Tina Brown: Our Lady of the Air Kiss

I don’t know when I have read a snottier, snobbier, more relentlessly superficial, arrogant and bigoted piece of dreck than Tina Brown’s latest column in the Washington Post, Reverence Gone Up In Smoke.

Sigh…what a disappointment for Tina and her pals – amid all of that glorious color and pomp of a papal funeral and a conclave, the solemn beauty of the chant, the whole mystical and mysterious sense of Other – they’d become attracted, mildly so, but attracted, nevertheless, to the whole “religion thing”. They’d admired the surface of the Lake of Faith, but, sniff, they’re much, much too smart to actually partake of the water without the right sort of lifeguard, darling, you know, one who looks good and tells us we are all holy and lovely and fine and let’s us go on our merry way. A lifeguard who will perhaps even join us at all those luncheons and dinner parties, darling, all those too-too tony gatherings, all the witty repartee, all the sweet and haughty laughter we may indulge in as we ridicule those who do not understand or appreciate our lovely educations, our lovely clothing, our lovely hairstyles, our lovely – so very lovely – things.

There is a lot going on in Brown’s column – an admission that for the folks on the left the papal election meant nothing more than yet another political defeat. Just as they had deluded themselves on election day (a day on which Kerry’s own pollster predicted a loss by 3% points) to believe that a man who had never actually led the presidential race, who had offered neither real ideas or real military documentation, was definitely going to win the White House back for them, they had decided to believe that somehow the “winner” of the papal elections would be

“some youthful cardinal we hadn’t even heard of yet, some charismatic dark horse whom the joyful crowds, so many of them young, would immediately recognize as their own.”

Well…actually…NEWSFLASH, TINA…the man who emerged from the balcony was recognised, quite joyously, by the very youthful crowd in St. Peter’s Square, as “one of their own.” Those young adults, after boisterous cheering, began their first elated chant: Ben-e-dict-o, Ben-e-dict-o.

They get it, the young Catholics. And you and your friends, who seem not to understand what was truly taking place in the Sistine Chapel, or what the papacy means, or what – for that matter – Christianity means, do not. To you, it’s all a great big Church of NO that won’t let you just do what you want and pet you and say, “why, how clever and wonderful you are, dear, here, have a cookie! But not two! Mustn’t get fat now, because otherwise no one will ever love you or think you are a good person…be like the Italians! They are not fat!”

I am a little puzzled as to why, exactly, you and your friends feel this poisonous need to go rather overboard in your bigoted nose-wrinkling. I mean, yes, I DO understand to a point. You and your whole generation have had a difficult time moving from childhood of “gimmee what I want…” to the adulthood of “take what you need…”

How you must have truly hated to hear Cardinal Ratzinger, a day before he became Benedict XVI utter those terribly divisive words:

We should not remain infants in faith, in a state of minority. And what does it mean to be an infant in faith? Saint Paul answers: it means “tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery” (Eph 4, 14)

No. You could not have liked hearing that, beholden as you are to the age in all of its furious fashion and conformity. So, I DO understand, to a point, why you need to do the “sniff and giggle, mock those unsophisticated Christians” thing. It’s hard to break those habits from high school.

But, you know, you do have your own church, so I don’t really know why you have to be so concerned about anyone else’s. You have what Flip Wilson used to call “The Church of What’s Happening NOW.” The Church of Me First. The Church of Cackling Condescension, The Church of Blithe Nobility: I wrote a check, darling, to each of the “right” causes. You don’t expect me to actually go down into that smelly soup kitchen and dish out hash to those people, do you?

Not all of your friends are like that of course. Some of them do fund raising for charities and the arts, and hospitals and museums, which is very nice – although very often the fund-raisers net very little after expenses, still it’s something. And some of your friends do make a point of only flying in private jets which are already heading their way, to – you know – conserve energy. And some of them step into limos only after they’ve pressed a buck into someone’s hand and congratulated them for keeping it real. Sometimes, they even make a “black power” fist after they do it, even if the bum they’ve treated to coffee is not black.

It’s part of the liturgy of your church, I believe. All those gestures. All that pretty ritual.

What I do think is so funny is that you spend so much time huffing and puffing about how the Christians are trying so hard to suppress, and to close down. And you do not see for a second that you, and all of your co-religionists are the leading proponents of silencing others (I don’t remember it being the religious folk who came after Larry Summers or Jada Pinkett Smith because they dared to speak at Harvard Temple in the vernacular of plain speech, rather than in the exalted language of political correctness. I don’t recall the religious folk attempting to get the medical records of actors or artists who dealt with addiction to pain killers, or more.)

Your church shouts down, throws pies, mocks, scorches the earth and openly wishes for the violent deaths of others.

It is not a church that walks into leper colonies, or soup kitchens to try to help (that’s what taxes and government are for!) It is not a church that prays for the good of others, unless they are the “right sort” of others, meaning, church-members, only.

There IS a church out there, that is cause for serious concerns about personal and spiritual liberty. But it is not the Christian one.

I read your column and I remember a prophecy I had read long ago. I don’t remember if it was a Fatima prophecy or Lourdes, or some other. Maybe it’s some silliness that I am confusing with personal revelation; it’s late and I am tired. But I remember what the prophecy said. It said that an event would take place “which will be seen by the entire world,” and that the event would have the effect of making everyone look into their own hearts, examine their consciences, so to speak, and that there would be many who return to the faith, and others who resist or simply choose to turn away.”

Perhaps the funeral of John Paul II (whom you did not love any more than you love Benedict, but who was so beloved by others he could not be forcefully opposed) was that event. Over a million people at prayer, on their knees on cobblestone, in Communion with the Lord Jesus. The attraction – the admittedly superficial attraction – of the beauty and pomp, and the deep mystery at its core. It was an event seen all over the world, as was the naming of the new pope.

People are choosing. Choose wisely, Tina. If you found yourself “attracted” to the Lake of Faith, no matter how superficially, consider dipping in a toe. Don’t be afraid of the water. It doesn’t burn.

Related: The Godless Party by Rod Dreher

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