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Alessandra Stanley, NYT TV critic recently reviewed the new HBO series Girls, which she writes is the “much anticipated comedy about four single women in New York.”  I have not and will not be watching that show but I found Ms. Stanley’s review of it rather enlightening.  What she finds to be the theme of Girls is that “[t]he economy fluctuates, neighborhoods blossom or decay, but men never cease to disappoint.”

Some 40 years after the sexual revolution, all this sex, immorality, and “freedom” for women has failed to improve the lives of young women at all!  Basically, Stanley declares the sexual revolution and feminism to have been an absolute unmitigated failure;  well, okay, she doesn’t actually declare that, but it is really her point:

Lena Dunham’s much anticipated comedy about four single women in New York, which starts on Sunday night, is worth all the fuss, even though it invites comparisons to Carrie Bradshaw and friends, and even though it incites a lot of dreary debate about the demise of feminism. There are obvious parallels between “Girls” and that earlier HBO series, but the theme of female friendship and romantic disappointment stretches back long before, all the way to the early 1940s and Mary McCarthy’s first novel, “The Company She Keeps.”       

One reason that “Girls” is unsettling is that it is an acerbic, deadpan reminder that human nature doesn’t change. There was a lot of sex in the ’60s, but not much sexual revolution. For all the talk of equality, sexual liberation and independence, the love lives of these young women are not much more satisfying than those of their grandmothers. Their professional expectations are, if anything, even lower.

That’s right, feminism is dead and despite all the sexual escapades, the lives of women have not improved.  Based on this television show, the lives of twenty-something women are unsatisfying, humilating…in fact, downright debasing.  The characters include the lead, Hannah who is described by Stanley as “unpleasant in ways that are only occasionally endearing” and a “parasite sponging off her parents,” and Jessa who “is a sexual free spirit but not particularly joyful.”  These girls are being portrayed as having all the fruits of the women’s movement, being freed from the expectation of marriage and motherhood they are free to pursue careers, relationships without commitments, and self-interested hobbies and leisure activities.  Why then are the young women of Girls so unpleasant, selfish, unambitious and unhappy?  Could it be that the fruit produced by the radical feminist agenda is not as sweet as we have been (repeatedly) told?

Perhaps becoming self-aware halfway through her review, Ms. Stanley admits that Girls portrayal of modern femininity might be seen as “a cautionary tale” but cannot bring herself to admit in print that this apparently accurate portrait has it’s underlying roots in the failure of the feminist movement and the sexual revolution.  Instead, she backs off her previous indictment and then takes a swipe at those of us who see and call the failure for what it is.  She sniggers:

The depiction of slacker life in New York, which includes tattoos, drugs, casual sex and abortions, is presented with wry humor, but it could easily be interpreted as a cautionary tale written by the religious right: the lifestyles of these modern women, untethered to responsibility, faith or morality, are parables that could scare Amish youth away from Rumspringa and wayward Mormons back into their temple garments.       

Har har, see what she did there?  She admits that all the drugs sex and abortions “could” be viewed as an indictment of the modern hedonism, but only by weird anti-cultural sects like Mormons and the Amish; you know, the “religious right”.  No rational religion would condemn all this sex and unhappiness, and the only good Christian for the Left is one that is shacking up with their significant other.  Only the fringe folks like you and me get all uptight about commandments and moral living.  I can hear her sniggering at her own cleverness, because of course nothing works better for the liberals like dismissing legitimate worries over the effects of immoral societies as dangerous fringe thinking.

One can guess what Ms. Stanley would make of the teachings of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, in which he correctly predicted the effects of contraception on the relationship between men and women. 

Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

I don’t know if Ms. Stanley as read Humanae Vitae, but maybe the writer and star of Girls, Leah Dunham has because the “liaison”-the, er, sexual hookup- between the lead character Hannah and a character named Adam is described by Stanley as “debasing”:

Adam lets her visit his apartment for sexual gratification — his own — and ignores her desires; most of his sexual fantasies seem borrowed from video games and porn videos. He is just as callous about her feelings…

Pope Paul VI predicted the outcome decades ago, and was vilified, and shamefully much of the vitriol was from the clergy and laity of the Church.  However, he was right.  Contraception and the freedom of the sexual revolution did not advance the cause of women.  We have become things, objects, tools.

