Where I’m From, We Call Our Father’s Daddy

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Yvette T, who wrote, I love my father as the stars, he is a bright, shining light. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12327292@N00/

This is a re-run of a post I wrote a while back. Happy Father’s Day Daddy. I love you. I miss you. I look forward to the day when I see you again.

Where I’m from, we call our fathers “Daddy.”

It’s not unusual to see 60-year-old cowboys, complete with the hat, the cattle and the big belt buckle, addressing their 80-year-old fathers as “Daddy.” It’s just the way we talk.

My Daddy was what pundits condescendingly refer to as “blue collar” or “working class.” What that means is that he was a highly skilled person who could pull an engine out of a car, take it apart, rebuild it like new, put it back in the car, test drive the car to see if all was right and still be home in time for eight hours sleep before he had to get up for work the next day.

The men I grew up around never worried about being man enough. The very notion of worrying about a thing like that was as foreign to them as worrying about being American or Oklahoman enough. They worked hard as mechanics, truck drivers, machinists, butchers and carpenters. Then they came home and put in gardens and maintained their houses. No one in my neighborhood would have considered calling a plumber, roofer or any other handyman to repair their homes. If the plumbing was broke (things were never “broken”; they were “broke”) they fixed it. If the roof leaked, they would get together with the rest of the boys from thereabouts and put on a new one.

My Daddy thought nothing of  getting together with my uncle and putting up a wall, complete with texture and paint, in one day. They could turn around and take it down the same way. They built their own garages, added rooms to their houses and dug their own tornado shelters.

Not one of the men I knew as a child would consider raising a hand to a woman. A man who would hit a woman was a coward, not a man, a nothing, in their eyes. Any man stupid enough to do a thing like that was very likely to have the other men thereabouts take them out some night and “knock some sense into him.”

It never entered my mind to be afraid of anything when I was little. Whatever bad was out there, I believed my daddy would make sure it never touched me. I can not remember a time when he didn’t seem as big and safe as a fort.

I also can’t remember the first time he lifted me astride a horse. I do remember sitting behind him on his horse as we rode for hours. I was maybe four or so when he got me my first horse, a gentle fellow named Shorty.

Owning a horse meant I had to learn to brush him down before saddling him, then brush him down again after the ride. I had to make sure he had water, hay and grain and that his hooves were free of rocks and other things that might harm him. I was responsible for soft-soaping my saddle and bridle, for cleaning the bits.

I didn’t know how to do all this at four, but I learned how from my daddy who taught me by doing it with me. He also taught me to never let the horse get the best of me by getting angry with the animal, jerking him around or failing to get back up and get on when I was tossed off.

He had a contempt that he imparted to me for the kind of man who would get panicky on a horse and then take it out on the horse by yanking the bits, yelling at the animal or digging his heels into the horse’s sides.

Shorty was a kindly horse with a lot of patience for little girls but not a lot of gas in his tank. As I grew from a tiny girl into a little girl, I became increasingly impatient with his lack of go. One day when I was about seven I decided I wanted to see if I could get a rise out of him.

I saddled up and climbed on Shorty, armed with a water pistol. I rode him for a while, then stood in the stirrups, leaned forward, and squirted. Sweet, gentle Shorty broke in half. I managed to ride it out, but I certainly did get a rise out of him. It was more than I bargained for, but it was fun. I finally got Shorty quieted and looked around to see my daddy standing across the lot, staring at me.

The word we use today is “busted.” I had been caught red-handed, abusing my horse. I had no idea what Daddy was going to do, but I expected something massive. What he did instead was much more effective.

“Becky Ann, you know better than that.” he said. That was all. He didn’t yell or threaten. He didn’t even ground me from riding; just, “you know better than that.” But it was enough. I have never abused an animal again.

Years before that, when I was a pre-schooler, I stole a pack of chewing gum from a store and got caught. Daddy didn’t yell at me. He took me back to the store and made me hand the gum to the clerk and say “I stole this.” That was a long time ago, but I can still feel the humiliation of that moment. Then, to add insult to injury, he bought the gum and gave it to me.

Another lesson learned. The temptation to steal left me that day and has never returned.

Daddy was teaching more than how to ride and care for a horse, more even than not to steal. He was teaching me a whole set of values. He was also, though neither of us was aware of it, teaching me about men. There wasn’t a plan in this. I feel confident that my daddy never read a single book on how to raise kids. He didn’t make dates to “have a talk” with me or attempt to manipulate me. He just talked to me as part of our daily interactions. Like I was a person. He spent time with me. That’s how he caught me with the stolen gum, how he saw me shoot water into Shorty’s ear; he was there.

