Sunday, March 15, 2015

Catholic Snipers: My Jesus is Bigger

I think of General Boykin who famously noted his God was bigger than Islam's God when I read the thoughts of pro-war Catholics.  The Jesus described I imagine to be a teentsy-weentsy Jesus, with a tiny, squeaky voice...  “Existential threat by Islam! Clash of cultures!” 

My Jesus is so much bigger, H U G E !  He healed the sick, overturned an economic system, raised the dead and when the Romans answered with shock and awe: Ecce Homo! INRI... he transformed life and the world in which we were once bound.  Raised himself from the dead!  Now we could be free!

My Jesus, who is so much bigger than the Jesus of the warmongers,  can also be so subtle.  When American Catholics are insensitive the the unceasing begging of prelates across the middle east NOT to attack their countries for the hell it will bring on them, Catholics in the commanding heights of the USA Wehrmacht soldiered on.  In light of this, Jesus raises up a pontiff named Francis, in memory of the Saint who got Islam relations right.
If the greatest Christian saint since the time of the apostles had opposed the Crusade and peacefully approached Muslims at a time when they were supposed to be mortal enemies, that action can inspire and instruct us today. So should the fact that al-Kamil, a great sultan of Egypt and a nephew of Saladin, was so tolerant of Christians that he allowed one of them to preach to him in the midst of a Crusade. The story of Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malik al-Kamil says there is a better way than resentment, suspicion and warfare. It opens the door to respect, trust and peace.It needs to be told anew.- Paul Moses

The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace

Note the many glowing reviews of this book. Note who has NOT reviewed the book.  The prominent National Catholic Register.

Now note the kinds of articles NCR does carry.  I am not making this up: Catholic and Killing for a Living.  A paean to snipers.  Read it for yourself, don’t trust me.  (Incidentally, with 74 comments highlighting weak anti-war vs strong pro-war comments, a tedious editorial tactic, my comment as a Vietnam era conscientious objector is not approved by the moderator.)

Update: My comment is now published and so are a lot of other push-back comments against this article.  Good to see.

Now here is the money shot, literally:

Get it?  Look at the banner ad above the masthead.  Ka-ching!  Military ads in a pro-life rag. Note the poverty draft pitch:  In a country that inherently disrespects black lives as of no matter, you can get respect by joining the army.  And see below, Catholics can be snipers!  And enough money to send you six free issues.

A service of EWTN.  Such content producers as “Sacred Heart Radio” And “Ave Maria Radio” rock the “existential Islamic threat” and “thank you for your service” tropes, and just seem to gain all of the ads.  And those other Catholic media languish for lack of advertising. Our government picks and chooses what media it favors, so why not Catholic media?   And why wouldn’t they eventually find people who want to be successful, measured in money, if not ratings?

About six years ago there was one Catholic business adviser program, where the host apologetically went over  Church teaching and USA actions in the middle east and plaintively begged his audience to call in and tell him where his reading of the facts was wrong, that the USA was the unjust aggressor in the middle east wars?  Crickets.  Not that audience.  I kept tuning in, but sadly, he whose name I no longer recall, was gone.

I know something of online advertising, usually those ads are targeted to the audience, and it is rather pointless to offer me a position as a pro-war chaplain: the gross exposure rate costs more for the advertiser.  These ads are what makes one publication more viable than another, and guess who gets such ads?  Pro-war Catholic press.

When EWTN talks about NFP and pro-life (anti-abortion) I could not agree more.  And the powers that be could care less.  Abortion is a marginal issue in American politics, and the Catholics who matter to the powers that be, politicians, are all solidly pro-abortion, bought and paid for.

Now, to the powers that be, war matters, and there is a solid Catholic anti-war ethic latent that must be starved for oxygen.

Yes, EWTN is putatively pro-life (on the narrow abortion question) but there is no seamless garment...  even on the question of torture, when the Pope expressly condemned it, Al Kreska allowed that among the panickers after 9-11, it was understandable to employ torture, not questioning whether we should have a system where panickers make the decisions.   Further, he will not extend the same flexibility to a young woman in a panic who has an abortion.  The former is no sin in Kreska's world, the latter must be confessed or to hell you go, in the milieu well funded by the hegemon.

Such hypocrisy dissuades people of good will, who want to hear a seamless garment argument on pro-life to keep looking, since prominent Catholic media is not about to offer it.

A Patrick Coffin on his show was interviewing the new director of gay whatever, a former marine, who in reply to Coffin’s direct question on whether torture is ever warranted, his guest noted they were convicted, and punishment may be laid on convicts.

This non-sequitor was allowed to pass by Mr. Coffin, but then, he is clearly uneasy about Church teaching, this the host of Catholic answers (Cafeteria Catholic answers?)  And oddly, Coffin had announced that for this segment, no call-in questions would be taken.  A unique arrangement for a call-in show.

When it comes to ratings, proof of popularity, his website offers:
Patrick Coffin is the host of our flagship radio broadcast, Catholic Answers Live, voted Best Catholic Radio Show in America by the readers of
Wait, who? Ah yes, that arbiter of Catholic excellence, the self-selected group of those who avail themselves of  Where no doubt a dozen likes gets you into the winners circle.

My experience is you can tune in just about anytime to EWTN and get a good dose of anti-Muslim blood slander.

I was in the audience at St Monica's Church on Mercer Island, Washington circa 2006 when Fr. Mitch Pacwa, a eastern Jesuit fluent in various Semitic languages was peppered with questions  regarding “ is Islam inherently evil” “Can Muslims be good citizens?”  Oddly the lecture was given in the Church proper, so I refrained from asking Fr. Pacwa if Christians can be good citizens.  Prudence dictated I not introduce contradiction in the sanctuary.  But I think I observed a change in Fr. Pacwa, to what you hear now from him on EWTN.

If Jesus wanted to advocate war in the clash of cultures, never before or since in history did anyone have a better chance for an attentive audience.  Indeed, he was betrayed and abandoned by those who expected to prevail by the sword.  Just as in USA today.

Now back to this Pope named Francis. Not only would it be a rebuke to the American Catholic Church, or the Church of America, at the same time such a Pope would be an inspiration to the vast swathes of Catholics worldwide who are appalled by USA actions, and assume Catholics are a witness to the truth, not players in the violence.

Saint Pope John Paul II issued a controversial vade mecum in which he cautioned confessors not to convert penitents from informal sin (say artificial birth control)  to formal sin (actively rejecting church teaching on same) if in the discernment of the shrive, the penitent is not well catechized enough to embrace the truth.  Bring them along easy, over time, toward the truth.

I wonder if pro-war catholics would remain Catholic if the bishops named USA war crimes for what they were.  Pre-emptive strike is a named war crime, not a matter of prudential judgment.  Sure, Weigel et al can claim it as such, but no, it is a mortal sin.  Would Weigel and others leave the Church, as surely as a Biden or a Pelosi, if told in no uncertain terms that certain actions are mortal sins?

Glad I am not a Bishop, as are countless others.  I'd push it, and not worry about the cross.  

Feel Free To Email This To Three Friends.

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