In Brief

In Brief April 30, 2011

For the second time in a couple of weeks, I’ve read about a family returning to the Catholic Church.  In both cases, theological issues and issues of liturgy were of no importance to the decisions.  This would be unremarkable except for the fact that both persons were quite educated on both topics.  A common theme for both conversions was the universal commonality that Catholicism afforded.  I am Catholic because I and my people are Catholic could easily enough be the sentiment.  Oddly enough, solidarity with one’s people tends to be absent among on-line Catholics.  Loathing, contempt, and embarrassment are more often offered at the common Catholics.

Speaking of loathing, we have Reverend Know-It-All’s parody letter.  A representative gem of that letter would be:

They rent the hall and then go see the priest. He tells them there are four other weddings that day and they respond, “but we’ve rented the hall already.”

I always thought fiction should have some basis in reality.  Given four dates, the first through fourth reception halls are more likely to be rented than the church reserved.  Illusions of grandeur I suspect.  This whine and moan format is followed throughout.  About the only thing more annoying than a bride being a petty narcissist is for her priest to be one.   I’m sorry Father, but it isn’t all about you either.  Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but the Church has managed to screw up the marriage business so badly that virtually no couple has a firm foundation to believe an annulment sought would be denied.  Our latest celebrity convert is bragging about how his adulteress brought him into the church.


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15 responses to “In Brief”

  1. Hey M.Z. I wouldn’t mind if you did a follow up posting about how from your perspective the Church has screwed up marriage including source material/links that say such. That’s quite a strong opinion with regards to a sacrament so hopefully the concerns are just as striking.

    The only general thing (besides bridezilla) I’ve read about in other blogs/publications is that the sacramental aspect of marriage is virtually a one hour/lesson to non-existent part of marriage prep courses that are mandatory for couples getting married in the Church.

  2. “Oddly enough, solidarity with one’s people tends to be absent among on-line Catholics. Loathing, contempt, and embarrassment are more often offered at the common Catholics.”

    Spot on…and evident on Catholic blogs of all persuasions. Interesting to speculate on why this is so.

    **Could it be that on-line Catholics are more engaged with issues of religious identity and therefore more drawn to affirming their own tribe and deconstructing the other tribe?

    **Could it be that the contentiousness of on-line Catholic discourse is incompatible with the irenic impulse that seeks solidarity with the full breadth of the tradition?

    **Could it be that the Catholic on-line enterprise is disproportionately male and loathing is positively associated with testosterone?

    **Could it be that on-line conversations are relatively more congenial to binary thinkers than ‘both/and’ thinkers, with the former more inclined to underline sharp differences and the latter more drawn to the search for commonalities?

    **Could it be that The Great Hypocrisy Hunt is particularly fun on-line since you don’t have to look the target in the eye? “It’s fun to laugh at a hypocrite, and recent years have given Americans a great deal to laugh at…Scandal is great entertainment because it allows people to feel contempt, a moral emotion that gives feelings of moral superiority while asking nothing in return. With contempt you don’t need to right the wrong (as with anger) or flee the scene (as with fear or disgust). And best of all, contempt is made to share…Tell an acquaintance a cynical story that ends with both of your smirking and shaking your heads and voila, you’ve got a bond.” Jon Haidt,

  3. “Not to put too fine a point on the matter, but the Church has managed to screw up the marriage business so badly that virtually no couple has a firm foundation to believe an annulment sought would be denied.”

    Regarding the statement quoted above, I would like to see a Pope (bishops and clergy,as well but I believe that would be dreaming) who was interested in hearing from respondents who have found the nullity process to be less than satisfactory.

    There is no shortage of stories of how “healing” annulments are. There is no escaping those who are affiliated with tribunals, in one way or another, who voraciously defend them. There is no avoiding the endless seminars and various methods of advertising the availability of annulments as well as their not being as costly as “people think”.

    But I wonder, would any of you readers or contributors at Vox Nova be curious about how those who have chosen to defend their marriages might feel regarding, not just their particular experiences within the tribunal system but their experiences pastorally with respect to their marriage, their spouse(the petitioner{the person who sought to substantiate that their marriage was invalid from the start}), their divorce and, especially if the respondent is successful at defending their marriage, how they feel about their lives after being divorced(what if they were divorceD unilaterally and against their will), having to face a nullity process(perhaps also against their will) and having to watch, so often, their spouses, who are frequently openly in adulterous relationships, which may have been the driving force for the divorce and the nullity from the start(Newt?), be fully accepted and integrated into the Catholic Church(in all but a Catholic wedding), even as the abandoned spouse remains faithful and is open to reconciliation(which is actually, if the Church believed its own teachings, what should be strongly encouraged and, perhaps enforced with pastoral and canonical enticements)?

