CatholicScout Ponders: Remedies to Recusant mindset, Elitism and Over-focus on the Mass

This post marks the end of this line of pondering. I have considered three reasons that contribute to the fact that Mass attendance at Traditional Masses has plateaued in England and Wales. Recusant Mindset. Elitism. And Over-focus on the Mass.

How to break out of the Recusant Mindset

As I mentioned, the Recusant mindset is both an instinctual reaction and an ingrained historical memory for English and Welsh Catholics. It is a coping mechanism. So really the way to break out of that is to apply some of the tools of modern psychology. The first hurdle is to identify that the problem exists. Once that is identified and held consciously in mind, Grace can start working in ways it could not before.

The cause of the threat is the “Catholic news” – information. Too much “bad news” creates a panic response. So perhaps a program of recovery around Catholic news obsession would be in order. Seeking a Spiritual Director would be optimal, as he would be able to advise how to carry out that recovery in practice.

I would suspect a Spiritual Director would suggest abstinence from viewing and/or gossiping about “Catholic news”, as a start. A period of voluntary abstinence from all internet media, or something like that.

With all that spare time, one could use it fruitfully in improving one’s personal relationship with God (ideally under guidance of a Spiritual Director). Clearing out any Grace-blocking items from one’s conscience, by careful examination and Confession.

In a way, it is about living life here and now, having Faith, being Holy.

poster saying "keep calm and be holy"How to break out of institutionalised recusancy, for instance in the cases of close-knit Traditional Communities. Maybe situations where the Priest (and therefore Spiritual Director) is also party to this mindset. Well, the recovery of the whole, starts with the recovery of the individual. But if Pastors were able to request their flock to commence a period of abstinence from Internet Media and News, that would be a great start.

Then I hear the clamour “but if we were to abstain from Internet Media and News, how would we hear the good news and advice from CatholicScout?!” – well, just how many bloggers do you hear of suggesting people should abstain from reading Internet Media and News? Not many. I don’t write this blog to get “hits” or “followers”, I write it to bear witness to truths which I have learnt.

I found voluntary abstinence very helpful, so I don’t read Internet media and News before 8.00am or after 6.00pm. I also freely choose not to read Internet media and News from time to time. Instead spending the time doing something fruitful, such as praying a Rosary. Most of all I keep very close to my heart the maxim written above. Keep calm, and be Holy. It works. Remember, ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” Would Jesus be spending His day on Facebook, or surfing for the latest gossip from Rome? No. He would be about doing His Father’s will, and as a result, be Holy.


 

Elitism

In my post on Elitism, I dealt with three manifestations, there are more, but these three are prominent enough that most people will identify them.

The Remedy for Young Fogeyism

Humility. Docility to the Spirit, which whispers to you, when you read the Lord’s Words:

No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?

[…]

And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.

But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.

And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?

Matthew 6:24-29

Do not be solicitous. It doesn’t mean “wear a potato sack”. But if you find this level of abandonment a little to challenging, don’t just shirk away without asking for God to help you to fulfil His counsels. He will help.

After having asked for God’s help in fulfilling His counsels, and having confessed your lack of faith, and infidelity to His counsels. You can always take the path of modesty.

Be modest. Modesty is an off-shoot of humility. The two go together. Modesty seeks not to be noticed, think of it as Catholic Camouflage. How can I not attract attention?

Bright pink socks or black socks? My best gold and green waistcoat or not?

There is nothing sinful about wearing beautiful clothing. There is something very sinful about vanity. If it is for show, or to participate in a show, then it is vanity. Public show of vanity, is really an occasion of public scandal. For here, a sin is being expressed in the public.

So what is the remedy for Vanity? Well, again it is abstinence first, then the practising of it’s opposing virtue humility. Does that mean wandering into Mass in tattered jeans and a t-shirt? Or flagellating oneself publicly while wearing sack-cloth and ashes? No.

Firstly, abstinence. If there is an occasion of sin, one should avoid it. If there is a Mass where there is a public show of vanity, one should probably look to go to Mass elsewhere (if you have such an option!).

Correction of self. The sin that needs to be corrected is within ourselves. I can only cooperate with God’s grace to save my soul. I can’t save anyone elses. So my job is not to police them out there. It is to regulate myself, by cooperating with God’s Grace. The first thing that I can recommend is getting a Spiritual Director (you will see that “get a Spiritual Director” is a running theme…) who is not part of that vain scene.

It should be someone who understands that we want people to be watching Jesus, not looking around in the pews comparing. Shift your focus off you, and others, and on to the Eucharistic Lord. Modesty is the key.

