The New False Priests:
Religious Talk Show Hosts,
Is Not Christianity: It is Politics,
And is One of “The Traditions of Men”
Conservative Love of the Embryo?
What’s wrong with anti-abortionism? The problem is that it never really had a strong basis in the Bible; it was not really a command from God at all. Many people claimed that God condemned abortion; but the most definitive voice on God – the Bible – said no such thing. While lesser authorities like the Church, did not say this either. So that to be sure, anyone can announced, as their own personal opinion, that they don’t like abortion. But they should be clear, that is only their own personal opinion. It is not the opinion of God. And anyone who announces the idea that God said abortion is wrong, is a heretic; a person speaking falsely for God. Which is a very, very, very serious sin.
Anyone who dislikes abortion, can present that as his or her own, personal opinion. But anyone who claims that God himself said abortion is wrong, speaks falsely for God; is a heretic. Is doing something very, very bad.
We will have been showing here that the anti-abortionism we hear on many religious shows, is not really from the Bible, or real religion, at all. Instead, anti-abortionism is mostly, from people’s a) own personal conviction – as b) guided by, exploited by, various social political movements and philosophies of the Right wing of politics; the superpatriotic wing. Anti-abortion organizations like Eternal Word Radio Network especially, have been very, very heavily influenced by right-wing talk radio, and its neo-“conservative” philosophy. Neo-“conservatism” being a social/political movement, that is not found in the Bible itself; but that was invented in the 1980’s or so, by various political figures, like Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh. A political movement, that came to eventually dominate radio, in our own Rush Limbaugh era.
Until about 2004 AD or so, EWTN network often presented itself on air, as explicitly “conservative.” And it continually and explicitly, in show after show, opposed “liberals” by description, but also often by name. To be sure, there were often liberal priests who appeared on specifically, EWTN; however, a) those priests often did not quite know who they were supporting. And b) these liberal priests were not so adamantly political, as the predominant messages of the network. While in any case, c) it was actually not the priests, but the self-avowedly “conservative” talk show hosts, and other secular/lay staff members and administrators, that really ran the network, or determined its predominant, day-to-day message. While these staffmembers continually took a “conservative” stance against “liberals.” A message that was not really Catholic or religious or Christian at all; but was political.
The fact is, the word “conservative” is not a word really found in the Bible very much, if at all. The word actually comes not from the Bible, but from say, the Republican Party platform. Likewise, the attack on “liberal”s is not only not in the Bible; it even seems to go against the Bible. The Bible tells us many times, in fact, to “be liberal” in helping the poor. (As noted above; Bible, RSV).
It seems clear therefore, that neither of the two main ideas of EWTN were really from God or Religion. First, a) the constant attack by EWTN and other “conservatives,” on “liberals,” was not really from real religion; the Bible itself never mentioned “conservatism” by name, even as it condemned the concept, in Pharisees. While the attack on “liberals” goes exactly against the Bible; which tells us to “be liberal” in helping the poor. While, b) as far as EWTN and others telling us that God orders us to vote for anti-abortion candidates, EWTN and Karl Keating here ended up with a single “issue” concentration, that however, crossed both the Bible, and the Church; especially going against the cardinals and the Pope himself. The two main ideas on the network therefore, were both political, not religious. And indeed, c) the network always inevitably, implicitly concluded, that we must almost always vote Republican. While even the simplest statistical analysis of the content of EWRN’s on-air content, would show that there was an overwhelming pattern here: they d) constantly supported politicians and issues by name. And e) the politicians and issues they supported, were overwhelmingly, Republican. Even if the network seldom supported the Republican Party by name, it was easy to see that the politicians and issues that it supported, overwhelmingly “happened” to be Republicans. By a factor of probably, 100 to 1, over Democrats and their issues. So that it seems clear from the simplest statistical content analysis, that these networks, organizations, were extremely political; and centered around the Republican Party. Indeed, it was not the Bible that called itself “conservative”; it was the Republican Party.
Were they really entirely, rigorously religious? Antiabortionist individuals and organizations like EWTN were not only f) constantly quoting political ideas; they were also g) occasionally even openly fighting against, or implicitly opposing, many saints, h) bishops, i) cardinals, and against j) the Pope, Benedict XVI. Because of this in fact, at least one of EWTN’s shows, k) Catholic Answers, was apparently occasionally in conflict with the IRS; probably for being a political organization, while claiming religious or tax-exempt nonprofit status.
Given all its conflicts with real religion, what should we say about EWTN? Was EWTN really, fully religious? Or was it indeed, even fully, really, Christian? Aside from its tax status: how did EWTN ever manage to fool Catholics and Christians, and pass itself off as entirely, loyally faithful to the Church and to God? For some time, mere private and political opinions, have been entering into the Church – by posing as religion. Various networks like EWTN employed legions of apologists and talk show hosts and guests; sophisticated rhetoricians who constantly excerpted and quoted misleading parts of Religion. Who quoted only the parts of the Bible, that seemed to back their conservative political philosophy. While ignoring or “twist”ing parts of the Bible that disagreed with them. In this way, these sly sophists, convinced millions, that they were the voice of the Bible, and of God. That their political philosophy, was from the Bible itself.
How did these conservatives fool so many? First a) dozens, hundreds of sly speakers, talk show hosts, apologists and guests, in the extended “Conservative Coalition,” generated hundreds, thousands of sly “talking points” in support of themselves. Then b) those ideas were broadcast to millions of listeners, largely by way of the vulnerable, relatively new, “conservative” radio stations. Including even “Catholic” media, like EWRN. Indeed, there was a vast new kind of Political/Rhetorical machine out here; boiler-room talking-point generators, generating and disseminating conservative ideas/propaganda, full time. And it was enormously effective – because no one really had seen anything like it before. And no one knew how to counter it.
How have so many Catholics been fooled for so long? The whole idea of a very popular, “conservative” “Catholic” media network, especially, not under very direct control of a male authority, was rather new. And yet many new things were being allowed in the Church after Vatican II; and so this new organization was not adequately understood – or monitored – by the Church. This meant that ultimately, a great number of questionable ideas, concepts, were able to slyly creep into Catholicism, through this new, unwatched, back door. There had been minor Catholic media shows before; but they were never quite that popular. Or they themselves had been questionable. (For a list of early authorized small Catholic outlets, see 1973 Catholic Almanac, p. 686; cf. perhaps Father Coughlin – SP? – and Father Feeney – SP? And Bishop Sheen). In particular though, the private, unbiblical philosophy of radical anti-abortionism, was a rather new idea, or had only recently found clearer Church formulation, c. 1959-4. So that this message had not yet stood the test of time.
New and untested as the message and their media were, the new anti-abortion medium and message were however, massively successful, for a (allegedly) religious show. The new media mixed religion and politics that seemed to make religion “relevant” to daily life and voting (as in “Relevant Radio”: “bridging the gap between faith and ordinary life”). And millions bought this message, as cleverly presented as it was. Conservative media were able to use the propagandistic power of the media, the hypnotic repetition of its message (often abortion would be mentioned every hour), to sell and popularize, to millions, their own radical anti-abortionism. They were ten times more effective than even the size of their audience would indicate, because they sold their own social-political philosophy, as the word of the Church. Even though the real authority of the Church at times resisted this network and its message, any rebukes from the Church were naturally, not well publicized on the network itself. So that most EWTN/RN listeners, never knew that Cardinal Mahony had fought with EWTN/RN founder and head, Mother Angelica. Or that its one issue anti-abortionism, had been attacked by at least two Cardinals; one of them the current Pope.
Exactly how, then, did such a heresy, an abomination, come to dominate religious media? And come to control countless elections? The main source of the problem, we will see, were two of the new “Catholic” broadcast and Internet media organizations: namely Eternal Word Television Network, and particularly its radio branch, EWRN. These were a relatively new phenomenon, in 1982. And the Church – lulled into complacency perhaps by earlier more liberal Catholic media efforts, like Bishop Sheen’s – did not bother to adequately monitor or control these new outlets; the occasional quoted remarks by the Church itself, often seemed to largely embrace such new media; at least in the excerpts quoted over EWTN, it seemed that the Church was trumpeting its support daily, for “the new evangelization” of EWTN/RN. So that the public – and to some extent even the Church itself – did not really fully appreciate the dangers that such media offered. Our very traditional Church as it turns out, with its very old, literally Medieval mechanisms of control over its message, its liturgy, failed to extend effective control or oversight, over the “informal” but massively influential message of Eternal Word Television Network.
In large part, the problem had come from the inevitable unexpected dangers posed in any new technology; the old control mechanisms and institutions of the Church, did not yet really know which particular problems the new technology might present. But also in part, the problems we have had from EWTN, were also from the start a) the result of insufficiencies in the network’s founder, Mother Angelica herself. As a relatively simple nun, Mother Angelica was eventually found by Cardinal Mahony, some suggest, to be without much well-founded, scholarly “theology” or training behind her. (See Mahony’s remarks on untrained persons without expertise in theology). Ms. Angelica after all, was just a simple nun; which at the time often meant that she did not get all the training (or “formation” as they say in Catholic-speak) of say, a male priest. Partially because of the more limited education given to some women in that era, finally it seems that Ms. Angelica and EWTN’s simple, allegedly conservative and obedient Catholicism, her “theology” were often, simply, not very well informed.
“Mother” Angelica to be sure – had found a new side to an old nun’s title: “Mother.” She had a simple desire to speak in a simple, compassionate, motherly, protective way, about children. While she extended that consoling tone, to embryos too. And it all sounded heartfelt, and consoling. But even people who speak their hearts, often err; often, the Bible itself warned, our “hearts” deceive us. In addition to a compassionate heart, we also need the “mind” of Christ therefore; we the ability to take a critical look at the sentiments of the heart, to see where they might be right … but also where they might be wrong. This is in fact what our book does here; and as we began to do that, we have found that the simplistic, sentimental theology advocated by Angelica and her media network, has all along been in rather direct conflict with the more thorough, well-formed “theology,” as Mahony called it, of the Church. Even her “conservative” motherliness, even speaking from the heart, had one major problem: she neglected to use and value, the brain. The “mind of Christ.” Angelica had lots of “heart,” and perhaps even some native intelligence; but Angelica did not really think through all the issues well enough. So that even her heartfelt “conservatism,” her motherly protection of the embryo, ended up being a little too obsessively narrow; and finally, heretical. Bringing her and her network finally into an at-first, hidden, but then increasingly open rebellion, against Cardinals; like Angelica’s rebellions against especially, Cardinal Mahony.
“Conservatism” after all, often just means following the most obvious and well-known traditional ideas; and it partially comes from just not having enough of an active mind, to consider newer theories and ideas, other than clichés. While following the “heart” often means, following deep but often-unreliable feelings, desires, passions, obsessions.
Liberal Errors Too?
To be sure, though “Liberal”ism is mentioned and encouraged in the Bible, liberalism has also become a slightly different political philosophy, in our own time. Indeed, the problem we have here with EWTN/RN, does not just come from its being too sentimental, or too “conservative” or stiff-necked; in part the problems we have had from this network, are also ironically, the result of some surprising elements of extreme liberalism in parts of the network. (As Chris Ferrara stated).
Ironically, this “Conservative” network, indeed presents many liberal aspects. First a) the Church allowing a new media network, to present “Catholic” opinions, was either a negligent, or a very liberal, act. The Church traditionally, spoke from the pulpit, in churches, in the days before radio, TV, internet. While what was said in church liturgies was very, very, very tightly controlled. Allowing rather casual ideas to be released by non-priests, as “Catholic,” over the air, to millions, was a relatively new development (Father Coughlin aside? An early experiment that was not so successful in any case). The new media – radio, TV, Internet – are immensely powerful. But the Church had not really so extensively employed them before; or allowed them to speak in its name. So that allowing that, was an either deliberate or inadvertent revolution; a very liberal act.
Were there also other liberal elements in all this? Then too, b) inadvertently or deliberately giving so much responsibility and authority to a woman, was a very new, very liberal act, by a traditionally patriarchal church. This was revolutionary, for a highly patriarchal Church. A church in which “Father”s, not Mothers, predominated. In which only men were allowed to become priests, or to speak prominently in a church.
Furthermore, all this was only made possible by c) a slight, general, post Vatican II liberal loosening of Church doctrines and traditions. A general loosening of many traditions, were necessary, to allow a woman, a nun, to found and head a new media network; and particularly one that presented itself as “Catholic.”
Technology is constantly handing us new things; like new media. And no doubt, many of them are good. So that our churches need some ability to freely, liberally change, and to adapt to such new and better things. But allowing such innovations, as an untrained nun voicing her own opinions as the word of God to millions of listeners, was either a very, very deliberate, very liberal move. Or a dangerous accident. Since finally, it was an early experiment in Catholic media … that was not entirely successful. It was an experiment that ended up broadcasting heresies, to millions. An experiment so disastrous, that in the future, perhaps there should not be any privately-owned conservative “Catholic” media outlets at all.
Ironically, in any case, the birth of a Catholic media network, especially one run by a woman, was a very, very liberal idea. Even more ironic, was that this network called itself “conservative” – but was only made possible, by the very liberalism … that the network itself constantly condemned. In a truly traditional, conservative Church, there would not be a private “Catholic” network out there, that was not under direct control of a high-ranking priest. And it would not be offering casual ad-hoc political philosophy, as the word of the Church and of God.
Ironically, as Chris Ferrara noted in his own book, there have been many very, radically liberal elements in this “conservative” network. Worse, some of these new liberal media experiments, we would have to say here, produced disastrous results. In the main, we suggest here, the problem with EWTN/RN was indeed largely the result of the Church liberally allowing authority, oversight, to slip away from priests. The Church allowed much authority and power, to slip over from bishops, monsignors … to a) relatively less trained nuns. And b) even especially, to lay staff persons. This meant that Church authority and power, was slipping away from a) Cardinals and b) Popes. And c) Church Tradition. While power was being hand over next, not to seminary-formed d) theologians and scholars, who deserve far more authority. But instead, the Church began to e) hand over much its authority to “Catholic” media figures. Like talk show hosts. And f) apologists. And g) political issues activists. Amazingly, all of these often utterly-untrained persons, or non priests, are allowed to present themselves as the voice of the Church, of God.
Probably without realizing it, the Church has been allowing a great deal of its power to be transferred, to the new “religious” media. Now and then to be sure though, the Church will have begun to notice that … it had rather limited control over this new agency. Now and then no doubt, the Church will have begin to suspect that the new medium would feel rather independent from the Church … and would even occasionally present ideas that the Church itself thought were heretical. From the very beginning of the new religious media, there have always been hints of conflicts, between what is said on air, and what the Church really thinks. While we are making clear here for example, the conflicts between even Mother Angelica’s “conservative/motherly” philosophy, and many key traditions in the Church.
Furthermore, the conflicts between the new network and the traditional Church no doubt increased, we would note here, particularly as the network’s staff grew to include more and more non-religious, even lay, even Protestant, even secular, persons. Few priests could handle the technical aspects of media production and broadcast. And so the network would necessarily have had to hire many non-priests; even non-Catholics. So that a Catholic radio station was almost necessarily, inevitably at first, a compromise between church traditions, and the media world. Which is a very liberal idea.
These various organizations therefore are much more liberal in many ways, than many might have thought. But liberal as they are therefore, they also make many over-liberal mistakes. Particularly when organizations like EWTN employed many non priests, many technical/media people, eventually, we suggest here, these lay staff members and hosts … began to infect the message of the network. With their own untrained and secular and Republican ideas. The radio branch of EWTN in particular, we suggest began to listen more and more, not to trained priests. Or even really, to the Church. Instead, the network employed many to secular/lay media people, like especially, a) talk show hosts. And b) apologists. And c) the social activists that were recruited as guests for various programs. While these staffmembers and their own personal ideas, began to infect the theology of the network. Especially the radio staff it seems, were infected on their own part, by talk radio, Rush-Limbaugh conservatism.
In order to run even a single radio station, Angelica needed to get people with media skills; and since few priests had the necessary skills, that meant that Angelica was necessarily employing many non-priests. Like technical people. But also, a) on-air speakers. Like say, apologists. And b) talk-show hosts. People who were not priests. But who were essentially, rhetoricians: persons whose job is to use their secular and religious knowledge, to use elements of reason and rhetoric, to defend the faith. Though in this case, they used their skills also to defend Mother Angelica, and her doctrines.
The new Catholic networks, have employed a new kind of figure in the Church: the talk show host; the one-issue guest; the “Apologist.” And as it turns out, that has been the major problem. The problem is that these new employees, have certain fatal limitations and biases. They seduce and cajole listeners, not with just accurate citations of doctrine and dogma, but also with rhetorical – or as it turns out, sophistical, dishonest, lawyerly – arguments. “Apologists” in particular, we will see, are not even as honest as nuns. They are not necessarily very dedicated, to religion, or to the truth, or to honest reasoning; they are more dedicated to winning arguments, by whatever means possible. Apologists will often use dishonest arguments; arguments that appear to be good at first, but that deeper down use deceitful, false logic and reasoning; offered in false, rigged debates.
Essentially, these new figures in the church – apologists; talk show hosts; one-issue guests – are not one and the same as honest, fair priests. Nor are they even as good as honest, fair investigators. Rather, they are people who want to win arguments – by any means available. They are essentially, mere rhetoricians, sophists. Many of these new fixtures of radio and TV, were literally, originally trained as lawyers; like Karl Keating, Attny.. While lawyers do not necessarily use honest logic or evidence, when they defend guilty clients; they use whatever argument seems to fool people; to convince juries and judges by whatever means is available.
The core problem with the new “Catholic” media in fact, we will see, has been the new lay staff: apologists, talk show hosts, and guests. In recent years, EWTN has had six or seven apologists on call, particularly, at any given time. While this team of apologetics sophists, became the (semi-) intellectual backup, the think tank, for defending not just the station’s idea of the Church; but almost whatever Mother Angelica wanted to say. In particular, on EWRN’s apologetics staff, Karl Keating, attny., defended – and then began to overextend – the new anti-abortion doctrines for example. Apologists and lawyers began defending and extending Angelica’s rabid anti-abortionism; defending it against frequent charges that the doctrine was not consistent with the Bible; against charges that one-issue antiabortionism was not consistent with Church doctrine.
Apologists, talk-show hosts, guests: this larger-and-larger band of on-call sophists, became the semi-intellectual backbone of antiabortionism. They partially generated, partially collected, many hundreds of anti-abortion arguments; the very arguments that we are here and now taking the time to counter. But more than that, a few dozen or so apologists have formed a significant part, of the semi-intellectual backbone, the think tank, for not just their own shows, but for essentially all of EWTN’s talk shows. And indeed, for the anti-abortion movement. Their ideas, were used not only on Apologetics shows – like Catholics Answers Live – but their ideas about abortion especially, were traded to countless professional anti-abortion organizations. Many of whose staff and founders, began to show up as guest speakers, on EWTN shows. So that by c. 1995 or so, there existed a vast pool of talent, sophists, generated dozens, hundreds of arguments against abortion.
Broadcasting dozens, hundreds of apologists and talk show hosts and guests, to millions, over a vast media network of a hundred radio and TV stations, and Internet, along with many other elements (like related conservative coalition organizations), eventually formed a vast, mutual support system (some like Hillary Clinton would say, a “conspiracy”). A vast system of argument-generating, sophistical apologists; a vast media outlet and staff; combined with countless anti-abortionist organizations and their staff members. So that by the 1990s, Mother Angelica was the head of a highly trained, efficient cadre of professional rhetoricians; and using a vast media empire to broadcast and refine her opinions, her views of what the Church was, or should be. But note however, that there was a problem with this vast new media machine: among other things, many of these persons who were determining the message of the network, were not priests. And these new staff members – apologists, talk show hosts, issue-advocacy guests – were therefore, not so highly trained in Church doctrines. Nor were they as extremely dedicated to – or very intimately overseen, day to day by – the Church. Many of the staff members were originally, not even Catholic. (Apologist Jimmy Akin had been raised as a Protestant, it seems? See the book, Surprised by Truth, by Raymond Arroyo? Full of biographies of EWTN members). Though the founder of EWTN was a nun to be sure, finally she was a rather radically liberal nun in some ways. And furthermore, “Mother” was surrounded by many other persons, who were not necessarily as trained in theology or doctrine, as we need, in a religious network broadcast to millions. While worse, the Church had not yet developed the mechanisms that would be needed, to successfully monitor such an organization. Or keep it from drifting into … one heresy after another.