Here we have a cable series that is being described by people who profess to know these things as “gritty”, an “honest romp the through New York City’s social landscape [sic]”, one Huffington Post critic going so far as to compare her twenty-something woman writer experience point by point to that of the Girls main character.  I will assume that the HBO show is then, basically reality for many 20-somethings and that makes me sad for them.  In a world in which these girls can have attachment-free sex at any time, can pursue careers and self-interest leisure activities freed of the burdens of matrimony and motherhood…well, aren’t they supposed to be happy?  Didn’t they get what they were promised would buy them happiness?  Based on Girls, it would seem not.  As Ms. Stanley of the NYT portrays it, these women seem to be selfish, debased, joyless, ambitionless, and unsuccessful. 

But what do I know?  I am a cave woman, expected to be barefoot and pregnant by my Neanderthal husband.  At least, I’m pretty sure that the staff of the NYT thinks so.

[note: for whatever reason, my original essay got eaten and I’ve tried to recreate it from memory.  It’s late now and I am bummed because my original was much better.  Perhaps my memory will improve with sleep and I’ll edit this tomorrow.]

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Here is today’s tearjerker.  Fox News Chicago had a heartwarming and surprisingly pro-Christian piece on a local homeless man who has been helping to support a down-on-her-luck  banker.    Craig Wall reports:

Chicago – A year ago, everything was going right for a woman we’ll call Sandy.

She had a good job at a bank in the suburbs.

She and her 10-year-old son had a safe home.

But then the world came crashing down around the 39-year-old. She lost her job. She lost her house. And she and her son moved into her truck. Police found her and DCFS threatened to take away her son if she didn’t find a safe place to stay.

She moved into a hotel with the help of a social worker who paid for a few nights stay with her own money. That’s when Sandy’s knight in shining armor showed up. And he’s kept showing up, every day, paying her hotel bill, so she and her son can stay off the streets.

But Sandy’s Good Samaritan isn’t a Chicago big shot. He isn’t living in a Loop highrise. He doesn’t even have a job.

Sandy’s Good Samaritan is Curtis Jackson, who’s been homeless since 2004. He pays for Sandy’s hotel room because she used to treat him with dignity and kindness when she did have a house — and he pays for it by panhandling and giving the money to her.

“All I can do is get out there and put a sign in my hand, or put a cup in my hand and ask people to help me out, and everything I get, except maybe bus fare and something to eat, I give it to her,” Jackson said as he stood at the corner of 55th and Harlem.

Jackson pays the nightly bill by pouring his bucket of change on the hotel counter. Since December, he’s raised $9,000, and he’s given it all to Sandy. He said sometimes 40, 70, a hundred cars go by before someone gives him a few pennies or a few bucks.

Sandy can’t believe it.

“I’ve donated to charities, I’ve helped other homeless families — never realizing that one day we’d be in this situation,” she said. “So thank God that we did have an angel waiting for us.”

Here is the best part of the article, read the wisdom contained here:

Jackson said he’s a man of faith; homeless, but not hopeless, and he’s got some words of wisdom for the people he sees bustling by every day.

“I have God. I’m one of the richest men on this earth, ’cause I have God,” he said. “Money is not my master. That’s what’s wrong with this world: money is its master.”

Sandy said she doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to repay Jackson, who’s become like a brother.

“I’m out here for a purpose: to help someone, and that’s all I’m trying to do is help someone that needs help right at this moment,” he said. “And once she doesn’t need help anymore, I’ll move on to something else.”

I read this story and I ask myself, “What purpose does God have for me?  Who is it that I am helping today?” 

God bless and keep Curtis Jackson.  May we use his example to become better follower’s of Christ Jesus.

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From the AP via msnbc.com:

An international series of protests known as SlutWalks, sparked by a Toronto police officer’s flippant comment …is taking root in the United States.