This is Who should be drawing people’s attention, not you.

The Remedy for Traditional Catholic Supremacists

Humility. I think it will be hard for Traditional Catholic Supremacists to let go. So much energy in protecting their Mass. So many years, so much effort. But let go they must.

Humility to adopt new perspectives, to accept new criticisms. Humility to try new things and new approaches. An email correspondence of mine, pointed out that this problem is very similar to a psychological phenomenon he has witnessed. He said it may be recommended if these Supremacists are in groups to humbly and honestly inform themselves of the psychological phenomenon of GroupThink and to practice the precautions regardless. Thank you for that pointer.

Lastly, and this ties to the next Elitist group, transparency! No more secrecy!

The Remedy for Misers and Old Money Catholics

Humility. This out of all three, I think will be the hardest group to remedy. Detachment from money is very, very tough.

Voluntary transparency would be a good manifestation of the humility required to remedy these problems. I know very few people who would voluntarily make their accounts public, but it could be done. It could also be given as a penance by astute pastors…

Of course the Miser or Old Money Catholic could be dishonest in publishing his accounts, but that would be more coals heaped upon their head.

Lastly, I think the people who find Old Money Catholic odious (which I may add, I am included), is the perception that they do not labour for their earnings (ref: 2 Thes & Gen 3). A remedy for such a person would be for them to earn a living, which pays for their bread (not relying on the fat). Transparency of accounts also would go miles to correct it.

What to do with the Old Money itself though? Well I think Rerum Novarum is the way… voluntarily spread it out. Imagine if all the Misers and Old Money Catholics shook off their bonds and pooled the money to set up a Traditional Catholic Building Society, helping Traditional Catholics own property close to other Traditional Catholics?


Over-focus on the Mass

The remedy for the over-focus on the Mass, is a larger problem than the one than the others. The others, with good will, can be self-corrected. Sure sound preaching against these problems will be needed. But the over-focus on the Mass is out of the hands of ordinary people.

There are organisations such as FIUV, who may have the clout to express these issues, but ultimately the response lies in the Church authorities. Pope Benedict XVI promulgated Summorum Pontificum, but the Bishops ignored it. What can you do when Bishops ignore the Pope?

Pope Francis celebrating the Traditional Mass? well we can dream…

If His Holiness Pope Francis, had a sudden blinding conversion to the Traditional Mass, and by some bizarre misdirection was reading this article, I would recommend an addendum to Summorum Pontificum.

Something along the lines of:

It is binding that every Diocesan Bishop shall set up at least one Church per major population centre (over 100,000 inhabitants) that is to be exclusively dedicated in perpetuity to offering the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. These Churches are to be in locations that are easily accessible to the majority of the population, close to the centre and near good public transport terminals. The Diocesan Bishop is free to invite a community to take care of the Church, otherwise he is bound to diligently provide Sacred Ministers for the exclusive celebration of the Vetus Ordo.

So aside from sheer fantasy, I believe that the remedy for this problem is:

For Traditional Priests to educate (and preach) on the Encyclicals of the Popes. Particularly Summorum Pontificum. For Traditional Priests to preach and practice more of the Traditional Devotions (Sunday Rosary, Sermon and Benediction, Procession on the Third Sunday of the Month, Weekly Thursday Holy Hour, October Devotions, Processions, public Novenas etcetera).

For laity to educate themselves on the Encyclicals of the Popes. Particularly Summorum Pontificum. For Laity to practice more of the Traditional Devotionals at home and in public. For them to ask Priests to lead these Devotions.

For photographers, to turn around and photograph the Nave, not too much of the Sanctuary!!


Lastly, of course, in all of these, we will be battling apathy.

Evil reigns when good men do nothing.

CatholicScout Replies: LMS Chairman: Young people and the Traditional Mass: a response to ‘T-C’

Excellent post Dr Shaw.

The demographics are our most important and powerful resource.
At New Rite events, such as Youth 2000, the female to male ratio is very high.
At Old Rite events, such as the YCA retreat, conversely, the female to male ratio tends to be very low.

Much has been said about the “femininity” of the Novus Ordo, as opposed to the “masculinity” of the Vetus Ordo. I don’t think that the stereotyping of male and female spiritualities should be omitted in your deliberations, rather to remind people that the constant teaching of the Church has been that male and female are different. Female being at their core more nurturing (read touchy-feely or emotional and tangible). It is natural that they find satiation in the New Rite youth events.

