Between the Scylla and Charybdis and Apocalypse Now

If you are a Catholic News junkie, coming to the internet everyday for your fix of “inside baseball” goings on, here’s a little tidbit: you will be as misinformed as all news junkies everywhere always are.  Bread and Circuses? Welcome to the show.

And if you are riding the Catholic news tide up and down, like some kind of daily check on the status of your personal faith? Fahgettaboudit! Doing so will strip you of your faith in no time. It’s like taking a cruise between the Scylla and Charybdis daily, in the Kobayashi Maru. It’s a no-win situation, akin to tracking the value of your retirement account daily. Stop the obsession!

“Frank,” you argue, “keeping track of  Catholic News is different, man. I mean, it ain’t like reading news from the spawn of Satan, the New York Times!”

But obsessing about Catholic news like you are the manager of some Fantasy Church Militant team is pretty crazy. The news can be shrill, and shriller, moving deftly from a whisper to a scream as quickly as a Shelby Cobra melts a set of Gatorbacks while hurtling from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Just like being obsessed with the regular news outlets is detrimental to your mental health, the dreaded MSM, the same is true with all this Vatican insider stuff. I mean just the news and commentaries alone on the prodigals of the SSPX or the errant nuns of the LCWF should be all you need to search out to get a feel for what I mean.

Worse, in an effort to grab readers, the commentaries are often as incendiary as the struggle between the Fox News Network and MSNBC. We’ve got Good Catholics over here vs. Bad Catholics over there in an epic struggle to sell more rosaries and pilgrimage trips to your favorite devotional spot on the planet? Not to mention conferences, and books, etc. Oh, you don’t think so? Only the MSM battles for ratings in the struggle to sell more stuff?

Maybe we’re all just so concerned with saving folks souls, that we miss the big picture. Then again, it may look like we’re a heap of heartless Pharisees that have been blinded by planks in our own eyes. I mean,  think of how it looks from the perspective of someone outside of the Catholic bubble. Charitable? Tug-of-wars like these is why theologian Karl Rahner, SJ said (way back in 1959), “it is no wonder, then, if people outside identify Christianity with the ghetto, and have no desire to get inside it; it is the sheer grace of God if anyone ever manages to recognize the Church as the house of God.”

Time for a quickie prayer: Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner!

Max Lindenman noted recently that it seems like every six months or so, something scandalous pops up to make him feel like jumping ship, never to return. Things are like that outside the Catholic bubble too, you know. I remember after college, when I eventually settled into a management position (after bailing from the stock brokerage gig), the same eerie frequency of biennial scandal occurred, like clockwork. Someone from Finance, who you never would have suspected, got busted for embezzlement; a truck driver with long tenure got caught stealing freight, etc., etc. It’s like ‘ol Qoheleth was inspired to say long, long ago, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Our fallenness is always with us.

Most of the stuff that happened, though, didn’t really effect me or my operation directly. It was more like noise in the background, like much of todays news here in the bubble. When it did impact me directly, the situation had to be dealt with promptly, because quite frankly the show had to go on. The work must continue. Freight still needed to be hauled, picked up, and delivered. No time for endless reflection at Sir Topham Hat Trucking. Call in Human Resources and keep the wheels rolling.

So I have a suggestion I would like to whisper to you today in my best impersonation of a National Public Radio announcer. Imagine  Terry Gross  from Fresh Air saying the following:

If all the reports of the tug o’ war between the Righteous Righties on the Right is making you feel sea sick, or if chasing unicorns with the Lascivious Lefties on the Left makes you recoil in horror, I suggest you unplug, take a break, and go get some fresh air. Have a margarita, and remember why you are Catholic for the long run. Remember the meaning of the word. Remember that the life of the Christian is a vocation, not an easy street.

Okay, back to your regular voice. Perhaps you are starting to feel like the bumpkin who got sold a bill of goods in the stock market, and has been had. It always looks like a great idea until you put your money in there, right?  And then next thing you know, POOF!

Speaking of the stock market, that is exhibit A for how the negative effects of reacting to the news works, see? Think of your retirement account again.  And don’t give me any guff about how you’re not interested in anything as gauche as the profit motive. Because if that is true, why are you a Christian at all? Because aside from the daily palliatives that the Sacraments provide, which help us to make it through this vail of tears as it is (thank you LORD), they also bring the big payoff of eternal life. That is what’s in it for you, when it is all said and done. Saavy? St. Peter himself said so, and he knows, man, because he was an alien just like us.

But St. Peter was also the first successor to the Founder of the Greatest Investment Company ever, the Catholic Church (giving shares away cheap, since day one). And in one of his first shareholder meetings, he reminded investors that the only news worth paying attention to is the Good News.

Buying the Gospel cheap is the easy part. It’s the holding of the shares for the long-run that is hard. John Meynard Keynes, a famous economist (vilified by conservatives, and yet, a very successful investor in reality) gives us some good advice for sticking the journey out,

The modern organisation of the capital market requires for the holder of quoted equities much more nerve, patience, and fortitude, than from the holder of wealth in other forms.

Otherwise, you’ll wind up being Tweety Bird like the lads sing of here,

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Next time you get to feeling like a canary in a coal mine, maybe spend some time speaking with our friend, Christ the Lord.  He is our friend, you know. He said so right after the Last Supper. Speaking with him like a friend in need can provide a lot of comfort, either in the adoration chapel, or walking around the block getting some fresh air.

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  • Joanne K McPortland

    Great stuff, Frank. And wise counsel. Right now I have to go put on my seasickness bands, strap myself to the mast and just keep sailin.

    • Frank Weathers

      Odysseus approves of that course of action.

  • Dee

    I am new to your blog, but yours is FAST becoming one of my very favorites. God bless you!

  • http://NewAdvent Tom Coffey

    You have obviously been affected by too much NPR–or is it ‘The police”? In any event, if you say your rosary everyday with devotion , all the” catholic news” won’t throw you a bit–

  • Don

    “But St. Peter was also the first successor to the Founder of the Greatest Investment Company ever, the Roman Catholic Church” I thnk you meant to say “Catholic Church”. Or are all the Eastern Catholic Churches not part of the deal? Although I am Roman Catholic, I’ve become aware that equating Roman Catholic with Catholic can be demoralizing to those of the non-Latin (Roman) rites. Otherwise an excellent and timely reflection. Thank you for your writing!

    • Frank Weathers

      Good point Don. Edited the post accordingly. I love the Eastern Rite Catholics!

    • Kyriakos

      ‘Roman Catholic’ Church is the official name of the Catholic Church and not the official name of the Latin Church.Check the Catechism of the Catholic Church if you have a doubt. I am an eastern rite Catholic by the way. This is not the first time I have corrected some on this.

  • John

    A sane approach to the insanity that seems to be growing at an exponential rate all around us. Notice I said “seems.”

  • Lisa Graas
  • Lisa Graas

    P.S. Resisting the urge to investigate this so that I can go do laundry and take my Prozac.

    • Frank Weathers

      Don’t go there, girlfriend! :D

  • Holly in Nebraska

    I finally hit the wall with the LCWR.
    There is a great article at Catholic Answers entitled Liberate Yourself from E-Slavery by Christopher Check that addresses catholic blogs in part:
    “St Augustine identified this human failing long ago….He called it the lust of the eyes. Our desire to know about these things only drives us further from the divine because they crowd our imaginations when our imaginations should be filled with the contemplation of God. As long as I stay plugged into the noise, the flashing images, and the gossip, I do not risk facing the terrifying silence during which I would be forced to confront that which is most real–the state of my interior life.”