Jesus Loves You; Caesar and Mammon, Not So Much

Here are some recent scenes from American Christianity waiting on the rich and powerful in the hope of catching some table scraps. You got your Christian representatives of the Thing that Used to Be Liberalism in bed with millionaires bent on “tailoring the message” to the needs of pro-abortion zealots:

Correcting his initial comments denying the charge, Rev. Jim Wallis of the left-leaning Christian group Sojourners has acknowledged that his organization received grants from the Open Society Institute (OSI). Funded by the financial speculator George Soros, the OSI is a backer of many political causes including legal abortion and homosexual activism.

Marvin Olasky, a writer with the evangelical publication WORLD Magazine, had reported that Sojourners, an inter-denominational Christian organization which backs left-leaning political issues, received several hundred thousand dollars from Soros’ OSI.

In an interview with Timothy Dalrymple of the Patheos website, Wallis denied that claim. He compared Olasky to radio and television show host Glenn Beck who in Wallis’ view “lies for a living.”

“No, we don’t receive our money from Soros. . . . Our books are totally open, always have been. Our money comes from Christians who support us and who read Sojourners. That’s where it comes from.”

Tax documents show that Sojourners received a $200,000 OSI grant in October, 2004.

D’oh! Caught with your pants down, Rev. Wallis? That’s okay. Nobody was too surprised that Soros would bankroll you. The standard message of the Left since 1973 has been, “Pay no attention to those dead babies. What about the minimum wage?”

Speaking of the Soros payroll, you got your Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good disappearing without a trace, now that their only real mission — snookering suckers into thinking that supporting a guy who favors sticking scissors in a baby’s brain is some glorious expression of Catholic social teaching — is accomplished. Being a wholly owned subsidiary of Soros, they were, in fact, as real a Catholic social teaching apostolate as a Potemkin Village is a real city. Prattling on about how a guy who has no qualms with leaving a baby who survives an abortion to gasp out her last breaths, neglected and ignored on an operating table, while her murderer collects a fat fee from Planned Parenthood is just the sort of thing that truly true Catholics should be all about! But now that the job of fooling suckers is finished, the money has dried up, and our heroes at CACG, once as dedicated to social justice as Mother Teresa (according to them), are now presumably busy trawling inside the Beltway for new opportunities to doll up Christianity in a low-cut red number, spiked high heels, and fishnet stockings for the next Democrat candidate cruising for a good time.

 

But wait! That’s not all! You also got your baffling spectacle of Christians jumping in feet first to a rally on behalf of American Civil Religion and praying to whatever or whoever or whichever deity or deities might be out there, led by an apostate Catholic talk-show host gone Mormon — who believes the Constitution is divinely inspired, that any church that preaches social justice is secretly a Marxist or Communist front, that a planet called Kolob is the one closest to the throne of God, and that God the Father used to be a man.

Quite a number of Christian commentators are trying to figure out what on earth the purpose of the Restoring Honor Rally was supposed to be. But I think this is sort of like asking what the reasoning behind a mood swing is supposed to be. Reason was not on display to a great degree. What was on display was a great gush of politicized worship of a patriotic American god or gods (To Whom It May Concern? The Force? Insert Name Here?) who loves this country above all others and needs us to help him/her/them/it to make America work again.

This/These god(s) appear(s) very malleable, and it’s hard to say what he/she/them/it look(s) like for sure; but from what I can tell from Beck’s strange amalgam of divinized political theology, here he/she/them/it is, portrayed by a Mormon painter who very much shares Beck’s views. In this particular incarnation, the American god resembles Jesus (absent the other two gods, the Father and the Spirit, and without the (visible) helping hand of his kid brother Satan) and is surrounded by the Holy Company of Founding Fathers, saints, martyrs, special ops forces, astronauts, and congressmen as he separates the sheep and goats according to whether they obeyed the Word of the Sacred and Inspired Constitution. What could be more Catholic? What more biblical?