As you and T-C pointed out, the problem is a massive lack of Catechesis coming from the people in positions of power – the PP, the Bishop, the Pope etc.

How often do you hear from the pulpit that “we should strive to remember that the Fathers of the Church have always pointed out that the emotional is juvenile and immature, and that spiritual growth is away from the emotional and tangible, through the intellectual, to the mystical and intangible.”?

My experience of young women at Traditional youth events (as compared to those attending New Rite youth events), is that they tend to be much more “mature” in their faith and as people.

While my experience of young men at vaguely-Charismatic youth events (in comparison to their Traditional counterparts), is that they are much more immature in their faith and as people, and that their motivation for being at such events, in truth, has much more to do with the young women that are there, rather than getting to know, love and serve God more.

No youth event is entirely free from that motive, of course, but it seems remarkably more apparent at New Rite youth events.

But to conclude, I would add to T-C’s and your remarks, that the solution to the problem is Authority, Bishops attending Traditional youth events and instructing their Dioceses to support and encourage young people to attend them. Bishops to start diocesan-wide catechesis based on Traditional Patrimony rather than the newer touchy-feely washed-down stuff.

Bishops? Bishop, one Bishop, to start with. Someone willing to stand up against the status quo, put his head above the parapet, someone like Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

Respectfully,
CatholicScout


 

There is much more that I would like to write on this subject. I have been to a lot of youth events. Youth 2000, pilgrimages, World Youth Days, traditional youth events and on. I have a lot of experience in this area.

One area however, that I do not have experience in, is SSPX youth events. I have on occasion witnessed SSPX youth at prayer vigils in London. But I have never had the need to attend an event associated with the SSPX.

Now why do I bring up the Priestly Society of Pope Saint Pius X? Well, my belief is that our fundamental position as Traditional Catholics (and here also read Traditional Catholic youth), is completely subverted, compromised and perpetually eroded, by the absence of visible magisterial authority supporting it.

The Priestly Society of Pope Saint Pius X have Bishops, who have teaching authority par excellance. The Institute of Christ the King or the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter have fantastic preaching, but they are completely underminded by the Bishops whose Dioceses they reside within.

Within the Priestly Society of Pope Saint Pius X (I assume), the youth will all be instructed to attend Traditional youth events, where a level of decorum and morals will be held, which is probably unparalleled even within the Traditional circles of YCA or Juventutem, no matter how much the Traditional Priests associated with those movements try.

The only great difference, is where Tradition has a strong foothold, such as in France, there we do witness what Traditional youth events can be like. But again, I don’t have the experience of SSPX events to compare them against.

What I reduce this down to is an issue of magisterial authority. Bishops. We need to somehow break the “magic circle”, the “old boys” of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy and get a Bishop who is willing to be Contra Mundum.

Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Seventeenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Seventeenth Helping

“First of all we Christians are people who adore God. We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Reverend George B. Zabelka was the Catholic chaplain of the 509th composite group of the Army Air Force on Tinian Island in the South Pacific in the summer of 1945. The 509th composite group was the atomic bomb crews. Before that assignment, he was chaplain to another Air Group whose mission was to firebomb the cities of Japan. By his own testimony during this time, to use his words, “I said nothing.” When questioned as to why he said nothing, his usual answer was, “We were there to pay back the Japanese for Pearl Harbor.” He would then continue that nothing that he was ever taught or that any authorities in the Church or the State ever said or suggested that there was anything unchristian or immoral about what was happening from Tinian Island. Since he was a highly educated man and had received excellent recommendations for his pastoral care of souls in both his diocese and in the military, and since he read the Gospel every day at Mass, he had to know of Jesus’ command, “Love your enemies” and of his commission to the Church and the apostles and by extension to him as a priest of the Church to go forth and baptize “and to teach them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19). His response to such an inquiry would be, “I knew what Jesus said in the Gospels. But all my life, I and every other Catholic in the world was given an interpretation of what He said that permitted Catholics to engage in the acts that war required. There was never a question in my mind or in my conscience that I was doing anything evil or sinful by not raising the issue–with those who were placed in my spiritual care –of the possible immorality sinfulness of  burning men, women, and children to death from the air”

He said that when he led Catholics or Christians in prayer on Tinian Island and they said together the Our Father, no one but no one thought that “The Father” they were praying to included the Japanese as his beloved and infinitely valued sons and daughters. For Zabelka and his congrgarion ‘our’ meant we Americans and our allies, and did not include their enemies. This, of course, was a theological error according to the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Gospel. But operationally, on the ground in Tinian Island and in the Catholic Churches all over the United States, no one, regardless of their rank in the Church, thought or spoke about the fact that “The Father” that they were all praying to was also The Eternal Father of every Japanese man, woman, and child. He therefore felt no moral need – in fact, it never entered my mind – to bring up that truth of what ‘our Father’ meant to those Army Air Corps men in my spiritual care.

