Thoughtful pieces on Casey, Caylee, Corapi, Idols

Emails are coming in reporting a state of high tension on various Corapian threads, in anticipation of the Black Sheepdog’s “very special announcement” which is promised today.

You gotta give the Dog credit; he knows how to play to an audience and build up the suspense. I’m finding it kind of sad (and troubling) that so many people have made this one man such a huge part of their lives of faith.

And I am troubled, too, by our society’s seemingly endless appetite for high-drama and sensationalism — how so many are glued to their cable channels or their facebook pages, looking for something to become happy or hysterical about, as though we need the daily media-delivered drama in order to feel like we’re part of things, to feel like we’re real, anymore.

Or, for some, perhaps to feel anything at all.

I confess, I do not follow sensational court dramas. Fixing my attention on any sort of serial is difficult, whether it’s “Breaking Bad” or the OJ Trial; after a while I tire of the teasing manipulation that is meant to keep one coming back for more. And when it comes to stories of murdered, missing or abused children, I simply don’t go there, because I can’t handle it.

So, when I read an angry facebook post as the verdict broke: “Casey is not guilty, WTF?” I really wasn’t up on the details, and I’ve chosen not to read much about it. I think sometimes, we’re so trained by media that we forget we can choose not to follow a story. We can refuse to obediently fix our attention where directed, if we really want to.

Today, though, Timothy Dalrymple’s piece spoke to me, because it is such an honest attempt to understand those two great imponderables: face of evil and the mercy of God:

“. . .the really hard thing to explain was why the wicked prosper.

We wrestle a lot with: Why does God let bad things happen to good people? The ancients – who rarely saw people as truly good, in any case, but who saw plenty of instances of extraordinary wickedness – wrestled a lot with: Why does God let good things happen to bad people? We don’t seem to feel the pinch of this question today — except perhaps in moments like this, when the blood of the innocent cries out for justice.”

It is a good piece and I hope you’ll read it all, but there really is no mystery as to why the wicked prosper, at least not these days: they prosper because we are an idolatrous society that cannot get enough of whatever we have fixated on.

Max Lindenman (who has an additional perspective on the Corapi story here) looks at the high-anxiety of the self-described “Corapians” and wonders why the world loves a ham:

On meeting someone for the first time, I ask myself, “What are this person‘s ego needs? What does he want for himself?” One motive is simple curiosity; for most people, “I want“ and “I am“ are one and the same, or at least very close. Another motive is enlightened self-interest: knowing how to make a person happy means knowing how to make him like me. [. . .]

This, I think, goes a long way toward explaining the allure of the showboat evangelist. At some level, audiences recognize that he wants something. His goals may not be as venal as Corapi’s have turned out to be; he may simply crave applause, or enjoy the sound of his own voice. He may be after some wholly respectable reward, like the comfort that comes from connecting with — and belonging to — a great mass of people. Even when people aren’t consciously aware of the need, they respond to it — in the best cases by offering their hearts; in the worst, their money.


Well, that’s one theory.
Another is, people want to see themselves and their thoughts reflected in an attractive, articulate, charismatic person, and when they find it, they feel a connection that is mostly an illusion, but which they want to be real; and they help the connection to become more real by making purchases, subscribing to newsletters and joining fan pages. It feels like being an insider, and most everyone wants to be an insider, somewhere, right?

I can’t help but think back to the days when I would be all-undone in anticipation of some news about Bobby Sherman or David Cassidy. My world turned on the good or the bad, to a very unhealthy degree, but then again, I was just a kid, and I wanted to feel like I belonged, too — like I had some special understanding of them and their lives. Like I was an insider.

When that desire for outside validation and for inclusion gets served, then we find our idols, and this is true in all spheres, entertainment, sports, politics and religion.

Maybe I’ve become a cynic — I probably am, and that is no good thing, because cynicism is too easy and it becomes it’s own kind of idolatry — but I just can’t get worked up about any public figure, these days. Even the pope, as much as I honor and revere him and frankly love his shy, avuncular style, doesn’t get me fluttered up with each pronouncement.

It could just be that I am cold-hearted, so I don’t want to gainsay others. But it still makes me sad to see people breathlessly awaiting anything — except, perhaps, an election outcome, either secular or sacred.

Related:
O Season of Idols
The Toxicity of Idolatry
Idols don’t like not being idolized

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • kris

    After reading the pdf of Corapi’s court filing … with request for trial by jury!!:

    Still have a lot of info to be understood.

