The Gettysburg Acceptance Speech

Four years ago I and I alone brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Bigotry, and dedicated to the proposition that rich white men are created better. It’s that German blood. Good stuff.

Now we are engaged in a great lie campaign, testing whether that nation, or any nation so deceived and so prostituted, can long endure me. We are met on a great battle-field of some war or other. We have come to desecrate a portion of that field, as a final insult for those who here gave their lives that I might spit on their graves. It is altogether in character that I should do this.

But, in a larger sense, I can not devastate– I can not contaminate — I can not profane — this ground. The obscene cult of liars who worship me, living as my slaves and dead from COVID parties, have desecrated it, far above my poor power to add or detract. My Cult will little note, nor long remember what those buried in this earth did here, but it can never forget what I do here. It is for them the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which I who poison and disgrace this place have thus far so ignobly advanced. It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these dishonored dead we take increased devotion to Me, for which my Cult will give the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead and all the Americans I shall yet kill with Pandemic have died for Me, Me, Me alone — that this nation, under Trump, shall have a last death of freedom — and that domination of the oppressed, by Me, for Me, shall not perish from the earth.

On the Smearing of Gloria Purvis

One of the habits of American racists is to always make sure their victim is murdered twice.

For years, this has typically been done by means of the “S/he was no angel” tactic.

It works this way: A victim such as George Floyd is murdered by the cops, often in plain view of somebody with a camera where you can literally watch the killer kill his victim while he begs for his life.

Then some excuse (the victim had a drug record, or “resisted” being murdered, or was once arrested, or some other damnable smear) is put forward to say that the murder victim deserved to be murdered in cold blood by the cop.

The idea is that that the murder was really just justice catching up with the victim, who had it coming, because what imperfect person does not deserve cold-blooded vigilante murder, especially when brown? Had he not had those unpaid parking tickets or been caught with that doobie in his car five years ago or moved so fast in producing his concealed carry license, this killing might have been technically “murder”. But now we see that the cops who killed this victim were just doing the gritty work of frontier justice somebody has to do in the mean streets filled with such animals.

Case in point: Rod Dreher’s recent act of murdering George Floyd again.

Shorter Dreher: Terrified man expected to be killed and was killed. So it was his fault for being terrified and resisting being killed. What else could his murderers do but kill him?

Naturally, this was elaborated on even more crudely by Austin Ruse, professional “prolife” MAGA Qatholic:

Image may contain: text that says 'Austin Ruse @austinruse Replying to @moreywrites and @amconmag Everything you've been told about George Floyd is a lie. He was a drug addled skell who brought on his own death 10:16 AM 05 Aug 20 Twitter for iPhone'

What Ruse–a prominent figure in Opus Dei circles who is never ever challenged as a massive public scandal by his paymasters and enablers–means is that people with addiction issues deserve to be murdered by police, a remarkable position for somebody who professes to care about the “sanctity of human life”. It goes without saying that this does not apply to addicts like Rush Limbaugh but rather to brown people. Because, oh you know:

Austin Ruse – SIMCHA FISHER
Austin Ruse – SIMCHA FISHER

In addition to addiction issues meriting summary execution, the idea is to lie that a black murder victim was a) a chronically unemployed “skell” [Floyd had a job right up until he, like millions, lost it to COVID] and b) for this reason he also deserved to be murdered by police. He had it coming. He brought it on himself. He wasn’t murdered–and now let’s murder him again.

This pattern of murdering MAGA victims twice does not just apply to physical murder. It also applies to the murder of their reputation and good name too.

Case in point, the double murder of the good name of Gloria Purvis. Gloria, you may recall, was originally cancelled by the Guadalupe Radio Network, which distributed her show Morning Glory for EWTN.

The original excuse given by GRN was this:

During these last couple of weeks we have heard a “spirit of contention” growing among the Hosts live on-air. Yes, it is a difficult subject and can become a spirited one for sure. However, it has become more and more awkward and uncomfortable to listen to. Attached are 2 “sound bites” from shows that aired on June 17th, and June 25th. We feel it is clear that there is a real disconnect among the team, becoming more and more obvious, and we feel that should be addressed. We do not feel that this type of exchange is edifying, nor is it clarifying for anyone, especially a Catholic radio listener who wants clarity. You can hear the full shows for both June 17th and 25th at the following links https://www.ewtn.com/radio/podcasts/morning-glory-~HD.

“Spirit of contention” is, of course PiousSpeak for “being an uppity black woman”. The reason for this unjust reprisal was simple:

Never before have we received as many complaints about any EWTN show as we have about Morning Glory as of late. Our efforts to try and correct the situation before were not successful. So, we felt we had no other option other than to temporarily suspend airing this program.

The unfounded and uncharitable accusations hurled at GRN, without the facts, have been terrible. As you well know, Satan is the father of lies. Unfortunately, that is what is happening here in this situation – lies are being told, and spread around, on the internet about us. We hope you will help in sharing the true story!