The new media system was in fact, a dramatic new liberal experiment. One that was never really under the full control of the Church; never under control, for many reasons which we are explaining here. Among other things, the downfall of this new “Catholic” experiment in media, was the prominent place of apologists, and talk show hosts, especially. The main problem was that there are many shortcomings and sins in having non-priests like apologists, present the word of the Church. Since most of them were not priests, their arguments were never really firmly based on a thorough understanding of and dedication to Church doctrine. Typically, their arguments were a) often based on a rather simple, childhood, literalistic understanding of Catholicism. Even b) many of the real priests on the network had never really been exposed to … much real, scholarly theology. So that their understanding of the Church, larger matters of doctrine, was relatively unsophisticated, and even naïve; and even false. (Which to be sure, fit their conservative audience all too well). But c) worse, these new non-priests often intermixed religion with political ideas, indistinguishably. And d) even worse, not being as committed to Jesus, they often used dishonest logic and argumentation. Typically, they would quote and cite and follow, only the conservative parts of Catholic doctrine they wanted to support; while they ignored or “twist”ed the many parts of what the Church was saying, that seemed “liberal” to them, and that they did not want to obey. (As one random example, among a million examples, consider the parts of Ratzinger’s 2004 memo, they did not quote or adequately stress; hear Sheila Liaugminas doing precisely that, on Relevant Radio, Dec. 3, 2009, Relevant Radio, 9:32 AM. And, within a week or so of this time, see a guest congratulating Drew Mariani, on leaving out part of Bishop Tobin’s remarks on the Christ Matthews show.).
What’s wrong with these new “conservative” Catholic media then? In part, it is the new lay staffmembers and guests. Like apologists; talk show hosts; many guests. Though the new conservative Catholic media are allegedly devoted to defending the faith, still, as a rule, many members of their staff, are not priests.
Finally, what is wrong with having so many non-priests in charge of the Church’s message? (As they are increasingly in charge of it now). First, a) in spite of their own apparently pious nature, they are not quite so absolutely, firmly, directly, fully tied to church authority. They are not people who decided – as priests and religious orders have – to give up everything they have, to submit themselves totally to the Church, and to live in monasteries or rectories, under daily and complete submission to senior priests. Rather instead, these are often lay persons, entering this profession as a second, or media career. And therefore, though they often appear to be extremely pious, and informed to lay persons, they typically are not quite as fully dedicated to, or educated in, the Church, as the average priest might be. And b) therefore, their arguments on, and defenses of, alleged Church doctrines, are often not as fully informed, as priests who have attended good seminaries.
Then too apologists, c) as merely persons skilled in rhetoric, argumentation, as competitive debaters that want to win arguments, they often lack some of the pastoral modesty and kind deference, that many priests have.
Or in any case, d) apologists are usually persons, not quite as dedicated to Truth, and truthful arguments, as one might expect. They are persons more skilled in mere rhetoric and what the Bible calls “sophistry”: they are not dedicated to the truth, but to wining arguments. By whatever means possible. So that they generate many arguments that appeal to the masses, but that are ultimately false arguments. Like demagogues do.
Apologists generate many false arguments. And so in part, our work here is to counter their dishonest reasoning. As we have advanced arguments for abortion here, we are in effect countering, noting logical and factual sins and errors in, many anti-abortion arguments that apologists have advanced on EWTN and Relevant Radio, etc.. In effect, we find their arguments rhetorical, sophistical, and essentially, dishonest; apologists have always lacked the deep commitment of (some, especially Jesuit) priests, to simple – or better, rigorous – honesty. Christians are supposed to be honest; to not “bear false witness.” But the last virtue many religious people ever learn, is intellectual honesty; in general, we can show that the anti-abortion apologists, especially lack intellectual honesty. Their arguments do not use sound, valid, logical, arguments. And their arguments do not honestly, “full”y present all the important facts; all the relevant sayings about abortion, voting, by Cardinals and Popes. Typically, apologists present on air, dishonest arguments; and arguments especially that present only the parts of the facts; the parts that seem to support their case.
Because apologists are biased, and not honest e) the word “apologetics” is a dirty word in the world of serious Theological scholarship. (The scholarly world; of which conservatives and EWTN seem unaware; or dismissive. To the conservative realist, mere intellectuals and professors are another, effete class; who are assumed to have no common sense or real intelligence. Though scholars have a few virtues that conservatives would do well to learn: like the value of intelligence, and intellectual honesty).
111) # 130 There are many problems with apologists as a whole. But the recent inadvertent or neglectful transfer of much of the Church’s authority, to “Catholic” media, to nuns, to apologists, has resulted especially, in a problem warned about in the Bible itself. Especially, f) as these many new, relatively untrained, un “formed” non-priests – lay apologists and talk show hosts and untutored nuns – begin to take control of the Church, as they are allowed to continue to present themselves as the voice of God, these new half-priests are however, unreliable in a particular way: not being priests, they are not just religious, but also somewhat lay/secular in their experience, and state of mind. And so unfortunately, they bring with themselves a willingness or a habit, of combining, confusing, their own social-political philosophies, with religion. This is their background; most were not fully formed and committed to religion as priests after all, in good seminaries. Many of them were originally in other secular professions; and found apologetics, and so forth, as a second career. While indeed, apologetics is always a career that is not quite as fully dedicated to religion as priests have been; in spite of all avowals of apologists to the contrary. Apologists are a sort of hybrid half-priest at best; because they have many secular habits, a partially lay background, they inevitably intermix and confuse secular ideas with sound religious doctrine. (Much as the French Revolution said about “friars,” and other half-religious clerks). Apologists confuse and intermix religion with secular ideas, philosophies, politics. Even though the Bible itself often warned about this: the Bible itself warning about the “traditions of men” intermingling with religion (Col. 2.8 vs. Mark 7.8); especially the intermingling of religion with false “philosoph”ies:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2.8 NIV).
In the last days especially, we were told, men will do “whatever seems right in their own eyes”; following the worst traditions of men, without regard to the better traditions, the traditions attributed to God.
Which specific traditions of men, do apologists follow, confuse with religion? Specifically, what we are seeing with religious talk show apologists and hosts, on religious radio in particular, is that they tend to intermix, confuse the “conservative” philosophy of their radio models, with religion. In particular, radio apologists like Karl Keating and Jimmy Akin and others, c. 1985-2004, ended to confuse God and Jesus and the Church, with Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson. They let the prevailing model of conservative politics, on the radio, infect their sense of religion. They naively tended to assume that the conservative Republican political philosophy of talk radio and evangelical TV, was totally compatible with the Bible, and the Church. And in this way, they mistakenly intermixed religion, with conservative philosophy.
What is wrong with all this? What happens, as these new non-priests have begun intermixing religion and their own private social philosophies? As they have done this .. and then began taking over authority in religion? Presenting themselves on “Catholic” networks, as the voice of God? What happened when the Church allowed such media organizations as EWTN/RN to speak for it, even though these media organizations are not under the full control of the Church? What happened, when the Church in effect gives so much authority to media talk show hosts and apologists? What happened, inevitably, was that the real message of the Church, got mixed in with, filtered through, biased by, a lay staff’s own political philosophies and secular convictions. What happened was that in the end, we have gotten a horrible result: in “conservative” religion, we have gotten a monstrous religious/political hybrid. Today, from religious radio, we are getting a mix of speculative philosophy with solid religion. Giving us a false religion; a strange cult. We are getting the all-too fallible, partisan, political opinions, the “traditions of men,” the opinions of Rush Limbaugh, even now being delivered as the absolute, fixed word of the Church, and of God. Worse, since these awful new intermixtures are presented with such seeming authority, as God, millions of Catholics have followed these awful hybrid monsters, with near total loyalty. Believing they are following the Church, and following Christ. Though they are really following Rush Limbaugh.
This abomination, which we see on “Catholic” radio and TV, began to happen years before. All this began to appear especially early as the 1970’s, with the many religio-political organizations founded by Protestant lawyer/televangelist and Republican Senator’s son, Pat Robertson. Protestants had always been a bit more open than Catholics, to experimenting with new versions of Christianity; and so they were the first to really take to experimenting with broadcasting religion on the radio, and then TV; they were among the first really successful televangelists (like Billy Sunday?). Following these earlier models, and then expanding on them, Pat Robertson ultimately began one the first really successful religious TV shows: the “700 Club.” Which eventually became the foundation of an entire religious network; “CBN,” or the “Christian Broadcast Network.” But there have been problems with some of these religious experiments; in particular, Pat Robertson note, had been trained as a lawyer at Yale Law School, it is said. (Though it is also said that he never passed the bar exam, still, his thinking reflects often lawyerly, not religious models.) By nature, Robertson was lawyerly in this thinking. And then too, he was a conservative; he was the son of a successful man, a senator, who wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Not being a self-made man, he believed in following the rules; but not knowing much about life, his ideas of the rules, was rather simple. And he did not like intellectuals and professors, and intellectual subtleties; he liked simple phrases repeated over and over; and he did not like “liberals.” He was the original model of a person holding to simple traditional values. But he intermixed his religious values, with political ones. He followed the kind of sense of things you get from 1950’s High School assemblies and Boy Scout credos: God and Country, the cross and the flag, were both presented at the same time. And they were intermixed. Even though in the Bible, God never mentioned “America” by name; and God did not seem to like “nations” at all, Robertson and many others naively intermixed their Christianity, with patriotic Americanisms. So that Robertson revived the old intermixture of patriotic/nationalist-militarism, with Christianity; to recreate a Boy-Scout like hybrid. Remembering this from the 1940’s and 1950’s no doubt, then Robertson used his residual legal skills to simply, naively, blend Christianity, into a lay, militant conservative, patriotic American Republicanism. This blend of “God and Country,” was already somewhat traditional; from High School assemblies and Boy Scouts and so forth. And this American/nationalist tradition, was used to try to counter the integrationism and internationalism of liberals. Robertson and his followers posed this Boy Scout religion, against the new social political innovations – women’s rights, gay rights, and other liberal ideas. Robertson putting all that, to form a “Christian Coalition.” (Pat Robertson, along with especially, Jerry Falwell; Pat Buchanan).
Pat Robertson, or one version or another of his patriotic Christianity, God-and-Country, cheerleader Republicanism, were to essentially dominate America, from the election of conservative Republican president (and former radio talk show host) Ronald Reagan, in 1980, until the election of Barack Obama, in 2008. Note by the way, that most successful politicians in this era, were in effect persons with some claim to one traditional, American pop culture cliché hero, or another. Especially, cheerleader. Ronald Reagan had been a cheerleader; then a radio and TV announcer and movie actor; Trent Lot, a cheerleader; George Bush senior, an airplane pilot; his son George Bush the younger, a cheerleader/water boy at Yale, and then a fighter pilot. Jessie Ventura was a wrestler; and Arnold Schwartzenegger was a body-builder and actor. (Reminding us of the first Pop Art masterpiece: “Just exactly what is it that makes” American life so appealing: a muscle man holding a Tootsie roll pop.) Later, John McCain was a fighter pilot – and Sarah Palin, his running mate in 2008, was a beauty queen. (Cf. Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, matching the liberal stereotypes). So that America particularly liked and elected, traditional American propagandists/ cheerleaders; and/or pop culture clichés, of heroic stereotypes. The master idea of Republicanism, c. 1980-2008, seems to find its nexus, in the kind of schmaltzy mix of religion and pop culture heroes and nationalism, religion and flag-waving, found in High School assemblies, c. 1940-68. In any case though, its sense of religion, was extremely juvenile deep down; was very thoroughly confused with superficial WW II, flag-waving superpatriotism (Ronald Regan’s forte as an Army propagandist and actor, in movies like “This is the Army”), intermixed with an attraction to comic book heroes. Muscle men, fighter pilots, and beauty queens. It was essentially, a comic-book vision, of pop culture idols. But, as simple and traditional/”conservative” as it was, it was able to attract the votes of millions. And run the country for nearly thirty years; c. 1980-2008.
Especially Pat Robertson’s televangelist efforts were effective and influential: his mixture of an extremely simple flag-waving American patriotism, with a literalistic, Fundamentalist Christianity, became the religious arm of the new Republican conservatism. So that in effect, Mother Angelica’s media network, EWTN, especially in the hands of talk show hosts and apologists, became essentially an effort to produce a “Catholic” version, of Pat Robertson’s model of superpatriotic evangelical Republicanism. Yet as massively popular as this mix was to be, to be sure, there have been many, many persons who have tried to call attention to some fundamental problems, in Robertson’s and others’ efforts. Especially their efforts to merge politics and religion, in a “Christian” and later “Conservative” coalition. Problems which were fairly well known, in connection with far more successful and famous Protestant televangelists. But problems which are not so well known, with regard to the rarer, Catholic televangelists. Especially, with Mother Angelica. And EWTN/RN.
There are many sins and errors, in the general trend, to intermix and confuse religion, with personal philosophy. But among many others? One common abomination, has been these new conservatives, “Neo-Cons,” blending their simplistic religion, with simplistic patriotic, pro-American sentiment. This blending often went to the point of even at times, suggesting that America should all but officially declare its government to be based on, blended with, Christianity. Even though a) the Bible itself seems to have regarded the king and state, Caesar, as often rather separate from prophets, and religion. Even though, after having witnessed two hundred years of war in Europe, caused by various religions, Protestant and Catholic, trying to take over the state – c. 1530-1700 – b) the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, mandated some kind of “separation of Church and State.” Indeed, the Constitution at the very least, forbade the “establishment” of any official religion for the US. Which in turn seem to follow the Bible’s warnings in fact, of the need to keep the worst “traditions of men,” somewhat separate from religion. (Indeed, it is particularly odd that this blending of super American patriotism and religion, should succeed in the Catholic Church; since the Catholic Church is not really patriotic “American,” but is an international Church. Today the Catholic Church is found in more than 300 countries; and of the one billion nominal Catholics, only 60 million – 6% – are American).
In some ways, it is strange that this Protestant American style should catch on. But by 1976, many people were getting tired of the excesses of liberalism: drug deaths; deaths from AIDS. Some also tired of Jimmy Carter turning the other cheek in Iran. And many were concerned that increasingly radical liberalism, with its leanings toward socialist agnosticism, was not “conserving” some perhaps, still- valuable traditions. To that by 1980, a liberal backlash was happening. And people reverted to 1950’s High School thinking, it seems, as a viable tradition.
In a way, it was strange that the Catholic Church should allow any of this in its own ranks. To be sure, in the Pat-Robertson era, many non-priests especially, became greatly attracted to the new radio/TV conservatism. That among other things, combined religion and politics. In many ways, it seemed conservative, or true to what we remembered from 1940’s and 50’s High School or Boy Scouts; it combined “God and Country,” as in our childhood. The American flag, and the cross. But then too, though this new mixture of religion, patriotism, and pop culture, seemed conservative, seemed to borrow on many ideas long found in the culture, it was also a new, exciting – and actually, liberal – idea at the same time. In effect, it had a double appeal. It was a “new” conservatism; at once traditional, but also oddly newly represented. And therefore, it was immensely successful.
Was “neo-conservatism” however, good? Many apologists have tried to generate a hundred arguments, that would justify this odd mixture; this new hybrid. Particularly, there were objections that Robertson’s ideas, violated the separation of Church and State. But to be sure Pat Robertson and others (like the televangelist, Rev. Kennedy of Florida), simply began explicitly attacking the whole idea that the Constitution mandates a “separation of Church and State.” Attacking what Jefferson had called, in a letter to Baptists, a “wall of separation” between religion and politics. But after all, here our “conservatives” were attacking no less a pillar of traditional, conservative Americanism than Thomas Jefferson. While Jefferson was actually right in many ways. Jefferson no doubt, had vividly in mind, the preceding two or three hundred years of History, before the Constitution. When Protestants had fought Catholics, for control of various governments, in one bloody war after another. Countless wars, had been fought in Europe, between Protestants and Catholics, as each tried to take over one kingship or another, or one nation or another; and establish itself as the official religion. (Consider for example, the Spanish Armada attacking Protestant England, in an attempt to Catholicize it; see the Thirty Years war, etc.) Basically, the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, were taken up in wars in which one religion or another, attempted to establish itself as the state religion. This was the experience that no doubt, Jefferson – and the Constitution – sought to avoid. This was the reason Jefferson and others, specified that the state or government, and religion, should be divided, separated, by an “iron wall” of separation. It is also the reason we have a Democracy, not a Theocracy.
When Pat Robertson and other evangelicals began trying to merge their version of Christianity with politics, and even to put their own hybrid Religion/Republicanism in charge of America, that violated a useful principle or two of the Constitution. And it flirted with beginning religious wars in the West, again. Which would be a major objection to Robertson etc.. But for many years, few people thought up very convincing arguments against the New Right, the “Neo-cons” or neo-conservatives. Many people began to accept the new conservative arguments. And particularly, this new blend of Church and State, of Religion and Politics, became very powerful. And began to determine one election after another. In the hope of even explicitly, ending the “separation of Church and State.” (A goal espoused prominently by the Rev. Kennedy of Fla., who died just a few years ago?).
The problems posed by combining oldtime religion with a modern state, were a major objection though to Robertson … and EWTN for that matter. The fact is, there are many previously-neglected theoretical errors, and practical disasters, waiting, in Religious “Conservatives,” and the Religious Right. Problems which we are noting herein, in connection with primarily their single issue of anti-abortionism. But in addition to what we will have said about that subject here, we might as well also comment in passing, on some problems particularly with combining say, patriotism and Americanism and militarism, with Christianity. First of all, we already alluded to some problems with joining Christianity to patriotic attachment to America. Consider a) the international quality of Christianity, for one: note that the Catholic Church includes one billion people … from almost every nation in the world. Of one billion Catholics only say, 60 million, or only 6% of all Catholics, are Americans. While for that matter, the Pope himself is a German, who lives in Italy. Then too, consider b) the internationalism or anti-nationalism of the Bible itself. The Bible often speaks badly of the “nations”; or if it favors one, it never mentions America by name; it most often seems to favor primarily, Israel. While even Israel often sins and errs; so that parts of the Bible come up with arguments (Romans 8-10?), for God favoring others, over Israel. So it seems that while Pat Robertson tried to mix Christianity and nationalistic, patriotic attachment to America, that did not really seem biblical. At most you might say, Jesus comes in the End, it is said, to unite “all nations”; but even here it is a rather international thing.
The simplistic identification or mixing of Christianity or Catholicism, with the national interests and identity of America, therefore, is problematic at best. And it is therefore remarkable that still somehow, all these problems with unifying church and state again, were ignored by the new conservatives; who had seen the cross and the flag on the same podium in civic meetings and pep rallies, and who assumed that there was no problem unifying church and state. Without ever thinking of c) say, all the historical examples of disaster coming from that. History and d) the Constitution were ignored, or argued against; and we are all but constantly assured on CBN and EWTN and Relevant Radio, that a pro-American, flag-waving, super-patriotic attachment to America, is absolutely consistent with the Bible, the Catholic Church, and God. (Relevant Radio for example, on 970 AM Radio, out of Austin Texas, even today runs US National Guard ads, today, Nov./Dec. 2009). Even though e) the last two Popes and many Cardinals at times even made some negative comments on America’s involvement in Iraq; and about “capitalism” and so forth.
We could spend much time here noting dozens of very serious theological and practical problems, with the agenda of the Religious Right; of religious conservatives. Even in f) those that melded religion, with nationalist, patriotic attachment to American and even “family values.” Jesus having said in Luke 14.26, that whoever does not “hate” his family, cannot get into heaven.
But these many problems with the new conservatism, were never heard by most ordinary people. Because by the 1980’s and 90’s, many ordinary working people without much money, were tired of the excesses of liberalism; and indeed many uneducated people had never understood the to be sure at times exaggerated rhetoric of the Left. So that it was easy for a new, patriotic Religious Right to appear, with Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Buchanan. And this new movement found its conservative audience, clinging to the then-relatively old medium, of Radio. Rush Limbaugh was re-inventing conservatism on talk radio, from about 1983; and Radio especially was a major influence on Mother Angelica and her new radio stations.
