Why it’s Our Ruling Class vs. the Rest of Us

And, by the way, most Catholics also get large portions of their theological and moral formation from these sources and not from magisteral ones.

HT: Upworthy

  • http://bloggerpriest.com Father Joe Jenkins


    The PATHEOS portal advertises itself as “hosting the conversation of faith,” however— it does more than this, it seeks to reframe and/or to delineate religious truth. While several good Catholic blogs are hosted; it seeks neutrality with other religious or non-religious systems that is not possible without compromise and contradiction. For instance, while admitting that Catholicism “traces its history to Jesus of Nazareth,” which it defines as merely an “itinerant preacher,” the quick facts given stipulate the following:

    1. The Roman Catholic Church formed between the 3rd to the 5th centuries C.E.
    2. The bishops formed a “universal” church.
    3. The exact date of the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church is indeterminable.
    4. Many historians suggest that Pope Leo I (440-461) is the first to claim universal jurisdiction over the worldwide Church, thus initiating the rise of the papacy, a uniquely Roman Catholic structure.

    While the nomenclature of “Roman Catholic” and “Pope” develops over time, the Church is directly instituted by Jesus Christ, God-made-man. The apostles were bishop-priests. There was no generic first and second century Christianity. Those who accepted Christ in faith and baptism were Catholic Christians. All the apostles and disciples were Catholic. The Virgin Mary was a Catholic. Jesus calls Simon ROCK or Peter and says that he will build his Church on this ROCK. He gives Peter the keys to the kingdom and universal jurisdiction as his visible shepherd. While there is certainly development, all the important elements go back to Christ and the apostles. Anti-Catholic critics have long contended for the late institution of the Church. These are not credible historians. It seems to me that while individual voices at PATHEOS are orthodox, the site is tainted by a religious relativism that spills over into the section about Catholicism. Might this represent the wrong type of ecumenism about which Pope Benedict XVI has warned us? I think so. There is no sense of the supernatural nature of Mother Church. Dissenting voices are given as much legitimacy as those which speak the truth. There is no imprimatur or protection to insure against misleading statements. Attempting to appease many authorities, there is a definite religious indifferentism and denominationalism. Both are contrary to Catholic teaching and affronts to the truth.

    • Sean O

      Fr Joe

      Interesting points about Pathos and relevatism but why are you making this point after this post? This post was demonstrating the highly concentrated corp control of media which helps explain the sameness and the limited range of opinions and ideas available to the public from most, 90%, of media sources. I the end this media is there to preserve the status quo not challenge it and to SELL beer & shampoo as Mr Shea would say.

    • Mark Shea

      On the principle that you should not attribute to malice what can be sufficiently explained by other forces such as lack of manpower in a startup company, I think it’s pretty obvious that this is a relic of somebody at Patheos–most likely not a Catholic–slapping together whatever it is they thought they knew about the Catholic Church because they were trying to slap together a quick and dirty “intro to Catholicism” page. It reads to me like it’s written by a nice, sympathetic, open-minded, and fairly ignorant Evangelical who was doing the best they could, probably under deadline, and with 20 other jobs to do as Patheos was starting up. I agree it’s badly in need of correction. I don’t think it means much in terms of sinister indifferentism. Just sloppiness. No doubt somebody will get around to correcting it. I’ve never even seen the page (but then I’ve never seen 99% of Patheos: too busy. I suspect “too busy” is the central reason that page hasn’t been fixed yet. Cut a startup some slack.

  • Gail Finke

    Fr. Joe Jenkins: Wow, I have never read that before. That is extremely troubling. When several bloggers I follow moved to Patheos, I found it disconcerting. Wasn’t the move, I wondered, somehow agreeing to the idea that all religions are equivalent? I read some pieces to the effect that by participating in Patheos, Catholic bloggers were part of a large “library” and that people who were not Catholics might come across them, whereas they were much less likely to go to a Catholic-only web site. There is much to be said for this argument, but on the other hand, the one time I looked around Patheos as a whole I did not like it and I have never looked at the rest of the site since. I just bookmarked the blogs I followed as before, so they might as well be on a Catholic site. I do think there is something to be gained by participating in the wider culture and not “hiding” in a “ghetto.” But that description — we Catholics cannot agree with that description. Itinerant preacher? 3rd -5th century? The whole description is bad, we must not even appear to agree with it.

    • Sean O

      Pathos has no special allegiance to the Catholic Faith. It merely centralizes religious or “spiritual” blogs on one huge site to help drive more traffic to the site, to monetize it bringing more eyeballs to ads. It is completely the American way.

      I much preferred Mr Shea’s stand alone site, but Mark was wooed to the Pathos site by the prospect of a bit of pay. He is so attached to feeding his family and keeping the heat on. The problem is that genuine Catholic blogging or raising public awareness of important issues or leading reform movements doesn’t pay.

