Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cum Grano Salis

The other day Father Robert Barron (Word on Fire) came out with a video about using figures from pop culture in the work of evangelization. To my mind, it seemed more like he was still smarting from a scolding he mentioned that his mother had given him the previous Sunday at brunch for quoting some rowdy rock guitarist in his homily. His plea in favor of quoting populare names reminded me of a serious discussion of some point made by Bultmann that I read recently in a von Balthasar book. I had remembered all those theology lessons in seminary discounting Bultmann, to the point that I couldn't understand as a student why any self-respecting Catholic would read him. With the point made by von Balthasar I finally understood that the man had had at least one thing to say that was worthy of attention. Bultmann was never pop culture but he was an authority at least in some theological circles that could focus the analysis of a common issue. Popular names can be a meeting point for seeking truth, even if they are not orthodox or properly approved authors of decent character.

I also have watched two of Michael Voris' videos on location this week in the Philippines, in both of them with his hair combed forward right over his eyes (he should stick to audio and radio!). Michael is "no quarter to the enemy" and "approved authors" or none at all. Regardless of their common Catholicism, I suspect they would need a mediator for any sort of effort between them. Father Barron's mother would probably have advice on how Michael should cut his hair and no doubt she'd also demand some manners of him when speaking about his Protestant neighbors, regardless of their heresies. Just as it is for her son, Fr. Robert, so also for our man, Michael, he says nothing wrong but at least in Michael's case, it'd be awkward to invite him to a neighborhood barbecue.  

I'm thinking today not so much of either man's message, but of the dynamics of similar situations and as they play out in two recent events: in all of the controversy over Dr. Peters' canonical analysis of the matter of refusing Holy Communion to the younger Cuomo politician (pro-abortion and flaunting his cohabitation) and the recent Sunday demonstration in front of the Chicago Cathedral of the GLBT "outrage" generally in the world over our holding and teaching our Catholic Faith in support of marriage as it is in natural law and as it forms the cornerstone of society always and everywhere. Why are people, who should be capable of orderly thought, uncomfortable with Dr. Peters' analysis? Why do people hesitate to state clearly that the social disestablishment of marriage and family is not an option: one man, one woman united in an unbreakable and exclusive bond of life and love, which is open to children and for their benefit? Marriage is what it is and society has no reason to want to regulate any other kind of relationship as no other can bring forth children; no other is better suited to raise happy and well-adjusted children.

Why are people apologetic or embarassed over things that are simply so: in one case, the law; in the other case, the truth about the world? 

No one who enters politics thinks of avoiding intense, yes exaggerated, public scrutiny. It would seem that contrast between Church and those who walk the corridors of power has always been part of the game. Some of our Catholic martyrs in Europe won their colors conscientiously opposing Catholic monarchs. I'm not wishing Dr. Peters the crown of martyrdom, but I'm exhorting all those out their who are less grounded in their faith than Fr. Barron's mother to take a cue from history and show less sympathy for those who play Catholic on their own terms. The Church and our children deserve a better example of what the Second Vatican Council taught about the role of the laity in the public square. I cannot set my own terms or conditions for being Catholic or demand that the Church support me in open misbehavior or contempt for its laws.

In defence of marriage, let me drop another name and quote a reprint from the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. I received it as a gift and a precious one it is. It is entitled "What is Marriage?" and co-authord by Sherif Girgis, Rober P. George & Ryan T. Anderson (Volume 34, Number 1, Winter 2011). The article is 43 pages long and very understandable. Here is the conclusion:

"Marriage understood as the conjugal union of husband and wife really serves the good of children, the good of spouses, and the common good of society. And when the arguments against this view fail, the arguments for it succeed, and the argument against the alternative are decisive, we take this as evidence that it serves the common good. For reason is not just a debater's tool for idly refracting arguments into premises, but a lens for bringing into focus the features of human flourishing."

In the 2nd Reading for this Sunday, St. Paul speaks with indifference about the judgment of earthly tribunals and exhorts one and all to faithfulness as Christ's stewards. Before the judgment seat of God it will no doubt be less important whether we stepped on anyone's toes (courage, Michael!) and important to explain ourselves in terms of what we have done or failed to do in defense of the truth which comes from God about life, love and ultimate happiness.

properantes adventum diei Dei

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