But to be sure, soon enough, the new conservative Protestant evangelicalism was able to make its way to TV; as Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” began to appear widely; and then Pat developed his own TV network, TBN. And though Mother Angelica and her Catholic network never came near to the Protestant organizations in size, her network was large enough; and since it claimed to speak authoritatively for the Church, it was influential beyond what its numbers would suggest. Though by the way, the potential viewership was impressive enough: increasingly massive “conservative” religious networks, soon included CBN, TNB, and EWTN. These were soon available moreover, not just from broadcast TV, but were brought to nearly every American home, as part of a standard cable TV or broadcast satellite package. So that the new conservatives, and their networks, were reaching at least a potential audience, of hundreds of millions of Americans. And furthermore, their message was far more influential than their smaller actual audience figures; since they claimed to speak for God himself, even those religious folks who heard them once or twice, tended to remember and retain their message. Believing it was not normal entertainment after all; but was the word of God himself. (While those who needed more persuasion, who tuned in more regularly, heard the same message – especially anti-abortionism – repeated dozens of times, even a hundred times, a day).
The new conservative networks therefore, were extremely influential, in developing the 19% of the population that came to identify itself as “conservative.” But even more, the Conservative Coalition dominated, in part through their active and constant criticism of the larger, “liberal” media, the larger TV networks. They became particularly effective, by urging boycotts of advertisers on other TV shows they did not like, etc… In that way, and insisting they were the voice of God himself, the conservative media successfully bulled the “liberal mainstream media,” into dropping many ideas conservatives did not like. Peaking in their effort, at about 2005, religious conservatives essentially dominated or leveraged America; leading it into war with Iraq for instance. While its own media networks were powerful enough, to bully the traditional mainstream – now “liberal” –media. Putting many conservatives on debate and even news shows, on Fox Network and so forth. Their 19% or so of the voting population, was more than enough to win the majority of elections from 1980 to 2007. In large part they succeeded for the reasons note above; and not least of all because conservatives presented themselves as the religious party; or literally, they presented themselves as the voice of God. (Liberals had once done this too. But by 1990 or so, Liberals were less dogmatic about theology; and did not simply identify religion, with nationalism. And so Democrats did not begin to address religion again, until belatedly, c. 2004-7).
But now it is time to ask: were conservative Republicans, really the authentic voice of God? Or were they instead, just a false, simplistic idea of Him? As we look here at the religious right in Biblical and theological terms, we find that there are many theological sins and errors in the conservative movement. So that we all today now need a better, more balanced theology. The Christian Coalition, the Conservative Coalition, was based on a simplistic, naïve, and essentially false, theology. Often, it was militaristic and thuggish. (To hear a caller advocating a Catholicism that “gives it to them, both barrels,” just simple commands, with no equivocation or intellectual namby-pambying, early January 2010 , Drew Mariani Show, Relevant Radio. With Drew’s enthusiastic support).
Among many other things, there are fundamental theological and other problems, with a pro-military “conservatism” that opposes liberalism. The self-avowed “conservative” philosophy explicitly attacked “liberals.” But that conflicts with a Bible that told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor. And for that matter, the patriotic Americanism of Republicanism, its desire to go to war with our enemies (in Iraq and so forth), ignored much of the Christ that told us to love our enemies and so forth. Religious conservatism favored killing – not loving – our enemies. (And if a little attachment to such Old Testament values is permissible at times, then ultimately the new “conservatism” even abandoned the Old Testament finally, too; it seems to often favor not the Jews, but “nations”; it often favors nationalistic/ “patriotic” attachment to, specifically, the nation of America.)
Then too, we are noting dozens of huge theological errors in conservative anti-abortionism.
. . .
The Christian/Conservative Coalition therefore, has often been an unreliable, unholy mix of secular politics and religion. An unholy confusion of doctrines that claimed to be “conservative,” but were not; of doctrines that claimed to be from the Bible, but were not. Especially offensive, as a case in point, has been the particular offense that we have been addressing here: the extreme, “conservative,” “Pro-Life” doctrine. The anti-abortion doctrine of EWTN, was not really from the Bible at all; it came in larger part, from the untutored sentiments of a wayward and obsessive nun; and then from apologist/lawyers, like Karl Keating. Conservatives claimed that anti-abortionism was from God; but it was not actually in the Bible at all, but from an extremist philosophy. And worse, conservatives however convinced millions that their own political ideas were in fact from God. And ultimately their false doctrine, repeated a dozen times a day on EWR, for 28 years, convinced millions of listeners that the Church – and God in effect – had ordered us all to vote anti-abortion; or in effect, vote Republican. But here they spoke falsely for God; a very great sin.
The fact is, there have been many extremely serious offenses committed by conservatives, against God and the Church. Especially by EWTN/RN; Chris Ferrara noted many sins that are superficially worse, that this political partisanship. But this political partisanship or bias in conservative radio, was serious enough; talk show hosts speaking in the name of God, telling us that we must vote Republican in every election, is finally a gross offense against the Bible, against the Church, and against God. This gross heresy, this gross offense against the Bible, moreover, was to have very real – and even occasionally disastrous consequences.
What have been the fruits of conservative religion, and anti-abortionism? First, a) they were a largely false theology; they began to turn away from real Christianity, to a new right wing state religion. Then b) worse, they ignored, neglected, disobeyed the Church. At least two Cardinals – including Cardinal McCarrick, head of the USCCB; and Cardinal Joe Ratzinger, at the Vatican; the present Pope – had warned against such one “issue,” dis- “proportionate” Catholicism. And for the very reasons that here proved to be important. A “conservative,” but essentially one-issue c) anti-abortion Catholicism, elected a George Bush, who was against abortion – but who was not so strong on “other issues.” Bush was not Catholic; he was not really fully supportive of an international Church; in fact, he was a provincially super-patriotic Protestant. And he was not the kind of peacemaker that priests would normally support: he had flown a fighter jet for the National Guard; he was a militarist whose very first pronouncement out of the White House itself, was to voice unequivocal support for Israel … and thus to inflame Arabs, Muslims. Within a year, on his watch, Muslims had attacked and successfully destroyed, both towers of the World Trade Center. So that Bush, though “good” on the issue of protecting embryos, was bad on another important issue. By his neglect of peacemaking, avoiding unnecessary wars, he had quickly involved America in a long and expensive “War on Terrorism.” The Terrorism that however, that conservative superpatriotic/nationalist jingoistic images and rhetoric, had probably, partially provoked.
To be sure, the problem should not be laid at the door just of conservatives; the Roman Catholic Church itself, (which Bush formally recognized, diplomatically, in his administration), played a role in this. (See the contemporary news story, on Benedict XVI quoting a theologian suggesting that Islam added nothing to Christianity, but a love of war – and thus inflaming Muslims here too). Finally, it was a series of allegedly innocuous doctrinal and procedural errors by the Church that allowed all this to happen. Specifically, the Church had allowing new conservative media outlets to speak rash, untested statements, in the name of the Church and of God. The Church had laxly allowed, especially, a radical one-issue anti-abortionism to grow; allowing the Church itself to be drawn just one side of political issues; leading the Church itself to almost appear to support just the Republican Party in America. The Church at times backing the party therefore, that sent America to war. The Church allowing unqualified lay people to appear to be running the Church. (On Relevant Radio, WomenofChrist.org; Shelia Liaugminas announced she will MC’s a talk by Bishop Listeki? Announcing that she and Drew loved to do this often; at the end of the Drew Mariani show, 4:59 PM, Jan. 18, 2010. But does the Church really want to associate itself with these people?).
The Church was remiss, when it allowed EWTN to constantly repeat, thousands of times, to millions of Catholics, for decades, the implication that a) the Bible, the Church, the Pope, or b) God, absolutely opposed abortion; that c) God opposed abortion so strongly, that Abortion had to be regarded as the most important “issue” in political elections. The Church was remiss, when it allowed EWTN to conclude, that d) since the Republican Party was the party that was most Pro Life, anti-abortion, therefore, the Church was telling Americans, to vote Republican. In nearly every election, from about 1980, to the present. The Church was lax when it allowed this; and the fruits of this were not good. Unfortunately, the radical, false, and un-biblical message that it allowed to slip by it, effected, determined, one close election after another; a few million Catholic anti-abortion votes, were enough to determine the course of America and of the world, for many years: a few million Catholic votes went for a party that was (nominally) against abortion – but a party that also supported the military, and leaned toward wars. So that soon, America was involved in one war, after another.
The Church itself must take some of the blame; it must confess its own sins. The Church to be sure – indeed, several cardinals and the Pope – spoke in effect against one-issue anti-abortionism. But it was not until too late; in 2004-7. While the Church never shut down EWTN/RN. Its oversight of the new media – and of its own doctrines – failed. It allowed a major new “Catholic” network to constantly intimate, dozens of times a day, that God was ordering Americans to vote for the most anti-abortion candidates, in every election. And since the Republican Party was by far the more anti-abortion party, in effect, we were being told by these relatively new networks that the Catholic Church – and ultimately, God – was telling us to Vote Republican. In every election. And the Church did not do enough to stop this.
To be sure, two or three Cardinals – belatedly and all-too-discretely – issued all-too-indirect warnings about these networks, and their dis “proportionate,” narrow, “one issue” theology. But finally we have seen here, their mild pastoral measures, their failure to take on EWTN itself, and the explosive and emotional issue of abortion more directly, were far too little, far too late. By the time the Church finally began to indirectly intervene, c. 1997-2004, one-issue anti-abortionism had already been controlling, leveraging America – and through America, the world – for at least 17 years. A false theology had been controlling elections since about 1980; whereas the Cardinals, like Cardinal Mahony, did not begin to act until 1997, at the earliest. While Cardinals did not really speak until 2004. While even then, they never explained clearly that their criticisms of “one issue” Catholicism, were aimed especially at the disproportionate focus of EWTN and others, on the one issue of … abortion.
The Church came to this with too little, too late: mild pastoral chastisements of “one issue” Catholicism were – and are – not even remotely enough to stop hard-headed conservatives. Who by now are heavily entrenched. By 2004, the anti-abortion heresy was a firmly established institution and network; and was obviously capable of easily withstanding even an assault by three Cardinals and a Pope. Thanks to the constant and hypnotic haranguing of millions, by Mother Angelica, by Karl Keating and EWTN especially, the false and narrow theology of one-issue anti-abortionism, became just popular enough to swing a normally rather liberal, often Spanish minority Catholic vote (which would normally vote up to 65% Democratic?), toward Republicans like Ronald Reagan. And George Bush. Because the Church did not adequately enforce its rule, EWTN was able to get out the small but significant “conservative”/anti-abortion vote; and it was often just enough to determine for example, the extremely close, “hanging chads” vote in America. This was done in the name of the Church. So that the Church in effect elected the nationalist/militaristic candidate, Republican George Bush, jr.. A candidate who was not Catholic; who was a militantly patriotic and nationalistic American. And who was soon to in effect, start a war with “terrorism,” and Iraq. A candidate who was allegedly “good” on the “one issue” of abortion; but not so good on other things. Like avoiding wars and environmental disasters. (The first statement from the Bush White House, voiced support for Israel … and inflamed Muslims; so that soon they attacked the World Trade Center. While part of New Orleans was also lost on Bush’s watch; due to neglect of environmental issues; like the dikes that should have controlled floods, storm surges).
Finally, partial blame for these problems, must be laid at the door, of the Roman Catholic Church. Which has exercised inadequate control and discipline and oversight, over the message being spoken in its name. The Church had historically controlled every single word issued in the litany; but suddenly, with the new media, it was allowing hours and hours of almost totally-unmonitored words, to be issued in its name, and in the name of God. And as it turns out, those words were largely false and wrong. And the Church had not stopped them. The reason was that the Catholic Church had made only a few too-late, indirect, and ineffectual corrections; after rashly, indulgently, allowing an unsupervised media agency, a rebellious nun, and non-priest talk show hosts, to presume to speak for the Church itself, for decades, the Church had made only a few rather indirect statements about “one issue” politics. Statements which however, manifestly did not stop the problem. The problem was that ironically, the Church’s new liberality, laxity, allowed a new false conservatism to grow. It allowed an unqualified woman, a nun, and a whole irresponsible new media outlet to grow … and pretend to speak for the Church; and to deliver a decisively false message, to millions of voters. All in the name of the Church (“Global Catholic Radio,” etc..)
To be sure, the Cardinals, the future Pope, had finally begun to act, around 1997-2004. But by that time, too much damage had already been done. The focus on just one issue – abortion – unfortunately, had already elected two fighter pilots, including a militaristic American super-patriot – George Bush II – to become presidents of the United States. Bush II particularly, though he was allegedly “good” on the issue of abortion, was not so good on “other issues.” And soon the Church allowed/led America, into a war.
To be sure, some elements of the Catholic Church hierarchy, have eventually begun to recognize their error, and to speak out against it. By around 1997, Cardinal Mahony began to chastise Mother Angelica. While by 2004, EWTN’s radical anti-abortionism specifically, came to be fairly explicitly opposed, by two Cardinals of the Church: by Cardinal McCarrick, and Cardinal Joe Ratzinger. It is probably worth noting too, by the way, that Cardinal McCarrick was not just an “ordinary” Cardinal; he was in charge of the USCCB; the coordinating agency that oversees … all American Bishops. While then too by the way: Cardinal Joe Ratzinger was not just an ordinary Cardinal either; Ratzinger, at the time he made his statement in favor or proportionality, was the head of the Vatican’s office or “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” in the Vatican. While finally of course, Cardinal Joe Ratzinger was soon to become, c. 2005, the Pope; Benedict XVI. So that finally, three recent cardinals, and the Pope, came to oppose anti-abortionism. And at least began to warn about unconstrained theology, in “media.” But to be sure, we have found here that the anti-abortion heresy is today as strong as ever; and it continues to grow, in spite of that. Indeed, it has begun to infiltrate the Vatican itself.
Clearly, even these efforts by three Cardinals and the Pope, were not remotely enough to even slow the anti-abortion machine. So what can now be done? To try to fix this the extent of the problem with anti-abortionism and EWTN, we have here begun to outline a history of the problem … along with a hundred and fifty arguments or more against EWTN, or against its strongly Pro Life, anti-abortion stance.
We are supporting the Bible, the saints, three cardinals – Cardinals Mahony, McCarrick, Ratzinger – and the Pope. And indeed, we are in support of God. When we conclude that in fact, the Pro Life movement, was never the word of the Church or God at all. Instead, it was the word of first, over-sentimental persons like Mother Angelica, whose “heart”s had deceived them; antiabortionism was only that, rationalized by the sophistries of talk show hosts, apologists and lawyers, like Karl Keating, attny..
112) # 131 How closely, consciously tied was anti-abortionism, to specifically, politics? To a particular political party, the Republican Party? To be sure, a) there were some rather liberal priests appearing now and then, on networks like EWTN. And b) there are liberals, who oppose abortion; on the grounds of extending human rights to embryos. And c) nonprofit organizations like EWTN/RN were often careful not to support a political party by name. But d) it seems clear that the predominant message of EWTN was determined by talk show hosts; and their political orientation was explicitly “conservative.” Which was a code word, for the conservative party: the Republican Party. As we will have seen here earlier, EWTN talk show hosts controlled the message of the network; and e) they, like their mentor Rush Limbaugh, favored Republican candidates over “liberal”s and Democrats, by a factor of at least one hundred to one.
A few priests and other guests that appeared on the network, might have thought of themselves as politically neutral, or even liberal. But the regular staffmembers, the talk show hosts, were the people who most often appeared regularly, day after day; and their orientation was clearly Rush Limbaugh-esqe: they were “conservatives” who opposed “liberal”; and since the Republican party was the most conservative party, that meant they were supporting the Republican party.
Indeed, f) that their loyalty to the Republican Party was their foremost loyalty, became evident, when, c. 2004, they repeatedly changed even their own position even on abortion, to fit whatever the Republican Party was offering. Typically, the EWRN anti-abortionists like Karl Keating, had insisted that no one could vote at all, for any candidate that supported abortion in any way, under any circumstances. That was a “non-negotiable,” Keating trumpeted. But as it turned out next, when at times in the run up to 2004, this or that Republican candidate supported related issues, like stem-cell research? Or allowed abortion to save the life of the mother? Often even the local Republican candidate, supported abortion when in case of rape and incest; or when it was necessary to save the life of the mother. While some Republicans also supported related issues, like allowing stem-cell research from embryos and so forth. So what did our rabid anti-abortionists do, when their strict anti-abortionism, allegedly from God, conflicted with the Republican Party? Suddenly, their “non-negotiable” rules simply changed. At least one priestly guest apologist began to say on EWTN, that we were supposed to vote not just for totally anti-abortion candidates; but instead, for the most anti-abortion candidate available. Thus, when things earlier said to be from God, and to be “non negotiable,” conflicted with Republicanism, those things were simply changed.
Initially, most people on EWTN, claimed that no one, ever, could vote for anyone that stood for any kind of abortion at all, in any circumstances. There was no room for compromise or negotiation, Karl Keating or others assured us; no one could support abortion or related issues at all, ever; that, Keating firmly told us, was a “non negotiable.” But when later on at times, the major Republican candidates seemed not to qualify – when say, John McCain initially supported some types of abortions, or stem-cell research – suddenly, EWTN simply changed its “non negotiable” line. It changed what it earlier had claimed, that the Church and God Himself had firmly, eternally proclaimed. At least one of its apologists claiming now, c. 2003/4, that sometimes to be sure, no candidate at all in a given election, was entirely against abortion; so now, we were told, we could in fact vote for the “lesser of two evils”; we could vote for the candidate whose stand on abortion most closely approximated what antiabortionists want.
But from this, it was again clear enough: antiabortionists are hypocritically using the Church and using God, as a convenient front for their own private beliefs; and most often for their support of the Republican party. This was clear enough … when they began to simply change things that they had previously declared to be the eternal word of the Church and of God; when they simply changed these things to match whatever Republican Party candidate was available.
Therefore, g) obviously, anti-abortionists were not the voice of God; actually, they were really the voice of a few untutored women, being herded into the conservative side of the Republican Party. They were foolish people, hypocrites and deceivers, mis-representing themselves and their private political “philosophy,” as God. And being used as tools, by the Republican party.
By now, it should be clear even to the simplest Catholic, that anti-abortionists were never the voice of the Church, or of God. That they were foolish or deliberately dishonest people, who ultimately used religion, as a mask, a front, an excuse, for presenting their own opinions, their own false political philosophy, as the word of God. Deep down, whatever genuine impulses they had, were used, to herd their votes into the Republican hat. While for over 25 years, they actually consistently, willfully, subtly, and fatally, gone against real, core church authority, and against the Bible, and against God. For over 25 years.
Some people might ask though: is the hypocrisy and inconsistency of conservatives, deliberate? This might be regarded as an important question by many: in many systems of Ethics, mistakes or bad deeds that are made innocently or accidentally, are considered less serious, then those bad things done deliberately, with conscious deceit. So that the question of whether we were all being deliberately deceived by conservatives, is an important question, for some. In determining say, what kind of penalties should be levied against say, EWTN and its associates. But there is plenty of evidence that all this was in fact, rather consciously and deliberately done. Clearly, first of all, a) conservative Christians like the members of EWTN, should have been aware of many of the theological errors in its anti-abortionism; they should have been aware, because of their own religious study. And since many callers to the network, told them about the sins and errors of their positions, often enough. Or not least of all, Catholics should have been aware that there were signs and errors in their theology – when three Cardinals and the Pope himself told them. So that no one can say, that the staff of EWTN/RN, including hosts especially, had never “heard the truth” for example. It is clear that the staff had heard the truth often enough … but then it seems clear enough, that anti-abortionists simply, willfully ignored the truth; ignored three cardinals and the Pope. And indeed, it seems clear from their arguments, that they willfully, consciously “twist”ed Church doctrines. So that it seems clear, there was real, conscious intent to deceive.
If nothing else, their inconsistencies, their willingness to change things they had previously declared “non negotiable” and eternal, should have made their inadequacies evident even to themselves. Their inconsistency, their real loyalty to the Party and not to the Church, should have been evident, even to themselves, when they began to changed what they had previously claimed that “God said,” to fit whatever Republican candidate was available.