Beck, like a lot of Mormons, has a genius for spinning out secular messianic American narratives that rely on Christian patterns of creation, fall, and redemption and which tap into great reserves of Christian piety still fermenting American culture. Yet these largely emotional relics of a post-Christian civilization feed not on Christianity, but on moralistic therapeutic (and patriotic) deism. Such a desiccated religiosity bears about as much resemblance to actual Christianity as a smiley face does to the Mona Lisa, but it’s still enough to generate a charge that both baffled and stymied the MSM, which expected the rally to be political in a conventional way.

Indeed, one of the funniest and most delightful parts of the rally was watching old frauds like Al Sharpton flipping out about how it was an attempt to “hijack the Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — just as though Sharpton, along with shakedown artist Jesse Jackson, was not the great hijacker of the Dream in these United States. These two guys, along with a now well-organized establishment of federal teat-suckers and grafters, have done all in their power to take a movement that was originally rooted in a Christian vision of the dignity of the human person and turn it into yet another machine for harvesting personal wealth for themselves. Their transparent envy is betokened by nothing so much as the fact that, instead of celebrating that a largely white crowd was filled with nothing but admiration and enthusiasm for King, Sharpton instead staged a petty counter-rally in an attempt to keep dibs on his turf. Sharpton’s stab at making everything (yet again) a political quarrel about racism only showed how much it was, for him, about money and power. It was only fitting that Alveda King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, should tell the old grifter, along with the usual suspects from the pro-abortion and gay zealotry arm of Lefty agitprop, to buzz off. She represents all that is good about the basic motivations of most Tea Partiers.

The problem is that Beck represents much of what is worst about the corporate interests trying to exploit the Tea Partiers. Whatever Alveda King’s rally was about, Beck’s rally was about a sort of politicized deism with a vaguely Evangelical candy coating, bought and paid for by a large corporation in bed with political masters who very much want to harness this energy for their own purposes. Oh sure, FOX wasn’t an official sponsor. But would anybody be going to Beck’s rally if he were still just working in a fifty-thousand-watt TV station in Minneapolis earning $60 a week and fired by a crazy dream? No, they went because he’s the current mouthpiece of a lot of money — rather like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

 

And that’s the real problem. Mass media run by a few rich and powerful people — like a state controlled by a few rich and powerful people — gives us the illusion of a shared belief, even as they bend that passion to their own ends, like altering the course of a river with dikes. And so Christians could get enthused about the illusion of “unity” and the religious atmosphere of revival, as the crowd was urged to pray to Whom/Whatever in service of a vague American Greatness that has something or other to do with wars abroad, money at home, and feeling good about that. It’s why a rally that was supposedly about repentance and restoration wound up being a rally about nationalistic pride and feeling good about ourselves and our once and future power.

This odd mixture of revivalism and nationalism bleeds into another problem: namely, that so many people who start off looking for messianic hope from the actual Messiah wind up being steered into looking for secular messianic hope, just as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good steered Catholics who think they obey Jesus into believing you can stick scissors in a baby’s brain and toddle off to Mass afterward, so long as you support a rich and powerful Obama.

So, for instance, Beck has famously hyperventilated over Woodrow Wilson as the proto-fascist president and made much of the fasces on the Mercury Dime as the very signature of the moment Things Went Wrong in America and the monstrous federal behemoth was born, bent on crushing state and local government in the service of a centralizing juggernaut of raw power. In response, the Tea Parties cheer and pray for the little guy (for whom I am all in favor of cheering and praying) and are all about protest against the growth of Leviathan inside the Beltway and the assertion of local rights outside it. As a Chestertonian, so am I.

So what does a decidedly un-little millionaire at the (ahem) beck and call of a giant media corporation propose as the solution to this centralizing tendency toward concentrating massive wealth and power in the hands of a state in bed with gigantic corporate interests?

Why, holding a giant rally — not in Poughkeepsie, Snohomish, or Bugtussle, but in Washington, D.C.! His message? Concentrate wealth, power, and trust in the hands of the GOP and FOX News, all while standing in front of the immense fasces decorating the Great Republican’s throne at the Lincoln Memorial and identifying himself and his followers with the one man who did more than anybody in American history to kill large numbers of Americans in order to ensure that the federal government would never again be troubled by uppity local governments talking about state’s rights.