Our decision to temporarily stop carrying the program was not made lightly but was made after a LOT of prayer. Again, it is our hope that the “Morning Glory” team will be able to come together to correct the contention of the show to be the program that we have always loved to air across the GRN.

In other words, their MAGA donor base demanded they shut down the uppity black woman and GRN cowardly complied, while whining that they were the real victims.

Gloria, who is nothing if not classy, gracious and deeply Catholic, responded with her customary grace and class to this outrageous unjust act of gutless cowardice:

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That was a month and a half ago and GRN continues to punish her for being intelligent, classy, and perfectly right. Meanwhile, her cause continues to spread and the heat has gotten more intense on GRN suckupery to the MAGA cult as the NY Times does a piece on Gloria and the behavior of this miserable pack of cowards is expose to broad daylight.

So how does GRN react? By murdering her again, of course. Now, when challenged on their unjust treatment of Gloria, they don’t merely wave their hands about a vague “spirit of contention”. They declare that she is, in fact, “not even in alignment to Church teaching”:

Image may contain: text that says '11:41 Messages mobile. com Sprint PM 66% Toyaall tome, GRNONLINE Hillary, thank you for contacting the Morning Glory show. hope that the Morning Glory team EWTN come together to correct divisive tone the program taken. Attached official statement and couple from show that really are not even alignment to Church teaching. God bless and join us in this prayer please. "May the Lord bless you and keep you. Numbers Toya Vice President Guadalupe Radio Network'

Permit me to say loud and clear that this is an absolute lie. Not word she has said and not a thing she has done is out of alignment with the Church’s teaching. What is radically out of alignment with Church teaching is GRN bearing false witness against her in order to murder her reputation again with lies after having murdered it once with insinuations.

Now all that’s necessary is for the racist MAGA cult to back up GRN with more piling on, like this:

…and the whole “She’s no angel” character assassination strategy can go into high gear yet again as decent people supporting her somehow become a “mob”.

The thing is, that strategy doesn’t work as well as it used to, because decent people are on to it, call it out, shame it, and push back. Dreher got huge blowback for his smear of Floyd. Ruse only play in the dark corners of the increasingly crazy and dwindling readership of CRISIS!!!!. Meanwhile, Gloria Purvis continues to gain an audience while these white supremacists try to hide from disinfecting sunlight.

Learn to spot and call out this tactic on double murder beloved by the MAGA cult. Call it out whenever you see it. Help as many people as you can build antibodies against it. Don’t let the victims of this bullshit have suffered and died in vain.

Gloria Purvis Does Prolife Right!

Gloria Purvis shows how it’s really done, because she has integrity, is fully Catholic, and therefore is not full of crap. She writes:

Two weeks ago, I watched as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a Catholic, took to the House floor to give an account of how fellow Congressman Ted Yoho, also Catholic, verbally abused her.

He failed to exercise self-mastery in the face of her ideas, which he called “dangerous.” So he spoke to her and about her in a way that is contrary to their shared faith, our shared faith. He spewed hateful vulgarities and demeaned her person.

I related to Ocasio-Cortez’s experience, as I have had otherwise good Catholic men verbally abuse me for my ideas while others, like Rep. Roger Williams in the case of the altercation with Yoho, stood by silently. 

Although my ideas on race and the human person align with church teaching, they fell short of some Catholic men’s approval, and so they shouted, howled and insulted me for my “extreme” ideas and for what they perceived as not being winsome in delivery. How could any good man, much less a serious Catholic man, behave this way?

I agree with Ocasio-Cortez that there is a “culture of impunity, of accepting violence and violent language against women … an entire structure of power that supports [it].” I say this from not only personal experience and seeing how other women are likewise treated for their opinions, but also because of the way women’s minds and bodies are treated in our culture — a culture that can infect even the best of our Catholic men in their weakest moments.

While Ocasio-Cortez is not responsible for Yoho’s heinous words or Williams’ cowardly silence, she, in my opinion, supports policies that underpin a culture of violence against women. In her piece on criminal justice reform, she reminds the reader to “not forget the guiding principle of ‘the least among us’ found in Matthew.” With that guiding principle, I encourage her to rethink the praxis of reproductive rights.

In May 2019, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “When women are in control of their sexuality, it threatens a core element underpinning right-wing ideology: patriarchy. It’s a brutal form of oppression to seize control of the 1 essential thing a person should command: their own body.”

The feminist critique of patriarchy says it is a destructive human relationship based on domination and coercion and therefore is absent of love. That critique also says that in healthy human relationships everyone has rights, everyone’s needs must be respected, and no one should fear subordination or abuse. If Ocasio-Cortez agrees with this critique, I implore her to extend that healthy human relationship to include our unborn daughters, the least among us

If Ocasio-Cortez is to be the future of the Catholic Church, as a previous NCR opinion piece asserts, she must broaden her vision of life issues. It must be a vision that encompasses true love and liberation for all members of the human family, especially the unborn.

Ocasio-Cortez championed a Green New Deal for the good of the environment. But Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rightly asked, “How can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn?”