    The pdf states that the termination agreement was made in 2009 and covered observance for 5 years. Corapi’s various statements have claimed that he had been helping accuser and husband for some time – both of whom he stated as having alcohol problems and instability. This agreement apparently keeps the husband employed through various services as a contractor as well as children who also may continue to provide services there and it is acknowledged that “accuser” would still maintain contact with husband and children. The main concerns of the agreement seem to deal with “accuser” being prevented from coming on premises of business or of Corapi’s properties and from harassing those involved with them.

    The other employees’ statements have mentioned such type harassment/attack of themselves on the premises by the “accuser”. When? Between termination date and date of termination contract or continuing? Why wouldn’t the husband/children, if said harassments had some justification based upon the accusations contained in “accuser’s” letter, be included as persons who could also have reason then to harass Corapi, the business, or other employees??? But they weren’t. Wouldn’t they of all people also know if that termination action taken against “accuser” in 2009 by Fr. Corapi was justified? Then why would they agree to continue working for him?

    Why are people assuming that such a termination contract, back in 2009, was therefore not due to real harassment, attempting to protect the remaining employees, and why would the rest of the family agree to remain employed (and the other employees agree to have them there) if wife/mother was involved with or was herself being mistreated or endangered by Corapi?

    Is the answer only that they were paid off? But then it would appear that this employer wasn’t their only employment since they only occasionally performed services for the business. And is there no real bond between the family members and their wife/mother? It doesn’t appear that the husband/children was included in this agreement so he could speak out about the situation. Have they gone public themselves with any info? Someone mentioned the daughter having said something – stating mother couldn’t talk due to agreement – but the court case is against the one bound by the termination contract, identified as the “accuser” so the daughter must not be the letter writer.

    With the findings/evidence thus far related by SOLT why would Corapi ask for trial by jury?

    Others appear to have acquired more info so perhaps they can answer such questions.

  • Claire

    You make several valid points. I like your way of viewing people you meet. There have been a few in my life I would never have allowed in if I had really looked at them through God’s eyes and not my own tinted glasses.

    Neither do I follow murder trials or crazy sensationalism. They only disturb me. I also don’t watch Court TV or Judge Judy, etc.

    As far as Fr. Corapi is concerned (and yes he is still Father to me) I found his talks refreshing and energizing. Finally, someone wasn’t afraid to speak the truth. He may or may not have gone bad (that decision is left up to God for me) but what he spoke was the truth. I don’t defend his lifestyle, because if the accusations are true, then his lifestyle was wrong, and he needs to confess and amend.

    I will continue to pray for the world because we are all human and we fall by the minute.

  • Claire

    PS. Kris, well said!

  • DWiss

    I’ll admit to being mezmerized by the closing statements in the Casey Anthony trial last weekend. All of the unanswered questions made for a fascinating end of the trial. What surprised me were the crowds of people who hung around the courthouse either hoping to get a seat in the courtroom that day of just waiting for news. It really did seem like those folks were desperate to be a part of it all.

    I’ll also admit to being a fan of Corapi’s preaching. He had a way of presenting the Catholic faith as a thing worth commitment. But I also always had a certain level of discomfort with what seemed like self promotion on his part. And I could never quite square all the various background stories: Green Beret, accountant, wealthy real estate broker, homeless druggie, accomplished seminarian ordained in Rome. That’s three or four lives lived. Pick one, for cryin’ out loud.

    So now we know that all was not right with the story. But he did speak some truth, so maybe we can take that, leave the rest, and move on.

  • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com Kevin

    I’m not sure about the secular sphere and our obsession with Anthony (perhaps it is our love of the sensational), but when it comes to the cult of personality in regards to religion, St. John already did it better than any of us ever could.

    In Apocalypse 2:1-7, he writes to the church of Ephesus. He writes of a lot of the good things these Catholics did, and how He (Christ) sincerely appreciates them for it. Christ’s enemies are there enemies, Christ’s friends are their friends.

    Yet he has something against them: they’ve forgotten their first love. They were focused on people, places, this that, forgetting Christ’s role as the source of all things.

    They haven’t left Christ, but they’ve let “the romance go sour” if you will. They no longer have the intense fire for Christ.