Zabelka, 37 years later in his life, publically said regarding his silence in the face of activities that were as far removed from Jesus’ teaching as hell is removed from heaven, “I was brainwashed.” This analysis of the moral situation he found himself in was correct, and the evidence to verify it as correct is Himalayan. For example, a few years ago in London, England, a statue was unveiled in honor of Charles Harris. In his time, he was known as ‘Bomber’ Harris. Harris was the leader of Bomber Command, the air group that conducted the fire bombings of German cities, killing and maiming millions of civilian men, women, and children. In later years, Harris was often referred to as “England’s Eichmann.” Despite this, a few years ago there in London stood the Queen Mother, surrounded by upper echelon ecclesiastics from all the major churches garbed in full canonicals, honoring Charles ‘Bomber’ Harris. They, like Zabelka, when confronted with Jesus’ teachings of “Love your enemies, Put up the sword, Love one another as I have loved you” would simply defend their position of engaging in mass human slaughter under the with the support of Jesus by saying that they interpret those passages in a way that allows the to do what they did and still be following Jesus.

A priest has recently come to my attention who was a military chaplain but who is now retired and doing parish work in his diocese. From the altar and in private conversations and at Church gatherings he is forever waxing eloquent about the goodness, greatness, and Christian faith of those American ‘heroes’ he was chaplain to during the American conquest and destruction of Fullajah. I would submit that he, like Zabelka, and like those ecclesiastics of distinction gathered around the statue to honor Charles ‘Bomber’ Harris, was brainwashed into believing evil was good, into believing that doing the opposite of what Jesus taught as the Way and Will of the Father was the same as doing what Jesus taught.

Further evidence to substantiate  Zabelka’s anaylsis of what he did – or rather didn’t do – can be found in the deadly and dead silence of the American Catholic bishops, individually and as an Episcopal conference, regarding the 10 years of American and British human slaughter and maiming in Iraq, largely executed by American and British Catholic Christians. Only one bishop out of the entire group of approximately 300 American bishops told the people of his diocese that such destruction of innocent human life, in utero and extra utero, was intrinsically evil and that they should not participate in it. He said to his people that this war utterly contradicts the teachings of Jesus and in no way could honestly be said to meet even the minimal standards of Catholic morality: namely, the norms of the Catholic Just War Theory. Other than this one bishop, every other bishop“said nothing” to the people of his diocese. During his time on Tinian Island the number of humans breings, mostly civilians, destroyed by those Catholics for whom Rev. George Zabelka had immediate spiritual and moral responsiblity ran into the tens of thousand. He said nothing to any of them and by his silence gave spiritual and moral consent in the name of Jesus to what they were doing when they were carpet bombing Japaneae cities. The American Catholic Bishops between 2003 and 2013 also said nothing concerning the participation of those  Catholics for whom they had immediate spirtitual and moral resposibility as they trapes off to a country seven thousand mile away to kill and maim millions of people. Their calculated and politically crafty and cunning strategy of silence imparted all the consent a catholic boy or girl needed to sign up 6to go to Iraq and kill ragheads.

All of the above Christians, with the exception of the one bishop I mentioned, are in possession of or possessed by an image of God that in no way can be found in the person, life, or teaching of Jesus. If for Christians Jesus is as Saint Paul says, “the invisible image of the invisible God,” then the image of God from which the bishops and priests above were deciding for themselves, and for others, right from wrong, good from evil, the will  and theway of God is an image of God that is nothing more than a figment of their imaginations. The image of God from which a Just War Theory is derived also owes nothing to Jesus’ person, words and deeds. It relies on an image of God that is the product of  philosophical spacualtions (Cicero, 65 BC) rooted in some very limited perception of self, of humanity and of the universe, whose only validation is some logically correct us of reason. But, what some logically correct use of reason can build up, some  other equyally logicasl use of reason can tear down. For the Christian, when he or she is confronted with a God image or :truth” garnered, from a reasoned philosophical reflections that contradicts the teaching of Jesus, his or her Lord, God, and Savior, then the Christian must part company with his or her philosophical sense of truth. regarding their rationally constructed image of God as a false image of God. Because, for the Christian Jesus is the truth and the true image of God because Jesus is God incarnate.