In “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis additionally notes, “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

Ocasio-Cortez needs to examine, in light of her faith, what it means to be in control of our sexuality and our bodies. Who benefits when we terminate the lives of our daughters in our wombs? How does choosing this control over the bodies of our unborn daughters undo patriarchy?

If patriarchy involves an abuse of power and a domination of women, what is revolutionary about the violence that abortion does to women’s bodies and the bodies of our unborn daughters? What is revolutionary about the psychological trauma that the violence of abortion inflicts upon women? How does abortion teach men to be decent rather than encourage them to be Lotharios?

It is not sufficient that some say that women benefit, too, from abortion. Abortion simply passes on the domination of another to the weakest in the family relationship, the unborn daughter. Abortion does not liberate women from the patriarchy; it simply severs a man from his obligation to the mother and their unborn daughter.

It is worth noting that Purvis writes this, not in the National Catholic Register, one of the centers of MAGA Qatholicism in American Catholic media, but in the National Catholic Reporter, which all righteous Qatholics agree is secretly pro-abortion and dedicated to the subversion of the True Qatholic Faith they themselves embody in their ceaseless war on the Holy Father, the Magisterium, the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and very nearly all the actual members of the Church throughout the world, as well as nearly all non-Catholics (except the ones who believe and profess there is no god but Trump and Limbaugh is his prophet).

Gloria is an African-American Catholic who has stood up for Black Lives and argued vigorously for the justice of the Civil Rights movement that white conservative MAGA Catholics hate and fear and fight. Because of this, she has been punished and ostracized by EWTN’s biggest affiliate as having a “spirit of contention”, which is PiousSpeak for “being uppity, black, and female”. Nothing daunted, she presses on and keeps speaking truth to MAGA racism. She is very clear that a Catholic consistent ethic of life fights for the dignity of all human life, not just those lives useful to Trump and the GOP crime syndicate.

She is, in a word, not full of crap.

And because of this, she can make the case for the defense of preborn human life to AOC without the stink of lies, cynicism, cruelty, and selfishness on her breath that overwhelms the entire witness of the MAGA cult every time it opens its filthy lying mouth to again use the unborn as human shields for all the evils it really cares about.

This does not mean that AOC and those in her camp will be able to hear the powerful logic of her argument instantly. That argument is, after all, almost unheard of among the “prolife” community, who much prefer selfishness, lies, sadism, racism, cruelty, and death and only talk about the unborn as human shields for all that. Expecting people of integrity on the Left–scandalized by years and years and years of ugliness, lies, and cynicism from the MAGA cult–to instantly drop their guard because of one person–and that person reviled by the “prolife” MAGA cult itself for being an uppity black woman–is a lot to ask.

But she nonetheless shows us the way forward. May her tribe increase and may we one day be rid of the hypocritical MAGA freak show that now dominates the obscene parody that is currently–in overwhelming percentages–dominating what is laughably called the “prolife” movement.

A Follow-up on Pope Donald’s Excommunication Bull Against Biden

On Friday, I was feeling a bit whimsical and so chose to make light of Trump’s attempt to read Biden out of the Christian fold by turning it to a discussion of Patripassianism. Of course, I no more think Trump guilty of a conscious heresy there than I think my granddaughter guilty of vandalism when she fingerpaints on the wall. Trump is too stupid and ignorant to be held accountable for what he says on such matters to be seriously charged with heresy. I just thought it would be fun to talk about this obscure quarrel from the early Church because I am a theonerd and this is my blog.

Trump is not, however, too stupid and ignorant to be held responsible for deliberately whipping up conservative Christian Pharisaism. This demagogue knows that his conservative Christian base hungers for Democrats it can charge with being enemies of God because it is filled with diabolical pride. His predatory instincts tell him that. Nor are the whipped-up Christians who eat up his demagoguery with a spoon above accountability for the evil they do. On the contrary, “Those to whom much is given, much will be required” and the Christians who choose to cast Biden out of the Church on the basis of this man’s words will be held responsible by God for their actions.

So let’s talk for a moment about what was done last week, for it bears directly on matters the Catholic faith is all about.

Here’s the relevant stuff:

Forget the obvious disinterest Trump actually has in anything remotely having to do with God. His weird conflation of guns and God makes that clear. This is nothing but political red meat for the sort of American theopolitical piety that thinks this is religious art:

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What interests me is not the memes circulated by your pious aunt from Cleveland, but rather the poisonous lie pointed out here and the zeal with with Qhristians and especially Qatholics believe and spread it in direct contradiction of their Faith:

Jesus commands me to judge the fruits Trump and his cult of true believers bear

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. (Mt 7:15–20).

The fruits of Trump and his cult are bad. And one of the worst is the ease with which this cult kicks people out of the Christian fold and exiles them from God.