Now to be clear, I side with Lincoln in the Civil War. I think the Union had to be preserved, and I think the slave economy the South fought for was morally indefensible. But let’s not kid ourselves that Woodrow Wilson is somehow the lone root of federalism’s centralizing tendency in American history, or that the glorification of robber-baron corporate interests somehow began with him. There’s a reason the GOP-dominated years after the Civil War were called the Gilded Age and that Leo XIII was compelled to write Rerum Novarum in response to the depredations of unfettered capitalist trusts of the late 19th century (and their radical leftist enemies).

In short, there’s a reason that the Church had to begin formulating a doctrine of social justice long before Wilson, and it was not, contra Beck, because social justice and economic justice are simply code words for Marxism and Communism (concepts Leo was not too keen on). It’s because the tendency of fallen man to want to concentrate wealth and power in his own hands in order to dominate others is not something that started with Wilson’s Democrats, or even with Lincoln’s Republicans, nor does it respect party lines today. Lincoln, Wilson, Barack Obama, and the Democrat-controlled Congress are on the same page when it comes to the conviction that Washington, D.C., is the great center around which all America must orbit. If it comes to that, so were George W. Bush and his Republican-controlled Congress that, in addition to keeping us at sub-Carthaginian levels of respect for human life, sank us deep into debt, created the foundations of a permanent security state at permanent war, and labored to expand the power of the executive branch so that President Obama would have a nice shiny tool for chipping away at more of the Constitution than Bush could destroy during his limited tenure.

That Beck either does not see or does not care about any of this as he cheers for our reckless Great Society project abroad while giving crank history lessons at home about America’s all-but-divine origins convinces me more than ever that trusting him as our messianic guide to the renewed Church of Latter Day Americanism is as sub-optimal a course for Catholics as trusting CACG or Al Sharpton’s scam.

Beck is not — any more than Sharpton, Wallis, or Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good — interested in a sensible implementation of Catholic social teaching or an evaluation of American history in light of sober Christian (that is, Catholic) teaching. Indeed, in his most famous public pronouncement on this subject, he declared, “I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can.” So much for Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno, Mater et Magistra, Centissimus Annus, and Caritas in Veritate. Beck locuta est; causa finita est.

 

Ah, but I can’t deny he’s got a point. As I just pointed out, outfits like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good hide behind “social justice” bafflegab to gull suckers into voting for Obama.

Of course he has a point. All demagogues and false teachers rely on a piece of the truth to bait the hook. That’s the devil’s standard operating procedure. Even CACG had a point that the Iraq War was a stupid idea. And so it was: Condemned by not one but two popes and resisted by virtually all the bishops of the United States, the Iraq War was arguably the stupidest war of choice ever undertaken by these United States. We have yet to see the full catastrophic bill we and countless others will pay for it. CACG was perfectly right to be against it.

But that doesn’t mean it was a smart idea to take CACG’s word for it and vote for the guy who a) just lied about the end of combat in Iraq; b) has voted himself the unilateral power to murder anybody he pleases (including American citizens) without arrest, evidence, trial, or appeal; c) has increased troop levels in our fruitless nation-building Great Society Project in Afghanistan; and d) mysteriously owns a Nobel Peace Prize for being in charge of all this bloodshed.

In the same way, just because Beck is right that “social justice” can be a phony code word for Lefty enthusiasms does not in the slightest mean that there is no such thing as valid Catholic social teaching, nor that it is sound for Catholic conservatives to anoint Beck as more competent to talk about how to live out our faith in the public square than the Church is. That Beck has such a sizable Catholic following is an indictment of how poorly we Catholics have attempted to educate ourselves in the Church’s teaching and of the radical failure of imagination in catechizing American Catholics to think outside standardized media templates. It is from him, Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, and assorted talking heads with no actual interest in Catholic teaching (except what can be cannibalized as spare parts for Agenda Promotion) that your average Catholic media consumer (which is to say, your average Catholic) forms his or her conscience, not from the Church’s teaching.