…SlutWalkers have danced to hip-hop, worn T-shirts with the word “slut” and held signs that read “sluts pay taxes.” Some women have skated around on inline skates in lingerie, while their male supporters wore shirts reading, “I love sluts.”

Billing their event as something for the “whole family”, organizers around the country are promoting “SlutWalks” to build awareness that “sluts pay taxes too,” and to the “slut shaming” that is apparently a big problem for all the um, sluts out there.  (Slut shaming, the Associated Press helpfully explains, is “shaming women for being sexual.” Thanks AP!)  I’m grateful to msnbc and the Associated Press for making me aware of this great injustice being done to people who, through fate or poor life decisions, are sluts and are being burdened with unwelcome shame.

There have been SlutWalks throughout the country (Dallas, Philly, San Francisco, Seattle).  They originated when a Toronto police officer advised a group of university students in a safety seminar to avoid dressing like sluts so as not to be victimized.  Apparently, this was incorrect advice and the officer has been reprimanded.  However, the outrageous comments of this Neanderthal barbarian has galvanized the previously silent slut population who are taking to the streets throughout North America.

Here is the 21 year old organizer of the Boston Slut Walk, (she must be sorta like a modern Susan B. Anthony)–

It was taking the blame off the rapist and on the victim,” said Nicole Sullivan, 21, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and an organizer of the SlutWalk planned Saturday in that city. “So we are using these efforts to reclaim the word ‘slut.'”

Well, good luck to all the sluts out there, reclaiming the word, “slut.”  It’s a shame (no pun intended) that the word ever got hijacked and used to describe, well, sluts.

The article contrasts these nationwide events with the Take Back the Night anti-sexual violence rallies, which are rather tame lame affairs in comparison.  Apparently, modern young women want to promote anti-sexual violence by dressing and dancing as, well…sluts.  And they have support among the more enlightened young men who proudly wear teeshirts and carry signs that say, “We love sluts.”  Yes, I imagine they do.

(At Take Back the Night’s official website, they don’t even have “We love sluts” teeshirts.  All they have are some boring “empowerment” and “break the silence” graphics.  *Yawn*)

In San Francisco, where the walk just developed “organically” (of course it did; isn’t everything in San Francisco “organic”?), the organizers think this would be a swell outing for daddies and mommies to bring the kiddos.

In San Francisco, SlutWalk organizers want to make their protest a family event.

“Singles, couples, parents, sisters, brothers, children, friends,” the SlutWalk SF BAY Facebook page announces. “Come walk or roll or strut or holler or stomp with us.”

So dress up your little girls as tiny sluts, pull a “I love sluts” teeshirt on dad and sons, and stomp on out to your local SlutWalk.  Because nothing, I mean nothing, deters sexual violence like running around in lingerie. 

You Satan will be so happy that you did.

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I saw this hilariously sad (or sadly hilarious) video linked over at Bad Vestments.  BV writes that this video explains why he started his blog (which is dedicated to bad vestments, naturally).

Anyway, by the time I got to “Skull Mass”, I spewed out my nose.  Ouch!

There is a Part 2, as well.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any good news coming out of Hollywood, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem of an article linked over at New Advent.   The Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, known to many as James Bond (and to me as Remington Steele), openly shares his faith with an interviewer, attributing good in his life to God and telling how his prayer life sustains him.  He credits his Catholic upbringing.

In an interesting new interview with RTE.ie to promote his patronage of the new Irish dramatic art academy The Lir, which will debut this fall at Trinity College in Dublin, Brosnan credits the power of prayer with guiding him through life’s ups and downs. 

“(Prayer) helped me with the loss of my wife to cancer and with a child who had fallen on tough times. Now prayer helps me to be a father, to be an actor and to be a man,” Brosnan told the Irish website.

“It always helps to have a bit of prayer in your back pocket. At the end of the day, you have to have something and for me that is God, Jesus, my Catholic upbringing, my faith.”

Pierce’s first wife, Cassandra Harris, died of ovarian cancer 20 years ago. The son they had together, Sean, was in a serious car crash a few years back in California, but luckily he survived and is thriving again.