Look. You can disagree all you like with Biden on his typical support for the typical pelvic issues that lots of average Catholics fight with the Church about. I do. But calling the man “against God” and claiming that he seeks “no religion” is just a stupid stupid lie. His piety is perfectly obvious and genuine as far as it goes. He himself says that God got him through the deaths of those he loves and it takes a special kind of arrogance and heartlessness to declare that a lie. In contrast to the millions of combox bishops in their paper mitres who are always so eager to drive the sinner away from God, here is an actual shepherd–Pope Benedict XVI:

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In 2016, Donald Trump called Pope Francis “disgraceful” for saying that “a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” The Pope, who really does have the authority to make such judgment calls, did not specifically name Trump, but the shot across the bow was noticed by Trumplethinskin, who declared:

“No leader, has the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”

Naturally, this liar for whom accusation is always a form of confession now does what he declared no one can do. And instead of listening to the perfectly reasonable warning of the Pope, the MAGA cult, as ever, makes war on him to defend a cynical demagogue as he kicks his enemies out of a Church to which he does not belong.

The Qhristians and, above all, Qatholics who are playing the dangerous game of sitting in judgment of Biden’s soul and reading him out of the Church from their perch of spiritual superiority should really be thinking hard about Uncle Screwtape’s comments about them, because they are placing their own souls in grave danger.

All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?” You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is! Handle him properly and it simply won’t come into his head. He has not been anything like long enough with the Enemy to have any real humility yet. What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these “smug”, commonplace neighbours at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can.

And for what? A sex predator who raises the funding for Planned Parenthood every year of his Administration while you lie that he the Most Prolife President in the History of Ever, shags porn stars while his third wife gives birth, kidnaps and disappears children out of racist spite, betrays our troops to Russia-paid bounty hunters, criminally neglects his duty to the common good in a Pandemic, mocks POWs and Gold Star families, mocks the disabled, and declares that he needs ask no forgiveness from God?

That’s the guy you make your mouthpiece for declaring Joe Biden excommunicate from the Christian fold? What the hell is wrong with you?

Trump is Trump and will tell these transparent lies because it’s what he does. The real stain is on the Greatest Christians of All Time who know better but choose to believe and spread these transparent lies. They prove definitively that a con man does not succeed by lying, but by getting his marks to lie to themselves and all those around them. Instead of peering into Biden’s soul and kicking him out of the Church proud Pharisees while he is on his knees mourning his beloved dead before God, why not ponder these two words from Our Lord as you believe and spread lies about a fellow sinner?

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (Jn 8:44).

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 18:10–14).

Remember the words of the Good Thief, because they are true of all of us: “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?” (Lk 23:40).

Biff Tannen Gives his American History Report to the Class

Dumb rich kid who promised the wimpy kid money for doing his homework and then always threatened to have his toadies beat him up when he asked for pay demonstrates his world-historical stupidity for audience of helpless captives called “America”. He is an idiot’s idea of a smart man, a fool’s idea of a wise man, a weak man’s idea of a strong man, an apostate’s idea of a devout man, and a coward’s idea of brave man. Never has such an unworthy wretch disgraced the Presidency.

Standing Tall Against Rank Heresy

As you may know, I am writing a book on the Creed, so I feel it is particularly a duty of mine to sniff out any whiff of heresy.

Yesterday, President Trump gave a speech which alerted me to just such a threat in the American body politic and I feel I must, of course, speak out:

Did you catch the shocking heresy?

I’m sure all Good Christians are as upset as I am about President Trump’s dire warning that Joe Biden is trying to “hurt God”. No good Christian can sit still while this kind of rank heresy is being committed by a man who not only supports Planned Parenthood but even claims to be a Christian!

I speak, of course, of Patripassianism, the heresy President Trump flagrantly committed when he claimed that God can be hurt.

Recall that heresies pertaining to the relationship of the Father and the Son took various forms. 

  • For instance, Gnostics–particularly the followers of Marcion in the second century–saw the Father as the evil God of the Jews and the Son as the good God who came to rescue us from him. Irenaeus was the great champion who argued against them in his Adversus Haereses.  He re-asserted the basic Christian truth that the Father and the Son are good and that they love, not hate, each other.
  • Sabellians taught that God was one Person wearing three different hats: God the Father before the Incarnation, God the Son during the Incarnation, and God the Holy Spirit after the Ascension.  They ignored the fact that the Biblical text makes distinctions between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and shows them in relationship with one another.  So, for instance, at the Baptism in the river Jordan, God the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).  Likewise, the Son prays to the Father, not to himself (Luke 10:21-22) and speaks of the Holy Spirit as a person distinct from himself and the Father (cf. John 16:12-15).
  • Patripassians similarly destroyed the distinction between the Father and the Son and insisted that the Father suffered on the Cross as Jesus.

The paradox of the Church’s condemnation of Patripassianism is that it reveals a God who is capable of sharing in our trials (in the Son Christ Jesus) and yet who remains, in his divine nature, perfectly happy. God the Father can no more be hurt than a squirt gun in my hands can put out the sun.

I find that deeply consoling. The good news of the Christian revelation is that we have a savior who can both share in the depths of our suffering and to whom we can relate, but also a God who remains perfectly happy in his deity. As I wrote in The Work of Mercy some years back:

It is even more comforting to know that God the Son endured the worst suffering and won through to Resurrection, promising that same grace and power to us, if we will remain in him. But here’s the paradox: the other part of the gospel’s comfort is the strange doctrine that God the Father is “impassible”. That is, he is not subject to suffering or affliction and cannot be moved by the emotions that move us.