113) # 132 Were these conservative organizations really just deliberate deceivers? Did they secretly know all along, that they were not following the Church, or God? A standard Encyclopedia article in fact, hints that EWTN’s deceptions especially, were deliberate and conscious. Right from the start. Indeed, a standard encyclopedia entry on EWTN, hints that a conscious intent to merely pretend to be Catholic, is evident, just from its very name:
“The name ‘Eternal Word’ was selected, instead of a name with the term ‘Catholic” in it, for a specific reason. Under Catholic canon law, any organization with the word ‘Catholic’ in it must be completely under the control of the Bishop whose diocese it resides in” (Wikipedia, 2009; see also relevant canon law, copyright law).
This standard encyclopedia entry on EWTN, suggests that from the very beginning, even as it was constantly declaring itself to be the voice of “conservative,” straightforward, obedient Catholicism, simultaneously, from the very beginning EWTN network had systematically, deliberately taken at least one major measure, to insure that it would not be subject to, obedient to, or controlled by, the Church: it had deliberately left the word “Catholic” out of its name. So that if could not be controlled by, or would not have to be responsible to, the Catholic Church. (Which presumably has some proprietary or copy write right, to the word “Catholic.”)
Conservative organizations constantly claim to be Christian. Conservative antiabortionist organizations like EWTN, claim every day to be specifically, loyally Catholic. And no doubt, some of its staff members sincerely believe that. Certainly too, millions of Catholic listeners have long accepted conservatism for what it constantly presented itself as: as the official, reliable voice of God. But here we are showing that the conservative claim to be from Christianity and God, was false and even deliberately dishonest. In point of fact, it seems clear now, from our hundred or more arguments, that antiabortionism’s, EWTN’s claim to be the voice of the Church, is simply not true. And moreover it now seems clear that this was a deliberate, conscious deception, right from the start; right from the moment the network was founded. From the very start, even a standard encyclopedia entry hints, a dishonest, deceitful effort was made by the network, to make itself appear to be the official voice of the Catholic Church … even as it actually, deliberately, systematically took measures, to make sure it would not have to actually be that. Clearly, EWTN did not put the word “Catholic” in its name … so it could evade direct control by the Catholic Church. So it could rebel against it. So it could present itself deceitfully as the voice of Catholicism … even as it deliberately evaded any real control by the Church. (Either this was deliberate deceit; or in any case, if the Church itself insisted on this, then the network knew from the beginning, that the Church was not allowing the network to present itself as the official voice of Catholicism. So that even here, the network was deceitful).
There is therefore, finally enough evidence to be rather conclusive: conservative organizations like especially EWTN, deliberately set themselves up, right from the very start, in such a way that they would never have to ever really be, what they constantly misrepresented itself as: a faithful, loyal, responsible, adjunct or arms of God. Or the Roman Catholic Church. From the start, EWTN for example, had left the word “Catholic” out of its very name. Indicating decisively, that it had never really, firmly, been officially tied to, the Catholic church. And this is something that could not have been missed: either the network itself, or the Church itself, was refusing, in a very fundamental way, to allow the network to be firmly tied to the Catholic Church. So that the network could never be taken to be the official or reliable voice of the church at all. From the very start, from its very name, it was clear that EWTN was never the authorized representative of Catholicism. In spite of all other appearances and constant protestations of loyalty and obedience and piety.
EWTN therefore was founded, to be somewhat separate from Catholicism. But to be sure, at first, EWTN staffers seemed to have sincerely thought, they were really following the Church. Most of them seem to have been believing Catholics. But such persons could only have been fooling themselves; fundamental difference from the real Church, though veiled in some ways, was certainly rather clear to those who were choosing a name for EWTN. And such clues remained, even in the semantic structure of its very name. It was not allowed to use the word “Catholic” in its name.
. . .
One would have thought too of course, that EWTN’s subtle rebellion against the Church, would have become obvious enough, when in 1997 or so, Mother Angelica began to openly chastise Bishops and Cardinals, like Cardinal Mahony. And even more, when in 2000/2001, it was reported that Cardinal Mahony had EWTN head Mother Angelica resign (above). Or you might have thought that EWTN’s rebellion against the Church and against God, would have been clear enough, when the organization’s newest and most distinctive message, one-issue anti-abortionism, was criticized by two cardinals, and the current Pope. But as it has turned out, though there was a significant amount of information available, to make it clear to any cogent person, that EWTN was not the real, authentic voice of the Church, still however, that information never really reached the listeners of EWTN itself. Many of a) EWTN’s listeners are not well or broadly educated in religion; not in the public school system. While b) priests’ homilies avoided political issues. Therefore, c) EWTN was the major and indeed only source for millions of Catholics, on speculations as to the political implications of Catholicism. But ultimately this reliance on just one source, was fatal: for obvious reasons of self interest, because it was only interested in presenting its own view, and not a fair debate, EWTN itself never really, adequately told its millions of listeners, about all the problems, relating to its own authority. It never adequately presented the many, many arguments against itself. Deep down, EWTN was extremely vain; and really lacked the faculty for self-criticism, that Jesus taught as one of his core lessons; it lacked ability to look for the “beam” in its own “eye.” To consider the possibility that its own views were wrong; and to therefore moderate, tone down, its belligerent, adamant, dogmatic tone and message. It was really convinced, it seems, that it was the word of God. But that after all, is the sin of Pride and Vanity. As some callers noted: “God is God: but you, EWTN, are not God.”
Countless persons, callers, tried to warn EWTN of its sins and errors. Countless persons called into the talk shows at EWTN, to question its authority, hundreds of times. But none of these callers were taken seriously; they were either not let on the air at all, taken off by the call screener. Or if they began to make that point too effectively on air, their voice was simply cut off, taken off the air, with the “dump” or “off” button. Leaving the talk show host with absolute control over this rigged “debate”; leaving him to make as many points as he wished, without effective opposition.
Certainly, it had to be clear to EWTN, conservatives, that what they were doing was not absolutely perfect; was not the word of the Church; much less, of God. This should have been abundantly clear enough from the very beginning; when the word “Catholic” was not allowed into its very name. Then too, of course, it should have been clear enough to anyone that conservative antiabortionism was not the position of the Church, when two cardinals and the pope attacked that position; when the Pope said that voting for pro-abortion candidates “can be permitted” (Card. Joe Ratzinger/ Benedict XVI, 2004 memo, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion”).
So there are many, abundant reasons to say, that more than information was available to EWTN, to prove that it was not what it pretended to be; that the Church itself was making it abundantly clear to the organization itself, that it was not really the official voice of the Church. And that therefore, its pretense of being that, was willful, informed, and deliberate.
Constantly, in the past, the Church attempted to correct EWTN/RN. And to correct associates like Fr. Frank Pavone, and Sheila Liaugminas, no doubt. But all milder, pastoral efforts – even the chastisement by three Cardinals and a Pope – had failed. Why did they fail? How could an organization that claims to be absolutely obedient to the Church and the Cardinals and the Pope, utterly ignore three Cardinals and the Pope? Finally, the reason that it continues to go on, must simply be, that … finally, it knows that it is deceitful, or disobedient. And it has simply consciously decided, to carry on its deceit. Knowing full well it is a deceit; and/or knowing full well that although one of the main tenets of Catholicism that itself taught, was following the Cardinals and the Pope, it is violating that tenet.
One might think that an increasing opposition to the network or its main “theology,” by one Cardinal after another – and finally, by the Vatican, by the Pope himself – would stop all this. But this is a forlorn hope. Anti-abortionist organizations like EWTN by now, after so many years of evidently conscious and sometimes even open rebellion against Church authorities like Cardinal Mahony, are by now, hardened opponents. After years of ignoring and secretly opposing even Cardinals and Popes, the “heart” of EWTN is hardened. Anti-abortionism has been in such longstanding and resolute rebellion against the “liberal” side of the Church, that by now, its “conscience” is “seared.” Though there are doubtless many Catholics in such organizations, that sincerely feel they are following the Church, there must be by now, many, many key personnel in these organizations, oldtime staff and management, that are by now, secretly, conscious, hardened opponents of the Church. By now, many have been hearing – and twisting, ignoring, consciously disobeying – the Church. By now, after 28 years, conservatives are easily capable of appearing to be submissive and mollifying to Church authority when confronted – but then, when the authorities, priests and Bishops leave their office, conservatives simply resume their heresies without a qualm.
By now, probably many conservatives clearly know they are not really following the Church … and they simply don’t care. They simply pretend to follow, it order to seduce Christians into their political philosophy. Or probably, many still want to believe they are following the Church; so they simply rationalize their heresy, with various sophistries, rationalizations, arguments to fool others, and fool themselves. If they are aware of any sin in themselves, among many hundreds of ways to rationalize that away: no doubt many decide that intellectual honesty, accurately representing the Church and God, is a mere “scrupulosity” easily forgotten. Or then too, if they confess it, it will soon be forgiven, absolved, in the confessional booth. Indeed many confused fathers no doubt, not understanding the situation, mistakenly, quickly absolve such persons of blame or guilt, in the confessional. So that the fundamental dishonesty and deceit of such persons as apologists, and their work, is never really confronted … or ended. Such persons indeed, seem to continue their apostasies, their sins, their heresies, without a qualm of guilt. And then therefore, confidently redoubling their sin. Since they “know” they are “forgiven.” Though it might be worth noting that though now and then an irresponsible priests forgives them, it is not entirely certain that God himself thereby forgives them at all: the wording of absolution, only has the priest saying “I” absolve you (c. 2000 AD Cat., # 1449). Not God; of whom it is said only “may” God give you pardon and peace.
There is every indication therefore, that plenty of information was available to conservatives, right from the very start, that what they were doing was not fully approved by the churches. That their move away from the Church, was fore grounded, obvious, and therefore conscious and deliberate. So what now should be done to fix the apostasy, schism, heresy, of anti-abortionism? One might suggest that the Church – which is confronted now by conscious, deliberate rebellion by “Catholics” against its rules – should simply, take very, very firm actions against anti-abortionist individuals and organizations. It should publicly denounce their position, and key organizations, explicitly, clearly, by name, over and over; while not doubt simply excommunicating key anti-abortionists, if they do not cease promulgating their false doctrines, within four or five months.
Antiabortionists and EWTN specifically though, have already consciously, willfully gone against at least three cardinals, and the Pope. Therefore, it is not certain that even the mere threat of excommunication for EWTN and its staff and guests, would accomplish much. By now, many (if not all) anti-abortionist conservatives, on EWTN and elsewhere, are deliberate, conscious rebels against the current, “liberal” Church. In Biblical language, their hearts are “hardened,” “seared,” against the truth, and against the authority of the Church. So that finally, mere threats of excommunication will do little; indeed, even actual excommunication will probably not do much. Finally, we will see, there is nothing that will stop EWTN and other anti-abortionists, except deliberate and very public, ecclesiastical and legal sanctions, against Eternal Word Television Network.
. . .
Given countless sins in its presentation of “Catholic” doctrine, given its obvious political affiliations, EWTN/RN and similar organizations like Relevant Radio, should not be considered “religious” or even “issue” oriented at all; clearly, they speak in large part, not for the Bible, or the Church, or for God, but for the conservative or right wing, of the Republican Party.
Certainly in any case, the effect of conservative radio, and anti-abortionism, has been to elect one Republican after another. Specifically “Abortion” has been a major issue in many elections. And that issue was politically biased: the Republicans were against it; while Democrats were more Pro Choice. It therefore seems plausible to say that in many elections, from about 1980 to especially 2000 and 2004, radical anti-abortionism, was probably responsible for many, many Republican victories. Especially in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Which elected a “conservative” – and anti-abortion – Republican candidate, George Bush junior, to the presidency of the United States of America. To be sure, anti-abortionism might have moved “just” a few million votes into the Republican camp. Among Catholics more likely to be influenced: very pious Spanish and Irish grandmothers; and other sentimental female Catholics, who were sentimental, and not versed in intellectual theology. Who followed the “heart,” but did not have “the mind” of Christ. It is not presently certain how many Catholic minority and ethnic and mainstream votes, that ordinarily would have gone to the minority-supporting, poor-supporting Democratic party, had been diverted to Republicanism, c. 1980-2007. But it seems like that enough were diverted; the Catholic vote finally began to revert to its normative liberalism in 2008, and elected liberal Democrat Barack Obama, it was said in early demographic vote assessments. So that it now seems clear that the relatively small vote, was however enough. It was enough to elect countless Republicans, c. 1980-2007. Even though Republicans never actually made abortion illegal; and merely used their position, to start a few patriotic wars; while denying health care to the poor.
Indeed it appears that the anti-abortion movement was a patsy, a stooge, for the conservative wing, of the Republican party. Its theology was always biased, against the Church and God; and for the Republican party.
114) # 133 The pattern of political favoritism in the “issue”s of “religious” and nonprofit shows, continues. And to this very day, the Church itself has not done anything effective, to stop this. And in fact, it has allowed this evil to grow. To the point that right now, today, in the year 2009, it seems that this political philosophy, this heresy is more than ever, taking over the Church, and turning the Church itself into a crony of the Republican Party. More and more bishops (EWTN reports) are now beginning to accept EWTN’s anti-abortionism as the word of God. In Oct. or Nov. 28, 2009 or so, Sheila Liaugminas simperingly crowed on Relevant Radio (Drew Mariani’s show?), that the Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island (Bishop Tobin), had in 2007 suggested that Democratic congressman Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who supported abortion, should reconsider whether he should continue to present himself in a Catholic Church anymore, for communion. In effect, Democratic congressman Kenney was excommunicated. While in effect, when congressman Kennedy made this public, c. Oct./Nov. 2009, the rebuke of the Church, became public. And that rebuke was apparently affirmed in a national interview, (as reported by ETWN, regarding a – Chris Matthews? – interview with Bishop Tobin?).
So that in effect, thanks to constant egging-on by antiabortionist individuals and organizations like EWTN and Relevant Radio, a Kennedy – a member of the famous liberal Demoractic Pres. John Kennedy claim – was publicly rebuked by a Bishop. For supporting abortion. Even though the Democrats supported other issues; like learning to “love your enemy,” instead of going to war in Iraq and so forth; or helping the poor and the sick, with Health Care bills.
Indeed, it seemed as if, in the context of Oct./Nov. 2009, the Church itself is beginning to favor the Republican Party and its issues only; while ignoring other issues that happened to be Democratic. After 30 years of anti-abortionists claiming to be the heart of “Catholicism,” it now seems that the Church itself has fallen under their spell; and today at least priests and bishops are adopting the false theology of EWTN, with its antiabortion heresy. By now, even bishops are willing and eager to attack the Democratic Party; for daring to suggest that a Health Care bill that supported, helped the poor and healed the sick, might be more important than their only, sole, one abortion issue. More important than the Holy Sacred Fetus; which by now it seems, is the real God, of many priests, and even bishops. While the Church today, helps some hospitals …but now blocks firmer governmental assistance, for the poor and sick.
Today, countless antiabortionists work constantly on the bishops, to egg them on into one-issue support. While they continue to harangue the public too. The attack on Democratic congressman Patrick Kennedy, was recounted on EWTN, by prominent anti-abortionist Sheila Liaugminas … with her usual, proud, superior, gloating approval; as if the voice of God and the Church had at last spoken authoritatively, in supporting her issue. The attack on Democrats was very much approved by Sheila Liaugminas; as she essentially continued her earlier attack, on health care, helping the poor and sick. Making sure that no one would take care of the poor, and sick. Unless they worshiped her holy fetus.
This seems excessive. But this is just one tiny example of what now happens every day on conservative media. We see day after day, the systematic and politically biased support for Republican religious issues – combined with a systematic attack on any issues that happen to be Democratic. We constantly see attacks on the social gospel; helping the sick and the poor. In effect, it is becoming clear that conservative religious media like EWTN and Relevant Radio, are in effect simply an extension or dupe of the Republican Party. While effect, we might also add, they amount to schismatic “Catholic” anti-abortion cult: the cult of the Fetus.
While even worse, it now appears that the fixated, heretical cult of the embryo, is even now, taking over more and more priests – and bishops. While it and the bishops’ new Church, may well defeat universal Health Care; health care for the sick and poor, early in 2010.
The New Half- or False Priests:
And Talk Show Hosts
115) # 134 Today, there are many religious radio, TV, and internet shows, that represent themselves as the voice of one church or another. Or as the voice of God. But do not trust them; they are simply private organizations voicing their own private (and often biased) opinions. To date, almost none of the major religious networks, have been declared the official voice, of any well established denomination. Especially, specifically, EWTN and Relevant Radio are not the official voice of the Catholic Church; although they continually represent themselves as such. In ways that we will now see here.
Does Relevant Radio for example, really present itself as the voice of the Church and God? And if so, how? It constantly quotes the Catholic Church; giving the impression it is a loyal follower of the Church; that it is a responsible and accurate authority on it. Indeed, Relevant Radio continually makes remarks that imply that it is the definitive word on the Church; telling us even that a) it is a priesthood, a “ministry” (Nov. 2009?) But is Drew Mariani, the right-wing talk show host on Relevant Radio, really a minister? Or a priest? In fact he has no such status.
Is Relevant Radio really claiming to be the voice of the Church and of God? Especially, consider not only its constant quoting of the Catholic Church; consider also b) the kinds of specific statements made on Relevant Radio. Consider for example, just a single hour or two, of typical programming and on-air content, including ads, on Relevant Radio (say, 9:00-10:00 AM Central time, Sean Herriott show, Relevant Radio, Nov. 20, 2009). In just one or two hours, anyone can find many statements which constantly imply that Relevant Radio really is one and the same as the voice of the Church and of God:
aa) Commercial voice: “Relevant Radio – the best way to learn about your faith”;
bb) Fr. James Kubicki: When we give money to Relevant Radio, “We’re not just giving to Relevant Radio; we’re giving to the Kingdom of God.”
This is followed by a typically anti-abortionist, anti-stem-cell statement by arch anti-abortionist Sheila Liaugminas. (All examples from Sean Herriott’s “Morning Air” show, Nov. 20, 2009).
(And later, we here an ad for the National Guard, at 10:03 AM Central Time, Relevant Radio.).
cc) Then at 11:35: Bishop Tim Dolan [?] voices the motto of “Relevant Radio; bridging the gap between everyday life” and God. Implying that the Bishop endorses everything said on Relevant Radio; or most of it. (But does he really? Bishops should be far more careful about what they say on prominent media; Dolan should call Relevant Radio and retract his apparent endorsement or imprimatur).
The above selection, represents just a single random hour or two, of typical programming on Relevant Radio (in this case, from 970 AM Austin TX; Nov. 20 2009, 9:00-10:00 in the Sean Herriott morning show, “Morning Air.”). In just that hour or two, Relevant Radio represents itself several times, as the reliable voice of Christianity, the kingdom, and implicitly, of the Roman Catholic Church. The network here presents itself “presumptuously,” (as the Bible might say) as “the best way to learn about your faith.” A faith which implicitly of course – as we learn from constant citations of the “bishops” for example – to be Catholic. Then took c) the presence of countless priests – and even an occasional bishop – on the network, seems to finally solidify and confirm that Relevant Radio is the authentic voice of the bishops, and of the Church. We are even told by a priest, that a contribution to Relevant Radio is a contribution to the “Kingdom of God”; so that Relevant Radio is now claimed to be the Kingdom of God itself, apparently. While then a Bishop, no less, reads the fatal network motto.
Thus the impression is definitely given, even by priests and bishops, that Relevant Radio is nearly as good as going to Church; it full of priests and ministers; it even is the Kingdom of God in fact. As inadvertently confirmed by priests and Bishops. But today, given our closer review of what these networks say, we hereby ask priests and bishops to very, very carefully consider what kind of operation they are supporting, and to cease supporting it. They should ask themselves: is the patriotic/nationalistic, jingoistic message of Relevant Radio, its constant attack on Democrats, really what the Pope wants to have issued, as his official opinion? Or is the staff on Relevant Radio, really trained well enough to issue, reliably and infallibly as the litany, the doctrine of the Church? Or for that matter: is Relevant Radio, really the Kingdom of God?
For that matter: priests and Bishops need to ask themselves this: are the informal and rash pronouncements they make on the network, solid enough, to be presented as holy? As they implicitly always will be taken. Today, more and more Catholics are appalled by the naive support from priests and bishops, for politically-biased networks like EWTN and Relevant Radio.