Jesus is not a philosoper. He is the Self-revelation of the true image of God and the true content of God’s Will and Way. It is this by the  fact that He is God in the flesh. The Church has no commission from Jesus to teach philosophy. Its commission from Jesus is “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.”

Communicating to those Christians in one’s spiritual care, explicitly by word or implicitly by silence, that they here and now can go out and slaughter other human beings in war amounts to parting company with the image of God as revealed by, with, and in Jesus and to instead choose to be an agent and a propagandist for an image of God that has nothing behind it.. How else could the absolutely clear meaning of the “Our Father” image reveald by Jesus be interpreted as the Father of “We American” but not the Father of the “Japs” or “ragheads” whom “We” are lethally trashing by the millions? You can bet your bottom dollar that such a grotesquely contorted interpretation of “Our Father” has money and power as its major hermeneutic. As the eminent Catholic Biblical scholar, the late Rev John L. McKenzie articulates the issue: “If the Roman Catholic Church were to decide to join the Mennonites in refusing violence, I doubt whether our harmonious relations with the government would endure the day after the decision. I believe that both here and elsewhere the Church can avoid persecution by surviving as it has so far, that is by being the lackey of  the establishment of wealth and power, that is, by not being the Church. Pope and Bishops must proclaim the entire reality of Jesus Christ. They must proclaim that Western men and women will escape the ultimate horror only by attending to the person and words of Jesus. Like Paul, that is all they have to say; so for Christ’s sake, let us say it.

Both the Hebrew prophets and Jesus are clear, where more is morally demanded, silence is evil. Both are also equally clear that there is no more dangerous choice that an individual or a group can make than giving oneself over to and proclaiming as God that which is not God.

ECM

Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Sixteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Sixteenth Helping
Again,

“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Since a person’s image of God is so intertwined with his or her self image, from where does a person acquire his or her image of God? It is not just the First Commandment; it is a fact of human existence that God is beyond imaging. God is imageless, beyond description, beyond understanding, invisible and incomprehensible. The best that reason alone can do is to say, “God is.” Whether God is love, as Pope Francis proclaims above, or loveless, whether God is a father or a terrorist, whether God supports homicidal violence or finds it an abomination, all this and everything else is beyond human capacity to know by reason. All that can possibly be known is God is–IAM. Other than this, what kind of God God is and what God expects of people is beyond human comprehension. People can pontificate with a passion that God is this or God hates that, but on the basis of reason alone it is all gossamer, 100% pure conjecture. That’s fact, not opinion.

So the images people have of God in paintings, films and literature are just the imaginary products of reason brought to bear on their dreams or nightmares, their loves or hates, their self interests or sufferings, etc. Such image, whether pictorial or propostional have no reasonable theological or moral validation even if a billion people accept them–because the quantity of people agreeing with a picture or proposition about God cannot validate the truth presented by that picture or proposition. When Noam Chomsky, a world renowned academic authority in the field of linguistic, is asked, as he often is, “Do you believe in God,”  his answer is always the same: “Tell me what you mean by “God” and I will tell you whether I believe in God or not.” I suppose if someone did tell him what he or she meant by God, Chomsky’s question to them would be, “By what method have you validated as the truth your description or definiton of God?” If they say “By reason,” the ball game is over. If they say, “By faith,” that is acceptable for them. But it is then a subjective understanding of God, which they experience as true but for which there are no means objectively available to others to validate its truth .

Of course, if God is incomprehensible beyond mere “isness”–IAM–and if people, because of the structure of the human brain long to know, “Where did I come from? Why am I here” and “Where am I going,” then we have the greatest market that ever existed in which to make a buck or a billion bucks–and it is wide open to every flimflam artist, every con-man, every huckster, every entrepreneur on the planet generation unto generation. At which point the word “religion” becomes synonymous with “a den of thieves.” No image of God, pictorial or propositional, is  beyond sale, if the need for that particular image exists in a person or a group for some reason. The amount of loot to be raked in for proclaiming, marketing and selling a particular image of God is in direct proportion to how desperate the need is in those who buy it or buy into it.

If a religion is receiving millions of dollars a year from the government or the military or the economic elites of a society, it better not be marketing, or start marketing, an image of God that undermines the moral validity of what the people in those institutions are about–even if it is mass murder.