That seems problematic. Doesn’t it contradict what I just said about the bureaucrat without experience sitting in a far-off room? Strangely no. Because comfort comes not merely from knowing that others have suffered as you have, but that they have come through their suffering to the place where “the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). In our affliction, what we want is not only to have somebody suffering beside us, but to know that there is someplace where all this pain and horror loses its power. Sam Gamgee is a comfort to Frodo in his affliction because, like Christ, he stands beside him and even carries him in the struggle across the Plains of Gorgoroth and up the purgatorial slopes of Mount Doom. But Sam’s comfort comes when, like Christ, he casts his gaze on the place where the troubles of this world cannot reach:

Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.

The good news of the “impassibility” of God is like that. There is a perfect happiness in God that the devil cannot ever harm or even touch. To be sure, God Incarnate “was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Yet the miracle of the thing is that it was for the joy that was set before him—the joy of the impassible Father who is pure happiness—that Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God (cf. Hebrews 12:2). Something in our nature conforms to this. We are comforted in our affliction by shared suffering. But we require, as well, the anchor of hope that there is, somewhere, a place far above the cloud-wrack where we shall find the joy that is not—and cannot be—touched by the suffering we face here. It is exactly that paradox that moves St. Paul to remind us, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

Mistakes vs. Sin, Teachable Moments vs. Culture War

People often said dumb things to Jesus. Sometimes it was strangers, demanding dumb stuff like “Tell my brother to share the inheritance with me”. Sometimes it was disciples, asking whether now would be a good time to call down lightning on some enemies. Indeed, Jesus’ disciples were often amazingly dumb, driving mothers and kids away because who would bless these brats? Certainly not them, so surely Jesus wouldn’t either. Or asking, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Or commenting on Jesus’ warning to “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees” that “It is because we have no bread.”

Jesus’ patience with the ignorant and the dumb seems to be limitless, just so long as they mean well. Because he really does love us. His anger (and even that is ordered toward redemption) is reserved only for the wilfully malignant.

I mention this because last week somebody who clearly tries to do a great deal of what Jesus commends in terms of loving the least of these, said something dumb. And the responses to her mark the difference between a Catholic and a Qatholic outlook.

The person making the dumb remark was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In brief, she wandered around the Hall of Statues in the Capitol and remarked that statuary was dominated by whites. Her point–a perfectly reasonable one–was that the capitol of of a representative democracy should have statuary that represents all its people, not just the white ones.

Everything would have gone fine except that she made a critical mistake–mistake, mind you, not sin. For while she was remarking on the racism and colonialism the statuary represented, she pointed her camera at a statue of St. Damian of Molokai, one of the greatest saints to ever ornament the Church, the state of Hawaii, and the United States of America. He served the lepers of Molokai in the 19th century, living among one of the most forsaken people on earth and eventually becoming a leper himself.

There is zero evidence AOC bore the slightest hostility toward–or knowledge of–St. Damien. It was, at the very worst, an inept and awkward blunder made in the course of a legitimate and noble argument. A Catholic actually interested in catechesis and in building bridges would have leapt at this moment as a chance to tell St. Damien’s story to AOC–what with her being a Catholic who is clearly passionate about mercy and compassion for the least of these–and (as Priscilla and Aquila did with the partly ignorant but fully passionate Apollos) to “explain the way of God more adequately” so that she would both learn her faith a bit better and also do her honest and legitimate work of fighting racism better without laying herself open to attack.

Alas, almost no Catholic (with the exception of Simcha Fisher and a few others) thought to take that charitable approach.

Instead, as is nearly always the case, conservative media was filled with the cries of Qatholics who smelled blood in the water and massed for the attack.

It reminded me of the remark of Talleyrand, a man once described as “dung in a silk stocking” whose moral assessment of a situation was “It was worse than a sin: it was a mistake.”

In other words, the Qatholic response has not the slightest interest in AOC’s education or redemption or the common good she so clearly was seeking with her little Instagram. What they saw–the only thing they saw–was a chance to destroy a hated enemy. So the cry went up and the hounds spent a few days screaming the falsehood that AOC hates a great saint and is making war on the Church and all the rest of the BS the right wing lie machine is skilled at pumping out with its daily diet of Panics du Jour.

Catholics seek ways to bear witness to Christ even when they are sitting in a Philippian jail washing their bleeding wounds or nearly getting killed by a mob.

Qatholics seek ways to destroy people who are open to the teaching of the gospel if they pose any threat at all to the real object of their devotion, Donald Trump and his crime syndicate.

Sin is never essential

So here is Prager U accidentally saying the quiet part loud about what they really believe about the American experiment:

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'accidentally left-wing @accidental_left PragerU 2.7M subscribers Premiered 11 hours ago SUBSCRIBE Young people are enamored with "anti-racist" rhetoric because they think they are fighting racist systems in America. The TRUTH is they are fighting America itself and the very values the country was founded on. Dennis identifies the best thing we can do to help.'