Beck is — like Sharpton, Wallis, CACG, and the rest of our corporate media or state-sponsored talking heads — a wholly owned subsidiary of wealthy and powerful interests who have very definite things they would like you to think and do. These people are about ginning up a crowd in the service of the people who pay them a lot of money to gin up crowds (and maybe, while they’re at it, earning a few more million stampeding people into buying some gold from his sponsors at Goldline or shaking people down by panicking them into being sufficiently PC.)

Beck may or may not, like Network‘s Howard Beale, take himself seriously as a prophet (his erratic behavior makes it hard to tell). But the people who are paying the bills don’t care about that either way, and the people who are following him will be in for a rude awakening when he flames out or his ratings drop and his corporate sponsors do the full Conan O’Brien to him. When this happens, all Beck’s disappointed followers will be able to take a number in the “But we believed in him!” line, right behind the confused and disappointed people like George Packer, who were bewildered by Obama’s cynically dishonest “Mission Accomplished! Again!” speech:

What President Obama called the end of the combat mission in Iraq is a meaningless milestone, constructed almost entirely out of thin air, and his second Oval Office speech marks a rare moment of dishonesty and disingenuousness on the part of a politician who usually resorts to rare candor at important moments.

Translation: But, but . . . we trusted you! How can you say “combat is over” when we still have 50,000 troops and tens of thousands of contractors still getting shot at and blown up in Iraq? It’s like you are just another self-serving rich and powerful man and not our Savior!

Yes. Very like.

 

Here’s the deal, George (and sundry other believers in the trustworthiness of the immensely rich and powerful): Like everything else that happens with our Manufacturers of Culture in D.C., NY, and LA, the point is not serving the human person, but about amassing titanic amounts of money and power. As the Prophet Chesterton pointed out long ago:

I know that the most modern manufacture has been really occupied in trying to produce an abnormally large needle. I know that the most recent biologists have been chiefly anxious to discover a very small camel. But if we diminish the camel to his smallest, or open the eye of the needle to its largest — if, in short, we assume the words of Christ to have meant the very least that they could mean, His words must at the very least mean this — that rich men are not very likely to be morally trustworthy. Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world. For the whole modern world is absolutely based on the assumption, not that the rich are necessary (which is tenable), but that the rich are trustworthy, which (for a Christian) is not tenable. You will hear everlastingly, in all discussions about newspapers, companies, aristocracies, or party politics, this argument that the rich man cannot be bribed. The fact is, of course, that the rich man is bribed; he has been bribed already. That is why he is a rich man. The whole case for Christianity is that a man who is dependent upon the luxuries of this life is a corrupt man, spiritually corrupt, politically corrupt, financially corrupt. There is one thing that Christ and all the Christian saints have said with a sort of savage monotony. They have said simply that to be rich is to be in peculiar danger of moral wreck. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to kill the rich as violators of definable justice. It is not demonstrably un-Christian to crown the rich as convenient rulers of society. It is not certainly un-Christian to rebel against the rich or to submit to the rich. But it is quite certainly un-Christian to trust the rich, to regard the rich as more morally safe than the poor.

The two engines in the strange prize fight/ballet between Corporate America and Statist America are the servants of Mammon and Caesar — sometimes working together, sometimes quarrelling, but always with a wary sense that the other is ultimately a rival and an enemy who needs to be enslaved, unless some final fusion can be found where the two shall become one flesh. And while these two elephants fight or dance together, it is always the grass that suffers.

The great tragedy of our time is not that the world presents us the servants of Mammon and the servants of Leviathan and says, “Choose one or both.” That’s what the world does. The great tragedy of our time is that we Catholics, who are supposed to trust in a God who is infinitely greater than both, go along with such a system and zealously defend it; receive its TV/radio/music/movies as the True, Good, and Beautiful; die for it; and kill for it. We once created a whole Christian civilization out of a pagan empire that wanted to destroy us. We founded universities and hospitals, established the sciences, renewed philosophy, built an artistic heritage unequaled in the world, and laid the basis for the self governance of free people. Now we crawl around the dinner table of post-Christian, neo-pagan Dives and hope to catch the table scraps of the likes of George Soros, Rupert Murdoch, and a few other rich men and women as we poleaxe one another for being insufficiently devoted to our Fave Rave pagan (or Mormon) leader of Team Mammon or Team Caesar. We trust these people more than we trust Christ and His Holy Church.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We remain free moral agents, and, as baptized Christians, we have the power of Christ to change ourselves and our world. It’s time Catholics began to try thinking outside the box again — as, for instance, Chesterton used to do. Jesus died for us. Caesar and Mammon generally prefer that everybody die for them. If we are to have a Master (and we seem bent on it), I prefer the former to the latter two.