Woody Allen has said that 90% of life is showing up. I think that more than 90% of being a father is being there. You don’t have to ride horses with your kids or break down engines to be a good dad, but you do need to be there. Share the one thing that is completely yours with your children: Share yourself. Teach them about men by being a safe and reliable man in their lives. Give them the gift of security by always being the dad on the beat, ready to protect and rescue them when they need it.

My father had a lot of faults. But he was there and he loved me without question. He used to embarrass me, bragging on me to people, but I realize now that having your very own Daddy think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread is loft to your wings for your whole life. Children, boys or girls, it doesn’t matter, need their Daddys. They need them home, with their Mamas, taking care of things.

My Daddy was there. And he loved me unconditionally. I’ve never read a child-rearing advice book that just plainly said that this is what children need, but it IS what children need. Nothing else will substitute.

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President Obama’s Statement on Charleston Murders

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

President Obama combined his grief about the shooting in South Carolina with a call for gun control.

I considered just not putting this video on Public Catholic because of that. I don’t think this tragic situation is the time or place for a debate like that. I decided to go ahead and post this video of the president’s remarks because I trust in the goodness of Public Catholic’s faithful readers.

Please don’t excoriate the president or go at one another over gun control.

Let’s focus on the beautiful lives that were lost and the great hope that we in eternal life through Christ Jesus.

We can talk politics another day.

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Fourteen Things Laudato Si Says. Nine Things It Does Not Say.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve been snarling and sniping about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical have not read it.

The reason I say that is that they are angry — purple in the face, hissing and spitting angry — about things it does not say. They are also angry about things they claim it doesn’t say that it in fact does.

Laudato Si has a simple underlying argument. Pope Francis reasons that our spiritual bankruptcy has led us into destroying our earth, along with destroying ourselves. He teaches that the loss of respect for the human through our attacks on the sanctity of human life have led us into an extreme individualism that has in turn led us to a destructive relativism.

This shallow and meretricious outlook on life has caused us to befoul and slime our own nest, our home, which is this planet Earth.

Our financial, economic, social and political institutions, all of which should serve the common good, now operate only for their own immediate competitive success, without the element of moral responsibility on the part of those who control them. This deforms human life on a mass scale and leads to the destruction of the planet on which we live.

He calls this destruction of human value and human community a destruction of the human ecology. His teaching is that the human ecology and the natural ecology are linked and interwoven, as they must be if human beings have dominion over the earth.

Laudato Si states at one point that the decision of whether or not to leave a dead planet to future generations is ours to make.

Media pundits have used false claims about what Laudato Si says to get gullible people worked up into a hysteria.

Here are 9 things that Laudato Si does not say, but that people have been told it does.

1. Laudato Si does not attack the free enterprise system.

2. Laudato Si does not advocate Marxism. (This would be laughable except that foolish people keep falling for it.)

3. Laudato Si does not advocate socialism.

4. Laudato Si does not support population control.

5. Laudato Si does not support abortion.

6. Laudato Si does not support contraception.

7. Laudato Si does not support a global tyranny of nutty “greenies” who would take away all our freedoms.

8. Laudato Si does not support doing away with private property.

9. Laudato Si does not recommend specific legislation or reforms.

Here are 14 things Laudato Si does say

1. Laudato Si recommends support for forming small businesses on a global scale.

2. Laudato Si directly links disregard for the environment with the cheapening of human life caused by abortion, saying that when human life becomes conditional, nothing else is protected either.

3. Laudato Si specifically condemns the idea that population control is the way to “save the environment.”

4. Laudato Si specifically condemns business practices which ignore human rights and encourage human trafficking, drug trafficking, disruption of populations, seizure of individual’s property and wars for profit. It also condemns embryonic stem cell research and attempting to destroy the complimentarity between men and women.

5. Laudato Si calls for respect for local cultures and economic reforms which take the common good and human life into consideration.

6. Laudato Si says that all of life is interrelated and that human beings, as stewards of the earth have a grave responsibility to care for it.

7. Laudato Si condemns the out-sized consumption of goods by some parts of the world (ouch) which leads to impoverishment of people in other parts of the world. It calls us to look beyond consumerism to God to fill the emptiness of our lives.