Cardinal George of Chicago once remarked that in America, everybody is a Calvinist, including all the Catholics.

He was kidding, of course. But he was also on to something: namely, that Catholic culture is like tofu. It tends to take on the taste and smell of the culture in which it is immersed. America is, both for good and ill, a Calvinist and post-Calvinist culture, including its atheists. It retains its sense of Puritan mission even when it no longer worships the Puritan’s god. We are convinced we are a city on a hill. We are certain we always know what’s best for everybody. And we resent being told to repent our sins because that interrupts us when we were just about to tell everybody else to repent ours. We retain the Calvinist believe that sins is sexual, not financial or monetary. And that extends even to sins of owning other people.

The taint of Calvinism doesn’t just stink up Catholic culture. There are Jewish Calvinists too, like Prager.

The theological mark (and error) of Calvinism is belief in “total depravity”. This is the conviction that sin is the constituting fact about the human person rather than the fact that they are made in the image and likeness of God. That is what lies (in every sense of the word) behind Prager’s remark here. Because what he is saying is not that sin is a tragic reality of our history, but rather that sin is an *essential* reality of our history–that it is not merely normal, but necessary.

There is nothing in Judaism, which does not even have a doctrine of original sin, that necessitates saying this. And there is, of course, nothing in apostolic Christian theology that requires it. On the contrary, Catholic anthropology emphatically rejects the idea that sin is ever necessary. As James says:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. (James 1:13-18)

Theologically, the idea that God creates us to be sinners or makes us sin or commit evil is to say that God does evil. The faith rejects this. God is good. God is love. He wills our good.

But when we do evil by, among other things, enslaving people and profiting for centuries by it, it becomes fatally easy for us to start lying that the evil things we do are not evil but part of the Grand Design that God blesses and that to attack this Structure of Sin is to attack God and his will that our victims suffer so that we can be blessed.

All of which is to say that Prager’s grotesque insistence that racism is a constitutive virtue and not the original sin of the American founding against which every American is bound to fight is a lie.

Strong Medicine from Frederick Douglass and C.S. Lewis

Here are two passages I ran across recently. The first is from Frederick Douglass and is perhaps the single most damning indictment of American Christianity’s capacity for combining gooey piety and demonic brutality and oppression ever written:

I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes,—a justifier of the most appalling barbarity,—a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds,—and a dark shelter under, which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection.

Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. For of all slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and basest, the most cruel and cowardly, of all others.

It was my unhappy lot not only to belong to a religious slaveholder, but to live in a community of such religionists. Very near Mr. Freeland lived the Rev. Daniel Weeden, and in the same neighborhood lived the Rev. Rigby Hopkins. These were members and ministers in the Reformed Methodist Church. Mr. Weeden owned, among others, a woman slave, whose name I have forgotten. This woman’s back, for weeks, was kept literally raw, made so by the lash of this merciless, religious wretch … His maxim was, Behave well or behave ill, it is the duty of a master occasionally to whip a slave, to remind him of his master’s authority. Such was his theory, and such his practice.

If Douglass’ description of racism-justifying piety sounds troublingly familiar, its’ because far too many pious Christians still use the same lies, particularly the lie that people demanding civil rights for the brown are really part of an anti-Christian conspiracy.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Jenna Ellis @JennaEllisEsq I'm going on record now: If they try to cancel Christianity, if they try to force me to apologize or recant my Faith, I will not bend, I will will not waver, will not break. On Christ the solid Rock stand. And I'm proud to be an American. Eugene Scott @Eugene_Scott The fact that so many conservative Christians have interpreted many people's desire eradicate white supremacy a precursor canceling Christianity America is incredibly telling...'

The people who talk like this lady suffer from the narcissism that plagues MAGA Qhristianity. Everything is all about them. When somebody cries, “Help! I’m suffering!” a normal person capable of empathy says, “What can we do to help this person?” A narcissist responds, “Don’t blame me! You’re just saying this to get sympathy! Stop attacking me!”

People trapped in such a mindset are incapable of caring for others and incapable of doing the painful work of “fearless moral inventory” to so much as find out if they have any sins they need to repent.

Interestingly, C.S. Lewis saw a good deal of the problem back in the middle of the 20th century, from the perspective of an Irishman living in the ruins of the postwar British Empire. Here and in Out of the Silent Planet (among other places) he laments the devastation European (and American) colonialism and racism have visited on the witness of the gospel:

I am inclined to think that we had better look unflinchingly at the work we have done; like puppies, we must have ‘our noses rubbed in it’. A man, now penitent, who has once seduced and abandoned a girl and then lost sight of her, had better not avert his eyes from the crude realities of the life she may now be living. For the same reason we ought to read the psalms that curse the oppressor; read them with fear. Who knows what imprecations of the same sort have been uttered against ourselves? What prayers have Red men, and Black, and Brown and Yellow, sent up against us to their gods or sometimes to God Himself? All over the earth the White Man’s offence ‘smells to heaven’: massacres, broken treaties, theft, kidnappings, enslavement, deportation, floggings, beatings-up, rape, insult, mockery, and odious hypocrisy make up that smell.