If priests and bishops continue to be indiscreet, then viewers and others will need to take measures themselves. No doubt a normal viewer needs to continually ask others, this: when a priest like Fr. James Kubicki appears to offer support for Relevant Radio on the network, really reliable and holy? Is Fr. James Kubicki the reliable, infallible voice of the Pope? Are Relevant Radio, and even the priests on it, entirely sacred? Infallible in everything they say on the radio? Clearly, they are not. Unfortunately, priests do not realize that their informal remarks, when presented in the media, will be taken as being as nearly authoritative as the liturgy; as the word of God. Yet to be sure, priests and even saints “make many mistakes,” as St. James said (James 3.1-5-8). And unfortunately, the penalty for religious “teachers” and priests making mistakes, are much greater than for others; since teachers who make mistaken statements about God being a Republican, for example, mislead not only themselves, but also many others (James 3). Therefore, the many mistakes made by priests and bishops in the name of God, causal statements made public (and that therefore will inevitably be taken as authoritative), are extremely serious abominations. So that ordinary Catholics should begin to complain to the bishops and Cardinals and the Vatican, about such persons.
False voices are representing the Church. And millions are taken in. Because d) by many methods, these voices say or imply, they are the church. And so many follow them. Because indeed, formerly, the Church very, very carefully monitored its public message; every word of the liturgy was reviewed by many Church Councils, for thousands of years. To be sure, many Catholic priests are used to speaking informally to people, outside of church services. But in Christianity, we are used to priests and other officials, meeting a very, very high standard; particularly in a public format. Like the liturgy. Or a church sermon. And in fact, we expect that priests and bishops especially, will be meeting a similar standard, on religious radio. But priests and bishops, on Relevant Radio, are certainly not meeting that standard at all. Over and over, they speak casually … and in a politically biased way. Guided, egged on, by interested parties on “Catholic” talk shows.
To be sure, the Church might in the past have allowed priests to speak somewhat more informally, outside the Church liturgy; but even there, that is not good; when priests make inaccurate typifications about the Church and God – as they inevitably and frequently do – then many people have been very, very seriously damaged; following false ideas about Good and God.
Particularly, it is time for the Church to realize that even religious talk radio, should be a far more formal setting; since the standard for what priests say, is always higher than for most; while the standard for all public pronouncements on God, is much higher still. Much higher than casual conversation. So that the standard for what could be said on “Catholic” radio and media, is far, far higher than currently observed by new priests and even Bishops.
The people will inevitably take whatever priests say, very, very seriously; as the word of God in fact. And indeed, Relevant Radio for example, takes a lot trouble to try to present it as being in effect, the voice of the Church. As another example: it e) duplicates elements of a church service, with its prayer. EWTN and Relevant Radio, are particularly fond of having a talk show host droning the prayer, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (find it under “prayers” on the Relevant Radio website). A prayer that sounds very much like the prayer that is delivered by the priests and/or congregation, when delivering the communion host; the body of Christ. Combined with the rash presence and implicit sponsorship of both priests and bishops on the network, the casual pronouncements of talk show hosts, will inevitably be mistaken by the ordinary public, for being definitive; as being at about the same level of sacredness and reliability, as the liturgy itself. Indeed, the words of the talk show hosts, are now presented as communion; as presenting the very body of Christ. While in fact of course, they are no such thing.
How does the network give its false ideas, so much authority? In part, it does this by putting priests on its shows; the mere presence of priests, lends legitimacy to their evil message. But then too, f) the networks in other ways, duplicate the indoctrination techniques of priests; especially, consider the use of repetition. How often, is a given message repeated? Repeating a message, tends to emphasize it; it makes it seem more certain to the public. And it helps people remember it. Indeed therefore, repetition, is a classic part of education … and brainwashing. Repetition is the major element of the rosary, and repetitive prayers. But what therefore, has been the biggest, most frequently reiterated, distinctive message of the new Catholic media? A radical anti-abortion message, is typically repeated many, many times a day. On EWRN, c. 2000 AD – especially just before a presidential election – abortion might be mentioned a dozen times in a single hour; a hundred times in a programming day. (See our example of a slightly more moderate hour and a half above). Indeed, by now anti-abortionist Sheila Liaugminas has almost a regular show, or appearance, on Relevant Radio, just about daily; and a link on Relevant Radio’s website. So that her recorded statements are often repeated several times a day, almost every day; in addition to a live appearance daily too. So that thanks to anti-abortion guests like Sheila Liaugminas, anti-abortionism, proportionately, amounts to a – or even the – major doctrine of Relevant Radio. Indeed, anti-abortionism and the Embryo, are mentioned more times than say, “the Trinity.” Which is rarely mentioned, per se, at all. (While on EWTN at its height, would mention abortion … often, a dozen times in an hour. Almost very hour). So that in effect, the new conservative Catholic media’s litany, its real rosary, is an endless repetition of the importance of the embryo. The embryo is mentioned far more, we suggest, than say, Jesus. To that in effect, we clearly have a new religion or cult on EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio. It is not following Christ; it is following or supporting, the embryo.
EWTM and Relevant Radio present themselves continually in effect, as great authorities; equal to Church. Or indeed, superior to it; because of the presence of bishops. There are therefore, several aspects of Relevant Radio and related networks, that make such sites inevitably seem far, far more authoritative then they actually are. Indeed, Ferrara rightly noted that such networks are mistaken accepted by millions of Catholic, as being in effect, the real, authentic, and definitive word of the Church. Whereas in fact, they have no such authority at all. One might hope that a few hourly disclaimers, might fix this; but one doubts this very much Inevitably, the public is going to attach more and more and more credibility to such operations; particularly so long as priests and bishops are on the network; or are quoted by it.
Clearly, these new private “Catholic” organizations, are using priests and bishops, to given their shows the appearance of being a fully-approved litany; to thus lend credibility, even sacredness, to their own patriotic/right wing agenda. While in fact, conservative talk show hosts and one-issue guests, are not delivering an authentic, balanced, full message of the Church; not at all. While even the priests and bishops who appear on these networks, are being egged on by the network, edited in such a way, as to appear to rashly support many things they should not support.
Clearly though, EWTN and Relevant Radio are not the full, authentic, measured voice of the Church or of God. But unfortunately, more and more priests are taken in, seduced by these networks; to back their radical “conservative,” often one-issue agenda. So what should the public and the Church now do to repair this abomination? Here, we will devote our final chapter to measures that the Church itself should soon undertake. Some might suggest that much higher standards of doctrine and accountability, should be applied for priestly appearances on such shows. But indeed, since ordinary priests will inevitably make too many mistakes, and their mistakes will be followed all too closely; indeed, priestly appearances on such shows should be simply, forbidden.
(Bishop Sheen to be sure, once did radio and TV shows; and advanced his oddly Freudian Catholicism there; but then his presentations were often idiosyncratic at best; the unreliability of his message, might have been part of the reason he never become a Cardinal, and had notorious conflicts with Cardinal Spellman. While Bishop Sheen’s biographers note that Sheen apparently, lied on his resume, and claimed to have a doctoral degree he did not have. So let us listen to the cardinals, over the bishops, after all).
The public was (once) used to priests being holy; today they clearly are not. Today, they are all too often, mere adjuncts of right wing talk show hosts.
How and why have so many followed these false voices? In part, it was due to the continuing presence of priests and Bishops on these networks. Priests and bishops even endorsing Relevant Radio, even apparently as the “Kingdom of God” itself, to millions of ordinary Catholics. So that millions are now dutifully following these networks, as the Church, as God. The public was used to very constrained and monitored Church services; it expected that people who say they are the voice of God, g) especially in a formal or semi-formal or public setting like the radio, to say things very carefully scripted and approved by centuries of tradition. No doubt though in fact, the ordinary priest is not up to this.
Indeed, h) the fact that ordinary priests are not reliable in this situation, even in a Church service, is the very reason that the Church finally gave priests an extremely controlled, scripted, formal liturgy to follow in Church. Ordinary priests, who make all too many mistakes in speaking for God, were formally controlled, prevented from making mistakes in public pronouncements, by being limited to reading from a tightly controlled liturgy; a liturgy that has been approved, edited, every single word, by two thousand years of scholarly and Papal attention. But now suddenly, the liturgy has been outflanked, gotten around; by new media presentations, where there is almost no official control at all.
Today therefore, i) due to the lax allowance of the new “Catholic” media, the message of the Roman Catholic Church is now in freefall, and anarchy; in the paroxysms of disintegration. And in the dangerous moment before it totally disintegrates, there is the extremely dangerous moment when its rash new fads, the intermixtures of the traditions of men, are taken as absolutely holy as the old liturgy; especially by the traditional conservative Catholic, who remember and follows particularly the public pronouncements of priests as total authority.
Today, unfortunately, many priests and bishops appear on these new networks. And unfortunately, the public will inevitably take what priests and bishops say on Catholic Radio – especially phrases repeated over and over – very, very seriously. Indeed, many members of the public will inevitably take the rash, informal statements of ordinary priests, as the infallible word of God. Uneducated Catholics especially, will inevitably take rash statements, far more seriously than they deserve. So how can we now fix this abomination? In which every casual thought of an ordinary priest or talk show host, is now taken as the voice of absolute truth? Especially the ill-considered one-issue theologies?
By the way finally, there is one other reason these networks give the impression they are the voice of authority in general; beyond the Church. Among other reasons, in secular society, j) the public was used to news radio shows, as well as church services, meeting a very strict standard of legitimate journalism. A standard that surely a religious network should easily meet and vastly exceed. Whereas in point of fact, networks like EWTN/RN do not even meet the normal standards for secular journalism. Rather they are polemical, biased shows; like Rush Limbaugh’s.
. . .
Catholic networks constantly assure us that the Church, the saints, the Popes, say this or that. In this way, these networks clearly intend to present themselves as the voice of the Church, as the Voice of God. But are these networks reliable? Are they God? Clearly they are not.
And so we have networks speaking falsely for God: what can we do about it? There are many minor methods, previously tried, to fix this. In the end here, we will review dozens of past – but now obviously failed – remedies. First, everyone might be regularly told that after all, the words of an ordinary priest are seldom absolutely reliable; only the Pope himself, speaking ex Cathedra, is “infallible” (if then). Listeners to Catholic media, should be systematically encouraged to ask themselves: is indeed, every single word uttered by even a priest on Relevant Radio, really as fully approved by God, as these media often say?
Time after time, a media outlet like Relevant Radio, gives the impression that it is the definitive voice of the Church; or at the very least, it does not explicitly renounce this impression. Or indeed, it repeats in part, many of the basic formats of the liturgy. The droning repetition of a prayer that sounds rather identical to the one delivered during the administration of the host in communion, gives the impression that the network’s words are the body of Christ himself; the same as the host, or the approved words of the liturgy. The presence of priests on the network, reinforces the sense of legitimacy sacredness, to the right-wring militarism of the network. So that a large number of listeners inevitably assume that such shows, have much the same kind of authority, as a church service or liturgy; or even as much authority as a formal pronouncement from the Pope. Or evidently, somehow, even more authority: since EWTN ignores the Pope himself, his 2004 memo.
Chris Ferrara’s book, “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong,” and Chris Ferrara’s web site, correctly warned the Church, a few years ago, that Catholics were following these new private right-wing “Catholic” networks, far too loyally. Especially we now add, when these networks reinforce their appearance of authority, by announcing themselves as “the kingdom,” as a “ministry”; and then they are allowed to present priests and Bishops on the network, to reinforce the appearance that the Church itself fully supports these new networks, and their militant narrowness. And yet however, it now seems clear, from what we have shown here, that media outlets like Relevant Radio and EWTN, and even the priests and bishops who appear on such networks, are not actually even remotely, up to the standard they pretend to follow.
For all too many years, millions of Catholics have listened to talk show hosts and even priests, on politically-biased networks like EWTN … and then millions dutifully followed the network, as God. Millions have listened to Karl Keating, attny., telling us what – allegedly – the Church thinks about abortion, for example. And indeed unfortunately, as clever a lawyer as Keating is, even the priests and bishops on EWTN ended up partially following him; Karl Keating, attny.. But after all, is Karl Keating, attny., really that authoritative? Who after all, made Keating Pope? Is Karl Keating the Pope, speaking “ex cathedra”? Or is a priest – or even a Bishop – on EWTN, all that authoritative? Is Karl Keating, God?
Is Karl Keating, attny., the Pope? Is Relevant Radio, God? From a careful examination of core Catholic and Christian doctrines, versus the words uttered on these new networks, we find that these figures are not God. They are not very authoritative at all. Especially not EWRN regulars, like Karl Keating, attny.; one of the primary authors of one-issue antiabortionism. But inevitably, these flawed figures, and their often false message, will be perceived as being far, far, far more authoritative then they really are. And so their frequent mistakes, will be hugely magnified. As millions follow their false ideas, their false, fatally narrow theology, blindly, faithfully. Voting in one pro-military, pro-war political candidate after another, for nearly 30 years. No doubt – as many apologists try to say apologetically, for themselves: “God can use flawed human beings for his own work.” But to be sure, we need to now add, that if God can use even flawed and false human beings do to good, the Devil himself also uses flawed human beings, for his own work, too. Indeed, their flaws, their falseness, is the Devil’s playground and main instrument. While EWTN’s talk show hosts and priests, are all too obviously, often, flawed and false. So they are just as often the voice therefore, not of God; but of the Devil himself.
[Relevant Radio 1/2/2010, AM 970 Austin TX: Drew Mariani Show 2:23-6 PM, Drew Mariani agrees with Fr. Pavone, that abortion is the worst disaster since the Gulag, the Holocaust, etc.; and tells us that he himself backs Republican candidate for Sen. Massachusetts, the photogenic Brown. Is this religion; the word of God? Vote for the Republican candidate? Who in this case by the way, even supports abortion himself? “Good to have a dissenting vote on health care.” Then Mariani. 2:38, offers Phil Walter, Kennedy opponent. No Kennedy fans. Vs. such a “liberal, Democratic state.” Clearly acknowledging that liberalism and Democrats are one and the same. The defeat of Kennedy “makes me proud to be an American,” says Drew.]
God uses imperfect people; so does the Devil. EWTN and Relevant Radio represent themselves constantly, as the voice of God. They represent themselves as this, in countless ways. And yet there is every evidence that their claims are false. They are deceiving themselves, and others. (4:01, Relevant Radio, 1/20/2010 Drew Mariani demands excommunication for bad Catholics that “scandalize” by misrepresenting Catholicism; as he says Nancy Pelliosi should be, as an act of mercy. But Drew should also be excommunicated for his own public heresies. Otherwise, “it may give the impression that this error is actually” condoned by the Church.).
116) # 135 When the new religious shows present themselves as “conservatives,” they present themselves once again, as being very authoritative, as being the voice of the Church, in yet another way: one would expect that a “conservative,” should constantly be closer than most, to the traditional message of the Church. And would be both more loyal, and pious, and more authoritative, than other sources. But here again, in yet another way, such networks proudly, vainly present themselves as being authoritative; far more authoritative and reliable, than they actually are. Conservatives make far, far too many mistakes; as they err on the side of over caution, and so forth.
117) # 136 Unfortunately moreover, “conservative” Catholics, as we noted above, are not really conservative at all, in the religious sense. That is because they deviate constantly from what the Church really says, on many issues. Like abortion. Especially, as noted above, they intermix elements of political conservatism with their religion. Which results in an unholy mix or monster; one that is anything but conservative religious doctrine. Which ends in a cult that assures us that God tells us to vote Republican.
The anti-abortion religious movement has often claimed to be conservative. But more exactly, it has supported conservative politics; it demanded that Catholics vote …for Republicans; vote for the conservative, anti-abortion party. But when EWTN argued in effect that Catholics should support Republicans, we have begun to note here, that there were major theological, doctrinal problems with this. Many of these new media Catholics – as Cardinal Mahony might have hinted – were ignoring real “theology.”
As outlined here. These media “conservatives” ignore and deny the saints, the Cardinals, the Pope. Which makes them anything but loyally, conservative Catholic, or even Christian. As they oppose helping the sick and the poor.
Clearly we see fallible political opinions, what the Bible called the bad “traditions of men,” beginning to infect Christianity. So that increasingly in America especially, Christianity, the Church, is being taken over by politics. By the “traditions of men,” and not of God. Even more specifically, the Church is being taken over by the “conservative” or right wing of the Republican Party. “Conserving” traditions however, which are not from God, but from men. Especially they support a pro-military theology; conserving an ancient but not always admirable tradition. While opposing abortion is not in the Bible itself; it is a new idea of Republicans and others.
It is clear that the movement is not from the New Testament God. The word “conservative” is not in the Bible. While as for attacks on “liberals”? The Bible tells us often to “be liberal” in helping the poor. Clearly therefore, the ideology that dominated EWTN 1990-2006, and Relevant Radio today, was not from God; but from the Republican Party. In effect, EWTN has presented the Republican Party, as God. A new idol is born: the Republican candidate of the day.
Clearly, the traditions of men, and not of God, idols, have been taking over elements of Catholicism in America; through especially, ironically, “Conservative” inroads. But to be sure, also some liberal politicians have been involved; liberal priests who wanted to extend “human rights.” By being over sensitive to the disordered feelings of women, as noted above (in this case, pregnant women, allowing their feelings for the embryo); by also by extending the definition of “human” to embryos (see Frank Pavone). But here again, at least this kind of liberalism, we will see here, is itself, not quite the liberalism God advocated; it is just another human “philosophy” or “tradition of men.” If there are problems with “conservatism,” there are also problems with these liberal ideas; these are not good or valid, either.
Ironically in fact, many of our problems here, are related as much to extreme and illegitimate liberalism, as to conservatism: many talk show hosts and others no doubt have felt authorized to begin offering speculative theologies on air – because of new, liberal theologies. The fact is, the ne, liberal/academic theologians were seeming to suggest that all of theology was speculative, and up for grabs anyway. Modern theology was increasingly seeming to tell us all, that our old religious ideas were not as certain as we thought. And that therefore, total obedience to traditional Church theology, was simply, no longer necessary. Undoubtedly, many Catholics, even nuns like Mother Angelica, were emboldened by the new liberal theologians … and began to feel free to create some new theologies, even cults, themselves. But no matter how much we like to emphasize freedom, liberality, can we authorize every individual, to be his own independent theologian and church? No doubt, life is a balance between the self, and society; self, and others. The individual deserves much freedom; but also owes much to others, who gave him his technology, his life.
It is ironic that it should have been Liberalism, that in part allowed a heretical right-wing conservatism to develop. Yet that is the case. Many years ago, Liberalism opened up religion, Christianity, to freewheeling discussions and flexibility. And naturally at first, having been opened up by a liberal philosophy, these first many speculative theologies, were themselves liberal; broad and permissive. But eventually, by around 1980, even the everyday working man, began to feel some of the same freedom as the professor, to produce his own human, political variations, on holy doctrines. But what kind of personal theology did the working person want? The average man or woman, felt uncomfortable, living in the liberal world of speculation and relativism; a world in which there were few if any fixed rules or laws. So that ironically, when liberally offered great freedom, many average “Joe 6-Pack” citizens, asked for a return to a few simple rules. This was the origin in part, of 80’s neo-conservatism. The average Joe, did not have time to consider nuanced, endless discussions on morality and theology like professors did; they just wanted a few definitive words; in particular they favored simple answers they had heard before; that seemed “conservative”; that seemed to honor ancient, tried and true rules.
And so ironically, liberalism eventually allowed a new conservatism, a counter-liberalism, to develop. But there were problems in turn, even with the new conservatism: just as it is possible to err by going too far left, into total relativism and perhaps chaos, it is also possible to err, by going too far right. There were many deadly dangers even in “conservative” theologies. Among others, the attempt to get back to old answers, was not entirely good: a) the Past itself, and the old answers, were never perfect. While b) then too, the effort to return to the past halted progress, new and better solutions. While c) any “new” conservatism was, we have noted in effect, a contradiction in terms; and actually presented many dangerous experiments and untried ideas, as if they were tried and true and “conservative.” So that, if to be sure there have been many liberal heresies and errors, there will have also been many “neo-conservative” heresies. Like for example, the anti-abortion heresy. Which erred in part, by confusing and intermixing political ideas, with religion. By focusing far too narrowly on just “one issue,” for example.