8. Laudato Si says that access to life-giving water is a human right.

9. Laudato Si says that technology, if we use it incorrectly, can isolate and divide us.

10. Laudato Si condemns keeping poor people under a load of debt that makes it impossible for them to build lives for themselves.

11. Laudato Si exhorts us to develop solutions for housing crises which leave so many people homeless.

12. Laudato Si emphasizes the kinship and value of every living being. It also condemns extreme animal rights advocates who place greater value on animal life than human life and who would create a false tyranny with their ideologies.

13. Laudato Si calls for reforms of corruption in our financial systems.

14. Laudato Si says that the evidence for global warming comes from reputable scientific sources.


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Nine People in Charleston are Dead for No Reason. Does Anybody Understand This?

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Share Alike License by By Spencer Means from New York City, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Share Alike License by By Spencer Means from New York City, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nine people at prayer.

A young man enters the church and sits down with them. Then, after an hour, he pulls out a gun and shoots them.

The murdered are African American. The murderer is white.

The motive is said to be race.

I don’t understand it. I mean, I really don’t.

How, why, would anyone do something like this?

It appears that the black people made the white guy welcome. That would be in keeping with the beautiful hospitality I have experienced every time I’ve attended a black church service.

What evil infects the minds of people who kill others for no reason?

I do not understand.

I’ve come to realize that I will never understand.

All I know is that those nine good people who had their prayers interrupted by their own deaths got the best of this. They are almost certainly in heaven right now, singing and dancing before the throne of God.

From The New York Times:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The man suspected of killing nine people at a prayer meeting at a historic black church in this city’s downtown area was caught on Thursday some 200 miles away in North Carolina, local and federal officials said.

After an intensive, 14-hour manhunt for the man who carried out a massacre that officials are calling racially motivated, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, “was arrested in Shelby, N.C., during a traffic stop” shortly after 11 a.m., said Greg Mullen, the Charleston police chief.

The police here say Mr. Roof, who is white, is suspected of being the gunman who walked into the prayer meeting Wednesday night, sat down with black parishioners for nearly an hour, and then opened fire.


For more commentary read Lisa Hendey’s Prayers for Precious Souls Lost in Charleston Shooting.  

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Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ Rerum Novarum, or No Wonder Rush Limbaugh Hates the Pope.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Make no mistake about it. Laudato Si is not a wimpy, tip-toe-around-and-don’t-offend-anybody encyclical. It’s a throw-the-money-changers out of the Temple revolution of an encyclical.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates this pope.

A lot of you are going to find yourself challenged by Laudato Si, precisely because Pope Francis does not give you the option of ignoring what he’s saying. You can decide to go against the pope. Or you can decide to walk with him.

But you can’t pretend he didn’t say what he said.

Pope Francis comes right out and says that global warming — along with a lot of other things — is leading us to a dark future. He points out the spiritual hollowness a society whose chief goal is to blindly consume, and whose community has dwindled to the internet. He says that access to life-sustaining water is a human right, and blasts corporatist control of the earth’s riches to the destruction of the poor.

This is a long Encyclical and unpacking it will take a while. But here is my first thought about it. It is a thought based on a memory and a historical fact.

The memory is of a conversation I had with a friend over a decade ago. My friend and I were talking about the universal sins of each time in history, sins that the people of that time are blind to. What we meant was that when a behavior is universally accepted and no one questions it, even great sins can pass unnoticed by the people committing them. Racism was once such a sin here in America.

Later generations often look back and are appalled by the cruelty and ignorance of their forebears. But they are committing their own sins of cultural blindness, even while they express their disdain for their forebears.

I remarked that I thought that one of the things about which future generations would look back at our time and ask “Why didn’t you do something? Were you blind?” was going to be the environment. If we bequeath a ruined earth to our grandchildren, what will they think of us?

The second thing I want to base my reaction on is a historical fact. That fact is simple. The Popes of the 1930s and 1940s did not issue an encyclical against the Nazis. An encyclical was drafted, and from what I’ve read of it, it was a strong and powerful document.

If that encyclical had been issued instead of shoved in a drawer, the many questions about what the Church did during those dark times would have a clear and compelling moral answer. I believe without doubt that if that encyclical had been issued, all of history since 1930 would be different.

Would the encyclical have stopped Hitler? Probably not. But it would have fueled the resistance to his evils by faithful Catholics. It would have either silenced the go-along German bishops who have become the shame of the Church or it would have exposed them for the anti-Christs that they were. It would have strengthened and ennobled the moral and prophetic voice of the Church for all time.