What particularly interests me about Lewis’ hard-nosed approach is its insistence that nothing less than clear-eyed, head-on confrontation with the fact of our being accomplices with sin–and of the benefits we continue to derive from denying that–is what is necessary to heal the suppurating wound.

Lewis knows his Shakespeare and understands that without a “firm purpose of amendment” then we are just Claudius at our prayers and that we, like him, have killed our brother, stolen his life, and are clinging to our ill-gotten gains. We have to make restitution or we full of hooey. Claudius is more honest than the racism-justifying piety of a ton of American Qhristianity and Qatholicism:

Qatholics and Qhristians more offended by Kaepernick kneeling on a football field than by cops kneeling on the neck of their murder victims, who keep insisting that they owe nothing to a population whose exploitation and abuse has benefited them and continues to benefit them in a thousand ways are less honest than Claudius because he, at least, admits that his words without thoughts never to Heaven go, while the Greatest Qhristians of All Time lie that they are better and holier saints than the Pope and consider themselves, in their abject denialism, sent by God to save the Church from him in order to glorify a massive white supremacist crook in the White House.

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What I love about Lewis is that, though he is unsparing in his demand for what AA calls a “fearless moral inventory” he is also insistent that if we screw our courage to the sticking place and let God crucify our addiction to sin (in whatever form it takes) we shall find peace and happiness on the other side of that death we undergo in God’s hands. This scene from The Great Divorce beautifully illustrates Lewis’ faith (and experience) of “dying to self”. It applies not simply to the sexual sins the character struggles with, but to the sins of racism Lewis speaks of above and to the sins of pride with which he grappled. There is no sin that cannot be redeemed and turned to glory, if we will only let grace in:

I saw coming towards us a Ghost who carried something on his shoulder. Like all the Ghosts, he was unsubstantial, but they differed from one another as smokes differ. Some had been whitish; this one was dark and oily. What sat on his shoulder was a little red lizard, and it was twitching its tail like a whip and whispering things in his ear. As we caught sight of him he turned his head to the reptile with a snarl of impatience. ‘Shut up, I tell you!’ he said. It wagged its tail and continued to whisper to him. He ceased snarling, and presently began to smile. Then he turned and started to limp westward, away from the mountains.

‘Off so soon?’ said a voice.

The speaker was more or less human in shape but larger than a man, and so bright that I could hardly look at him. His presence smote on my eyes and on my body too (for there was heat coming from him as well as light) like the morning sun at the beginning of a tyrannous summer day.

‘Yes. I’m off,’ said the Ghost. ‘Thanks for your hospitality. But it’s no good, you see. I told this little chap’ (here he indicated the Lizard) ‘that he’d have to be quiet if he came – which he insisted on doing. Of course his stuff won’t do here: I realize that. But he won’t stop. I shall just have to go home.’

‘Would you like me to make him quiet?’ said the flaming Spirit – an angel, as I now understood.

‘Of course I would,’ said the Ghost.

‘Then I will kill him,’ said the Angel, taking a step forward.

‘Oh – ah – look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,’ said the Ghost, retreating.

‘Don’t you want him killed?’

‘You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.’

‘It’s the only way,’ said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the Lizard. ‘Shall I kill it?’

‘Well, that’s a further question. I’m quite open to consider it, but it’s a new point, isn’t it? I mean, for the moment I was only thinking about silencing it because up here – well, it’s so damned embarrassing.’

‘May I kill it?’

‘Well, there’s time to discuss that later.’

‘There is no time. May I kill it?’

‘Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please – really – don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.’

‘May I kill it?’

‘Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.’

‘The gradual process is of no use at all.’

‘Don’t you think so? Well, I’ll think over what you’ve said very carefully. I honestly will. In fact I’d let you kill it now, but as a matter of fact I’m not feeling frightfully well today. It would be most silly to do it now. I’d need to be in good health for the operation. Some other day, perhaps.’

‘There is no other day. All days are present now.’

‘Get back! You’re burning me. How can I tell you to kill it? You’d kill me if you did.’

‘It is not so.’

‘Why, you’re hurting me now.’

‘I never said it wouldn’t hurt you. I said it wouldn’t kill you.’

‘Oh, I know. You think I’m a coward. But it isn’t that. Really it isn’t. I say! Let me run back by tonight’s bus and get an opinion from my own doctor. I’ll come again the first moment I can.’

‘This moment contains all moments.’

‘Why are you torturing me? You are jeering at me. How can I let you tear me in pieces? If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me – before I knew it? It would be all over by now if you had.’

‘I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?’

The Angel’s hands were almost closed on the Lizard, but not quite. Then the Lizard began chattering to the Ghost so loud that even I could hear what it was saying.

‘Be careful,’ it said. ‘He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams – all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent…’

‘Have I your permission?’ said the Angel to the Ghost.

‘I know it will kill me.’