Brosnan and his mother left his hometown of Navan, Co. Meath in 1964, when he was 12 years old, for greener pastures in London.  His father left the family when he was only two, so times were tough.

“In a way (my life) all leads back to a little boy in Navan, my home town on the banks of the Boyne.

Sometimes, it has been painted in melodramatic tones but it was a fantastic way to be brought up. The Catholicism and the Christian brothers, those are deep-rooted images and the foundation for a person of some acting skill,” he says.

“God has been good to me. My faith has been good to me in the moments of deepest suffering, doubt and fear. It is a constant, the language of prayer … I might not have got my sums right from the Christian Brothers or might not have got the greatest learning of literature from them but I certainly got a strapping amount of faith.”

Brosnan also feels that faith will help the Irish people escape the gloom and doom of recession.

“But there is one thing that the people of Ireland know how to do and that is to survive. You have to keep your faith and stay optimistic,” he feels

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having said all that, here is a gem of a quotation I just read (belatedly, it seems).  From an article on former MTV reality star and now mother of 6, Rachel Campos-Duffy, it forms the oppositional yet complementary Lenten prayer activity for busy mothers.

Running a household with six children can get chaotic and even overwhelming at times, so Campos-Duffy once lamented to a priest during Confession that her prayer life was dismal. The priest then told her that her “very life as a mother is a prayer,” which completely changed her perspective: “He said that everything I did at home—whether it was changing a diaper or wiping a nose—whatever it was that I was doing was a prayer to God.”

Campos-Duffy concluded, “For a busy mom, I think it’s understanding that prayer can be very short and immediate. Even (when) . . . we’re running out the door, we just stop for a second. There’s a holy water font right by the door and we bless ourselves and say ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’ And then, out the door. That can make all the difference. And I’ve got to sometimes stop in the middle of the day, in the middle of being upset at a child and regroup myself and think about what little treasures they are and how I would probably give my left arm when I’m 60 to have this moment back. It is about finding those moments throughout the day.”

God bless our mothers.

h/t New Advent

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When my oldest son first started to attend a preschool/daycare, I chose for him a little preschool at a local Evangelical church.  I could have chosen the fancy new daycare attached to the mega Methodist Temple, or another daycare at a similarly large Bethel Christian church.  But no, I fell in love with the slightly rundown but very sincere daycare at the little Evangelical church.  I clearly did not do enough research though because unbeknownst to me, that little church was building what I later dubbed, The Gigantic Gymnasium on the Plains…yes, a megachurch.  Within the year, we were moved out from our charming little house daycare center to this hospital-sized structure that needed wall mounted maps to direct us where we were going.  /sigh

I learned alot about that style of Evangelicalism though.  Enough to know that this video is hilariously spot-on.  Enjoy!

*What if Starbucks marketed like churches? 

I suppose it is beyond ironic that this video is created by folks intent to sell their church marketing ideas to the ‘culturally strategic church’.  Thank you again God, for allowing me the great gift of being born into a Catholic family!

see also this.  Are these made by Protestants, cause…they surely are hitting the Evangelicals hard.

h/t Catholic Youth Ministry Blog  Javalleluia.

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From FAILBlog, a Star Wars funny: 

I think these misconceptions are limited to George Lucas…

 

 

The answer to the second question, which regrettably is cut off: 

The cause of friction is the gap between Star War fans expectations and the ultimate product which George Lucas produced with Episode 1.  

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So who won the battle in the most anticipated, scrutinized, studied, criticized and speculated upon Super Bowl in the history of this televised event?  No, I don’t mean the football game, I mean the Focus on the Family ad featuring the mother of Tim Tebow.   (oh, for the record, the Saints beat the Colts, 31-17).

Well, it’s only my opinion but the win clearly belongs to Focus on the Family and the Tebow family, and even more importantly the win also goes to the wider conservative, pro-life movement.  Even more clearly than who the winners are, is that the losers are hands down, unquestionably liberal pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, NOW and Gloria Allred.  Yeah, cause they lost it.  Literally.  Remember all the articles expressing the Left’s outrage over this commercial that was going to “blur the lines of sports and politics”?   We all remember that.  Then the Super Bowl came and the ad (actually two ads) were run.