Mark P. Shea

By

Mark P. Shea is the author of Mary, Mother of the Son and other works. He is a senior editor at Catholic Exchange and a columnist for Crisis Magazine. Visit his blog at www.markshea.blogspot.com.

  • smf

    Good article, and point well taken, I hope.

    Just a few thoughts to make myself difficult:

    Perhaps where you mention “corporations” and “statism” you might also consider the thing that brings them both together known properly as corporatism. Corpoaratism of the terrifying sort was seen in fascist and Nazi states, it was a sort of wedding of the corporation run amok and statism run amok. Less complete and more benign forms of the same are seen to greater or lesser degrees in the world today and even in the more distant past, though even these defanged versions are still a danger. (The blended or mixed economy of most modern states has elements of this. Mercantalism had elements of this, too. The Japanese economy is perhaps one of the more efficient examples of modern and reasonably benign wedding of corporate and state power for the purpose of some supposed national good.)

    p.s.

    Most leftist think corporatism means corporations influencing, coopting, or controling government. In reality it is more nearly the other way around, though much like your marital analogy, it is somewhat hard to say who really has the upper hand in such a union. The mutual acceptance by both left and righ of the ever closer relationship of these two powers (only when their guy is in charge of coarse) is perhaps a greater long term danger than being trampled during one of the fights between the two.

    Once we defeat corpartism, corporations, the state, then maybe we can work on those darn ever do gooder communitarians wanting to smother us with their ill concieved good intentions. Then perhaps at last we can face what Chesterton said was wrong with the world: “I am.” Interesting that the solution is “I AM who I AM”.

  • Carl

    “That Beck has such a sizable Catholic following is an indictment of how poorly we Catholics have attempted to educate ourselves in the Church’s teaching and of the radical failure of imagination in catechizing American Catholics to think outside standardized media templates.”

    And also how poorly a job has the American Catholic Bishops done here? As you rightly point out the Social Doctrine is over one hundred years old and has been mostly treated with the same hostility as directed at Humane Vitae.

    “Social Justice” is not a synonym of the Church teaching of the Social Doctrine. Social Justice is not even one of the Four Basic Elements (Common Good, Subsidiarity, Solidarity, Human Dignity are).

    CCC 1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.

    In other words social justice is about creating laws and expanding the welfare state because of its very narrowly applied focus on

  • Carl

    The Declaration of Independence and our U.S. Constitution.

    And yes, I believe God blesed this nation.

  • Mark P. Shea

    You might want to take a look at Leo XIII on Americanism. Turns out it’s a heresy. And neither the Declaration nor the Constitution are “social doctrine” per se.

    No argument on God blessing the US. God blesses human beings, and Americans are a subset of these. We have been enormously blessed. We have it on good authority, however, that he is no respecter of persons and the rumor that “USA! NUMBER 1!” is an approved antiphon in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is greatly exaggerated. Similarly, the notion that the US has divine origins in a way that other countries do not is a highly questionable claim. It is a great invention, indeed one of the greatest. But human it remains: not divine. God founded Israel and the Church. All other institutions are the invention of man and share in his fallenness–including America.

  • Mark P. Shea

    CCC 1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.

    In other words social justice is about creating laws and expanding the welfare state

    That is the most absurd misreading of the Catechism I’ve read in some time.

    In the MSM I believe Beck has done the best job teaching the Social Doctrine.

    And that is the most grotesque claim I’ve read. A twofer!

