They have a value you can’t see

They have a value you can’t see October 16, 2018

• Edmund Waldstein is a Roman Catholic priest. He writes about “What it is Like to Celebrate Mass” because it is the most important thing in his life and he wants others to understand why it is so important to him.

Don Reto’s “holy fear” of what he did in offering Mass made him completely fearless about other things. The latest chapter of the unending scandal of sexual abuse in the Church has once more revealed how much corruption there is among priests and bishops. Don Reto was one of the few who was utterly fearless in denouncing such corruption. He had an Old Testament prophet’s hatred for people who used the Church as a façade for their own selfish ends. He was eventually dismissed from the theological college for what was called a “habit of suspicion” towards Church authorities. Sadly, subsequent events have only confirmed his suspicions.

… To try to celebrate Mass with one’s whole heart is also to be filled with a desire to combat corruption in the Church. As a Catholic priest, the abuse scandal in the Church is given an extra edge of horror to me by the fact that the abusers were priests, supposed to have consecrated their lives to the Holy Sacrifice. What they did instead was the exact opposite. Instead of “this is my body offered up for you,” they essentially said, “this is your body, which I am going to take.” That fills me with anger. It makes me angry to think of altar boys who found in priests not an inspiring example of sacrificial dedication (as I did), but instead horrible betrayal and abuse. And it makes me angry that bishops and popes were not angrier when they heard about these abuses. These are men who celebrate the Mass every day. How could they fail to boil over with righteous anger at these evil priests who perverted their priesthood into its opposite?

• I know what matters most to Fr. Waldstein. But I’ve read this profile of evangelical pastor Nick Hall three times and I still can’t figure out what’s most important to him.

“While some condemn Hall for toeing the line between confronting injustice and religion, it is necessary in order to keep the church together,” Kelly Frazier writes. “He can’t manage to impress the youth with social outcries without causing issues with older members.”

I recognize all of the words in those two sentences, but I am still unable to understand what they might possibly mean, or why Frazier seems to think of this as a good thing.

That depressing story reminds me of a much better one, often told by Tony Campolo: “Once I found out what bothered them people, I preached the same message every Sunday. It didn’t take much time before I had that church preached down to four.”

Or consider this from the newly canonized Oscar Romero:

A church that does not provoke crisis, a gospel that does not disturb, a word of God that does not rankle, a word of God that does not touch the concrete sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed — what kind of gospel is that?

Just nice, pious considerations that bother nobody — that’s the way many people would like our preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny subject so as not to bother anyone or cause conflict and difficulty shed no light on the reality in which they live.

Fat Bear week is so much cooler than shark week.

The culture wars have always been a war against culture. This is why we have, on one side of the divide, culture warriors, while on the other side there is simply culture:

At the start of the Cold War, a prominent group of women, who had worked their way up in broadcast media in the 1930s and ’40s, were poised to use the new medium of television to create the kind of inclusive, intersectional content that is only today finding traction. Then, the blacklist, a vicious, hearsay-riddled manifest of Hollywood talent with ties to Communism, silenced their creative output. It effectively turned back on the dial of progressive representations on TV by decades.

• America’s white religious right really loves them some European ethno-fascists.

• The public hasn’t been allowed to see what occupation Donald Trump lists on his tax returns, but before he became a politician, he was usually described as a “real estate developer.” That’s a fancy, more-respectable New York City term for landlord. That’s Donald Trump’s whole career — taking the fortune his father made as a slumlord and using it to try to buy enough respectability to be called a “landlord” or a “real estate developer.”

The fact that anyone voted for this specific landlord is specifically dismaying, but it’s also dismaying at a more general level: You voted for a landlord. You said to yourself, “Yes, landlords should rule. Let’s put a landlord in charge.”


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