Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry K-Lo

Via Instapundit and ginandtacos, we see that poor Kathryn Jean Lopez is fretting that Edward Kennedy wasn't tossed into a hole in the ground after his death, as Catholic funerals are only for the ideologically pure. She links to a Catholic priests who writes that the Church should have given Kennedy a Catholic funeral but it would have been appropriate to exclude any celebration of the man's life, instead of prayers for the forgiveness of his sins.
The overall tone of the funeral liturgy — from the three eulogies, to the prayers of the faithful, to the homily, to the celebrity musicians, to the guest list, and to the nationally-televised gushing color commentaries — seemed to communicate that it was more a public, political apotheosis of Senator Kennedy than a humble, insistent prayer of the Church his mother for the forgiveness of his sins and the repose of his soul. This was probably not helpful to the Senator eschatologically, obviously scandalous to devout pro-lifers spiritually, and likely injurious to the Church both doctrinally and practically.

On the last point, since lex orandi, lex credendi — “the way we pray indicates what we believe” — the overall impression left by the tone of the funeral will likely influence the way Catholics and non-Catholics understand the purpose of the Catholic funeral liturgy for quite some time. It will, moreover, doubtless impact what some Catholics ask for in the funerals of their loved ones; if pastors are unwilling to allow what they observed Senator Kennedy received, there will be wounds to pastors and parishioners both.

This last controversy was totally avoidable; all that was necessary was to adhere to the letter and spirit of the Catholic funeral rite. And the Senator, pro-lifers and the Church as a whole certainly deserved that the Senator’s funeral be an unambiguous and undiluted expression of the Church’s faith.

Somehow I doubt that people will now believe that every mass must have celebrities, three eulogies and national coverage. Or that they must say good-bye to their loved ones by enumerating their sins in public and begging God's forgiveness for the deceased's corrupt soul lest he burn in eternal damnation.
If the Church really wants to purify its parishioners they can start with the women. Most American women take birth control at some point in their lives.
• Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.[2]
• Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2]
• 31% of the 62 million women do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had intercourse; or are not sexually active.[2]
• Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using contraceptives.[2]
• Among the 42 million fertile, sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception.[2]
I have heard a priest mention, in a mildly scolding manner, that women are not confessing the use of contraceptives, but that was one statement over decades of mass attendance. If the Church were serious about denying Catholic rites (marriage, communion, and even extreme unction) to people who violate Catholic rules on contraception, they would face the audience at the altar during every mass and tell the women in the pews who are using contraception that they are forbidden from receiving communion with the men and children. They don't because they don't want to chase them away, or their money. They don't want them pulling their children out of sacrament classes or parish schools, or stopping volunteering. So they privately look the other way, while publicly pressuring vulnerable politicians to do what they will not. It's cowardly and hypocritical, and therefore Catholic women have few problems with being hypocritical in return.

14 comments:

riffle said...

A report was issued just this May about endemic sexual and physical abuse by the Catholic Church taking place for decades in Ireland.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/20/irish-catholic-schools-child-abuse-claims

After reading that report I don't take claims about the Church's moral superiority too seriously. I think if K-Lo was worrying about the Church she'd spend way more time talking about the HUGE ongoing moral and ethical failings rather than bellyaching about one Catholic's funeral.

Susan of Texas said...

Every time I ask people why they choose to have faith (and they do choose), they say because it's too lonely and scary to admit you're on your own. Yes, it is, but isn't the truth better than a comforting lie? Wouldn't that shift the focus from obeying someone's interpretation of what God wants to helping your fellow man because there's nobody else to do it and we all need help at some time?

clever pseudonym said...

I just can't get over any of these people thinking it's the slightest bit of their business how Kennedy is buried.

shane said...

Somehow I doubt that people will now believe that every mass must have celebrities, three eulogies and national coverage.

No shit, Sherlock?

As for the Church's War on Contraceptives, they base it on the ridiculous story of Onan in Genesis. Onan's sin was not impregnating his dead brother's wife, a custom we no longer practice but that was apparently pretty important to Yahweh.

Mr. Wonderful said...

Every time I ask people why they choose to have faith (and they do choose)

This is an ongoing topic of dispute between me and my wife. She says, You can choose to believe. I say, No, if you're choosing, it's not belief. Belief "chooses" you. Belief happens "prior to" your conscious self and its preferences and known desires.

Susan, if they're choosing to have faith, it isn't faith. It's wishful thinking, which is pretending to have faith.

Susan of Texas said...

But they say it is faith, because doubt is a way of testing the strength of their faith. To them, choosing faith is as valid as accepting faith.

(Very few people believe everything their religion tells them to believe; people choose to believe some things and disbelieve others.)

Mr. Wonderful said...

Maybe (I'm making this up) there's a distinction to be had between "faith" and "belief."

Faith is the conscious decision to act as though something were true, whether or not you fully believe it IS true.

Belief is credence, the emotional acceptance of something you cognitively hold to be true.