    Is it so bold to say this might apply to those who are in the cult of personality with those like Fr. Corapi? Many of them are no doubt good Catholics. but they identify more with the messenger than the message. So much so, the messenger becomes inseperable from the message. They seem to think that if Fr. Corapi died today, orthodox preaching would cease.

    Perhaps in all this tragedy God is giving a call to become familiar again with our “first love.”

  • http://www.patricklarkin.net Patrick Larkin

    I confess to deliberately avoiding reading deeply about these cases. There are so many evil or tragic or depressing things going on in our world that I usually prefer to focus on whatever good I can find.

    In that spirit, I’d like to share a small true story I stumbled across while reading Richard Collier’s THE SANDS OF DUNKIRK — a history of the British and French evacuation there during World War II. The book is full of tragedy, heroism, and sacrifice…but one tiny episode in one man’s life leaped out at me.

    “Private Walter Allington, a big gentle man like a boxer, felt the same pang. Already, on the way to Dunkirk, Allington, who always tried to help his neighbor, had given most of his rations to the refugees; what puzzled him as he toiled through an afternoon shower was a Belgian on crutches trying to catch the rain in his cupped hands.

    Suddenly, Allington realized the man couldn’t use the village water fountains — no man could stand upright and operate the button that regulated the flow of water. Compassionately, with his mate, Private Heap, Allington led the Belgian to a fountain, cupping his hands while Heap pressed the button. As the man lapped greedily, Allington saw his lips were cracked with thirst, his hands red-raw from the chaffing of the crutches.

    Solemnly Allington took out his field dressing — though to use it without sanction was an indictable offense in the Army — and bandaged the stranger’s hands. At the Belgian cried and kissed Allington, the big man felt a sudden stabbing pain in his right side. Gasping, he doubled up, then, after a moment shrugged it off — it was all too long, he knew, since he had eaten.”

    One can read that passage simply and believe that the pain was a symptom of hunger. Or one can read it with a Catholic sacramental imagination — remembering the Roman soldier with the lance — and see who Allington helped and in whose stead Allington acted.

    That’s the kind of story I wish we saw more of in the press…but I know reporters and their editors are wedded instead to the sensational, the vile, and the violent.

    “We can’t quite decide if the world is growing worse, or if the reporters are just working harder.” — The Houghton Line, November 1965

  • Don

    There is another good article witha different angle on the Corapi scandal on catholicurrent.com.

    http://www.catholicurrent.com/#/

  • Patt

    Excellent reads! Thank you–my brain is now running around like a scalded cat.

  • Joseph Marshall

    Maybe I’ve become a cynic — I probably am, and that is no good thing, because cynicism is too easy and it becomes it’s own kind of idolatry — but I just can’t get worked up about any public figure, these days.

    No, you’ve not become a cynic. You’ve merely reached another stage of maturity. We deny the human failings of our idols [or the human values of our villains] because they are so much like our own. What happens next is that you can finally hear what they say and watch what they do, and judge them on this rather than fantasy about who they are.

    Why do the wicked prosper? For the same reasons as the good prosper. Prospering is beside the point. Did martyrs prosper? Are they venerated because of it? No. What we did in our past makes our present, what we are doing in our present will make our future. And the wicked are no less eating themselves up from inside merely because they happen to have had good things happen to them right now. Indeed, insofar as they still have the capacity to change and stop consuming themselves, the more they prosper, the less likely they are to do it. Under those terms, prosperity is no bargain.

  • alter Dan S.

    I found Fr. Corapi’s talks to be direct, interesting, clear and informative, although I must admit that I have not heard a great many of them. The ones on the Catechism were great. That being said, I have basically taken a personal vow to not pay him special attention as long as this “black sheepdog” thing continues. Guilt or innocence in regard to any of the accusations is irrelevant. I’ll pray for him, that he returns to ministry as a priest of Jesus Christ, which he is. If he doesn’t, that is his decision but I have no need of any further secular commentators.

    Dan

  • kris

    Again, just some more, hopefully, critical thinking (I happen to like Poirot’s “leetle gray cells”).

    After reading the pdf of Corapi’s court filing and THEN reading the latest SOLT statement of their “gathered info” as presented, I have to ask some more questions rather than swallow anything hook, line, etc.

    First of all….a seemingly never ending “process” for investigation accuracy suddenly arrives wth certainty of wrongdoing … by a “crack” investigative team made up of three persons: a priest/canonist; a lawyer; and a psychiatrist???? Huh? Where are the experienced gumshoes for backup investigation of charges and statements not only allegedly made but for the broad conclusions stated from such??