In most institutional religions, and Christian institutions are no exception, money, its acquisition and its maintenance, is a major, if not the primary, hermeneutic for interpreting the meaning of “God” and of any Sacred Scriptures they may believe that they possesses. It is, for example, the hermeneutic by which Jesus’ teaching, “Love you enemies,” is interpreted as including moral permission to terrorize, torture and slaughter enemies. When Jesus states, “You cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve God and money” (Mt 6:24), did He ever hit the nail on the head! Did He ever put front and centre the temptation and the malignant, life destroying, spiritual cancer present within most religious institutions, including Christian institutions, down to this day.

ECM

Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fifteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fifteenth Helping

Again,

“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

 In the mid-1970s the most popular weekly sitcom on U.S. TV was All in the Family. Its main character was Archie Bunker, a white, Christian, middle age, middle class, poorly educated, politically and religiously conservative father of the family. In one episode Archie is told that his daughter Gloria, and son in law, Mike, are getting a divorce. Instantly he begins reviling his son in law, a political liberal whom he never really liked, blaming the divorce on him and his liberal friends with their “Godless atheism” and their ideas. Hanging around with them is the cause of it, Archie lashes out and God will make Mike pay for this.

As the show progresses, however, it is revealed that his daughter’s adultery is the reason for the divorce. Archie, God fearing Christian man that he is, immediately turns on his daughter in fury and begins to castigate her, telling her that he wants nothing more to do with her and she is no better than her liberal atheist husband. As the show moves forward a bit further, it becomes apparent that Mike’s behaviour toward Gloria for a long time before the adultery was extremely destructive.

The conclusion of the show has Archie raging on towards both Mike and Gloria, getting more and more bewildered as he speaks about who is responsible. Finally he burst out in confusion, “Who is going to be punished here? Someone needs to be punished here! This is wrong!” His wife, Edith, a kind, serving and insightful woman responds, “Archie, why does anyone have to be punished? Hasn’t everyone been punished enough already?” On those words the show ends.

As noted in the prior FAST FOOD Helping,”The image of God that a person has is critical to what he or she becomes and what they do and don’t do. His or her God image is intimately tied into his or her self image. What flows from this is that people’s meaning system and their value system, their sense of purpose and their sense of right and wrong are organically related to their God image.” It make no difference whether the person is educated or uneducated, his or her God image and self image are inseparable. So, if the image of God that one has is that He was so infinitely offended by sin that He could not even be mollified by the expiatory destruction of, say, a billion human beings being handed to the tortures and murderers, because the sin was an infinite offense against Him and He required the bloody sacrifice of an infinite victim to re-open the gates of heaven, gates that He shut in punishment for the sin of Adam and Eve, then Archie Bunker is theologically, morally and pastorally on target. And, the terrible truth is that most Christians at all levels of most Churches over the last thousand years have been taught some version of this atonement theory of divine satisfaction and retribution.They then, in imitation of God and with God on their side, put it into practice in their lives and in the structures of their Churches and communities as the way to respond to evil and the person caught in sin.

I say the last thousand years, because it was not so from the beginning. This Satisfaction Atonement Theory, as it commonly called and exists today, was authored by St. Anselm about 1094-1098 in a work titled Cur Deus Homo? (Why the God-Man?). It may be important to note that in that writing Aselm makes no reference to the Way of Jesus as made visible in Jesus’ words and deeds in the Gospels. His only reference is to the Nicaea Creed (325), which as we saw in yesterday’s FAST FOOD Helping omits any mention of the Way of Jesus. “Born of the Virgin Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered, died and was buried,” is all that Constantine and the bishops at the Council decided was needed for the spiritual health and welfare of the institutional Church and the Christians in it.

So, Archie Bunker and hundreds of millions of Christian like him, who never heard of St. Anselm but who have been nurtured, without their knowing it, are from infancy fed Anselm’s spiritual diet of a punishing God capable of great cruelty and violence, demanding the infliction of punishment and pain, even capital punishment, in order to make satisfaction to Him for what they had done.So, Archie and all those other Christians so nurtured that when they in their lives demand retribution, an eye for an eye, the beating down and shaming of another person or group of persons who have offended them are functioning in harmony with the God they were given to adore, imitate and love by their institutional Churches.

A more contemporary expression of God in the image of St. Anselm’s theory of atonement having its incarnational affect is what I personally heard a Catholic bishop say at a gathering regarding what was once called the Sacrament of Penance. His exact words were “We go to confession to protect ourselves against God.” He in his life was as much enslaved to Anselm’s theological image of a violent, punishing, retributive God, as Archie Bunke was in his.