We could also say that faith is directed toward the future, while belief is rooted in the past. "I believe that LeBron James has been every bit as good as people have said he is, so I have faith that he will make this crucial free-throw."

BTW, I don't understand the "it's too lonely and scary to admit that you're on your own" explanation, such as it is. Non-existence isn't scary any more than being-asleep is scary. What's scary is the prospect of "God's" judgment, given what we see He allows to take place down here every day.

bulbul said...

Catholic women have few problems with being hypocritical in return.
Word. If anyone needs proof, I will bring my hard-core Catholic mother as Exhibit A. Except, I don't think it's hypocrisy.

I don't understand the "it's too lonely and scary to admit that you're on your own"
Because it's bullshit. Like C.S. Lewis said, the history / mythology of the Church is full of people who had deep faith and yet God deserted them. Faith, especially the Catholic kind, is not supposed to be a fairytale you tell yourself to feel better. Ask that fellow Jesus.

I just can't get over any of these people thinking it's the slightest bit of their business how Kennedy is buried.
A Catholic funeral is a religious ceremony, a rite, administered by a member of the clergy, i.e. a successor to the apostles, someone with a special relationship with God. People like K-Lo believe that as such, it should be denied to everyone they personally despise, because those people do not deserve it. And if such undeserving people are afforded the privilege of receiving such a rite, it automatically devaluates the whole rite. Why should a saint like K-Lo receive exactly the same type of funeral as that scumbag sinner Ted Kennedy?
See also marriage, gay.

bulbul said...

Mr. Wonderful,

I don't really buy your distinction between faith and belief - I really don't want to consider the semantics and all its implications. But I do think you have a point there somewhere.

Faith is the conscious decision to act as though something were true, whether or not you fully believe it IS true.
Fake it till you make it? Sounds about right. Although I identify as a Catholic, my faith is guided by something very similar to the Twelve-step program. To quote C.S. Lewis once again, Christianity is not a religion for you if you think there's nothing wrong with you. You have to admit you have a problem and only then do the things that Palestinian dude said start making sense.

bulbul said...

Susan,

but isn't the truth better than a comforting lie?
John 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." I know, I know, it's John, so there's much more to this 'truth' business, but still.

Wouldn't that shift the focus from obeying someone's interpretation of what God wants to helping your fellow man because there's nobody else to do it and we all need help at some time?
If you remember what Jesus said - and it should be noted that he was only quoting the Torah - you'll notice that he said "Love God AND love thy neighbour".
In short, it seems like you're not arguing for atheism, but rather for true Christianity :)

tigris said...

I hope K-Lo confesses her uncharitable, judging attitude toward her fellow Catholics. But Catholics like K-Lo have blind spots for anything but abortion. When have any of these Pharisees ever demanded a pro-war or pro-capital punishment Catholic be denied communion or a eulogy?

Malaclypse said...

true Christianity

Which, sadly, is about as present in the real world as "genuine socialism."

Anonymous said...

When have any of these Pharisees ever demanded a pro-war or pro-capital punishment Catholic be denied communion or a eulogy?

You're forgetting the one key attribute that (according to K-Lo and her ilk) determines one's worthiness for the rites: Whether one is a Republican or not. This is the overriding factor.

Thus, Kennedy is condemned and undeserving of any rites or absolution.

Good ol' abortion-rights loving, serial adulterer, death-penalty pushing Rudy Giulliani is entitled to a full high mass and as much Holy Communion as he can get past his teeth.

John Kerry's mild support of abortion rights means he MUST be denied communion, because he is an apostate Catholic.

George Pataki's support of abortion rites is something to be ignored.

And so on. What a person actually does, what they believe, and whether they live their lives in accordance with anything Jesus taught--all of that is beside the point for people like K-Lo. The real determination of salvation is whether you agree politically with her.

John B. said...

Like bulbul, I'm not entirely sure about Mr. Wonderful's distinctions between faith and belief, but the dynamic he describes here--

We could also say that faith is directed toward the future, while belief is rooted in the past. "I believe that LeBron James has been every bit as good as people have said he is, so I have faith that he will make this crucial free-throw."

--rings true (minus the implicit support of empirical evidence in his example) in light of Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." I don't agree with Paul about a whole lot, but it's hard to think of a better definition of faith. It's a good one precisely because it doesn't rely on dogma--it's a rebuttal, in fact, to dogma's eventual, inevitable failure to explain. The Church is God's representative on earth, yes, but the Church is also a human institution and thus both limited and flawed: its failure to explain something or its moral and ethical failures are not God's fault. Contra Susan, what people choose isn't faith but a denomination that makes them feel good about themselves. Genuine faith, though, by definition exists independent of one's denomination.

Another way of seeing the difference: In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Dedalus tells a friend why he has left the Catholic church. When his friend asks him why he doesn't become a Protestant, Stephen responds, "I've lost my faith--not my mind."