      Unlike those who serve the interests of corporate masters, Mark does not alter his content to please them. You can compare this situation to that of Fr. Sirico at the Acton Foundation. The Action Fdtn is well endowed financially by monied interests because Fr Sirico serves THEIR interests. Fr Sirico and his group are dedicated to SELLING the gospel of radical laissez faire Capitalism. Their goal is to sell this notion and do so from a “religious” perspective telling Catholics & Christians that the radically disordered and greedy economic system we have today is somehow “God’s work”. This was the same message we received from Lloyd Blankenstein, CEO of Goldman Saks. You won’t find Fr Sirico’s site on Pathos because his ‘work’ and ‘message’ pay handsomely.

      • http://www.thefeverchart.com Mark Gordon

        Sean, good comment. Right on the money. But you **have** to be precise or you risk looking goofy.
        It is Acton, not Action …
        Is is the Acton Institute, not the Acton Foundation …
        It is Blankfein, not Blankenstein …
        It is Goldman Sachs, not Goldman Saks (it IS Saks 5th Avenue, however) …

        • Sean O

          Thx. Sorry about the typos. I don’t want them to distract or derail my point.

        • ds

          I thought it was Gold Man-Sacks?

    • Kristen inDallas

      Patheos isn’t so bad…
      It’s not that all faiths are “equivalent” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems sprinkled around that we can learn from. There’s a jewish rabbi on here that I read about as often as Mark, his blogs tend towards introspection and being a better person and it’s all quite inspiring (not to mention rooted in the deep faith that Jesus himself was rooted in).
      Yeah a few of the blogs tend to have followers that (when they stubble here) aren’t the most inspiring gems of the species met, but heck, at least they engage the debate. Most of my facebook friends won’t even argue anymore, they just don’t care… And I find that a lot more distressing.
      About the description of Catholocism, on the main page… I’m not much of a history buff myself, but I’m sure someone here is… why not write a little correction for them? I bet they’d appriciate it.

  • iClaudius

    Thanks a lot! :-( Now I can’t get Mrs Robinson out of my head. Hide it your pantry with your cupcakes…

    • Rosemarie


      Good thing I like that song, since they play it so much. I can think of a few songs I’d like removed from those playlists, but that’s not one of them.

  • Steve P

    I had to chuckle a little bit when I saw “Jeopardy!” listed among the notable holdings. I had no idea it was such a powerful shaper of public opinion! ; )

  • Dennis Mahon

    The only reason I own a TV today is to check the traffic and the weather — 15 minutes a day, total. And if they ever manage to LiveStream the local traffic, I will completely wean myself from the glass teat.

  • John

    It would help too Sean to actually quote something of Acton’s supposed crimes against the poor or alternatively show how wonderfully kind the status quo has been for the poor either in the USA or the world…. for bonus points you might want to distinguish between the capitalism preached by Acton (private property under the rule of law that’s applied equally)… vs. what we’ve had in the past 40 or so years in the USA/EU with the WTO and other mechanisms for controlling winners and losers which is not at all “laissez faire” cut-throat capitalism. The Federal Reserve system, Fannie Mae, government regulatory agencies that are ‘captured’ ala FDA, EPA, etc. are not examples of “pure capitalism run amok”.

    • beccolina

      Any system without corruption, ‘good old boys’, scratching each other’s backs, etc. would be better. That would require a system without people, though, and I’m pretty sure some sci-fi author has written a story about the dangers of letting a computer run it all.
      What I found alarming was that the same company owns Nick Jr. and MTV.

      • Kristen inDallas

        So suprise here… Nick Jr is pretty spastic. I wonder how much grooming there is in the kids channels towards same-owner adult channels… Quite a bit I expect. If you want a kid that can stomach CNN… get them started young on the sarcasm that is Wle E Coyote. If you want them to watch rely of “soft news” and sports… pump them full of fantasy films and superheroes.

        • Rosemarie


          More than a decade ago, I remember thinking “Nickelodeon is like MTV for kids.” Though I’m not sure just how much programming on Nick Jr. grooms them for MTV… the Fresh Beat Band?

          • beccolina

            I’m pretty sure “Little Bear” isn’t, but it’s older. Strangely, all my children’s favorite cartoons have British accents: Thomas that Tank Engine, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina . . . but most of those aren’t on Nick Jr. I can easily see how Nick, TeenNick and Nick at Night are headed for MTV. I think Nick Jr. is more about getting parents to trust the brand.

    • Ted Seeber

      Just because the status quo is bad, doesn’t mean we should be embracing the philosophy of atheists such as Ayn Rand, Karl Marx, or Ludwig Von Mises, let alone Lord Acton.

