Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Charge Of The Lighten-Up Brigade

I and some others have noted with dismay a growing tendency of some Catholics (mostly younger) to simper and giggle about trivial doings and sayings of prominent Catholic leaders.  I noticed this first when a blogger (I won't name him) regularly featured Pope Benedict XVI's pictures on his blog and asked readers to supply a caption.  Either the Pope had an unusual expression on his face or was undergoing some harmless mishap.  Because that was really quite harmless I paid no attention to it, not wanting to waste my time.  But recently some not-so-harmless manifestations have blazed their ways through the blogosphere.

In August, during the World Youth Day event, we were treated to the less-than-edifying spectacle of a good number of bishops allowing themselves to be led in a dance by a gay-friendly choreographer.  See the below posts:

The comments on my posts (and on facebook and other blogs) were most telling.  A common theme through some of them regarding the bishops (and of Pope Francis with his "selfie") was that "such things are good for they show us that the bishops and pope are human".   What??!?!  Why, oh why, do we have to be shown that they are "human"?  What else would we think they are?  Frog-monsters from a swamp?  Visitors from Mars??  And since when is "being human" intrinsically tied up with shedding dignity and carrying on like escapees from the city zoo?  Have we become that shallow and superficial?  News flash!  Silliness and unbecoming behaviors are NOT benchmarks of authentic humanity, humility or joy!  They are certainly not appropriate for those bearing the indelible marks upon their souls that are conferred with the administering of the Sacrament of Holy Orders; why do some crave such behavior from our clerics??

As an "aside" for those who are waxing mournful that I find nothing "positive" to say about this dancing episode, I have not one - but TWO positive things to say!
  1. I am delighted that on this occasion, Fly wore some clothes.  As mentioned in my previous posts, sometimes Mr. Fly works "in the buff".
  2. I am most grateful that the bishops weren't led in their line-dance by Miley Cyrus; else we might have had to endure the sight of twerking bishops!
Yippee!  Yay!  Now let's move on.

Then there was the "tale of the selfie".  A "selfie" is a cell-phone picture that one takes of him/herself.  It is accomplished (with varying degrees of success) by the person holding his/her phone in their extended arm, turning the camera on his/herself and pressing that button.  On one occasion, Pope Francis posed with such an individual and some others and a reasonably successful picture was taken.  This person posted the picture on his/her social sites and it went viral.  And so began the "giggling and simpering" that I mentioned at the top of this post.

This picture was posted on a Catholic group's site on facebook by one of the group's administrators.  He asked "too cool or too casual"?  I voiced the latter opinion and all wrath came down on my head.  I was called "joyless", "puritan", "miserable Catholic", etc (two others were treated similarly).  Then the main group administrator chimes in, warns the three of us to cease "attacking the pope", without addressing the ad hominems against us.  She made plain that the intent of the post was to "lighten up the heavy atmosphere" and with all the intensity that would have been the admiration of any Marine drill sergeant, chastised those of us who voiced opinions that differed from the "lighten up" mindset - never mind that our opinions were solicited.  I immediately left that group.  However, a clear "take-away" from that experience is that often those who focus on the trite stuff seem to  expect a great deal of ritualistic "group-think" - and heaven help you if you don't tow the happy-clappy party  line!

More recently there was another facebook discussion around the faulty La Repubblica interview.  It was reported that Eugenio Scalfari did not record his interview with the Pope and based his writing on memory.  I'm sure it was faulty.  The lead comment on that discussion implied that the Pope was exonerated because he may well have been misquoted.  I replied that while that may have been the case, the Vatican had opportunity to review the thing before publication, and that after publication the article was reproduced on the Vatican website.  I concluded from those last two facts that the Vatican did indeed have a some culpability in the promulgation of the faulty message.  I was chided not to "ensnare the Pope" or "attack him".  While in this thread there wasn't nearly the degree of acrimony as in the other facebook group, the attempts to discourage realistic and objective thinking abounded.

It was in this last thread particularly that I saw a bit of scolding of traditionally-minded pro-life Catholics.  I think in one of my posts I linked to an interview by Raymond Arroyo.  Robert Royal makes the same point.  Couple that with a strange desire on the part of some to be scolded (perhaps from an unhealthy desire for "mortification") and we will see a dangerous trend of traditional Catholics shutting themselves up to "get along".  Perhaps it's merely a desire to "be liked" or "be nice".  Such behaviors do have elements of cult-like thought-reform tactics to them, and if traditional Catholics don't stand up to those who scold them (but won't say diddlely-squat to real progressives), they will not only allow their voices to be silenced but they could find themselves irreparably harmed.  I for one refuse to buy this nonsense that "Pope Francis is teaching us a new way to reach out".  That last statement clearly has the stench of 1960s clap-trap all over it.

On Friday I posted a piece on the dangers of "being nice" and flirting with sentimental theology.  And of course the Vortex is often sounding the clarion call against the insidious "church of nice".  In other words, let's cease indulging our teeny-bopper cravings for warm-fuzzy (and superficial) sentiments in regards to our Church leaders.  The next time you see someone (even yourselves) indulge in silly crap just to "lighten up" you may wish to reconsider, lest you undermine the Church as she strives to preach the Gospel to save souls from hell.

1 comment:

  1. We live in a world where adult children often live with their parents into middle age, where many marriages down't last as long as the time spent planning it. Where commitment is a joke to bandy about at the coffee shop. So none of this is very surprising. Lots of folks are permanently stuck in adolescence (or pre-adolescence). I'm with you, Janet. We need some grownups who know when to take things seriously. Bur the "lighten up" crowd should follow their own advice when it comes to disparaging those with whom they disagree. Or chill out.


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