    Or, should the opinions of those who have defended their marriage be ignored?

    Have any of you read or heard of the Church making any real sustained efforts to reach out to such people? I honestly would like to know.

    Besides the Retrovaille Movement, I would like to know if any of you, who are deeply involved in Church ministry with close ties to bishops or with marriage ministry in a directly pastoral way, especially, post divorce, have knowledge of (please not conjecture or opinions regarding efficacy) formal attempts by the Church to strongly encourage reconciliation, either on a personal level by a bishop, a canonist, a priest or a pastoral associate or through a program designed to do the same?

    Please, do think about these questions.

    Thank you.

  4. On-line Catholics area funny bunch. They spend half their time praising the Church, and the other half tearing it down, saying how most Catholics are heretics, most bishops are cowards, how most liturgies are sacreligious, etc. Someone really needs to give these people a lesson in marketing. This attitude is not surprising, since conservative ideology in this country is basically the same thing: my country is the greatest, and would be even greater if it wasn’t for our “socialist” president, liberals, freeloaders with EBT cards, government workers, the national debt, Hollywood movies, the whiny unemployed, pop singers, the abortion “holocaust”. tree-hugging environmentalists, peace activist nuns, gays, illegal immigrants, rap, ingrown toenails, and armadillos. But all of those things are only “American in name only”. Get the picture?

  5. Arturo:

    Not sure I get the picture. Aren’t ‘we’ on-line Catholics too? Certainly our parade of grotesqueries is different from ‘theirs’ but I think the style of demonization is remarkably similar across the spectrum.

  6. Well, I know in the Boston area that church weddings have declined dramatically in recent years. One way you can tell is that, if you are someone with the habit of going to confession on Saturday afternoons, there is much less chance of running into exiting nuptial parties than there was 10 years ago.

    A bonus feature of avoiding Church weddings for Catholics is that they can easily procure an annulment (for lack of form) if the marriage turns belly-up. I suspect that is being regarded more as a feature than as a bug these days.

  7. On one level it is just silly to lament the state of the church. The church doesn’t really care about your opinion. We have a tendency to want to place some cosmic significance to our individual choices.

    As far as the everyday plane, the work toward the common good cannot and never will be an intellectual exercise. If going to a parish where everyone thinks all the right thoughts and does all the rights things doesn’t leave a significant mark upon society then the odds are that a parish that some wrong things and messes things up every now and then isn’t going to be the end of the world. Where desire for something better and an exercise in vanity begin and end I don’t know.

    I’m to the point where I don’t care all that much about particulars. I do believe that a church should serve the community it is in. I don’t think a parish should engage in the petty narcissism of believing that it has arrived or that all its people are going to heaven. Of course that problem is prevalent in all the boutique churches anyway, so I don’t see them as a refuge for that problem.

  8. Not giving a rip about particulars is fine and good…a lot of the time. But live long enough, and you come up against circumstances in which particulars matter, and matter A LOT. And yes, marriage is one of these. Although many (mostly the young and financially independent) may not care whether they’re married or not, many more want “the paper” because they need to know the precise parameters of their lives: what is allowed and what is not, what, within reasonable limits, can they count on? Then, of course, there’s death. If there is a God and a judgment waiting after the painful trauma that accompanies this last, painful “fact of life,” believers need a great many particulars– what exactly can they expect? How should they prepare? What if they get something wrong? If the Church doesn’t have specific answers when specificity is required, what good are aesthetics and/or a sense of “solidarity” along the way?

  9. This IS off-subject, but when I went to the link about Newt Gingrich’s “conversion” I saw the idiot priest who take The Newt seriously actually quote The Natural by Bernard Malamud, says that it was a bad novel but was made into one the best baseball movies ever………..Ithink a full investigation of Father Z’s sanity, followed by his being stripped of his priestly faculties, is in order.

  10. I always thought fiction should have some basis in reality.

    You don’t think this happens? A couple who hasn’t really thought about the religious aspect of a marriage, makes time and money commitments before checking with the priest? I’m sure it happens all the time.

  11. “bragging about how his adulteress brought him into the church”…

    Sort of like the way King David’s adulteress brought him to repentance and forgiveness before God and man?

    Should we not be CHEERING for her and for him coming into the church, rather than criticizing?

    Where is your charity?

  12. I’m a big fan of Reverend Know-it-all. He’s got a goofy style, but he makes some great arguments. I thought his critique on the modern wedding ceremony was spot-on.

    The online (anything) community is more caustic and divisive than the real-life (anything) community. As Catholics, though, we have to remember our responsibility to be one.

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