      Both communism and capitalism are just con jobs to let the minority rule over and own the majority. Anything you read differently, certainly didn’t come from the Papal Social Justice/Economic Encyclicals, no matter how much they try to baptize John Galt he will never be a Catholic.

    • Sean O


      If you’ve read Fr Sirico you should know that he is quite satisfied for the market as it exists. He is a cheerleader for the status quo with perhaps some minor tweaking. Our system is hopelessly compromised and corrupted on so many levels. Capitalism on the local level with small independent business is about as close as we come to fair and open exchanges between parties. On the national scale we have Crony Capitalism. Large corps and monied interests essentially own DC and have captured agencies and regulatory bodies as you suggest. Congressmen do their bidding. Of course nothing is absolute, but this is our most essential truth.

      If you don’t see our current system as corrupt and disordered, driving the vast majority of the wealth and power into the hands of a small elite and driving enormous hardship and stress to the lower orders then I don’t know what kind of calamity it would take to drive the point home. For starters I would recommend broadening your info intake. Read Adam Smith, actually READ him. He had great concerns about the nature of greedy, powerful monied factions who he feared would “undermine the national interests in favor of their own.” He worried a great deal about collusion and price fixing among powerful economic players. He would not have approved of the vast and distorting powers of the modern corporation vis-a-vis the public. Our system is the corrupted nightmare capitalism Adam Smith feared.

      Take a look at the movie “Inside Job” by Charles Ferguson. He is a venture-tech capitalist who made plenty of money and promotes fair and open capitalism. His film shows just how arrogant, greedy, corrupt, criminal and sociopathic much of corporate America is especially the financial sector. Again, he is a highly successful capitalist [a 1%er] who says we have gone off the rails in the last 3-4 decades–on our way to a 3rd world style dictatorship with the attendant social and economic structure and all its disfunctionality. Give a look to Pat Buchannon’s “the American Conservative” magazine. Of course there are a multitude of good sources, but the main thing is, if you wish to learn and expand your understanding turn off Rush, Hannity Mark Levin….etc. They sell bull.

      There never was a perfect age of Capitalism. Like all human systems it is flawed. There are just times when it functions better and in support of more people than others like the period between WW2 and the early 1970′s. In the post war period workers and the middle class did very well, and the rich did too, no need to worry about them. Our current epoch is killing the golden goose. If all the money flows to the top, who will do all the buying to keep the system functioning? That was why Henry Ford paid his workers well to the dismay of other industrialists. He said he “wanted his workers to be able to afford the cars they were making.” Henry Ford was no softy or socialist.

  • Matt Talbot

    I think breaking up the big media companies though some sort of anti-trust action would be a start. The idea that six rich fascists (say) could buy and control 90% of the media market ought to be deeply worrying to citizens of a democratic republic.

  • julian

    ahh, unbridled capitalism. ain’t it grand?

    • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

      Capitalism is a broad term to use and, in this case, the problem is corporatism specifically and not capitalism in general. Capitalism is a universal term that refers to many different economic systems including corporatism, distributism (yes, technically even distributism is a capitalist economy), Keynesianism, and classical liberal economic theory just to name a few. We’d save a lot of headache in this country if we used our terms correctly instead of always painting with such a broad brush.

      • Sean O

        Yes, definitions can be a bit confusing, but the Capitalism we have in the US is Crony, Corporatist, corrupt Capitalism. We have always had this to some extent but it has become overwhelmingly so over the last three decades. We have hard market discipline for the middle, lower & poor classes and the softest of cozy socialism for the rugged indivdualists of the elite in the form of govt contracts, insider deals and no strings attached govt bailouts in the hundreds of billions for failed or tottering Wall St. firms.

        For the rich it’s always do as I say NOT as I do. For the rich it’s “Hard edged laissez faire Capitalism for thee but not for me.”

        • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

          Agreed. Eliminating regulatory boards controlled by big business executives and ending government bailouts will go a long ways towards ending the bad capitalism now endemic in America. When big businesses fail, government should sit by and watch, not reward failure and often immoral business practices with national treasure.

  • Kevin J

    The concentration of media power makes it even easier for determined activist groups to seize control and get their own sympathizers in charge of everything.

    For instance, the National Organization for Women had a well-run takeover of the media in the 1970s and 1980s. Even today, it focuses on advancing its partisans’ careers and business prospects and it has written its ideology into the policies and laws that govern big media corporations.

    It’s why there’s rarely good coverage of March for Life and why the media is so susceptible to feminist spin on the HHS mandate or the LCWR controversy.