Nothing.  Nothing outrageous, nothing controversial, nothing offensive.

After seeing the actual commercial, most of us responded with a quizzical look and perhaps a “is that it?” question.  I myself thought I must have missed the real commercial, as the one I saw was so–uncontroversial.  Anyone not already on a side in this debate was left to wonder how come the liberals were trying so hard to shutdown that commercial.  The people in the room I was in, filled with twenty-something year olds of seemingly all political stripes responded with “is that it?” confusion and comments. A big debate about what the big deal was ensued.   And the liberals looked exactly like what they are:  controlling, irrational, anti-Christian and pro-abortion, and certainly not ‘pro-choice,’  if that choice means choosing Life.  The ungluing of the Liberal Left leading up to the Super Bowl wasn’t a pretty sight to see, unless you are on the pro-life side like I am, in which case, watching the left unravel in the weeks before the Super Bowl culminating in the final ‘sssssss’ as the air went out of their bloated windbags upon seeing the actual commercial was priceless. 

I want to say that the pro-abortion side handed the Tebow side the victory, because they clearly overreacted and overreached.  But you know what?  No, I don’t think that is quite right.  The Left lost it, sure and they certainly did  not seem to be in the same ballgame as the Tebow family.  But they didn’t lose the contest for America’s sympathy.  FotF and the Tebows won itby accurately predicting a meltdown on the left.  Looking back on it now, I can see that the win didn’t happen on Sunday, February 7th.  The win occurred in the strategy meetings at FotF.  Yep, altogether a brilliant plan.  Just let it be leaked that Focus on the Family was buying ad time during the Super Bowl, and that the ad in question might feature Tim Tebow.  Then get that corrected to say it’s really going to be about his mom.  Google searches ensue.  Blogs are written that suggest that Pam Tebow will be talking about her difficult choice to bring her pregnancy with Tim to term when doctors recommended she abort him.  Speculation grows like wildfire until it is a near certainty that Pam Tebow will be talking about her difficult choice to bring her pregnancy with Tim to term when doctors recommended she abort him.   Radical liberals and abortion providers go into meltdown, threatening CBS, the NFL and everyone else they can think of.  America takes note warily.  Why are all these people so up in arms?  If they are “pro-choice,” why can’t Mrs. Tebow talk about her choice?  Isn’t choosing Life an equally valid (at the least!) choice?  No, America learns during Super Bowl XLIV:  it’s not.  Choosing Life is not an option for radical pro-choice groups.

Personally, I want to thank Focus on the Family, Pam Tebow, Tim Tebow and all those bloggers out there who let it ‘slip’ that Pam Tebow might talk about abortion during an ad to be run during the Super Bowl.

Well-played!

(I am not the only one who thinks this)

(to see the full Tebow story, go here to Focus on the Family.  Click to view the ad.)

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This is an excellent article from Jeffrey Tucker on The New Liturgical Movement blog.   The comments are also challenging.

The youth movement in Christianity is close to my heart.  I have observed it in Evangelical circles and bemoaned its near-absence within Catholic circles.  Yet, as Mr. Tucker observes, the Big Worship Event is not all that its cracked up to be and as at least one commentator remarks, it is not bearing fruit within the Evangelical churches, who are also losing their youth at a surprising rate.

What I will say about this topic, which I admit I contemplate daily as I discern God’s call for my own ministry work, is that there seems to be required a balance of the two extremes:  yes, youth respond to the loud, exciting and sometimes hormonally driven Big Worship Events.  But as Catholics, we absolutely must feed our children as we feed ourselves:  with quiet and intense and personal prayer and contemplation, and a clear emphasis on the sacraments.  My major beef with American Catholicism is that (with the exception of parishes here and there) our Catholic youth are COMPLETELY IGNORED:  they aren’t being fed at all.  If you think that dragging your teen to mass every Sunday is feeding his or her soul adequately, you need to seriously step back and look again.  Anyway, read this article.    Oh, and read about Catholic HEART Workcamps again.  ;-) 

 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some thirty years ago, evangelical Christianity threw itself heavily into the business of marketing itself with a series of hip slogans such as “I Found It” (a stranger is supposed to ask what this means, thereby opening an opportunity to share the Gospel). Along the same lines, there was the Good News Bible with a newspaper-theme cover. More recently there has been the WWJD campaign. Dozens of other kitschy campaigns have come and gone.

