The Lepanto Institute and the Battle of Droop Mountain Memorial Suspension Bridge

The Lepanto Institute and the Battle of Droop Mountain Memorial Suspension Bridge February 16, 2017


Well, that escalated quickly.

Over the past couple of days, the Lepanto Institute’s Facebook page put up two memes, each muddling social justice and giving to the poor with the sin of Judas. I dialogued with the first meme myself the other day.  The other meme implied that social justice and giving to the poor was the reason modern churches are so ugly, even though a modern design is just as expensive as a Baroque one. The meme coined the hashtag #Judaschurch to refer to ugly modern churches. In doing so they insinuated, intentionally or not, that people with bad taste don’t actually worship Christ, and that those who find themselves at an ugly church for Liturgy one Sunday are taking part in a desecration rather than a liturgy.

There were quite a few comments on the latter post, and most of them were pretty offended. I was among them; I love the Latin Mass but I’m Eastern now, and Eastern Catholics think that the whole idea that a church without an iconostais could ever be “traditional” is funny, and I said so. There were people who objected to the idea that ugly churches are in schism or worse. There were people who pointed out that modern architecture does not save any money. There was one commentator who pointed out that the photograph of the ugly modern church in the meme was actually a Lutheran church, so the whole thing didn’t work on any level. Some mentioned that giving to the poor in no way suggests that we neglect aesthetics as well. Saint Bernard’s objection to ornate churches was brought up, and ignored. My friend Chase posted a painting of the true historic hero of the Battle of Lepanto, an Austrian named Don Juan who wore poofy mid-thigh-length shorts with pink tights.

So, the Lepanto Institute got a lot of objecting comments. Do you know what I call it when that happens to me? Tuesday. Do you know what the Institute called it? An attack.

Today, they posted an article entitled “We Are Under Attack!” complete with the histrionic exclamation point.  In this article, Lepanto begged for donations twice and spewed a lot of guff about the #JudasChurch, this time not only meaning people who go to ugly churches but everyone who objected to their memes for any reason. Everybody who dislikes the Lepanto Institute is a #JudasChurch to them. And the only thing that will soothe the feelings of the Lepanto Institute is monetary donations toward their valuable work.

So, what is the work of the Lepanto Institute? What, specifically, is their institute? Are they a school of some sort?

No, that’s not what the Lepanto Institute is.

What service do they perform? Do they donate money to tacky churches so they can redecorate? I’d pledge to that.

But that’s not what The Lepanto Institute does.

Do they sent catechists to churches to teach the real definition of social justice, so that nobody will presume it’s a marxist thing ever again?

Nope. As far as I can see on the website, The Lepanto Institute does not catechize children.

What does The Lepanto Institute do?

I read the “about us” statement on their snazzy website. Apparently they’re “a research and education organization dedicated to the defense of the Catholic Church against assaults from without as well as from within.” Okay, how do they defend Holy Mother Church?

They write about things. “The Lepanto Institute was created to present the facts regarding organizations that claim the name Catholic or even Christian, but are acting in opposition to the teachings of our Blessed Lord and His Holy and Immaculate Church.”

They do research about stuff, and then they write the research down and post it online. They have different categories for their posts, be they “NewsRoom,” “blog,” “research” and so forth, but all they do is write articles. And by “they” I mean “he,” because as far as I can tell, the whole institute is just one man, Michael Hichborn, who mentions that he’s available to speak at “events.”

In other words, The Lepanto Institute is… a blog. A blog that does research about other organizations and then “exposes” them as really pushing birth control, and a blog that makes fun of ugly churches and implies that they worship Judas.

And Michael Hitchborn is… a blogger. A blogger who’s not very good at analogies or memes.

And then it hit me.

You know who else is a blogger?

I’m a blogger.

I research stuff. I make fun of stuff.

But I’ve been going about it all wrong.

The real way to run a blog, is to be ridiculously pretentious about it. I thought I was pretty pretentious but I’m not even close to pretentious enough.  You’ve got to give yourself a name that makes no sense. Name yourself after an historic battle and a useful object you don’t possess, like an “institute.”

Very well then. From this day forward until I get tired of it, which will probably be only a couple of days, this blog shall be known as “The Battle of Droop Mountain Memorial Suspension Bridge.”

And what does the Battle of Droop Mountain Memorial Suspension Bridge do? We seek to defend all that is holy, decent and aesthetic by writing about stuff. Sometimes we write positive reviews of good movies.  Sometimes we write pannings of bad movies. Sometimes we write poetry or fiction. Often, we write about news and politics, and we do so badly. Sometimes we write memoirs, and sometimes we write religious meditations.   All of this with the aim of talking about stuff that needs to be talked about and having a good time, not to mention finding the Heavenly grace hidden in our everyday experience. As I say incessantly, everything is grace!

Oh, but my brothers and sisters, the Battle of Droop Mountain Memorial Suspension Bridge is under attack! Someone said something mean to me just the other day. There are actual human beings out there, calling themselves Catholic, who don’t like my blog, I mean suspension bridge. Some of them even point out my mistakes! Some of them accidentally call me Steel Magnolia! And Wal Mart stopped selling gluten-free blueberry bakery muffins!  You can help with this by slipping me a tip: either clicking on the button on the side of the page or, if you’re on a cell phone, by scrolling up to the “donate” tab on top of the page. It’ll be awesome. I’ll pray for you all the way to the bank. Seriously, I do pray for my donors.

Or, if you can’t donate this month, no hard feelings; just read and enjoy and point out my mistakes (gently, if you would be so kind).

But let’s not take ourselves too seriously, shall we?

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