  • http://bloggerpriest.com Fr. Joe Jenkins

    I have nothing but support for what Mark writes and have promoted his materials and media. Given that the post targeted media consolidation and control of information, even religious information, I wondered if there might be anything analogous at the Pantheos hub which sought to bring divergent views under one tent. I was confused by the setup and could not reconcile what I read at elsewhere with Mark’s orthodoxy. I then realized that these were not his words but that of some sort of general administator. Take care, Father Joe

    • Mark Shea

      Thanks, Padre. I’m told that somebody is going to try to carve out time to fix that. All part of the start up mess.

  • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

    In The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki convincingly argues that a large group of people can collectively make smarter decisions than a few, or even a few experts, can. However, this is not always the case and one needn’t look any further than riots and mob rule for examples of group decision-making gone awry. This is because, Surowiecki argues, groups rely on four distinct principles in order to make smart decisions: decentralization, aggregation, diversity, and independence. To elaborate, the individuals of a group must be allowed to make their own decisions independently of each other, without being unduly influenced or coerced by others, the weight of their decisions must be decentralized amongst all the individuals, there must be a way to aggregate all of the individuals’ decisions into one, collective decision, and, possibly most importantly of all, the individuals that make up a group must display a wide diversity of opinion, ideas and personal expertise and knowledge – they mustn’t all be like-minded. Only when a group possesses all four of these traits can it make truly intelligent decisions – but with often incredible results.

    However, the power of crowds to make collective decisions that would shame even the experts in their accuracy and refinement is an unstable one. If even one of the four traits of “smart” crowds, decentralization, aggregation, independence or diversity, becomes threatened then the collective genius of the entire group in question can easily become lost.

    Unfortunately, the state of America’s media industry threatens not one but at least two of these traits: namely, diversity and decentralization as easily demonstrated by the illustration above.

    With so much of the flow of information controlled by so few, to the point that Americans rely on media executives at a rate of 850,000 to one for their news its easy to see how both diversity and decentralization have been compromised – to the point that a few experts in the field are responsible for deciding 90% of what ideas, facts and stories you are exposed to. Ultimately this means that with the consolidation of the media industry into a few corporate giants the range of information that the average American is exposed to is standardized and thus, while it may remain at the same level, or even a higher level overall for any given individual, the aggregate of ideas the group as a whole is exposed to is sharply reduced, thus making us dumber as a society.

    Economist Thomas Sowell refers to information as the most scarce resource of all, and never has it been more scarce than now.

  • http://bloggerpriest.com Father Joe Jenkins

    Professor Christopher Bellitto is evidently involved with a lot of the “facts” about Catholicism here at PATHEOS. I wish you well Mark, but I think there will be a real tug-of-war over what constitutes the faith: a more traditional view versus a revisionist position. Note that he has editorial responsibilities at Paulist Press, which arguably publishes some suspect works. The late Father Illig, a wonderful Paulist priest, once remarked to me that the press of his own Order often worked at cross-purposes to his efforts at evangelization. In any case, know that I will continue to support the good work you do.

    • Mark Shea

      Thanks for your kind words. My guess is that it won’t be a big deal to fix that page. The main problem is time and manpower. As I say, I suspect that it was no even written by a Catholic, just an Evangelical staffer who made a stab at it using what little knowledge he had. I think somebody will be trying to get to it relatively soon (he said vaguely).

  • http://bloggerpriest.com Father Joe Jenkins

    Mergers and control of communication/media can have a huge impact upon the transmission of our faith and values. After the release by Miramax (a Disney company) of the scandalous 1994 movie, PRIEST, Mother Angelica and Fr. Groeschel offered on EWTN what was to be the first awards program for anti-Catholic works. They awarded the film a “mocking” award and urged patrons to avoid the film. Eisner, the CEO for Disney, called them and told them that if they every did that again, EWTN would be taken off all their cable-lines and networks. Disney at that time had ownership (full or partial) in 80-90% of all cable television lines. Fr. Groeschel told me that they had no choice. The first awards program was their last and it was never seen again in repeats. Criticism was snuffed out.

    I have similar worries today about the purchase of AMC movie theaters by China for 2.6 billion dollars. Rumored in the early planning stages is a film based upon the life of blind Chinese human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng, who has been vocal against China’s policy of forced abortions. If China owns the movie theaters, do we really think any such film would ever be allowed to see the light of day?

    Many social network attempts, even by Christians and Catholics, have collapsed in light of FACEBOOK’s domination of the online market. FACEBOOK recently created some controversy by removing the photo of a child with a physical defect. The child’s mother was upset because she wanted to show her “beautiful” child to friends and family. However, others complained because the pictured disturbed them, especially since if they had their way the child would likely have been aborted. Those who control the mechanisms of communication and/or its transmission can censor or inhibit entirely the messages of others, even the free proclamation of Gospel faith and values.