When I got the opportunity to conduct, how could I say no?... I've always loved the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's America and American religion at its best; the collaboration, the joy, the pride, the beauty, and the Christianity that comes across through this beautiful music. So it's a real honor to be here.That was some speechifying by Canada's most famous media cleric. Reportedly, he was jamming with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto on June 27. A "special guest conductor", in fact. Hmmm... Wonder who the maestro schmoozed with to get that gig? Pardon... Wonder what particular factors and influences made the socio-cultural condition conducive for one to garner "the opportunity" to perform with the Latter Day Saints? Come now, this is heavy stuff. Was it another case of pandering? Remember the McGuinty interview? Self-promotion? Of wanting to be everything to everyone? Well, I'm not in the most pleasant of moods as I write, which perhaps explains the pettiness. Thusly, any insults in the com box would be welcome and well deserved on my part. Fire away.
II. Still, why a Catholic priest would refer to MTC as "America and American religion at its best" is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. Was he, then, stereotyping Americans? Maybe not. He's an American by birth. Although, claiming the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to be the summit of American achievement is sort of like saying hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky is the summit of Canadian achievement. It's below the mark, an untruth, elevated too high, bordering on kitsch. Wouldn't you say? Think Hans and Franz on Saturday Night Live: "We're gonna pump... you up". Anyhow, Mormonism cannot even be classified as a Christian religion. It's all that polytheism n'stuff, you know. So why Canada's most astounding media cleric interrelated Christianity with Mormonism in a single sentence is a mystery. Or is it? He's a very intelligent fellow and is therefore cognizant that the religion of Donny and Marie doesn't exactly jive with that of SS. Peter and Paul. So why, then? On the balance of probabilities: pandering. What else?
III. Presently, however, our concern is not with the aspirations of amateur impresarios. Let's depart YYZ and head southeast to the Big Apple, minus three days. On June 24 Canada's most prominent media cleric was at the New York Yacht Club, New York City, there to give an Address to the Gregorian Foundation, entitled: "The Media and the Catholic Church: Challenges and Opportunities". Now when I first read the title at the Salt and Light blog my immediate thought was "Oh no, here we go again. Not another berserker-like rampage against bloggers and LifeSite News". Readers of this space might recall that earlier this year, from February to April, Canada's most dazzling media cleric launched, via the MSM, a series of sorties against the aforementioned parties. Surprisingly, however, the word "blog" was not evoked when he speechified at the Yacht Club. Why? Perchance powers aloft instructed him to tone things down, to accommodate for the urbane sensibilities of those in attendance, like polo star J.P. and his somewhat tipsy wife, Paige.
IV. Even though his address on the media was subdued as contrasted with previous performances, Canada's most breathtaking media cleric still managed to get in a few underhanded swipes. Here's one for your enjoyment:
Catholicism has its own internal culture wars that are certainly well known to us... We cannot simply bash various cultures and play into the hands of loud agents of culture wars who do not necessarily reflect or speak to the vast majority of ordinary people who spend their lives searching for meaning and truth in daily living.It's quite clear that those "loud agents" is a reference to those website commentators and bloggers that are, shall we say, more stridently Catholic than, shall we say, the new wave hipsters at the Salt and Light Media Foundation. And I just love the "bash" descriptor. Well done, sir. Well done. Indeed, reasoned argumentation from the "agents" of orthodox Catholic perspective, firm but fair, must be categorized as "loud", they must be defined as bashers. Why? Ascribing them as emotional and thus irrational (which is the indirect purpose) automatically disqualifies what they say as such. Therefore there is no requirement to respond, which is much easier, because they can't. Hence the diversion is accomplished. A standard liberal tactic. Continuing:
In our efforts to communicate, we have to choose between engaging the culture around us or confronting it. There must be times and places for confronting the culture with the message of the Gospel and the Church, but such "confrontation" must be done with civility, conviction, truthfulness and charity.Again and again he keeps bringing up "civility" and "charity" when, if anything, his past commentaries on Catholics in the media show the inverse. Now I'd prefer to stop harping on this matter and give the guy a break. But given that Canada's most apoplectic media cleric keeps extolling this hypocrisy, silence there will not be.
V. Here's another one. It's a real winner:
Now say hello to Mr. Screenshot...In using the media to evangelize the masses... We must avoid the great danger of chasing after relevance. Some people work so hard to be relevant that they spin hopelessly into irrelevance.