The failure to issue that encyclical was such an appalling failure of the Church that all of Christianity has been paying for it ever since.

Seen in the light of that memory and that history, I can say without equivocation that I am glad beyond glad that Pope Francis has taken the historic step of issuing this encyclical. I know that it is will unsettle a lot of Catholics who have up until now felt comfortable in their political fealties. I know that is painful. Believe me, I’ve been through such pain myself. In fact, I feel a bit of that pain with Laudato Si.

But it is necessary. Among other things, Pope Francis puts down the corporatist-created heresy that our followership of Jesus Christ stops where commerce begins.

Both the right wing and the left wing of our political spectrum want the Church to shut up and go along where their particular sins are concerned. They both claim, each with their own language, that when it comes to their sins, Jesus Christ is irrelevant.

They are both self-serving liars.

By writing this encyclical in such bold terms Pope Francis demonstrates what Hitler managed to keep an earlier pope from demonstrating: That Jesus Christ  is the Lord of all life and that He is never irrelevant, no matter the topic of conversation.

Now, to get to the touchy matter of global warming. What to do with a Pope who does not equivocate when he says that reputable science shows that global warming is, in fact, happening?

First, the Pope does not say this as a matter of morality. He bases his statement on what he terms reputable scientific studies. I am not advocating that anyone drop kick the pope’s opinion on this in favor of Rush Limbaugh’s.

Pope Francis has a scientific background, and more to the point, he has nothing to gain and lot of to lose by making this statement. The talking heads of the world are highly paid mouthpieces who get their money from the people who benefit financially by the public not believing in global warming.

If I had to pick who to believe, it would be Pope Francis without any question. The vicious and totally untrue attacks on Pope Francis’ good name by the minions of the right have convinced me that nothing they have to say about the Catholic Church or our Holy Father is worth hearing. I think they’re all about the money. Their own money.

What Pope Francis does say as a matter of morality is that we have a responsibility to the earth, to all lifeforms and to the poor. This is sound Christian theology. It is the historic understanding of our call as Christians as regards these matters.

We can think — and by that I mean think, not be led around by pundit pied pipers who slander and slime the pope –and let think on matters of scientific investigation. We do have an obligation to think and not just repeat one-sided arguments that are designed to induce us to allow ourselves to be used.

It is important to the max to listen and read widely about an issue as contentious as this. I say that because it is a grave issue. The wanton destruction of entire species and ecosystems, the loss of breathable air and drinkable water, the unnecessary deaths of millions of people to preventable illnesses that are caused by pollution, starvation and thirst are, all of them, intrinsic evils. The rape of the earth is a violation of our first compact with God to have dominion over creation.

We have, as Christians always do, the freedom to think and let think on the particulars of the science of these matters. But we have an absolute moral obligation to approach the question with integrity instead of political sloganeering, from a vantage of concern for the common good, the welfare of the least of these and the provision of a hope and future for the generations who come after us.

We are Christians and we are called to more than to live only for ourselves with no regard for anyone or anything else in all of creation or in the future.

This is my first blush impression of Laudato Si.

I’m going to read it carefully and write about it extensively. I think we may be in the presence of an encyclical as important as Rerum Novarum.

Make no mistake about it folks. Pope Francis is kind, approachable and unassuming. But he is not a wimp.


For other thoughts on the Encyclical, read All of Our Sin, All of Our Hatred, on Trial by the Anchoress,  Reading Francis Through Francis by Kate O’Hare, So Much to Say, So Much to Learn by Kathy Schiffer, Should You Read Laudato Si? by Simcha Fisher, Patriarch Barthelomew on the Encyclical: We Count it a True Blessing, by Deacon Greg Kandra, The Pearl of Great Price by Mark Shea, 3 Sources to Understanding Pope Francis’ Encyclical by Pia Solenni, Laudato Si, Hold Your Breath, Make a Wish, Count to Three by Tom McDonald, Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical? by Dr Greg Popcak.

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You Can Find the Real Encyclical HERE

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

If you want a copy of the Encyclical, Laudato Si, go here.

My attorney colleague Tom Zampino has already found the answer to the question a lot of Catholics were asking. Pope Francis blasts abortion, population control in new encyclical, he tells us.

It’s important for those of us here at Patheos Catholic to give you that fact, since the media is likely to ignore it and go off chasing after whatever verbiage they can pull out of context to support their various agendas.