Ultimately in fact, the neo-con movement was not even really conservative. None of antiabortionism actually conserves the traditions of the Church for instance; indeed, we are showing here, “conservative” Catholicism, including anti-abortionism, went against many of the core traditions of the Church. This new movement claimed to follow the Bible … as it actually opposed the Bible; it claimed to follow Catholic Tradition, the Cardinals and the Pope … even as it opposed the Church’s most important, canonically-mandated saint – and opposing many cardinals. Even as finally, it opposed the Pope himself. All that finally, is not “conservative” in the religious sense. To be sure however, it matches a cynical, traditional political right-wing, Fascist philosophy; one that is pretending to cooperate with religion, only as long as it builds up the militaristic state. But that means that conservatism is a political movement or philosophy; not a religious idea.
118) # 137 What was wrong with the “neo-con” or neo-conservative movement in Catholic media? Here to be sure, we support the works of many new, liberal academic theologians, and their academic freedom to explore many new, radical ideas. But while it is always good to allow many new ideas in academic discussions, a) one should always be careful about generating “new” ideas in religion. And b) especially, next, you should be very careful about telling millions of people to ac, on the basis of the latest theological speculations. The problem is that many new ideas, are after all new and untried; and as we start acting in real life, on the basis of academic speculations, we need to proceed very carefully; we need to only very cautiously, very gradually try new ideas in religion. And after a great deal of circumspection, and observation of its first fruits. In effect, many liberal ideas are speculative; and trying to live our lives on the basis of them, is an experiment. And since experiments can be dangerous, since many experimental ideas fail disastrously, we need to enact new ideas, very, very carefully, tentatively, cautiously; with a real conservatism. Whereas, this was not done, with the “new conservatism.” The New Conservatism invented a new doctrine – antiabortionism – and accounted it as sacred and holy, immediately. Without carefully observing how it worked in real life, first. And therefore it repeated the classic error of academic ideas: it supported something that looked good on paper, but neglected to note whether it worked in empirical, action; in real life. And/or, it focused far too narrowly on a single, narrow “issue” or discipline or subject; and forget to look at the larger picture, the larger implications.
Conservatives rushed their new ideas, into print, into the canon, far, far too quickly. The fact is, we will have begun to note here that today, a more careful review of the early results and fruits of anti-abortion theology, shows that there have been many fatally wrong turns, in this new theology. Which is in effect, not fully conservative, but is actually a new, experimental ethic.
And indeed, new and even radically experimental as it actually is, “conservative” Catholicism, and associated sub-doctrines like anti-abortionism, should never have been simply taken up, and presented to the world, as if it was the ancient, classic, indisputable Word of God. Indeed, it was never that: the classic source of Christianity, was God himself; and then the Catholic and Orthodox and Palestine churches, and the Bible. But the Bible never mentioned the word “conservative”; while it opposed the concept in the “new” Testament; as it was personified by the Pharisees. Indeed, the New Testament told us to “be liberal.” While as for anti-abortionism, the Bible itself said the embryo is only “formless substance” (Ps. 139); and in the Bible, God not only does not make abortion illegal, but orders a priest to perform an abortion, in Num. 5.
Here therefore, the Church itself made a serious mistake. Religious “conservatism” was not really conservative at all, in many ways. Therefore, the Church should never have allowed it to be continually, explicitly, presented every day, as if it was the authoritative word of the Church and of Bishops. Instead, the Neo-Con movement and antiabortionism, should have been presented to the public, if at all, only as a very, very new, and very, very speculative notion. While the Church itself, should have been careful to prominently, continuously disavow any firm connection with or endorsement of it. And the Church should have forbidden any organization, like EWTN and Relevant Radio, from presenting this view as the view of the Church itself. And it should have rigorously and effectively enforced this prohibition. As it obviously did not do, in the case of EWTN and Relevant Radio.
Anti-abortionism therefore, fails one more initial test; in that it was deceitful; in that it claims to be traditional, and “conservative.” Some aspects of it are “conservative”; but in the political, more than in a religious sense. Overall, in religious terms, the new anti-abortion ethic was actually, mostly new and highly experimental; and not really firmly indicated by classic Catholic doctrine and the saints, at all. Indeed, core elements of Christian tradition oppose anti-abortionism. Worse, new and experimental as anti-abortionism is, it should have been expected that it would have many unexpected bugs or errors in it; as we are in fact, noticing here and now. So that a) it should never have been presented as having as much authority. And it b) should never have been allowed to govern so many people’s lives so quickly, so soon. It should not have been made “relevant” so quickly, and presented as voting, marching orders to one hundred million Catholics, without much more developed academic discussion.
Unfortunately however, the Church was not used to the new media; and it did not adequately monitor the progress of this radical new theology, and its unprecedentedly rapid translation into marching orders, worldwide, thanks to the propagandistic power of the new media. So that this radical new “conservative” theology, was instantly translated into votes … and real governments. But finally we will have begun to show here, this presentation of an experimental theology, as if it was traditional, and therefore tried and true, and the premature enactment of that experimental theology, into real action, real governments, has been at least a minor disaster. When one-issue anti-abortionism, was presented by various lay Catholic organizations – and then even by priests – as the voice of the Church, people were then told, it was absolutely sacred and holy; it was the word of God. And therefore, they were to absolutely follow it, religiously. Many millions of people therefore trusted a flawed, false theology, totally. So that a) unfortunately, many millions of people were seriously, fatally mislead. Because of the incautious presentation of this new theology – not just by lay organizations, but even by priests – many millions of people have followed a false, fatally wrong view of Truth, all-too-obediently, all too faithfully. And worse we are finding here, b) the practical fruits or “consequences” of following a false theology all too faithfully, will have been not entirely good.
In the end, the new media generated new, partially false doctrines … and in effect, countless new false priests. And unfortunately, millions have been following these new false priests, and their monstrous new, soulless, mindless god, holy Fetus. And in the name of this false idea of God, Catholics and the Church, elected many bad officials. While these officials, did many wrong things. They focused obsessively just on “one issue” in life, especially abortion. But the neglected other issues; they neglected and even denied, of the mildness of Jesus. In particular, conservatives followed the militancy of the Old Testament … but neglected the mildness of the New Testament. In their support for America, for the military, for the “troops,” they probably propelled America into more than one arguably “just” but perhaps still unnecessary war; a war in Iraq, 1991 & 2001; a global “war on terrorism.” (We argue that the Bushes’ insensitivity to peace, international relations, their willingness to go military in fact, partially caused these wars; Bush I training Muslim extremists c. 1989 to fight Russians; Bush II making remarks on his first day in the White House, that inflamed them, etc..). Reagan and the two Bushes favored military action … and arguably, caused it. By favoring violent action, over peaceful negotiation. While the neglect, by one-issue fanatics, of other issues, of environmental problems like floods, and of the measures that would avoid such environmental problems – no doubt in large part caused the flood that destroyed part of New Orleans.
Unnecessary wars, floods: these are just the early signs of the failure in one-issue anti-abortionism; a fatal neglect of other issues. One which could in the near future, potentially cause huge, Apocalyptic disasters; like even more massive plagues, floods, famines. Or deaths from lack of Health Care. Right now in fact – today, Dec. 9, 2009 – it seems that the Catholic anti-abortion lobby is holding up, trying to prevent, Health Care from being extended to millions of poor people; poor sick people who otherwise, probably would not get good care at all. People who will undoubtedly die prematurely – from the one-issue mania, that could only see one issue, one kind of being that needed to be saved; from a fixated, narrow mono-maniacal attachment to just one “part” of life … that ignored the rest of humanity. That fixated on the embryo… and allowed humanity to suffer and die.
Finally therefore, while we here support total academic freedom, and much experimental theologizing, under the controlled situations of academe and so forth, we here however insist that any and all conjectural and new religious ideas, not be introduced to the public so prematurely, over major media, as if they were already firmly researched and decided. Around the time of Pius X to Vatican II and on, the Church was beginning to rush far, far too experimental ideas, into dogma. Even as Pius X condemned modernism, he himself was infected by it; things the past had hinted or speculated, but never firmly said, were suddenly represented as timeless dogma, truths, articles of faith, doctrine, Tradition. Whereas in fact, we can allow a gradual modernism; but it should present any new ideas not as dogma or timeless; any such new ideas – or even reformulations of old ideas – should only be presented by frankly, continually announcing them as an “experimental” or “liberal,” personal ethic; and not as “the word of the Church,” or as the firm “word of God.”
Such ideas should never have been presented to millions, as firm truths, that needed to be simply, immediately enacted into public activism, and into law.
A note especially therefore, to “Relevant Radio”: no doubt, real theology is complex, equivocal, and unsatisfying in some ways; so that one would like to make religious ideas, simple, understandable, and “relevant.” But the problem is that God, life, is very ambiguous. Job himself said he did not fully understand God; “Who knows” even about an afterlife, asked Ecclesiastes. Therefore, the rush (cf. “Rush” Limbaugh), to try to come up with a few simple rules, and then immediately apply them, is often far, far too hasty and simple-minded. The fact is, as a common saying go, “fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.” (Cf. “Rush” Limbaugh). The fact is, in the past, before talk show hosts presented themselves as the voice of God, religion was presented by priests – who had many years of formal study of religion. The fact is, it will normally take many years of formal study, before an individual understands God and religion well enough, to feel confident about applying our understanding of them, in “relevant” real-life situations. Indeed, those who know enough about God knows that normally, his rules do not apply in any simple or direct way, to real life. God issued many general directives; but not as many specific rules, as secular life develops. He issued ten commandments; and a few hundred rules. But real life needs tens of thousands of rules. While no one should rush too quickly into that gap, and start dogmatizing about general rules, and assuring us that God orders us to drink Coke, instead of Pepsi. Or for that matter, that God orders us to vote Republican, rather than Democrat.
The fact is God and life are infinitely complex. Especially therefore, EWTN and Relevant Radio – and indeed especially it is the Church’s greatest mistake – that it should have been far too rash and abrupt, about trying to take the few broad rules, and a few hundred specific rules of the Bible, and immediately misapply them in very questionable immediate and specific problems. Indeed, it was the radical failure, the mis-application of ancient rules to current life – directing us not to perform autopsies; directing us to believe that the sun moves around the earth – that caused Protestants to rebel against a false Church.
So that EWTN, Relevant Radio – and indeed, the Church itself – should never have over-directed, micromanaged, daily life. The fact is, the Bible itself is not entirely clear on its own application to every situation; and those who insist that it is, inevitably fill in the gap between general directives and everyday situations, not with the will of God, but with their own personal biases, and false political philosophy. Leading themselves and millions of others, into one disaster after another.
The Cause of the Problem:
The Church Allows Non-Priests to Speak for It;
Religious Talk Shows Hosts, Apologists And Lawyers
Dominate Religious Media,
And Misrepresent the Church
It is clear that there has been a significant error in Catholicism, over the last few decades. And in part, it seems to have been the fault of the new conservative “Catholic” media. But now let’s narrow it down a little more. To find out what kind of people in the media, specifically, have been causing the problem. It is time to ask “who” on the new networks and so forth, is most responsible for allowing so many new and untested ideas, to enter the Church; to be falsely presented as the firm word of God. As it turns out, the problem has been especially with some new, self-appointed players on the Catholic scene: the a) religious talk show hosts. Along with their b) issue-oriented guests. And c) apologists. These are the three main, new semi-religious jobs, roles, that new as they are, have not been adequately noticed or regulated by the Church. And because of the Church’s lack of attention to they new “lay” roles in the Church, these positions consequently, were not adequately monitored by the Church. And they were not prevented from continually introducing questionable and even clearly heretical ideas, to millions of people, in the name of Catholicism. All without the Church ever quite knowing what was happening.
The new media, and their staffmembers, are today far more influential than traditional leadership has really realized to date. Today, more and more everyday people are getting their religion not from church, or from priests, or from Catechism – but from the media: from radio, television, Internet. Thru religious networks like Eternal Word Television Network, and Relevant Radio. But here and now we are noting in effect, that there have been many, many problems with these new media outlets. Specifically, with their message. Though EWTN for example, a) often presents itself as a “ministry,” and b) though it constantly tells us, or implies, that its opinions are the authoritative word of the Church (as in say, Keating’s Voter’s Guide), in point of fact, as noted above, c) the religious network has never been formally recognized as the official voice of the Church, at all. Nor should it ever be. Since d) the talk-show format is probably too informal to present any doctrines exactly. And specifically e) the distinctive anti-abortion message that has long dominated this network, actually opposes the Bible, and the Church.
How could this happen? How did it happen that such a non-religious, even heretical message, came to be presented over the air, to so many people, as the word of God? Why didn’t one church or another, stop this? There are many factors: like the general decline of religion in general; and the rise of influential media. But who, what kind of media people specifically, have been the main agents of all this? At the heart of the problem, have been certain personnel, staffmember positions, in the new religious networks. Specifically, the main cause of the problem, has been: religious talk show hosts, and their guests. And associated staff members; particularly apologists. In our media age, these are our new, false priests, unfortunately. As we will see. These new roles are increasingly influential – and increasingly in a media age, they are all but replacing priests in the eyes of the people. Even though these new media figures are not qualified to replace priests, at all.
Today, many Christians get much – even for some, all – of their religion, from radio, TV, Internet … and talk show or Internet site hosts. But today the public desperately needs to be warned, continuously, by the various churches, that almost none of these new organizations and staffs, are fully approved or run, by a major Christian denomination. Though Eternal Word Television Network and Eternal Word Radio Network for example, present themselves as the voice of the Church, they are actually not an official organ of the Church at all. EWTN/RN is essentially a private, (for a time non-profit?) organization; EWTN/RN is not officially tied to the Church at all. Nor is it authorized to speak for the Catholic Church, as its official voice. EWTN/RN is just a private organization, of private individuals, offering their own ideas as to what the Church is saying – or should say. So that a) this Catholic organization, EWTN/RN, is highly deceitful; it continually presents itself as authoritative, as telling us what the Church “really” thinks … while in fact, it does no such thing. While in fact, it is not recognized by the Church itself as its official or definitive voice, at all. Far from it. Furthermore, when we examine the doctrines of such organizations, we find that individually, their doctrines vary considerably from true Christian principles.
So there is a massive, major problem with these relatively new, self-appointed “Catholic” media networks, like EWTN/RN: they pretend to be the voice of God, but they are no such thing. While furthermore, we should now add a very, very close look at the staffmembers of these media. Note first of all, that many of the most prominent staff members, the most prominent voices on air, are not priests. They are non-priest Catholics or “lay” talk show hosts, apologists, guests, and so forth. So that the main source of our religion today, is no longer priests: but just more-or-less untrained lay persons. People with no real, official authority at all. And worse, this means that religion, Christianity, is now controlled by people who do not have the same intimate, dedicated tie to religion and the churches, that priests typically had.
What’s wrong with religion, churches, now being run by talk show hosts and issue-advocacy guests? Although the average religious network today has a fair number of priests who appear on it at times, the average network is run or staffed largely (and today, wholly?) by private or “lay” apologists and staff; people who are usually not priests. Typically, talk show hosts are ordinary, if slightly religious, people who got into religion rather late in life. Most important, they are a) people who did not commit to religion, as fully as priests once did. And who therefore, b) did not go to seminary school. Or did not get as directly or fully trained in church doctrines, as a priest or minister would be. And these new staffmembers are moreover, c) not as directly or immediately or continuously under the immediate supervision of a senior priest, or Bishop. As most priests were. Nor d) have these new media priests, or what they say, been fully approved by any larger, recognized church official, or agency. These new media popes, might quote from church doctrines – but we will have been finding here that their reading or understanding of what their church says, is often strictly their own particular biases; not what their church really, fully says. While their bad training, furthermore, guarantees they will make numerous errors, in what they say. So that these new media popes, present many, countless false ideas, as the word of God.
The new, lay religious media staff, has been a major cause of severe problems, and heresies. The problem has been that the average religious media network, is in large part effectively run or staffed by non-priests; by people who, though they often appear quite pious, do not have as much training as priests. (For controversy, see role of “deacons,” p. 272, 1973 Catholic Almanac, pub. Our Sunday Visitor Inc). And for that matter, however loyal these media figures may appear, e) they are almost inevitably not quite as morally good as priests. Because that they do not have as much dedication to the Church. They are usually not as consistently dedicated to their faith, as much as priests; priests who gave up even family and so forth, to take vows of Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience to the Church.
It is no doubt in part because of all these normally fatal insufficiencies in their training and formation, that media talk show hosts, and most lay guests, have mostly not been not been given any official status, or authority, to act in the name of a recognized major denomination, or of God. Although Catholic media talk-show hosts normally present themselves as the voice of the Church, in fact most of the on-air hosts, are not priests. Worse, not only have they not been given official status; in actual practice, as a practical such lay persons unfortunately, just don’t know as much as real priests do; they simply do not know enough, to tell us what the Church really thinks.
The new talk show hosts, our new media popes, are not only not recognized by the Church; worse, they are not adequately trained, to be as prominent as they are; to lead millions, as their bishop, their pope. Unfortunately, their lack of qualifications, has not prevented talk show hosts from self-importantly presenting their own favorite ideas, as if they were the Pope himself. Even though they are nowhere near as trained (and often not as deeply dedicated) as priests once were, these new half-priests, religious talk show hosts, continually present themselves as authority. Even though they just don’t know enough – and particularly therefore, even though they inevitably mix together their own secular/lay political ideas, with their own vague ideas of sound doctrine, and their own political “philosophy”; to deliver to millions an unauthorized, non authoritative, unholy mix. All served to the public – and even the occasional visiting priest – as the “real” word of the Church. As the word of God. As the absolute, holy truth. To which they claim, there is no appeal; it is “non-negotiable,” to use the language of Karl Keating, Attny.. So that millions feel compelled to follow it.
Talk show hosts and their guests, are in fact, in large part, where the popularity of much of the false theology of our time, has come from. The excesses of anti-abortionism have been publicized by them, with their unholy hash of half-understood Christian doctrine, and political ideas; all intermixed in the minds of relatively untrained talk show hosts and guests. Because these talk show hosts and guests were never fully trained as priests – or fully “formed” as they say in Catholic circles – these talk show hosts just don’t know enough, to speak to millions of people. They make all too many, fatal mistakes. To be sure, there are often real priests on these networks; but they tend to be priests over-influenced by the glamour of the network itself; or were priests indeed chosen by the network, because their private convictions match the biases of the network. Especially though, even when a real priest speaks on one of these network, the networks have already undoubtedly influenced, changed, converted, many ordinary priests, to the networks’ own point of view. Thanks to teams of sophistical apologists, offering seductive – if false – arguments. Those priests who are not converted, are not asked back. So there is yet another mechanism here, that insures that the political biased theology of the network, does not have to deal with any dissenters; especially, no dissenting priests.
To be sure then, there are occasional priests – and even bishops – on these networks. But a) those priests are usually, far too influenced by the network itself. Then too, b) it is the lay workers, that are in the network almost every day, and that mostly control the shows. So that ultimately, overall, millions of Catholics, for nearly three decades, have gotten much of their impression of Catholicism, from untrained persons, who are not priests. Persons with no training, and with no official status in the Church at all. People who have merely appointed themselves in effect, to speak for the Church.
The Church should ask itself: could this be a problem? Could hundreds of non-priests, without adequate training, presenting themselves as the definitive voice of the Church, be a problem? Certainly, it could be. Priests are very highly trained, dedicated people; but these new voices are not quite as good as that. They are amateurs in a world of professionals. They are rather like a teenagers, who simply declare themselves to be brain surgeons. And the results we will be showing here, are just as disastrous.
In fact, it is amazing, unbelievable and shocking, that the Church should allow this. The Church has normally invested immense amounts of energy and time – even centuries, millennia – into carefully examining doctrines, and controlling what is said in the name of the Church. The main reason that the Church formed seminaries and monasteries, was in large part to make sure that every person who presumed to speak for God, was thoroughly trained, and delivered only approved doctrines. While the Church’s scholars and bishops literally combed over every single word of what was allowed to be said in Church , the litany, to make sure that every single word was correct. It is utterly amazing and shocking therefore, that this tightly controlled establishment should suddenly allow often totally-untrained persons, with their own political biases, to simply appear, and appoint themselves as the voice of the Church. And speak to literally millions, in the name of the Church and of God. That the Church should allow untutored, largely unmonitored individuals, to speak for it, is in itself, a gigantic and shocking, utter reversal of two thousand years of Tradition. Traditionally in the past, such presumptuous persons, would have never been allowed to speak at all; and it they had, they would have been immediately tried – and often executed – as heretics.