    Thanks for demonstrating my point so eloquently!

  • Irenaeus

    From Ezra Levant:

    George Schwartz was born in Hungary in 1930

  • Carl

    Separation of Powers, We the People, Bill of Rights, Laws of nature and nature

  • Carl

    That Catholic Church teaching has the answers.

  • H Karlson

    If you want to look for words, you can make all kinds of arguments and say things which are doctrinal are not really important.

  • smf

    Very often the impression is given (perhaps not intentionally) that social justice has some sort of absolute primacy, which it does not. Further, your average Catholic has in at least the last couple of decades heard a great deal in the average parish or school about social justice, but hardly a peep about the social doctrine. The two or not exactly the same. I think many times social justice is very poorly explained and taught even by its most strident supporters, which in turn leads to much of the backlash of confusion and hostility over it.

  • Carl

    The Social Doctrine, human development, is the most extensively written about subject of Papal Encyclicals the past one hundred twenty years or so. Maybe because of this lack application the Popes during this same time period have spent so much time on this issue.

    Either way who can honestly say that there has even been a half measure of application?

    Even the Blessed Virgin has taught Social Doctrine.

  • Martial Artist

    I neither think nor believe that a

    “Mass media run by a few rich and powerful people”

    is the real problem, although it clearly contributes to the result. If the populace were actually educated by the schools, rather than being fed immense quantities of (what are often only questionably related) facts and factoids, the mass media would have much less difficulty seeing through the verbal manipulations of the MSM. But even those working for the media are no longer educated, at least not enough to be accustomed to thinking critically. Scarcely three days go by that I do not hear a television “journalist” utter an error, whether of fact, of construction, or of unsupported assertion. And I watch, at maximum, 30 minutes of local news on days when I bother to watch the news.

    This nation was founded, in part, on the idea that free men and women could be educated so as to understand enough about economics, society and the nature of humankind to be able to make rational decisions about what sorts of laws are appropriate to the ends of maintaining a free nation. Either that founding premise is faulty, or like Chesterton’s aphorism on Christianity, we have largely failed actually to educate our population. I very strongly suspect that the latter explanation applies.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  • Martial Artist

    The second sentence in my last comment should have read

    “…the populace would have much less difficulty seeing through the verbal manipulations of the MSM…

  • Carl

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not a Social Doctrine treatise per say.

    Both the encompassing definition of the Social Doctrine along with the narrow Social Justice definition are found under the Seventh Commandment, You shall not steal, which expresses the right to private property.

    Our Declaration of Independence declares this right to private property in the expression of

  • Carl
  • Carl

    I said “In the MSM I believe Beck has done the best job teaching the Social Doctrine.”
    Mr Shea said “And that is the most grotesque claim I’ve read. A twofer!
    Thanks for demonstrating my point so eloquently”

    I do look forward to the day when someone expresses the full and complete Catholic Social Doctrine in the MSM. That’s the Main Stream Media, not the Catholic Church or associated entities.

  • Ryan Haber

    I love you Mark Shea, and am a devoted reader, because you blaspheme idols to their face and worry about getting stoned after the fact. It may happen one day yet. Did you know that Pius XII hated the word “Catholicism” because he sensed it put our holy religion, the faith of our fathers, and the only true Church of Jesus Christ on an equal footing with “communism,” “socialism,” “capitalism,” “freudianism,” “nihilism,” and all the other bogus answers to man’s deepest yearnings.

    I am a contrarian by birth, and constantly have to check my obnoxious tendency to play the devil’s advocate at inappropriate times. I also am trying to learn the Chestertonian trade of bringing people to truth by the backdoor, starting with arguments they buy and lead them to conclusions they had never thought they could swallow. Lastly, I still spray more vinegar than I ooze honey. Ah, well.

    My sense is that your motivations are less neurotic and are more focused on Truth. God bless you and your writing.

  • Mark P. Shea

    Did you know that Pius XII hated the word “Catholicism” because he sensed it put our holy religion, the faith of our fathers, and the only true Church of Jesus Christ on an equal footing with “communism,” “socialism,” “capitalism,” “freudianism,” “nihilism,” and all the other bogus answers to man’s deepest yearnings.