Remember: What you read in any of the five places I list here will almost certainly be propaganda. It won’t be designed to inform. It will be designed to support agendas which have nothing to do with Our Lord, and which most like are antithetical to the Kingdom.

Now, I’m going to have my breakfast and settle down to read this encyclical. I’ll skim it before I read in depth to give you  that first blush impression I promised. Then, I’ll probably break my analysis down into several posts.

Rejoice and be glad people. This is the day the Lord has made.

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5 Groups of People to Ignore When They Talk About the Encyclical

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by squidish Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by squidish Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

By their agendas you shall know them.

In our agenda-laden society, you can almost write the scripts ahead of time for certain groups’ reactions to Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment. In fact, you could have written what they are going to say six months ago, or a year ago.

Stretching it a bit further, I think you could have predicted how most of these people would have responded to this situation 10 years ago.

These are people who don’t have to read the Encyclical to know what they think of it, because they aren’t paid to think. They make their $$ by following a party line and spitting that party line out on command. They have no part in informing the rest of us, even though they may be working for what claims to be a news organization.

Their jobs are to shape our views by the use of propaganda, not to inform us so that we can come to our own conclusions.

These are good people to ignore. One of my goals here at Public Catholic is to help you see through these propaganda machines and think for yourselves.

Here are 5 of these groups to ignore on the subject of the Encyclical, or indeed on most any serious topic.

1. Anyone who makes their $$ selling a political viewpoint to the detriment of the truth and common decency. This group includes the Rush Limbaughs, Rachel Maddows, Michael Savages and other crazy means of the media. Don’t look to any of them for a factual or even slightly accurate rundown on the Encyclical. If you can’t predict what they’re going to say before they even read the Encyclical, you probably don’t know who they are, anyway.

2. Anyone who makes their $$$ by bashing Christians, Catholics in particular. This includes almost all atheist bloggers. Again, you can predict what they’re going to say before they read the Encyclical. If they make their money trading on Christian bashing and anti-Catholic bigotry, their opinions shouldn’t matter to you.

3. Politicians of either party who are currently raising large amounts of $$ for a political campaign. These folks will dance to the tune of whoever gives them the money to win their election. Each political party has its favorite watering troughs, but unknown to most voters, both political parties also go to the same troughs for a lot of their $. That’s because buying government is so cheap compared to the payback that it’s good money well spent to just buy everybody. None of these people will speak with authenticity and personal integrity about this Encyclical. Not one of them.

4. Catholics who hate the Church. Sadly, there are groups of Catholics out there who can not say a good word about our Church. I don’t now what’s wrong with them. But I think they are so angry and full of rage that their opinions can not be taken seriously.

5. People who just repeat words like Marxist without the first clue what they mean. Also people who repeat things they’ve heard from numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a monkey see, monkey do fashion. They simply have nothing to contribute to the discussion since, for whatever reason, they have chosen not to engage their brains.


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I’m Not Going to Rush Out There With a Verdict on the Encyclical Tomorrow.

I know, I know.

Everybody and his dog is going to jump right over the starting gate and make absolute pronouncements about the Encyclical tomorrow. Some folks are even promising to tweet their responses as they read; kind of like taking their own mental pulse every few minutes and tossing the numbers out there on the internet.

Not me.

I am not Everybody, much less his dog.

I’ll try to give you a smallish, first blush look at what I think, but it’s a long read and a longer ponder before I will be able to say with any intelligence what I believe the encyclical really means.

I expect that this will leave me in the corral still trying to saddle up when the wagon train pulls out of town and heads for Dodge. I also expect that a good number of you are going to be whipped to a frazzle by all the bizarro, politically-motivated sewage, both from the left and the right, that will be dumped on your little heads.

My advice — and I say this as someone who values and respects your thinking processes — is to hold onto yourself and not let the incoming tsunami of off-the-cuff verbiage drown your brain. For sure and for certain, don’t let it damage your faith.

Pope Francis is not going to come out with anything that contradicts 2,000 years of Church teaching, and he is not going to turn his back on the Church’s stand for the sanctity of human life and the value of every human being.

Far from it.

I fully expect that this encyclical will affirm the sanctity of human life and the value of human beings as they relate to the charge that God gave us to have dominion over creation. It may not go down well with our politics. I may have as much trouble accepting all of it as some of the rest of you.

But I can assure that I will accept it.

