the time.) It was at those *in the comboxes* who indulge in the Cult of Celebrity while declaring “the bishops” (all of them apparently) to be “enemies” of “real Catholics”. Sorry, but that is factionalism in chemical purity. It is a work of the flesh, says Paul in Galatians 5.
From what I gather, Voris’ videos often provide useful information. More power to him. So far from being “jealous” of anybody who is getting the Catholic gospel out, I’m quite happy to see more voices populating the web and I wish him well. But when he starts commanding the faithful to sit there in the Mass, tapping their foot with arms crossed and a scowl on their faces, waiting in pissed-off accusatory malice for a priest to say the wrong word (“He mentioned Earth Day! That’s it. I’m OUT of here!”) he’s out of line and fanboys harm themselves and the Church by playing along with this junk instead of rejecting it.
It is legitimate to argue about which *ideas* are “really” Catholic. But I’m much more wary about blithely declaring which members of the Church are “really” Catholic–especially on the basis of Pavlovian acoustic cues. For we are all sinners. Every one of us thinks and does things that are not really Catholic. If a Catholic defends an idea that is wrong or dumb, one can criticize that without having to declare or suggest that he is not a “real” Catholic and without having to advocate a schismatic, Protestant dream of hiving off into some fantasy of a truly true pure Catholic Church. The wheat and the weeds, the bad fish and the good, are a reality of the Church till the Last Day.
That is not, by the way, to say that one must endure real and blatant contempt for the Tradition in a parish forever. Our family chose to go to Blessed Sacrament because I wanted to make sure our kids got decent catechesis and were not exposed (as they had been at our former parish) to declarations from the pulpit that the Scripture reading was (and I quote) “a crock”, that Exodus was like a Paul Bunyan story, that the Pope was worthy of contempt, and all the sundry crap one can hear in a suburban parish.
But here’s the thing: when we got to Blessed Sacrament, we found a wonderful parish full of wonderful Catholics with a gorgeous liturgy, reverence for the sacraments, tremendous works of charity and formation and clergy and staff who work their butts off for us. We also found simmering resentment from an embittered nucleus of “real Catholic” malcontents for whom nothing was ever good enough. They ostentatiously wore flightline earphones to Mass. They disrupted parish meetings. They spread lies and rumors about the clergy. They treated the rest of the parish with contempt. We were half-breed, false, “not real Catholic” enemies. I quickly learned that the problem isn’t *always* loony progressives with visions of the Third Vatican Council. Sometimes its bitter Donatists for whom the Church is never pure enough.
And, as with all of Satan’s ruses, what I quickly learned as well was that such attacks on the unity of the Church always come in pairs that, fleeing one, we will embrace the other. Voris’ counsel to abandon your parish on a hair-trigger shibboleth is as dreadfully wrong as the counsel to knuckle under and let your kids be taught goddess crap in Sunday school because that is Sister Trendy’s personal obsession. Both are appeals to a cult of celebrity, which is another word for factionalism. Both should be avoided.
And that goes, as I said yesterday, double for any readers here who so much as think to turn me into an alternate magisterium. I’m an internet loudmouth with a bunch of opinions about stuff. I think I’m right, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t venture an opinion. But (unless I’m citing the Church’s teaching), there’s no guarantee I’m right.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I’m not gay.