    No, I didn’t. But I’m gratified to hear her it because I have also thought the same thing and long avoided the word for just that reason. It creeps in due to laziness ocassionally, but as a general rule, I will go out of my way to avoid it.

  • Pammie

    Mr.Shea this is one of the best explanations I have read about current American politics, equally applicable to liberals and conseratives. Quite a few of my friends are very much enamoured of Glen Beck, both Catholic and Protestant. I have never been able to put my finger on why this should be, but you have explained it well.

    The times I’ve managed to watch Mr. Beck for more than a few minutes has done nothing but give me the creeps. I think I understand better now why, thanks to your essay. Well done!

  • Anne

    Thank You. I had begun to think that orthodox Catholics had to swallow the magesterium of the Republican Party in every regard. Can I agree with the Pope on abortion, contraception, homosexual “marriages” and disagree with the Republican Party on the Iraq war, economic issues etc and still be considered a good Catholic?

  • Nick

    The Tea Party was begun by a tax evader, so I see nothing good in it. And rather than join a political party or movement, I’ll stick with the Catholic Church and fulfill my duty of participation in society according to Church teaching.

  • Mark P. Shea

    The Tea Party was begun by a tax evader, so I see nothing good in it.

    The Declaration of Independence was written by a slaveholder, so I see nothing good in it.

    The Exodus was led by a murderer, so I see nothing good in it.

    The Psalms were written by an adulterous murderer, so I see nothing good in them.

  • Jack Benedict

    I recall listening to Beck’s radio show a few months ago. He was talking about social justice and religion. At one point he assured his audience that “Not all Catholics are bad.” Imagine if he had said that about some ethnic or racial group.

  • J

    I love this article…but do you have to refer to the details of the process of the abortion act in such a cavalier fashion? It’s not dissonant with the style of your fast-paced diatribe, but to mention so casually such brutal treatment of human people does undermine your call for sensitivity to the dignity of the human person.

    Warm regards.

  • Graubo de La Hoya

    @ Nick: actually the Tea Party “call” was put out by Rick Santelli of CNBC at the Chicago Market.

    @ Mark: Too long Mark. Too similar to Ann Coulter’s style. Need greater focus. Following the money trail also has to bring as much scrutiny of those capitalizing upon Catholicism only for their own egotistical or financial gain.

    Peace, G

  • Sarah

    Well said. I especially love the Chesterton and the last few paragraphs. Will be passing this along!

  • Pelegrinus

    Too much moral equivalancy in your comments, Mark. Beck and others of his persuasion don’t have to be perfect—”Whoever is not against me is for me.” The plague of our current era is a hatred of life, and Beck and others of his persuasion love life. It is valid to criticize them, but your criticism of these allies in the fight for life is vitriolic. I hope you’ll exhibit more balance and perspective in identifying even imperfect persons who seek to advance the the objective of proclaiming life.

  • Charles Woodbury

    Enjoyable read– although I agree with some of Glen’s stuff, the phrase, ” I never met a con -man I didn’t like” keeps coming to mind.