In 1946 in my grammer school’s Baltimore Catechism, the question was asked on page one,”Why did God make us?” The answer given was, “God made us to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.” The answer still sound correct to me. But,attention must be paid to the order of the words. “Know” comes before “love” and “love” comes before “serve.” One cannot love whom he or she does not know. If God as revealed by Jesus is not brought before the consciousness of people as love, agape, as the God made visible in the Nonviolent Jesus, but instead as a God capable of justified violence and cruelty, in the name of a “just cause,” then people will not know the true God as revealed by Jesus and by that fact will be unable to love Him or serve Him.

When Jesus says that the very first commandment is ” Love the Lord your God with your whole soul, whole heart, whole mind and whole strength,” He means His Father and the Father of all as He makes Him visible to us. He knows quite well that if a person or a group loves whole heart, soul, mind and strength an idol, a god in an image contrary to the image of Jesus, such a commitment would be catastrophic for all concerned, and many more. Jesus makes the God known, who is to be wholeheartedly loved. When any Christians replaces the image of the invisible God made visible in Jesus with his or her own mental concoction of an image of God, they then create–because a person’s God image and self image are permanently intertwined–Archie Bunker Christians, maybe just one, or maybe millions, who if they think their cause is “just.” will be cruel and lethal, and believe they are doing God’s will and work.

The Church has never infallibly declare any one theory of atonement as dogma. Anselm’s theory did not exist in the first thousand years of the Church. At the time of its publication and for centuries after major Catholic and later Protestant theologians objected vigorously to it. Yet, it has become the theory of atonement which the Western Church has taught, fostered and propagated relentlessly for the last four hundred years through it institutional resources. The Church had and has other options, but it persist in this violent and cruel image of God. Go figure!

ECM

Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Fourteenth Helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Fourteenth Helping

Again,

“We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him!”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

The image of God that a person has—and then accepts or rejects—is critical to what he or she becomes and does. His or her God image is intimately tied into their God image, as is their image of reality. What flows from this is their meaning system and their value system, their sense of purpose and their sense of right and wrong.

The image of God who is love (agapé), the Father of all, is not the same image nor will it validate the same understandings and beliefs as the image of God who is love (eros), a God who loves only us and will trample on all other human beings for our benefit. This means that God will support our trampling on other human beings for our own benefit.

Whoever controls the operational image of God in a society controls the people of that society—or at the least is a person or group to which the economic, political and military elites of that society must ingratiate themselves or in other ways get under their control. Constantine knew the importance of this which is why he began to put the violent, coercive power of the Roman Empire behind Christianity, even making bishops official holders of such power in their areas. It is one of the major reasons he called the Council of Nicaea in 325. He wanted one Empire, one God and one Emperor. The process was not completed until several decades later when Theodosius made Christianity the religion of the Empire.

However Constantine had to have the bishops at Nicaea ignore a piece of the public image of Jesus as God incarnate and the ultimate revealer of God in order to fit his needs. This is why the Nicaea Creed goes from the cradle to the crucifixion non-stop in presenting Jesus in its official public act of belief. The Way of Jesus is entirely kept out of the public Creed: “…born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried.”

This was necessary because the Way of Jesus, the Way of God as revealed by Jesus was a Way that included the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Try ruling Rome (or England, or the U.S. or Russia) with that as what God says is the Way to live and die.

And so by omission began the process to Jesus publicly supporting the local home team’s killer over the other team’s killers.

But in the beginning, in Jerusalem in AD 33, Jesus was tortured and murdered by the religious and political elites because they did not like what He was saying about God and God’s Way—the image of God He was giving people. Indeed, they felt radically threatened by it. God’s image as presented by Jesus did not match up with what the powers-that-be needed. So, they killed Him.

God the Father did not kill His Son or have His Son killed for any reason. There is no violence and cruelty in God. Jesus died because He did exactly what the Church leaders refused to do at the time of Constantine down to this very day. He spoke about God with authority and did not give them and the people under their control  a God that validated the violent, deceitful, cruel operation of the institutionalized religion and the state. In fact He gave them an understanding of God that stood in judgement of the modus operandi of both religion and the state.

But, God the Father punishing and killing His Son or having His Son punished and killed before God will reconcile with humanity does fit perfectly with the punishment world of the state and institutional religion. Pilate may have washed his hands of Jesus. But, since Constantine, the institutional Church and the state have “washed each other hands” in mutual support of a violence-justifying God who does not exist and a Jesus who divinely validates violence and enmity by His followers.

ECM

Fast for Gospel Nonviolence 2014 – Eighth helping

FAST FOOD (2014): Eighth Helping

Again,

“We adore God who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him”

Pope Francis, 6/21/14

Many translations in various Bibles of the of Jesus’ words in Gethsemane, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42), are categorically erroneous. These translation read, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36;  Lk 22:42)? The words “of suffering” do not appear in any of the Greek texts in any of the Gospels.