    Two were members of religious orders, and one was a lay Catholic. Two were men, and one was a woman. All three have national reputations and substantial experience in ecclesiastical processes related to priest disciplinary issues.

    Well, other than getting Catholic and cultural PC combos down, where again are the actual experienced detective fact finder types???

    SOLT:The contract, according to [Father] Corapi’s lawsuit, contained a provision binding the woman to silence about him. He offered the woman $100,000 to enter this agreement.

    Now, if you look at the court filing by Fr. C you’ll see a much broader reason for perhaps offering or even “helping” the harassing terminated employee – including the facts that said employee’s family members were still involved with the accused and the business, and were not evidently taking any similar actions against the man who apparently was abusing their wife/mother. There also has never been mentioned the statements from C’s business employees of being physically attacked as well as threats made. That side of things was not included in the “fact finding” investigation?

    SOLT: SOLT’s fact-finding team subsequently learned that Father Corapi may have negotiated contracts with other key witnesses that precluded them from speaking with SOLT’s fact-finding team. Many of these witnesses likely had key information about the accusations being investigated and declined to answer questions and provide documents.

    I don’t know about you but this sounds like pure conjecture without any stated or inferred proof of such and could never stand alone as acceptable evidence in a court of law.

    Now then, the rest of the pretty concrete “fact finding team’s findings including:

    SOLT’s fact-finding team has acquired information from Father Corapi’s emails, various witnesses and public sources that, together, state that, during his years of public ministry:

    — He did have sexual relations and years of cohabitation (in California and Montana) with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute.

    — He repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs.

    Now that sounds pretty damning and it implies that the three person team must have had some other means for fact finding. But if these facts are correct then it is also a pretty damning admission of complete lack of control of members of this community….esp. over one with such a known history of just such addictive habits as mentioned here. “Years of cohabitation”??? And there wasn’t an inkling of knowledge by the authorities of the community? It’s one thing to make a big public issue of “obedience” with “orders” to return to the community NOW, but where have they been all those “years”??

    Were all those months more recently reported of Fr. C’s purported mystery illness described as so serious he was literally fading away physically – with a final diagnosis of some kind of severe vitamin deficiency needing a complete rebuild of himself physically – due to such redo of drug history? Even the Mayo Clinic was purportedly stated as involved in proper treatment seeking and various diagnoses were given such as para-thyroid involvement, etc. Now for all those months the community knew nothing or were not involved? If this WAS a case of a Lone Ranger riding all over the place, then “somebody” else also should have known more and just didn’t use the appropriate authoritative lasso to bring him back on the reservation!

  • jcd

    As Catholics, we pray for priests and the priesthood. And for each other.
    For many, it has nothing to do with celebrity or cults, or idols. We love JESUS and His Church.We pray for the salvation of all souls.

  • Patt

    Kris is really getting into this. Must be studying to be a lawyer. I don’t really give a rat’s behind about any of it–all will come out in the wash. Move on with a good book or run around the block. Life will go on without all of us.

  • Mandy P.

    While I’m not really sure why the Anthony case is such ational news aside from the sensational factors, I live in Central Florida and it’s a bit different for us down here. A lot of people in the community were physically out searching for Caylee and had quite a bit of emotion invested in finding her. I think there are a lot of folks here that were looking for closure and some measure of justice for the little girl.

  • Pam

    Have to say I haven’t really followed all the “news” on Fr. Corapi. I happened to tune in to EWTN last year sometime and see him giving a sermon. He recounted an enchange with, I think, his grandmother, in which he was complaining about having to do something he didn’t particularly want to do and he offered his grandmother’s reply. In the second or two before he actually quoted his grandmother, I KNEW what he was going to say, and was not disappointed–”Offer it up”. Not until I went to Catholic school, in the middle of my junior year of high school had I heard the phrase, and when I heard Fr. Corapi say it, it had been a loooooonnnnggg time since high school, but I was so delighted and amused. So, without casting aspersions on anyone involved, I say I am extremely disappointed in this turn of events. I hope and pray that the situation will resolve itself as God wills.

  • http://commonsensecatholicism.blogspot.com Kevin

    Kris,

    I think SOLT is well aware this places them in a bad light. Yet they had to set the record straight. Will have to wonder what they do next, but it’s obvious they had a lack of oversight. Hindsight is 20/20 though of course.