  • Carl

    Glenn Beck

  • erica

    Isn’t justice getting what you have earned? So how is it justice to be given money that some other poor schlub had forcibly taken? Calling it “social justice” is typical marxist corrupting of the language to manipulate the ignorant. However, when their “justice” is directly harming my family, my fellow catholics don’t want to hear it. Your “social justice” means I can’t afford to send my children to college because almost half of our income is taken before we ever see it while my friend’s children are given grants — which they use on clothing, movies, coffee shop trips, etc. Meanwhile, his house is paid for and he is going to get a fat government guaranteed pension for life when he retires at fifty. Your social justice means I have to choose between paying for my mortgage and life-saving addiction treatment for my son. Now I know why somebody illustrated that the ninth circle of hell as paved with the skulls of bishops — they teach my catholic brothers and sisters to pat themselves on the back for their “charity” when they vote to take the money my husband and I work ourselves to the bone for. True “social justice” would mean if you don’t pay as much as I do in income taxes, your vote doesn’t count as much. And don’t even think about telling yourself it is just taxing the wealthy, INCOME taxes tax a paycheck, not WEALTH. The wealthy don’t have to pay them. But its all good, cause I can no longer afford to patronize those businesses in the back of the bulletin. Nor can I afford to tithe as I used to, but then again, if income redistribution is justice, I already gave, didn’t I? Like all socialists, your average catholic and the overwhelming majority of the clerical hierarchy buythe lie that some government beaurocrat can fix every problem by throwing somebody else’s money at it, and if they vote for it, they are caring for the poor. You want to care for the poor? How about reaching into your own pocket? A progressive income tax is inherently UNJUST. If you don’t work for a paycheck, you don’t have to pay in. That includes those who have already made or inherited enough wealth that they don’t have to draw a paycheck, which includes most of our elected representatives. Oh, and your average bishop or priest has never had to support anyone or pay for his own house, or worry about losing his job … so its easy to claim “solidarity with the poor” and feel like such a big man…but the only thing they have to say to us is we need more money. The USCCB is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democrat party. ANd no, I am not a republican either. I am the forgotten catholic.

  • mrteachersir

    Pelegrinus is right. Mark, we get it: Beck is an LDS nut case, and no real Catholic would even think about agreeing with him or participate in any of his “pagan” philosophies.

  • Kevin

    Paraphrasing Eliot: If you will not have God (and he is a jealous God) you should pay your respects to Caesar or Mammon.

  • Rouxfus

    Sounds similar to William Penn:

    “If men will not be governed by God, they will be ruled by tyrants.”

  • Carl

    http://www.zenit.org/rssenglish-30387
    Benedict XVI stated that the central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found?”

    The Pope highlighted the example of St. Thomas More, “the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose ‘good servant’ he was, because he chose to serve God first.”

    The Pontiff continued, “The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.”

    “Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law,” he observed.
    “Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach,” the Holy Father noted, “in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.”

    He continued: “Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend?

    “If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident,” he said. “Herein lies the real challenge for democracy.”

    Benedict Lists here either directly or indirectly the four basic elements of the Social Doctrine: Common Good, Subsidiarity, Human Dignity, and Solidarity. Apparently not one mention of

  • Mark P. Shea

    Yes. And the smiley face is just the same as the Mona Lisa.

  • Mark

    “It’s time Catholics began to try thinking outside the box again” – Mark P. Shea

    Please — continue.

  • Ryan Haber

    The criticism of Beck’s mormonism is valid. Mormonism is no more a Christian religion than Islam. In fact, they have a lot of things in common, very strikingly.

    I. Both are religions proclaimed by a prophet.

    II. Both claim (1) a new revelation from God (2) delivered by an angel (3) that denies Jesus is God come in flesh. Those three features, not coincidentally, are the three criteria provided in the New Testament for discerning the antichrist. I kid you not.

    III. Both practice the very inhumane and antichristian vice of polygamy wherever prevailing political pressures do not prevent them doing so.

    IV. Both are predicated upon seriously flawed philosophical worldviews – Islam upon dualism and mormonism upon materialist monism (just as secular atheists found their beliefs on materialist monism) – that lead inescapably to nominalism, which is the foundation of moral relativism.

    V. Both have, caught up in their underlying moral relativism even if they seem to have very upright morals, a lot of weird prohibitions and requirements. For Muslims, for instance, certain hygienic practices are moral requirements; both forbid alcohol, etc.

    Do men and women born in this country have every right to live here and express their views. Yup? Am I going to let a Muslim or a Mormon call me “back” to God (as they understand him? or however-you-care-to understand him)?

    No way in hell. They cannot. They cannot because they do not know him.

    Even if they’re really really nice and really really conservative.

    Heed advisedly.

  • Mark

    Q: Grandpa, why did you let your generation bankrupt ours?

    A: Because Glenn Beck was not Catholic.

  • Telemachus

    Mark, you cut deep. Reeeeal deep.

  • Telemachus

    (see above)

  • Pingback: Team America: World Police

MENU