That mere talk show hosts, should now deliver the sacred liturgy of God to us, is utterly shocking. And yet somehow – probably because the Church has never quite (until today?) realized what was going on, in the new media – these new individuals have gotten away with this. To this very day. So that it is time to ask how this ever came about.
How did this ever happen? How was it that the Church, which in the past literally fought physical wars to preserve its doctrinal purity and integrity, suddenly allowed all its priests, and all its authority and tradition, to be simply, circumvented? Simply, gotten around? How was it that the Church, a two thousand year-old institution, an institution with one billion current members, allowed itself to be simply hijacked, taken over, outflanked, by untutored talk show hosts? This has been due in turn, to an utterly, shocking, criminal lapse in Church leadership (as Chris Ferrara confirmed).
How could such a thing happen? Here and now, we will be finding many reasons for this shocking lapse. Most of the reason, has been simply that the Church itself, probably lost its own conviction in its own message; and decided to liberally allow new experiments to take place, in its message. But while no doubt, we might allow some liberality, indeed, the very reason many people became angry in the first place, was that first, liberals began to advocate many excessive and irresponsible things, themselves. It is indeed the (only?) legitimate reason for the new conservatism, to correct some of the excesses of liberalism. But then as it turns out, if Liberalism was sometimes excessive, so was the “Conservatism” that tried to correct and replace it.
There have been massive sins in the New Conservatism; but the Church did not find them, because it took its eye off the ball. The old institution, often said profound and useful things about the advantages and dangers of the new media; but those words were obscure, and were not read by many. Leaving the new media moguls to do whatever they liked, in actual practice. While the Church leadership itself somehow, has not – to this very day – really looked into the popular media, to see how its experiments are working out. To see how a false Catholicism is being spread daily, even into the Church itself.
Ultimately then, it has been in large part, not just the fault of the new media, but also of a simple, gross dereliction of duty by real Church leadership, that is the main reason we have come to this. The main reason by far for the abomination of one-issue Christianity, was a simple, gross failure by the Church itself, its leadership in the era of Popes John, John-Paul II, and Benedict XVI. As they allowed many strange new theologies to be announced without centuries of testing; as they allowed more and more often utterly untrained non-priests to represent, fully speak as, the voice of the Church. It was simply a gross failure to do its job, the too-complete, too liberal abandonment of its oversight institutions, which allowed the mere Karl Keating, Attny., to present himself functionally, as our Pope. And God.
The Catholic Church’s own neglect, has been a major cause of the problem. But as important and systemic, as widespread as this critical failure by the Church has been, we will therefore need to devote some time here, to looking at the Church’s failure in some detail. To try to note some of the many consequent, smaller, contributing causes. How and why did the Church suddenly all but collapse, to hand over so much of its power, to untutored talk show hosts and guests? How and why did it suddenly hand over much of its power, to a previously-unknown entity, like “EWTN”? Why did the Pope suddenly begin to defer to Karl Keating, Attny.? Did the Church think that Karl Keating, Attny., was a saint? Or that Karl Keating was the second coming of Jesus? (There is to be sure, a very, very small class of very holy persons, who are not priests. But was Karl Keating among that elite few?)
This otherwise inexplicable lapse of direction and judgment, by core Church authority, came about in part, in the time of John Paul II; as a result of dozens of trends suddenly converging. One of the more minor trends that we might mention in passing, is simply that over the last century or so, a) many ordinary people, have lost their earlier, fuller confidence in a religion. With the Christianity that promised for centuries that it could give you powers to walk on water, and make bread appear out of thin air. Many people in actual practice, found that they themselves, were not really getting all the specific miracles that our holy men were promising. While on the other hand, science and technology seemed far more fruitful. So that, for that reason, more and more ordinary people, were simply losing confidence in Christianity and religion. This in turn meant that fewer and fewer people, in the Church itself, were interested in enforcing old religious dogmas. While for that matter, b) fewer and fewer people are interested in becoming priests.
One of the reasons that the Church began to turn more and more power over to non-priests, has been that, in our age of decline in confidence in miraculous religion, there simply have not been enough people that believed enough, to want to become priests. Because of this, though the absolute number of priests worldwide, has remained roughly the same for many years, the population has increased. So that the number of priests per capita, has declined; there are fewer and fewer few priests, to serve more and more people. Few priests, relative to the population increase. Leaving the Church with huge gaps in its staffing needs. It was partially to try to make up for the shortage of priests, that the Church began filling gaps in staffing, with “lay” Catholics, or non-priests. (See John Paul on “lay” persons; but also the controversy on the new “deacons.”) And when the Church began opening itself up to less trained persons … it opened itself up to less trained persons. People who … let their naïve enthusiasms carry the day; creating an enthusiastic and adamant, but not very intellectual, educated, or even intelligent theology. One that focused on the sentiment of untutored women; and the simple and violent physicalism, of Catholic football fans. (The ties between right-wing radio and football, are numerous; probably stemming from the core values of conservatism: an anti-intellectual, working-class emphasis on the physical, as opposed to the intellectual and the spiritual. Rush Limbaugh for example, tried to do a stint as a football announcer, and tried to buy a football team they way; an offer that was refused because of his racism. “Liberals don’t understand the nexus of Christianity and sport,” said Drew Mariani, on Relevant Radio, 3:51 PM on AM 970, Jan. 1/20/10. As he advocated Brett Farb, as quarterback. To be sure, Christianity serves sports people; but mainly, by moderating their otherwise thuggish emphasis on physical solutions: if someone bothers you, you just physically push them over, in football. And this is extended to a love of war: if someone bothers you, you don’t work it out with words: you physically kill him).
The lack of qualified, intelligent people, who really wanted to become priests, is part of the reason why the Church became understaffed; why it did not have enough priests to fill old jobs; much less, new media positions. Though John Paul II’s efforts – including his “theology of the body,” and his frequent bows to “lay” people – are now on fast track to saintdom, and though to be sure an eventual far more effective interface between religion and secular life is much to be desired, there will of course be problems with this new development; as with any new thing. Here in particular, we note that though use of the media can be good for the Church, after some reassuringly-uneventful experiments with the media (in the Liberal press say; or Bishop Sheen’s experiments?), what we are seeing here and now, in such 2nd or 3rd generation Catholic media as EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, suggests that the Church needs to revisit this issue, in an empirical way: taking a look at the practical daily results or fruits of this new neglect, at the street level. While we suggest here that the empirical results – the re-election of extreme sex-role differentiation, very male, pro-military regimes, alternating with an unsustainably sentimental, “womanly” affection for her own womb – have not been good.
The pioneering staffing model of the Church – outsourcing its staff needs, away from priests and nuns, to lay staff – though perhaps useful in some ways, needs to be fine-tuned. From the first days of the implementation of this model in fact, there had been warnings from priests, of impending disasters. While priestly warnings might have been exaggerated in some ways, in others, we would have to firmly conclude here, the new staffing model has not been as completely successful as a few early rave reviews suggested. (For related information, see Church pronouncements on “lay” persons, and say, the “permanent deaconate,” in Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, promulgated by Pope Paul VI June 27, 1967. As briefly discussed in say, the 1973 Catholic Almanac, pub. by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington , Ind., 1973, p. 272-74. ISBN: 0-87973-814-6; Lib. Cong. Cat. Card. # A43-25000. See also earlier historical problems with, complaints about previous half-priests, like friars and so forth; in the French Revolution and so forth, and English law). In fact, the problem of sexually abusive priests being too accepted for so long, is sometimes blamed on the Church listening too much to lay Psychological advice, that being “gay” was not entirely bad.
In many historical eras, the Church began to put new half-priests into authoritative roles – or more often, it simply stood by, to passively allow local laity to simply assume such new roles, and give them quasi-religious status. As when various lay Crusaders declared themselves the action arm or army, of the Church. Or when various clerks/clerics, friars and others, in English and French government, started administering their favors, based on their religious preferences. When the Church has allowed quasi-religious, lay spokesman/action arms to develop, problems, abuses, have resulted. From the many compromises. When religion begins to merge into the “world,” this is an experimental entry into a new realm – with which many world-despising monks, have little experience. And therefore, many mistakes are made. Until the details of this new combination, are worked out. Here in effect, we ourselves do not oppose any and all combinations of traditional religious and practical worlds, roles; but we are very interested in noting the early errors that have been made in such experiments; and urge the development of models, rules, to make sure such disasters do not recur, in the future.
Warnings about lay staff, have often been sounded, right from the start. By especially, priests. When the new staffing began, many religious authorities, priests, protested adamantly. But there appeared to be no other choice: fewer and fewer young people “discerned” that they wanted to be priests; fewer and fewer wanted to spend a career, promising miracles to the people. Or to offer them a “spirituality” that was totally out of touch with the material side of life. With fewer and fewer people wanting to become priests – much less, nuns – there appeared to many to be no other choice: either non-priests and nuns, had to be recruited, or else the Church it seemed, would simply collapse. Using lay persons as staff therefore was a practical necessity, many felt. For that matter though, a few new leaders were even initially excited, optimistic, at the new possibilities of bringing lay people into churches. Many, perhaps like Archbishop Sheen (?) – or certainly John Paul II, who had once been a playwright or director and actor – seemed at times excited by (if other times, cautious about) lay/secular ideas and institutions, and especially the new religious media (John Paul II apparently repeating the “Call for a new evangelization” and so forth?). But now we find that after these vast, new, experimental forces were fully unleashed – like allowing the existence of new Catholic media, and gay rights too – the liberal Church forgot to adequately monitor the results of its experiments. It did not pay close enough attention, to the theological and practical results, of its latest doctrinal/staffing experiments. After some initially “good” results – with Bishop Sheen and so forth? (see also the enthusiasm for half-priestly “deacons,” above) – the Church effectively became complacent about the new media. It all-but totally forgot about the potential dangers of allowing so many largely untrained and unsupervised voices, non-seminary graduates, to take over more and more church functions. Amazingly, it scarcely noticed, when these untrained persons, began to speak to hundreds of millions of people, in the name of the Church. As the voice of God.
No doubt to be sure, there is need for new voices in religion. But surely we need, say, intelligent, sensitive persons. Persons with some training in theology and Religious Studies, beyond a few Catechism classes; or trained at good academic seminaries. The fact is, we should not be simply handing over two or three thousand years of tradition – and one billion human beings; and many trillions of dollars in assets – to just any self-important talk show host, that appoints himself to the job.
Some people might well respond that Jesus himself, say, was just a humble carpenter or medical assistant. But others today suggest that he was a more educated rabbi. IN any case, to be sure, the great strength of Jesus was that he was able to link the practical world of ordinary laborers, to religion, spirit; the experience of a carpenter/healer, fisherman, to the knowledge of a rabbi. But Jesus seemed to have known the holy books of his day, fairly well; far better than the average talk show host knows the Bible, today. So that finally in any case, we need to ask whether Karl Keating, Attny., or Drew Mariani, is Jesus? Until the authenticated re-appearance of Jesus of God himself on earth, it would seem far wiser for the Church, to turn over control of religion and the world, to especially academic theologians, than to football-fan, talk show hosts. Though in effect, that is exactly what happened. When the Church allowed the “new conservatism” to take over, when it allowed new “Catholic” media like EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, it turned power over to talk show hosts who copied football commentator and talk radio god, Rush Limbaugh. Who soon elected people, presidents, that liked simple, physical – not intellectual/spiritual – solutions to problems. Who liked say, wars. Which they thought of as an extenuation of football, no doubt. People who believed that a few physical characteristics – DNA, the “Body” – were all that was needed to be a fully human being. Never mind, a mind, intelligence, spirit … or a soul.
119) # 138 One major reason for the new heresies – neo conservatism, one issue antiabortionism – has been a new media role. Out of conservative, populist televangelists like Pat Robertson, have come their brothers, the new “conservative” radio talk-show hosts of our Rush Limbaugh era. There had been extremely influential televangelists before; like Billy Sunday and Billy Graham, and especially Pat Robertson. But they were mostly Protestants; the effective televangelism of a Catholic message, had not often been seen (see however, the infamous Father Coughlin). Catholicism normally, was very strongly focused on the authority only of one single figure, the Pope; and one standard Tradition, centered in the Vatican. One of the main arguments between Catholicism in fact, against Protestants and the Orthodox churches, was that everyone should obey just one Church, and one central authority: the vicar of Rome, the Pope. Therefore, the basic structure of the Church, did not really allow any other individual to speak prominently or advance a theology different from central authority; not even individual priests. But around 1983 or so (especially after the demolition of the “Fairness Doctrine,” that had given equal time to both sides of every debate in media, on every controversial issue), a number of secular radio talk-show hosts – like Rush Limbaugh, and their conservative guests – began to suddenly appear. And to pump up new life, a new enthusiasm, for radio; and thus there was pressure for the Church, to get a larger presence on the medium of radio. The new talk shows were moreover beginning to energize especially, the “conservatives,” or the right wing of the Republican Party; the conservative, nationalist, “patriotic”/pro-military, pro-“American” wing. And so soon, finally, various Catholics began to copycat Limbaugh and Robertson; like Mother Angelica. Or even more, her regular talk show hosts, like Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, and others. These were, for the first time, (allegedly) Catholic talk show hosts and apologists. Who combined a Rush Limbaugh-like political conservatism and support for “conservative”/Republican issues – like a firm stance against abortion – with religion; with Catholicism. To create a sort of new kind of Catholic evangelism. (“Answering Pope John Paul II’s call for a ‘new evangelization’; Relevant Radio.” Drew Mariani Show, 3:54 PM, Jan 21, 2010).
Many people were crying for a Catholic version of Pat Robertson; a Catholic evangelism on radio and TV. So what could be wrong with a Catholic evangelism? What was wrong, was that aa) many of the role models for Catholic evangelists, were not religious, but were media figures like Rush Limbaugh; who is not only very secular, but many would say, not even honest. Indeed, bb) even the “religious” Protestant Republicans like Pat Robertson, were not trained originally as ministers; Pat Robertson went to Yale Law School, and was trained as a lawyer; while he was not really a minister, but a lawyer, that pretended to be religious, as he ran often for public office. Typically, the message of these new media ministers, inevitably confused, or even deliberately intermixed their religion, with the new political conservatism of persons like Rush Limbaugh. EWTN talk show hosts, clearly borrowed Rush Limbaugh’s constant support of “conservatives,” and attack on “liberals.” Furthermore, in a desire to form a “coalition” with Republicans (as in Robertson’s “Christian Coalition,” or “Conservative Coalition”), the new Catholic talk show hosts drifted toward publicizing individual issues, like especially abortion, that would deliver votes to the conservatives. And incidentally, that would deliver votes the most viable conservative political entity: the Republican Party. An odd mix of religion and politics, typical of Boy Scouts, religious terrorists, and so forth. (Drew Mariani is visited by Boy Scouts, 4:14 PM, Relevant Radio Jan 21, 2010).
The first problem with the new Catholic talk show hosts therefore, was that they were aa) far, far too formed by influences outside the Church; by Republican politics. This deformed its theology. While then too, in addition to its general philosophical orientation, we have found here that bb) the main, the most distinctive and prominent “issue” of Catholic talk show hosts, was … a focus on abortion, that was excessive and deformed. That did not represent the bigger, proportionate picture of the Church. For various reasons (some of them political; some of them due to simple ignorance and emotionality), the new Catholic talk show hosts – like Mother Angelica, and then Karl Keating and Jimmy Akin, etc., -greatly exaggerated the Church’s position against abortion. To the point that they made it their primary message.
Talk show cc) hosts we have noted here, were often lay persons, without adequate training in religion. They were not priests. And therefore, their knowledge of and commitment to the Church, was faulty. Worse, dd) these hosts now broadcast their faulty knowledge, as the word of God; that must be obeyed. To ee) millions of people; so that not just one or two, but millions are mislead.
There are many enormously serious problems with religious talk show hosts; enough to suggest that talk show hosts have been a major – perhaps the major – cause of the new heresy of conservatism, and antiabortionism. It was especially Catholic talk-show hosts, that began to create and then spread – or at least to front, to be the talking heads for – extreme anti-abortionism. It was Catholic talk show hosts that, more than anyone else, spread the new heresy. They helped to formulate and especially popularize the heresy, that had earlier been formed, by a number of social developments coming together. They helped merge Rush-Limbaugh talk show conservatism, with the existing folk anti-abortion sentiment in women, and dislike of Vatican II. Then they helped popularize this, in the new Catholic media outlets like EWTN/RN. To contribute to the rapidly-forming, larger Republican alliance; the Conservative Coalition. While they next presented this unholy mix, as sacred. All this being enabled in effect, by the declining status and presence, of real priests
In effect, with Catholic talk show hosts, a new kind of false, half-priest has appeared. Someone who professes to be very religious; but whose alliances are to political philosophies, and uninformed folk sentiments. But here and now, it is at last time for everyone to ask themselves: just how much religious training have these talk show hosts had? And how much authority should these talk show hosts and guests really have? What’s wrong with talk show hosts? After all, aa) most talk show hosts like Jimmy Akin, Karl Keating, Drew Mariani, are not even priests. They bb) are usually not even seminary school graduates. Therefore, cc) they were never fully “formed,” and are dd) not adequately monitored, by the Church. And ee) their major inspiration and impulse, we found, is not the real traditions of the Church; but is really from the “traditions of men.” Especially, from social-political “philosophies.” Like conservatism. And finally, f) the end product of all that, was after all, a destructive heresy. A g) peculiarly narrow and often literally fatal obsession. One that unfortunately, has been h) effectively leveraging control of America, and the world, since 1980.
Talk show hosts have been incredibly effective, in the our era; Rush Limbaugh has been given many awards by the Republican Party, and in 2008/10 was sometimes spoken of (if somewhat disrespectfully) as the most prominent Republican still standing, after the 2008 election. For some time, in fact, it now appears that much of even the Church in America, have been leveraged, ruled, by these new talk show hosts; that America – and through America the world – has been effectively ruled, by radio and TV talk show hosts. And their pop “image”s and “issues.” But now it is time to question their authority, ability, and honesty. (As when the NY Times and various Democrats began in 2009, to call Rush Limbaugh a “clown.” While in fact, Limbaugh at times seems to admit that he is a person who has semi-deliberately created a clown character. That he has created an exaggerated and somewhat comic, if emotional/angry character or persona, to entertain and persuade people. Limbaugh himself on the air, sometimes mocks the self-importance of his own character, as “your savior of the free world,” and so forth, paraphrased.)
From 1980 – the year America elected Ronald Reagan – the world has been ruled by pop media figures, like talk show hosts. Ronald Reagan, former cheerleader, had started his career in fact, as a radio announcer; then later on, he moved on into movies, as a B-movie actor (in films like “Kings Row”). Later, he worked on propaganda, pro-American, pro-Army films in WWII (like “This is the Army” etc.?). Before becoming head of the Screen Actor’s Guild, and then governor of California. Indeed, America is today ruled through mass media, by pop culture stereotypes. Especially right-wing stereotypes, like cheerleaders, jet pilots, beauty queens, and muscle men (Reagan and the two Bushes, Palin, Jessie Ventura and Arnold Schwartzenegger). But it is high time for all thoughtful persons, to question this ongoing rule of America and the world, by pop culture stereotypes. And by media clowns. America needs to know, that a person who looks like a president on TV shows, the movie idea of a president, does not necessarily mean that he really has the necessary skills to do the full job. We need America to be able to distinguish between an actor that plays the role of a President; so that people don’t confuse that person with a real president.
Particularly in any case, we need to look at the increasing power of media figures, talk show hosts. There is every reason to assert that they are formed – and deformed – by their new jobs. And they should not be allowed to be a very prominent voice in religion. Though currently in fact, they are very prominent indeed.
120) # 139 One major source of new Catholic heresies therefore, is this fact: shockingly, many people speaking in the name of the Church today, are not priests. Nor do they have any official, formal authorization to speak for the Church, much at all. Certainly, they are not Bishops or high authorities. And yet these unauthorized individuals presume to tell us all, tell millions, what the Church thinks. In this vein, consider especially Karl Keating. It is clear that Karl Keating presents himself constantly in effect, as the voice of the Church. Specifically, for example, Keating claimed that his radical, one-issue anti-abortionism, was what the Church itself had proclaimed:
“No one endorsing the wrong side of these issues can be said to act in accord with the Church’s moral norms” (Keating, Voter’s Guide, 2006).