Part this new sensibility, even a core part, was the cultivation of a specific youth sector within the church. The idea is born of the baby boom: there is some kind of generation gap that makes it difficult for young people to comprehend things in the same way that older people do. Thus must we concoct special sales pitches to show the youth that Christianity is for them. Of course we need youth ministers too (an aging guy who wears jeans) and a host of programs to show off that Christianity is not just for stodgy fuddy-duddies.

This effort almost always means adapting the shape and form of existing secular youth culture — which itself is a modern invention — and baptizing it with Christian themes and messages. The rationale is that if we do not create a Christianized copy of the prevailing youth culture, we risk losing the youth entirely.

If the kids are going to attend rock concerts, better that they be Christian rock concerts. If they are going to go to rallies and parties and scream their heads off about crazy stuff, better that they be Christian rallies, parties, and scream fests. Better to get high on Jesus than methamphetamines. That’s the rationale.

The “youth retreat” was born at some point in this process, and by “retreat,” I don’t mean a time of quiet contemplation, spiritual reflection, and careful discernment. The retreat almost always involves the display of a series of would-be teen idols who sing and speak and tell jokes, and eventually get around to presenting an emotional story of their own conversion. These eventually morphed into huge national conventions with massive commercial sectors within them, with teens encouraged by parents to travel hundreds of miles to experience the spiritual high that comes with huge religious gatherings.

The heady mixture of presence of Christian rock-stars, encountered in the context of a thorough mixing of boys and girls on out-of-town trips, can lead to strikingly emotional experiences. Kids return telling of their new-found commitment to religion and also of the intense new friendships they have developed with others on the trip. Parents feel a sense of relief that at least these kids are hanging around with other Christian kids and not fraternizing with the seedy sectors of life.

Catholics were late to this approach to “selling” their faith to the youth but with Mass attendance dramatically down from decades ago, more and more people are getting in on the act. In the digital age, this involves heavy use of film and video shorts that promote bacchanalian scenes of fun, laughter, loud music, and inspiration of some sort or another.
And it does all make difference. The kids return home with a new countenance, and a new love of God and a new love of their neighbor, though the young can be rather confused about how to sort it all out.

They report on their changed lives. And this effect lasts for about six months on average, at least that’s my strong impression. In its wake follows some degree of disillusionment, failed romances, and the status quo ante.

In the worst case, the effects of an event like this can actually backfire. By comparison to the massive youth rallies, the home parish seems rather staid and dull. Where are the rock bands, the great speakers, the beautiful boys and girls aching for new relationships, the inspiration that the rally dump on us by the buckets? Clearly there is nothing in my hometown parish that can compare to that.

The eye begins to wander to other sects that can provide or at least attempt to provide that unrelenting stimulation that comes with youth rallies. They do a much better job of it than Catholics. It may not last there either and it might be just as superficial but at least they make a go of it. On this front, the Catholics can’t compete. And if the basis of your spirituality is the longing for media stimulation and artificially inflated spiritual highs, Catholicism is going to be marginalized at some point in their quest.

For Catholics, this is a very serious matter. To be Catholic in today’s world requires a great deal of social sacrifice. It nearly always has in the modern age. We don’t have the right friends in the right circles. Our parishes don’t have commercial venders selling lattes and we don’t have health clubs. What’s more, the Roman Rite doesn’t lend itself to the unleashing of loud guitars and would-be rock star improvisations. There are no personality cults in the Roman Rite. The entire structure actually does the opposite. It buries the personality and directs attention toward eternity.

From a marketing angle, (more…)

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