Pope Francis is the pope. I will try to understand his teachings, and I will seek to apply them in my life within the limits of my own experiences and abilities. Other faithful Catholics will do the same, and that will lead us into legitimate areas of discussion and disagreement. But we must — must — begin at the point of our common faith and our common acceptance of the teaching authority of the pope and our Church.

Thinking my way through the encyclical will not be done in a day. But I can promise you that I will do it prayerfully and with an understanding that I follow the Catholic Church and the pope.

Tomorrow is Encyclical Day.

Fasten your seatbelts. The nuts are going to be driving the commentary vehicle for a while.

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Bishop Tobin, You Can’t Lead People by Bashing and Shaming Them.

Bishops are teachers, leaders and administrators.

They are also priests.

When a bishop becomes so exasperated with his flock that he no longer likes them or feels love for them, it’s time for that bishop to go back to God in prayer.

Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island has published a letter to is flock that is a case in point.

I can’t say what Bishop Tobin feels in his heart, but various comments he’s made and things he’s done lead me to believe that he’s more than a little disappointed in the people in the pews in his diocese. He runs a diocese that is more densely Catholic than most, but also less publicly committed to following the Church.

Bishop Tobin has experienced the personal and pastoral debacle of seeing members of his flock defy him and vote to pass laws legalizing gay marriage. He preached and taught the right things, but they didn’t listen, or rather, not enough of them listened.

Poor man, he took their sins on his own back and blamed himself for the failure of those who should have followed hm to do what was right. It must have been a bitter black moment for him as a leader of souls.

This exasperation, this disenchantment, with the people he is tasked to lead comes blasting out in a recent article he posted concerning the way that Catholics dress when they go to mass. He wants his flock to show their respect for the Lord by dressing up a bit when they come to Church.

Fair enough.

Catholics are notoriously casual in the way we dress at mass. I wear a lot of jeans and t-shirts to mass myself. Maybe we should be a bit more polished in our appearance. Many of my fellow Catholic Patheosi think they should. Me, I’m not so sure that I agree. I think that casual is the new normal of our culture and there are much bigger fish for a bishop to fry than taking on the role of fashion cop.

But I’m not a bishop and I don’t set bishops’ agendas. If Bishop Tobin looks out over his flock and sees attire that is unseemly and disrespectful of the Lord, it is will within his job description for him to admonish the faithful to spiff up a bit. It is the job of Catholics in the pews to listen to him and try to follow his teaching. He is, after all, their spiritual leader.

What is unfortunate is that, when he attempted to do this, he let loose with his anger at the people he leads. Here’s a bit of what he said:

You know what I’m talking about; you’ve seen it too. Hirsute flabmeisters spreading out in the pew, wearing wrinkled, very-short shorts and garish, unbuttoned shirts; mature women with skimpy clothes that reveal way too much, slogging up the aisle accompanied by the flap-flap-flap of their flip-flops; hyperactive gum-chewing kids with messy hair and dirty hands, checking their iPhones and annoying everyone within earshot or eyesight.

These displays reveal a gross misunderstanding of the sacred space we’ve entered in the church and the truly sacred drama taking place in our midst. C’mon – even in the summer, a church is a church, not a beach or a pool deck.

Every member of the worshipping community should dress appropriately for Mass, but the obligation is even greater for those who fulfill public ministries during the liturgy – ushers, lectors, servers, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Because they’ve assumed a public role in the sacred liturgy and are in the public eye, it’s important that they give good example to others in the way they dress, speak and present themselves during Mass.

Certainly the people of God should dress with appropriate modesty when they go to mass. I agree that those who participate in the mass should make an effort to be visually presentable when they do so.

But I can tell the good bishop that long-term leadership of a group of people depends on trust and inspiration, not verbal flogging and public shaming.

Every person who comes to mass is a volunteer. Every single one of them has something else they could be doing. Every person who is sitting in a pew is there because, at least at some level, they are seeking Christ the Lord. That deserves respect, which is exactly what I think Bishop Tobin is trying to ask for himself and the mass in his misbegotten post.

I think that the bishop wants people to respect the mass, and I am guessing that he would also like for them to respect him. However, I do not think that talking to the people in the pews in the manner I quoted above will garner the respect he is seeking.

The reason why is simple: To get respect, you have to give respect, and Bishop Tobin disrespects his flock in this letter.

People will follow a leader through all kinds of hell and high water if they trust that leader. They will respect and support a leader who respects and supports them. That respect and support is the basis of trust and inspiration, and trust and inspiration is the basis of leadership.