‘It won’t. But supposing it did?’

‘You’re right. It would be better to be dead than to live with this creature.’

‘Then I may?’

‘Damn and blast you! Go on, can’t you? Get it over. Do what you like,’ bellowed the Ghost: but ended, whimpering, ‘God help me. God help me.’

Next moment the Ghost gave a scream of agony such as I never heard on Earth. The Burning One closed his crimson grip on the reptile: twisted it, while it bit and writhed, and then flung it, broken-backed, on the turf.

‘Ow! That’s done for me,’ gasped the Ghost, reeling backwards.

For a moment I could make out nothing distinctly. Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialized while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man – an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinnying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled.

The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse’s neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other’s nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I knew well what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains. Then, still like a star, I saw them winding up, scaling what seemed impossible steeps, and quicker every moment, till near the dim brow of the landscape, so high that I must strain my neck to see them, they vanished, bright themselves, into the rose-brightness of that everlasting morning.

While I still watched, I noticed that the whole plain and forest were shaking with a sound which in our world would be too large to hear, but there I could take it with joy. I knew it was not the Solid People who were singing. It was the voice of that earth, those woods and those waters. A strange archaic, inorganic noise, that came from all directions at once. The Nature or Arch-Nature of that land rejoiced to have been once more ridden, and therefore consummated, in the person of the horse. It sang,

The Master says to our master, Come up. Share my rest and splendour till all natures that were your enemies become slaves to dance before you and backs for you to ride, and firmness for your feet to rest on.

‘From beyond all place and time, out of the very Place, authority will be given you: the strengths that once opposed your will shall be obedient fire in your blood and heavenly thunder in your voice.

‘Overcome us that, so overcome, we may be ourselves: we desire the beginning of your reign as we desire dawn and dew, wetness at the birth of light.

‘Master, your Master has appointed you for ever: to be our King of Justice and our high Priest.

‘Do ye understand all this, my Son?’ said the Teacher.

‘I don’t know about all, Sir,’ said I. ‘Am I right in thinking the Lizard really turned into the Horse?’

‘Aye. But it was killed first. Ye’ll not forget that part of the story?’

‘I’ll try not to, Sir. But does it mean that everything – everything – that is in us can go on to the Mountains?’

‘Nothing, not even the best and noblest, can go on as it now is. Nothing, not even what is lowest and most bestial, will not be raised again if it submits to death. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Flesh and blood cannot come to the Mountains. Not because they are too rank, but because they are too weak. What is a lizard compared with a stallion? Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.’

The biggest problem the American Church faces is that it fears the first death far more than the second, it wastes time worrying being persecuted, not about being seduced persecutors, preferring to inflict suffering on others rather than repent the seductions of money, pleasure, power, and honor. Its sufferings are nearly all due to the profound spiritual poverty this has caused it.

Actions have Consequences: COVID Edition

So last week, Msgr. Charles Pope, who has downplayed, belittled, and berated Catholics for taking COVID seriously was diagnosed with COVID. I join my prayers with many others for his swift and complete recovery. I pray, even more, that he repent the incredibly scandalous Qatholic folly he has promoted to the endangerment of his life and the lives of some many of the flock.

Dawn Eden Goldstein speaks the hard truth that just because you are a victim does not mean you cannot be an irresponsible and selfish person who endangers himself and leads others to endanger themselves and to selfishly spread the twin diseases of COVID and selfishness:

We are punished by, not for, our sins. I do not believe for one second that God “gave” Msgr. Pope COVID as a “punishment”. God gave him and the rest of us responsible people, good science, and sane and simple things to do–like wearing masks. But for some insane reason having entirely to do with Qatholic ideology and nothing to do with Catholic theology, lots of Catholics deliberately choose to engage in high risk behaviors and therefore to court completely foreseeable and completely avoidable consequences for themselves and the people around them about whom they clearly do not care.

The irony is breathtaking:

Image

And when you state these common sense fact out loud, the Party of Personal Responsibility–which stands ready always to gloat, “That’s what you get!” when somebody loses their home for failure to pay rent in the midst of the worst economic catastrophe of our lifetime, which demands poor families somehow provide for multiple children but demands they do so by begging on GoFundMe, and which sneers at considerate people as cowards for looking out for their vulnerable neighbor–shrieks that you are “gloating” over the misfortune of people like Msgr. Pope.

Because they always project their own sins on their culture war enemies.

Here’s reality: it is not “gloating” to hope that a massively irresponsible shepherd learn some elementary facts about science, about the common good, and about caring for his neighbor instead of encouraging politicized Qatholics to selfishly spread both disease and contempt for quiet, humble, considerate brothers and sisters.

I will freely confess frustration with the Qatholic cult of hostility to science, contempt, and the common good. But what I want of them–what all sane people want of them–is not that they sicken or die, but that they just do a tiny bit of what Jesus asks, take up their masks and follow him.

God grant Msgr. Pope and the rest of his followers and admirers the wisdom to at long last do the minor things God asks of them out of consideration for others, and a long life to practice Catholic, not Qatholic, piety.