    How did Fr. Marcel live that double life for decades before anyone really started kicking up dust? People have made quite a living off of the presumption of good humans give their ideological brother-in-arms.

  • TXRed

    I have no patience with the sensational trials, be they fictional, secular or clerical. People are people, some of whom have more problems and some with less. Since I’m not Catholic, while I’m sad to see any shepherd going astray, I don’t have a dog in this hunt.

    I wonder too if in the modern era people follow a charismatic speaker, actor or musician because they seem to provide a shelter and an escape? There’s an element of escape fantasy in so much of what I see and hear – a better world where all are cared for by [insert power here], or a place where “I really matter to someone,” or a vision of a world where the environment has been cleansed of all pollution and endangered species are endangered no more.

  • Brandon

    Anchoress-

    You should delete the comment from “FatherDustinBoehm.” This person is the same one who impersonated another priest from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis yesterday on Deacon Kandra’s blog. Apparently he/she is haunting these posts and then trolling under the name of active priests.

    [Deacon Greg seems to confirm this, thanks -admin]

  • Famijoly

    Kris (#11):

    I have not read the pdf copy yet, but I expressed the same tinge of anger as you on another site toward SOLT’s leadership.

    Where were the insistent summons to Fr. Corapi to “come home, under obedience” when the red flags of warning were flapping with the hurricane of conspicuous consumption? While John Corapi, like each one of us, must take responsibility for his sins, his religious order allowed him to remain exposed to the wolves while living as a “lone ranger,” unaccountable to any community leadership.

    What Fr. Sheehan is, in effect, admitting is that while suspension of Fr. Corapi’s priestly faculties is a recent occurrence, SOLT suspended community support for Fr. Corapi a long time ago. One could even say that John Corapi has been a member in name only of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity for many years.

    All that said, I do hope Fr. Corapi will take Fr. Sheehan up on his offer. John Corapi seems at present to be having a crisis of faith. No matter where the allegations fall on the accuracy scale, his public comments are those of a man drifting in a direction he is not sure where. He doesn’t realize how vulnerable he is, spiritually, right now.

    Let us storm Heaven, in the precious name of Jesus Christ, through the intercession of His Blessed Mother, Mary, and all the saints, and St. Michael the Archangel and Fr. Corapi’s guardian angel and each of our own guardian angels, that the wretched enemy of Holy Mother Church, the hideous murderer and liar known as the Devil and Satan, will NOT be able to devour John Corapi, will be driven out of John’s life, and so make room for the peace of Christ and the affection of His Blessed Mother, Mary, and the guidance and protection of the Holy Angels.

  • Colet

    I think what has happened to/within Corapi frightens people.

    If a priest who constantly preaches prayer and repentance can do so very many nasty things, what hope is there for the rest of us?

    At least, I believe that’s what’s knocking around in some people’s heads. I think it explains the total and complete loss of mind some demonstrate in comments sections.

    Fear and despair go in hand in hand with confusion and strife, non?

  • Richard W Comerford

    Re: Human Resource Director

    Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was the perfect Human Resource Director. Yet, at the end of His Passion, how many of his executive picks were left standing at the foot of His Cross?

    Priest are sinners like the rest of us. We all know this. The question is how do local Churches handle priests who commit grave sins? For the past 50-years in the USA, Ireland and the Netherlands (where recently a Bishop publicly defended his molestation of his own nephew) our Bishops and their bureaucrats have allowed predatory priests and religious to flourish while throwing innocents under the bus.

    My hero, Mark Shea, has already demonstrated that there is a hole, a huge hole, in the military portion of Corapi’s conversion story. So huge in fact that it calls into credibility Corapi’s entire conversion testimony. But even if Mr. Shea is 100% right Corapi still deserves justice. And 50-years into the Great Scandal the Church bureaucrats still cannot get this right.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

  • Ann

    Justice demands that the SOLT/John Corapi situation be handled using a process that conforms with Canon Law. I have read several times that the process used to suspend John Corapi did NOT follow Canon Law. The July 6 SOLT statement says,

    “After receiving the allegation, SOLT formed a three person fact-finding team to ensure that it handled this matter in accordance with canonical norms.”

    Was John Corapi suspended through a process that conformed with Canon Law or not?

  • Ann

    *Correction: The above quote is from the July 5 SOLT statement. I apologize.


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