When a leader — it does not matter if it is a priest or a president — disrespects the people he or she is trying to lead, they damage that essential element of trust and inspiration. When they do it repeatedly, they can destroy the trust, quench the inspiration, that is necessary for them to lead.

Bishops have a tough job. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to get tougher as time goes forward. Their authority is battered and tarnished by their own failings in the priest sex abuse scandal.  The Church itself has become the sign of contradiction against the satanic influences that are ripping at our whole society.

Those satanic forces are gathering and will attack the Church without ceasing so long as it stays true to its mission of preaching the whole Gospel of Christ. Bishops, as the generals in the Lord’s army, are the top targets in these attacks.

But they can no go to ground and take cover. Bishops need to stand and lead. They must lead, and they must do it fearlessly and with the kind of strength and faith that only the Holy Spirit can give.

It is not possible for any man to do the job that confronts our bishops out of his own wisdom or strength. If God does not support these men, they will fail. That means that they have to unlearn the lessons of clericalism that have formed so many of our religious leaders and take on the humility of true followership of Christ. There is no other way for a bishop in today’s world to effectively do the job that is set in front of him.

Leadership requires a lot of those who take it up. Among other things, it requires self-discipline. That self-discipline includes a refusal not to indulge personal pique in public venues.

That’s what I read in Bishop Tobin’s remarks: Personal pique.

He is dangerously close to giving the impression that he flat-out dislikes the people he must lead. He needs to stop this and stop it now.

If he is genuinely concerned that the level of casual dress in his parishes has become so extreme that it endangers the sanctity of the mass, he must, as is his job, teach in that area. But it is imperative that he do so as a bishop, a priest, a father and shepherd of a flock that he loves and longs to lead to heaven.

There aren’t many chances when it comes to publicly dissing the people you lead. Such behavior violates the compact between leader and those who are led. If they trust you deeply, they will give you one or two second chances, but only if they love you deeply and trust you absolutely. No one ever gets more chances than that, and most leaders get no second chance at all.

All bishops, not just Bishop Tobin, need to take this to heart. I know what I’m talking about here.

I want to see our bishops succeed. I pray for their success. When I see a bishop shoot himself in the foot this way, I think it’s important to say something.

Bishops must respect and love the people God has entrusted to them. If they do that, they will find the job of leadership a natural outgrowth of the trust they receive in turn.

For a comprehensive dust-up on this whole question, check out The Anchoress who, as usual, says it best, or, have a look at Jen Fitz who employs old-fashioned story-telling to make her point.

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Cafeteria Catholics Wear Red as Well as Blue

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Surly Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/jm_photos/

It was a rout.

They knocked one another down, running away from Him.

The temple guards tried to catch John Mark by grabbing his clothes. When his clothes tore lose, Mark ran away naked into the night like a panicked bunny rabbit.

A few days before, John and James had been arguing over who would sit at the places of honor in His Kingdom.

Now, they ran.

It was ignominious defeat, an end to all their boasting and bragging about their great loyalty.

Jesus has suffered many Gethsemanes since that night, many times when His followers ran from Him and straight into the maw of the world. People stampede the same as a herd of cattle. When they are panicked, they will run right over a cliff and to their destruction.

We are the weakest of followers for a Heavenly King. The question isn’t why we choose Him. The question is why He chooses us.

Given our behavior, that question is so confounding that only one answer is possible. That answer is love. He loves us, and love makes all things right, even our tawdry behavior.

The disciples ran that night because they were panicked, afraid for their lives. They also ran because, as Jesus told them, This is satan’s hour. 

But satan doesn’t have just one hour. His taunts and beguilements are an ever-renewing source of spite, hate, malice and lies. This time in which we live is every bit as much satan’s hour as that night in the garden.

Satan will use any doorway into us, including what we think of as our faithfulness to Him. One clear sign that we can use to discern that we are on the wrong path is when we begin to base our righteousness on the sins of other people.

That is the first sin of cafeteria Catholics, of the red and the blue, the left and right. They are forever attacking one another and claiming righteousness for themselves based on the sins of the other.

Cafeteria Catholics of the left claim, often rightfully, that those on the right ignore the cries of the poor, that their economic policies concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish all others. They are accurate when they say that this is not free enterprise, because it isn’t. It is corporate fascism, the corporatism that has been consistently condemned by every recent pope.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right claim, often rightfully, that those on the left attack the human, that they seek to destroy the very foundations of civilization with their destructive nihilism. Abortion, gay marriage, mutilating surgeries used on mentally ill people, euthanasia, egg harvesting, porn; these are the crimes of the left.