Rev. John L. McKenzie, in his Dictionary of the Bible, speaks thusly of “the cup.” ”The cup is a vessel that often appears in figurative language in the Bible. The “cup of comfort” is offered to mourners. The “cup of thanksgiving” is drunk to celebrate the reception of a favour. Jeremiah speaks of the “cup of wrath” which the nations will have to drink at their downfall. The head of the household filled the cups of the family and guest at the table. The cup is a figure of one’s lot or portion (Mt 26:39, 20:22)” [Emphasis added].

Jesus’ portion in life, Jesus lot in life, was to Proclaim the Kingdom God and the Way to enter that Kingdom by doing the Will of the Father “on earth as it is done in heaven”—and to reveal by His Person, words and deeds what the content of the Way and Will of the Father is—in season and out of season.

In 1942 Clarence Jordan a white Baptist Minister from Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture, a Doctorate Degree in the Greek New Testament, and with a deep belief in the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies saw racism as a grave evil. Feeling strongly called to respond to this evil where he lived, he and some other Christian who believe in the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of all started an integrated farming community, named Koinonia (Greek for communion or fellowship), in southwest Georgia. Southwest Georgia for African-Americans at that time was the closest thing there was to a Nazi America.

Jordan knew full well the possible dangers involved in confronting the evil of racism by responding to it with the ongoing presence of an interracial Christian community, that without speaking a word, just by living its truth, morally repudiated racism as a grave evil contrary to the will of God as taught and lived by Jesus. Those dangers materialized and Koinonia eventually became a hated presence by the Christians in the area. Contempt, disdain, disparagement and ridicule were common fare. Impoverishing boycotts, burning of crops almost ready for harvesting, on going violence and bombings were Jordan’s and this Christian community’s lot. Through all of it, often with fear and trembling, Jordan and the community remained faithful to what they believe they were called to by God, namely, a living obedience to the will of God as revealed by the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies.

Neither Jordan nor the Christians with him in the community started Koinonia to be beaten, robbed, derided, or killed. Koinonia was to be and was a witness to the Lordship of Jesus and the truth of the will of God as He revealed it by His words and deeds. Concomitantly it stood as a witness against untruth, Christian untruth presented and lived as the Gospel truth. Clarence Jordan and each of the Christians who began Koinonia felt personally called by God, who had bestowed on them the gift of faith in Jesus as Lord, to confront the evil of racism, of Christian racism, not with violence or an encyclical or a letter-to-the-editor, not with unrelenting anger toward clerics, politician, academics and business people who believed in, supported and thrived off of the evil of racism, but rather with enfleshed, incarnated, lived truth and love as taught by Jesus as the only Way to vanquish evil because it is the Way of God who is love, who alone can conquer evil.

God communicated to Clarence Jordan and the others who made up that Christian community back in 1942 that this is where they should go and how they should witness to the truth of the God Of Nonviolent Love of all revealed and made visible in His Word, the Nonviolent Jesus. This was their lot in life and in the life of Faith. Whether they lived or died, suffered or prospered as they walked as Jesus would walk along that portion of time and space in which they were called to exists was a non-issue that here was where they were called by God to love as Jesus loved them. They committed to drink the cup of their given lot down to the dregs whether its taste at any moment was sweet or bitter.

And equally profound and authentic historical witness to drinking the cup that Jesus (Mt 20:22) drank down to the last drop, the cup of steadfast commitment to the will of God as revealed by God Himself, in Jesus, is the film of the martyrdom of the Trappists Monks in Algeria in 1996, Of Gods and Men.

If Jesus did not drink the cup offered to Him and from which He was committed to drink for the remainder of His life come what may, If Jesus had refused to drink the final remaining drops from that cup, if He has given Himself a loophole for not drinking from the cup of commitment and then acted contrary to what He had been teaching as the Truth, the Will and the Way of God all His life, if He has said to Peter, “Get the other ear! Kill him!” If He had cried out from the Cross, “Father, destroy those who are destroying Me,” would we even know of Him today? Could He possibly be understood as the incarnation of the all Holy, all Truthful, and all Loving God of everlasting merciful love of all and toward all? Would He be considered the Saviour of humanity, if when the going got tough in following Father’s Truth, Will and Way He said, “I refuse to follow your will any longer. I will no longer drink from the cup of your Truth, your Will and your Way?

ECM