Does not compute. That image appears at 1:08 in Salt and Light's latest promotional video. A rather slick production piece, I might add. It has the rapid cuts, the film speed-ups, a quick pulse music score, with enigmatic people purposely moving around and apparently doing important things. It's cool, it's stylish, it's trendy, it's hip. One could even call it "relevant". Click on the image and enjoy the show. If any of you Canucks do elect to watch, keep a close eye at the 2:19 mark. You will see our man in action and then come to understand the monumental role he plays in the affairs of humanity.
VI. My stomach imploded after reading this howler:
With the electronic age upon us, we are seeing a considerable diminishment of the Catholic and Christian press. This is particularly important for those of you here this evening who have faithfully supported AMERICA magazine, a well known, reputable and hopeful publication of the American Jesuits. Under Fr. Drew Christiansen’s leadership, AMERICA continues to be an excellent teaching tool for the English-speaking world.AMERICA magazine is "reputable"? An "excellent teaching tool"? By the gods of Social Justice, where did he get that idea? I am perplexed. Now let me make this clear for any Canadian readers unfamiliar with AMERICA magazine: It may have a reputation, but it certainly isn't a good one. For years AMERICA has been the "go to" English language periodical for left-liberal dissent, especially since the 1970s after the Jesuits got the hots for Proportionalism and Liberation Theology. In fact, its reputation is so notorious that one writer has called it the "home" of heretics. It was the home of Fr. Robert Drinan (1920-2007), a partner with others who convinced the Kennedy's that it is acceptable to be pro-abortion and Catholic. He was one-time supporter of Bill Clinton's veto on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. A politician. A Democrat. A delightful character. Look him up. Then there's AMERICA's past editor, Fr. Thomas Reese. The evidence shows that the CDF forced him to resign. Moreover, he reportedly went ballistic after Pope Benedict was elected in 2005. Now check out this tidbit regarding an occurrence during the run up to the 2008 US election:
For you see, Thomas Reese, Esquire is, like, all sophisticated n'shit. And we could go on and on about this periodical. Canada's most spectacular media cleric can pander to AMERICA magazine to the n'th degree, but facts are facts and I'm not buying the crap he's dishing out.Occasionally Fr. Reese played it for laughs, as when he referred to the "wafer watch" following Sen. Joseph Biden's nomination for vice president. The upscale audience of San Francisco Catholics responded with a gleeful burst of laughter. Of course, for those who don't believe the Communion host is anything more than a wafer, obsessing about who consumes it really is a joke.
VII. Now perhaps some of you asking how is it possible for a lad from Rochester, NY to swing with the hotshots at the Casbah. With the Mormons, big money goes around the world. With the Manhattan Jesuits, you get the connections with governmental and cultural elites. This is heavy stuff and there's a lot more of it if you peruse his CV. Basically, the answer all comes down to the benefactions gleaned from being a darling of The Star Chamber. Thing is, if you by-pass official media sources and read the commentaries of his various activities and articles, it's immediately discerned that he isn't Mr. Popular with the people. So networking with the bishops allows for a miter to be aligned in his scope, though it sure as hell hasn't helped with his relationship with the folks. His connections with the CCCB go way back to the 1980s and ever since Canada's most ascendant media cleric has had this knack for getting all manner of appointments, awards, newspaper interviews, party invites, lecture tours and other "opportunities", including orchestra conducting. Not only The President of the Internet, just last week he was appointed President of Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario. The title of the newspaper article announcing his appointment speaks for itself: "New Assumption president has big ambitions". Indeed. His long time Basilian buddy Bp. Ronald Fabbro (London diocese) helped with that one. +Ron is Chancellor at AU, you see. Fine - at one level this schmoozing and ladder climbing is to be expected, as things always have been this way to whatever degree, and in my books there's certainly nothing wrong with success. Yet the trouble is that there have been too many signs, too many things he has said and done, which work against the trending return to orthodox/traditional Catholicism that commenced upon the election of B16. And this gives me a stomach ache. Big time.
NOTES / REFERENCES
1. B. Mattson, "Father Rosica Jams with Latter-Day Saints", BC Catholic, July 4, 2011.
2. See the transcript of the address at T. Rosica, "The Media and the Catholic Church: Challenges and Opportunities", Salt and Light (blog), July 18, 2011
3. T. Bethell, "The Heretical Mind Finds a Home", New Oxford Review, January-February 2010, vol. LXXVII, no. 1.
4. The best analysis on the controversy is by J. Mallon, "The Thomas Reese Affair", Inside The Vatican, June 2, 2005.
5. T. Bethell, op. cit.
6. M. Gervais, "New Assumption president has big ambitions", The Windsor Star, July 20, 2011.