By Charlie Johnston
Today I catch up with a whole host of links that have intrigued me as I slogged along hoping to get to feeling better. The first is a secular link from the astute Kevin Williamson of National Review. He succinctly explains market forces in gasoline pricing for the conspiracy minded. I am troubled that so many serious Christians are so quick to jump to wild conspiracy theories to explain what they do not understand.
There are wide conspiracies from time to time, but they are extremely rare and are almost always found out before they can succeed. There are rarely dark earthly forces pulling the strings and making events happen just the way they want. Even the most sinister forces are far more incompetent than you think – and causing massive changes is far more difficult than most imagine. Most bad things are a matter of bad, ill-informed decisions, stumbling and bumbling by vain people determined to stay the course even after events have proven their theories to be poppycock.
Besides the damage it does in terms of understanding what is really happening, a penchant for conspiracy theories often leads otherwise good people to eagerly bear false witness against others. That is not a matter of indifference to God. I think it is easier for us to believe that the bad in the world is caused by organized, evil forces…to create a scapegoat. In tyrannical societies – such as most Muslim countries, leaders constantly invoke the malicious influence of outsiders, trying to whip up xenophobic flames, to distract people from their own errors and failures. The old Soviet Union constantly blamed “wreckers” for its constant failures. In Nazi Germany it was “saboteurs.” Shifting blame for failure and disaster is comforting at some level, but mainly, it allows us to deceive ourselves that our choices have nothing to do with the consequences we reap.
Back in July, I wrote a column firmly criticizing Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski for elevating a mere preferred approach on public policy to the level of a faith imperative. I rather snarkily said I hoped he was as bold and unambiguous about proclaiming the fundamentals of the faith, such as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as he was about his political ponderings, but I doubted it. Well, I take it back. No, not my criticism about playing as if there is only one acceptable policy option on immigration, but my doubt over Wenski’s courage in proclaiming the faith.
When Florida legalized homosexual “marriage,” Archbishop Wenski sent a memo to employees of the Archdiocese telling them they represent the Church and are obligated to stay faithful to Church teaching. He warned that any who publicly began to support gay “marriage” could be fired. In short, he insisted on staying faithful to the Church’s teaching. This cannot be an easy thing to do in Miami, one of the trendiest and most libertine cities in the country. Abp. Wenski clearly has the courage to stand his post. People who live their duty faithfully in what is actually their responsibility have a lot of latitude in my book. Abp. Wenski is an inspiration to all Christians called to stand their post.
This has been a great couple of weeks for Bishops named “Tom.” Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois – part of my old stomping grounds – ordered every Church in his Diocese to return the tabernacle to the center of the sanctuary. It has been shameful that so many Catholic Churches in modern
times moved the tabernacle (which holds the consecrated Hosts, which Catholics believe to be the True Body of Christ) into hiding, as if it is some sort of shameful relic. Huzzah for a Bishop who insists that Christ be front and center in our worship throughout his Diocese.
Even as darkness thickens, there are signs of hope rising throughout the Church.
Our faithful reader and rising young theologian, Daniel O’Connor did an interesting post at his blog the other day on When the Devil Does Damage Control. Some may find some points arguable, but I think it is a rather impressive examination of conscience we could all benefit from in these times.
While Miami’s Archbishop acted as a profile in courage defending Christian teaching on marriage, Atlanta’s Mayor fired the city’s Fire Chief for publishing and privately distributing a booklet on the same subject – and daring to defend Christian teaching. This was not a situation where the chief used his position to force his beliefs on subordinates…it was a private matter that was completely outside of work, Ah yes, the time has come when you may neither buy nor sell unless you give fealty to the beast – and the beast has many acolytes.
Here a stark and concise report from the Catholic World Report on the advance of Jihad. Reality spoken here.