Both groups condemn the pope and the Church for violating the “teachings” of their side. The Pope is a sign of contradiction to this world. Cafeteria Catholics of both the right and left react violently when the Holy Father’s teachings contradict and lay bare their own departures from following Christ.

They don’t respond to this revelation that they are walking outside the faith with humility and a desire to change. They don’t even do as I often do when the Pope’s teachings contradict my shibboleths, by twisting and turning, arguing and complaining, before I ultimately give in and follow.

Hardened cafeteria Catholics respond to the teachings from the pope that contradict their politics by going into spittle-throwing, self-righteous rages. They attack and defame the pope himself for calling them to a conversion they do not want to make.

Cafeteria Catholics of the right have, for many years, condemned and excoriated anyone who departed from what they termed obedience to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.  Their brittle self-righteousness in condemning everyone who departed from their standard of faithfulness has driven many people from the Church, turned people away from Christ.

It was not their faithfulness that drove people away. It was their self-righteousness, their ugly use of the Church as a club to beat their political opponents over the head.

But when the pope, this Pope, dares to teach the truth about corporate fascism, they turn hard about 180 degrees and attack the Church, and the Holy Father themselves. I have deleted the most appalling comments about Pope Francis in the past 24 hours, comments that come from the pit of spiritual death.

That, of course, is nothing new. I delete appalling comments about the pope and the Church almost every day.

Cafeteria Catholics on the left chime in on a regular basis, letting me know that the Church has failed to live up to their self-righteous standards, as well. The Church, they say, is cruel and has no compassion because it “condemns” the sick and elderly to suffering when a good dose of poison would end it for them.

The Church is cruel because, while it admits anyone, including homosexuals, it will not tell homosexuals that their sins are not sins.

The Church supposedly hates women because it will not support them in killing their children with abortion.

Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, the red and the blue, abandon the Church founded by Christ the Lord to bend their knee and give their loyalty to the false gods of this world. Both sides, cafeteria Catholics of the right and the left, seek to limit the Church’s teaching to areas that goad the other guy’s ox and not theirs.

Jesus Christ doesn’t mean all that much to either side. They will abandon Him on behalf of their political philosophies anytime. Any time at all.

They do not follow the Vicar of Christ. They follow the pundits and talking heads who taught them this false gospel of self-righteousness and condemnation of others in the first place. They are comfortable in their mushy wallows of false doctrine and self-congratulation. They like pointing the finger at the other guy and declaring that he is not faithful, while, they proclaim, they themselves are absolutely faithful.

Left wing cafeteria Catholics loved to attack Pope Benedict XVI. They piled onto Pope John Paul II. But they’ve decided to patronize Pope Francis by misinterpreting what he says to fit their politics. They are attempting what the right wing accomplished by doing the same thing with the teachings of the earlier popes: Self deification.

Right wing cafeteria Catholics breathe fire at Pope Francis. I’ve deleted comments from them that say outrageous things about him. This is especially poignant, coming as it does from people who have long based their claims to righteousness on their faithfulness to the teachings of the Church.

In truth, neither group of cafeteria Catholics is looking for leadership from the Pope. What they both want is validation of their sins. That, and holy verbiage they can use to condemn their enemies in the wars of this world.

They aren’t looking for redemption and forgiveness. They have no use for salvation that comes at the price of a cross. They have convinced themselves that they don’t need it.

They are so certain of their theological omniscience that they lecture the pope on Church teaching. They are so proud of their righteousness that they use themselves for the measure by which they judge what is right and what is wrong.

Cafeteria Catholics are exactly like the political movements they have made the lords of their lives. The only difference is that the puppet masters at the top of these movements know what they are doing. They got their 30 pieces of silver.

Their followers down below do not have the respect of those on top these movements. These hapless souls who’ve sold their birthright for a bowl of pundit porridge are just things to be used by those they follow.

Do not run away from the Lord of all life. Do not feed your salvation to the dogs of this world.

The simplest way to know that you are following Christ is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Scripture tells us to Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. 

I would make that more explicit. I would say trust the Vicar of Christ and do not follow the pied pipers of the media and the internet to your own destruction.

Save. Your. Soul.

Turn your back on the death-dealing philosophies of this world, whether they are from the right or the left.

Choose Christ.

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