Here, Keating presumes to tell us what the “Church’s moral norms” are. But listeners should each now ask this question: on what authority does he say these things? Or simply: who made Karl Keating Pope?
This is an extremely serious problem. Today, many persons like Pat Robertson and Karl Keating, continually present themselves to millions, as the voice of God. And as it happens, specifically, people like Karl Keating have claimed that God is ordering anti-abortionist legislation, and that God is telling us to vote Republican. But clever as Pat Robertson, or Karl Keating, Attny., might be, or Drew Mariani of Relevant Radio, still, where was the document that makes him an authority? Who made Karl Keating the Pope? Who gave these people authority to speak for God? Where is their a) training? Where is b) the document – or even the argument – that gives this person permission, to say this or that position on abortion – or anything else – is the Word of God? (Both Pat and Karl started their media ministries, before they had much training; while their training was inadequate to actually lead the people: well after taking over the media, Karl became a deacon; Pat eventually got a Master’s degree in religion; but their “ministries” began long before they knew even that much about religion).
Televangelists and talk show hosts like Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Keating and others, are among the major human faces that are presented to America and the world, as the voice of God. These are the voices, the faces now speaking to the masses, thanks to mass media. These are the voices in effect, that millions actually hear, and follow. But are these faces, voices, totally reliable? What training do they have in religion? Who gave them such authority?
Are we c) for example, mistaking the messenger, for the king himself? Thanks to mass media, millions now see the face of media messengers, or hear their message. (Like the Great Oz, in the movie, the Wizard of Oz). These new figures are the face of authority; they almost are our rulers, many think. But originally, people on the media were just messengers, talking heads, reporters; not our rulers themselves. Can the Republican public differentiate between a reporter, and the reported authority? An actor, who played a hero or a president, versus the real thing? This might be a problem, when we consider Ronald Reagan, actor, and Arnold Schwartzenegger.
How trained and reliable and authoritative, are the new media faces, after all? Or are they just rebellious talking heads, without much behind them? Making a dramatic appearance on radio and TV is one skill; knowing enough to rule a country, is a different skill altogether. Often the best rulers were people who did not look or sound at all like TV or Hollywood’s idea of a what a President should look like. (Consider Dwight Eisenhower; vs. trained actor Ronald Reagan). No doubt, a good media presence is a necessary skill for a good leader today; but today, as more and more people vote solely on the basis of how good they look on TV, or sound on the radio, America is in trouble. Because d) a slick media presentation or front, a pretty face, is a very superficial thing; a mere appearance that does not really tell you about the deep qualities and abilities of the person. Looking good on TV or sounding good on radio, is one tiny part of what a good ruler should know. And yet today, for more and more voters, if it looks and sounds good – or worse, odd and entertaining – on radio or TV, then … they vote for it. With no real research at all, into deeper qualifications and qualities that a good leader absolutely must have. So that e) today, we are ruled by a mere, talking idol (as described in the Bible); a moving, talking face on TV. A face that after all, might be a mere clown. A mere entertainer. Or a puppet, acting for deeper forces behind the scenes.
As the public is ruled more and more in its opinions, its vote, through the media, by people who happen to look good or entertaining on TV, we need to slow this down and even stop this movement. Because after all among other things, the public is now hypnotized by mere pretty faces. Or by a few demagogic voices. The mass public no longer knows that there are deeper things; and that rulers need more qualifications than that. So e) we are ruled today increasingly, by superficial “image”s and talking idols. As the Bible foretold. (Or for that matter, as the former Librarian of Congress told us, in his book “The Image”).
Therefore we need to f) ask the Church for example, whether the Church really wants our existing Catholic talk show hosts, to even be the face, the voice, of the Church. Or then g) given the increasing influence of media figures, does the Church really want Rush Limbaugh and Karl Keating and Drew Mariani, to control Catholicism?
The media are our primary means of communication today; even in the Church. But at some point, the messengers and symbols, often take over. With church attendance down, religious media figures are not just adjuncts to or messengers from the Church; they are increasingly, naively accepted by the public, as the real leadership. Not just as the face and voice, of the Church, but as the real head. Indeed, increasingly the messenger is seen as their Lord himself. But if so, then … should we continue to allow that? Or, if we rashly do decide that, can we chose a better representative/ruling media face? Like say, only the Pope himself? Or at least a good theology professor? If the Church and the world continues to let itself be ruled by the public face of this or that institution, then let us at least choose that face, ourselves. Instead of being taken over by whatever self-appointed talk show host presents himself, presumptuously, to take that job.
How much authority have media figures had in the past? And how much authority should they have in the future? In the past, they were mostly simply reporters, clerks, of other, higher authority. Today though, the figures we see on the media are sometimes the (nominal?) rulers themselves. Who rule in part by virtue of their ability to make a good TV appearance. But are these media experts, or people of real substance? In many cases, the people give far too much power and credibility, to someone who is merely good at manipulating or appearing on media; while the public does not think about his or her larger qualifications.
This is what will have begun to see here, in our case study on EWTN. Here we have begun to see what kind of problems began to occur, when the Church did not watch the media closely enough; and allowed inadequately- trained and inadequately-monitored persons, to act as its prominent spokespeople. Amazingly, h) the Church allowed an entire media network to arise in its name – that was headed by a mere, uneducated nun. A network that i) with the resignation of than nun, is today not directly under its own control. So that with EWTN, we have a messenger, a media agency, taking power into its own hands. And j) we see an early warning example of this phenomenon in for example, a Karl Keating, Attny.. A person who presented himself in the media, but who was aa) not formally authorized by the Church to speak for it; a bb) person without adequate theological training; a person cc) who made many theological errors. A person who dd) then, even worse, began to introduce his own ideas, his own “Voter’s Guide for Concerned Catholics,” as the voice of the Church; even ee) beginning, in the name of the Church, to tell America how to vote. (For an interesting similar case, in secular culture, consider the position of the press secretary to the US President; he must always be careful to reflect the President’s views, more than his own. And yet at times, he must be tempted to take the helm).
Karl Keating of EWTN/RN, directly or inadvertently attempted to present his own ideas, as the voice of God; or to indirectly insert his own bad ideas of Church doctrines, into the Church. But we will have been finding here, his views of theology were not adequately informed; and were not loyal enough to real church leadership. Karl Keating told us above, that the Church definitely condemned abortion; to the point that, Keating asserted, the Church and God were telling us always to vote for the most anti-abortion candidate in every election. Yet we have found here, that the real, traditional leadership, was saying no such thing. Indeed eventually, it clearly said the opposite of that. (See the statements of Cardinals Ratzinger and McCarrick, above). McCarrick told us that the Church was “not telling people how to vote.” But because Karl Keating was so prominent in the media, his message, his theology, carried the day. Even over and above real Church leadership.
The people were following the media messenger, thinking he was the ruler. And so Keating had great power for a moment; indeed he and EWTN have been the effective head of the Church – for a moment. And his new Church was telling Americans how to vote, in effect.
This therefore, has been close to the heart of a new abomination in religion: the new “treason de clerics” (SP? French); or the treason of the clerks, the messengers, the angels (“angels” is from the Greek for “messenger”). The usurpation of real authority, by the media façade and messengers. And k) yet of course, we will have begun to call the public – and the Church’s – attention to the fact that after all, the residual real authority of the Church apparently had just enough power to begin to chastise and stop Karl Keating himself, specifically. Though to be sure, l) though Keating himself seems to have declined in prominence, the new media remain nearly as powerful as the Church; others in the new media have taken up Keating’s presumptuousness, and have even redoubled it. Consider the influence today say, of Sheila Liaugminas. Who herself was in 2009/2010 probably strong enough, to stop “universal health care”; health care for poor people. On the grounds that the new health care bill backed abortions; her one issue. So that the narrow focus of this EWTN/Relevant Radio media figure, on just one issue, has presently defeated the major concern of Jesus: healing the sick.
The Church it is said, has critically addressed Mother Angelica, and Karl Keating. But even the Church has itself, merely taken care of the superficial face of things: it has not yet gotten to the root of the problem: EWTN/RN, and related private, “Catholic” media networks. So that today, the problem that surfaced more dramatically in Mother Angelica and Karl Keating, simply continues, worse than ever. And the problem – of mere clerks, media announcers, presenting themselves as God – will continue. Until the Church addresses not just the individuals, but also the larger institutions and trends, that will continually recreate this problem. The deeper forces, that will continually recreate people like Karl Keating and Sheila Liaugminas. Until we actually take effective action against the parent organizations.
. . .
In countless appearances on EWTN, Karl Keating, Attny., presented his anti-abortion opinions – including eventually his Voter’s Guide (c. 2004 especially) – as the voice of the Church. Or in effect, Keating presented himself as the voice of God. But should the Church continue to allow such Catholic talk show hosts, to continue to present themselves, as its voice? Or should Christians allow such people to present themselves, as the voice of God?
In his Voting Guide, Karl Keating, Attny. clearly presumes to tell us all, definitively, what the Church and God say. And this kind of statement was extremely influential; his opinions were constantly repeated on EWTN/RN, to millions of people, as the voice of the Church, as the voice of God. But today it is time to ask: on what authority, on the basis of what credential, does Karl Keating, Attny., speak? Who made Karl Keating, the official voice of the Church? What Church document does that? Who made Karl Keating the Pope? The new media gave Keating great prominence; it put him before millions of Catholics. But should millions continue to listen to him, or some other EWTN talk show host, more than to the Vatican?
Many might say that Catholic media have a useful intermediary role to play; a role similar to the individual priest, that you can speak to after the service or mass. No doubt, what the Bible and the Pope themselves say, can often be too complicated for ordinary people; and so millions of simple Catholic men and women, want a local priest or cleric, to make things simple for them; or today they listen for a few simple summaries, on the radio. But in point of fact, there has always been a) a problem even with the system that gives authority to a local priest; who after all is a flawed human being, of not very high standing, who often makes many mistakes and misrepresentations of God. Who is not as authoritative as a Bishop or the Pope. Then too, b) the new media hosts, are not much better; indeed they are currently usually much worse even than the average priests, we are finding here. So the question arises: should we allow these new media figures to have so much power? Or, related to this: should we encourage people to live and vote, on the basis of simplistic media summary? On the basis of an inevitably simplistic and therefore substantially false theology? (Which is a problem, as Cardinal Mahony began to suggest). No doubt, we cannot ask the ordinary person to have the equivalent of a Ph.D. in theology; and so we need to give the people something simpler to live by. But when we are simplifying theology for the masses … aa) how simple should we make it? Or bb) what specific simplifications should we choose? Here we suggest that no one should ever make religion all that simple and clear; religion after all addresses ultimate mysteries, so that any glib clerical summary, that tells us that God wants us to drink Coke instead of Pepsi, or vote Republican rather than Democrat, is always a sort of abomination. So that indeed, clerics are always bad, in many ways. As well as media figures too. Yet to be sure indeed, recently, even the average cleric today, has developed the fine art – as the core of his profession – of not saying things too simply or clearly. A useful skill. Though frustrating, it does at last reflect the ambiguities of God and ultimate truth.
No doubt, ordinary working people today, have become frustrated with endless philosophical and academic ambiguities, though. They want a few simpler answers or rules. But to be sure, which simple answers, if any, should the Church present? Of all the many available options, we suggest that the demand to water down religion and God, and make them all too simple, simplistic, should be resisted. If the people want simple answers, perhaps the best thing is the current (and classic, oracular) priestly stratagem: to continue to tell them or imply by the vagueness of their answer, that there are no simple answers. Or if the people need simple answers, there are the laws of the land to follow, for example. A simple ethical system. Or perhaps we might develop a newer set of simplifications; but surely, as it turns out, not the oversimplified schematics of the Neo Conservative moment.
Here we prefer a very good priest, or a bishop, to a talk show host. Indeed, though, since ordinary priests make many mistakes, and since the media “ministry” (if we accept that concept) is so huge and influential – typically millions, even hundreds of millions – then possibly no less a prominence than a bishop, in person, should ever be allowed to speak, in this forum: on radio and TV.
In fact, the major problems, the heresies we are addressing here, stem largely from inadequacies in apologist/talk show hosts, like Karl Keating. More specifically, the problem with Keating and others like him, is that they do not really have enough ability or authority to be as influential, important, as they recently became. Karl Keating and EWTN presumed to tell millions of people, what the Church thought; and worse, Karl Keating began to order tens of millions, how to apply those principles, relevantly, in the voting booth. In effect, Karl Keating and EWTN, like ancient princes in the Crusades, gave millions marching orders, in the name of God. And yet Karl Keating is not the Pope. Karl Keating is not even a priest. So why should we listen to Karl Keating? He a) has little or no official support from the Church, authorizing him as its chosen representative. He b) is not the Pope; Karl Keating is c) not even a priest. He may be a “deacon” some say; but if so, that just means that he is just a private lay person, with inadequate training, without having gone through seminary, claiming to speak for the Church. But the Church itself gave him no very high office. Nor in fact d) do we find here that his theology was an educated, informed theology. Indeed, e) he is just a lawyer, moonlighting in a field he does not fully understand.
Karl Keating for a while in effect, commanded the Church in America. But why should the people listen – as millions do – to Karl Keating, Attny.? And not to say, a priest? Or why don’t the people listen to, say, the real Pope? And the Vatican? In fact, the Church itself, had given Keating very little status at all. While even the media network he often appeared on – EWTN – is not considered by the Church to be its official, definitive voice. For a more authoritative source, people should go to the Catechism. Or online, to Vatican.va (?). Or for that matter, go directly to God yourself, through prayer and meditation about the Bible.
Karl Keating and many other relatively untrained persons in the media, have for some time presented themselves as authorities. But they have few if any credentials from any academic institutions, or from any major church or denomination, to support their claims. While, given what we have seen here of their theology, any such credential as may exist, should be immediately revoked; canceled.
The first major problem with Karl Keating, Attny., is that a) he is not authorized by any major church to speak definitively for it. He is moreover, b) not a trained priest; speaking from a tightly controlled and monitored and approved liturgy; he is just a private or “lay” person, speaking his opinion on what he thinks the Church is saying. The main problem is c) that he is untrained in religion. Strangely, d) ominously, like a few key televangelists, like Pat Robertson, he is trained more as a lawyer, than as a theologian. Then too, e) since he was not a priest when he spoke, he was unattached, less devoted, relative to priests, who had devoted their entire lives to the Church. (A problem with EWTN regular Fr. John Corapi too; who became a priest only later in life, at the age of 40 or so. And whose theology therefore has not had as much time to develop; and is not mature. And whose theology is filled with the extraneous, private and often violent ideas, of a man who originally, signed up for the Green Berets, or a Ranger Unit in the Army). Untrained and inexperienced as these figures are, we would expect them and EWTN to have made many, many mistakes.
Here in fact, we will have been outlining a hundred and more fatal mistakes in such figures. A hundred or more mistakes, just on one of their favorite subjects: Abortion. Here we will have found that these media figures, mislead not only themselves, but millions of others. Misleading them all, in one election after another. So that ultimately, all of America was controlled, leveraged, by a false theology; by a series of false and pseudo priests, on EWTN/RN and related outlets.
Serious and influential and destructive errors have been made by conservative Catholic media therefore. So how can we fix them? In the last parts of our book, we will consider dozens of possible remedies. So what should we now do and say? Unfortunately, a) we would have to say that the Church’s own remedies to date, have not been good enough. Even when the Cardinals and even the Pope spoke, the new Catholic media simply ignored them, and went on as usual. Working hard to defeat health care for the poor, for example, currently, later in 2009, because the health care bill backed abortion. Letting this “one issue” defeat Jesus’ attempt to help the poor, heal the sick.
Cardinals and Popes have spoken … and have just been ignored by the new “Catholic” media. So what should we now say or do to try to fix all this? Among other things, we and others might b) ourselves, simply warn the public about Catholic media. And c) tell the people to learn to compare what the media idols say, to what the Church really, more fully says, in the Bible, the Catechism, its theology books. But to be sure, few ordinary Catholics are educated enough, or have enough time, to do that effectively. So all we can do here is d) simple give the people this book; with its few brief indications, that after all, theology, God, are a complicated subject; and that probably no one should be allowed to deliver such simple ideas, as marching orders to millions. Or finally, e) if a few simple clear commands are necessary? Then we say here that the Bible itself and God, are not clear on the subject of abortion: therefore the people should simply be told, that God himself did not speak firmly on this subject. That God himself expressed no firm opinion. So that we are free as human beings and individuals, to decide on our own. But that in any case, firmly: no one should ever say that “God said” that abortion is wrong. It might be wrong; but God himself never said any such thing. And all those various agencies that have claimed God spoke on this, are guilty of a very serious crime: they misrepresent God. In Biblical language: they “speak falsely for God.” So that religious anti-abortionists, have committed a very serious sin.
The simple bottom line for the people is this: the Bible, God, the Church, never actually said abortion was as bad as many say. Therefore, religious Pro Life antiabortionsts are bad, evil people; they speak falsely for God.
Those readers who have some academic skills, even advanced degrees, might want a more complicated summary of what we have found here. Briefly, summarizing what we have found this far? When we began looking here at the Bible itself, and the Church itself, we will have been finding that the Bible and the Church are actually saying something quite different, than what EWTN and Karl Keating say they are saying. EWTN and Keating constantly quote parts of Church doctrine to be sure; but Keating for example quotes only misleading parts of doctrine; and he “twist”s those parts to suit his own lawyerly, social/political philosophy. The main problem has been narrowness; an incomplete and narrow religious education. Keating and others like him, quoted only parts of Church doctrine – but they never really told the fuller story, of what the Church really, finally, fully says. The fact is, it is unlikely the Bible itself ever meant for abortion to be the major issue in our lives, in one election after another. Though at times the Bible refers to a “child” in the womb, other times, the Bible considers the embryo to be “formless substance.” A being not yet fully made (Ps. 139). While the Bible never mentions abortion by name. And if it speaks of it at all, it seems to allow it; indeed, God even orders a priest to perform an abortion in effect, in Num. 5. While perhaps the foremost saintly theologians of the Church – Aquinas – told us the young embryo does not have a soul. And yet the soul or mind or spirit, is the most important thing in us, that makes us human. So that leads to the conclusion, that the embryo is not a real, full human being or human person.
Reading philosophers like Aquinas to be sure, is not easy for most people. And ordinary working people do not have the time to learn how to read them; they might need some simpler answers. It that is true however, then the first, best simple answer to give the people is this: a) God himself, so far as we can determine, expressed no firm opinion on abortion. So that anyone who now claims that God said abortion is evil or bad, is simply, wrong. Is speaking falsely for God. The fact is, it appears the matter of abortion was left to human beings to figure out, on their own. Or, if people want a slightly more complicated answer? Then b) antiabortionsts contradict not only the Bible and God, but also the Roman Catholic Church. The Church to be sure, has opposed abortion; but not as strongly as anti-abortionists have. Though EWTN has suppressed this knowledge.
EWTN, Fr. Frank Pavone, do not really tell its listeners the truth. They do not tell the fuller story of what the Church really, finally says. They do not tell the people, that a) Cardinal Mahony rebuked Mother Angelica, founder and head of EWTN. The network also seldom tells its listeners, b) that Cardinal McCarrick condemned “one issue” Catholicism; which would condemn Keating and Fr. Frank Pavone’s, one-issue Pro Life antiabortionism. While for that matter finally, c) most Catholics were never adequately told on EWTN/RN, or Relevant Radio, that Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, condemned such dis “proportionate” one issue theologies, as the one-issue anti-abortionism of EWTN. The disproportionate focus on just the issue of abortion, that demands that we must consider and vote only on the basis of this single issue; and let it outweigh even matters as important as health care, healing, for the poor and sick. While d) EWTN never told listeners, about the literally fatal effects that withholding health insurance from millions would have; the millions of people it would kill. Indeed, e) most Catholics have never been told that most of the anti-abortionists on EWTN are therefore, simply, heretics.
Most Catholics to be sure, are not educated or devoted enough, or do not have enough time, to investigate difficult subjects and readings. Most Catholics do not even go to church, to listen to homilies. While in any case, few if any homilies are addressed to political subjects, like this issue. So that most Catholics have never heard what the Church really, fully thinks about this subject; instead they have simply, lazily, listened to a little radio on the subject, and simply trusted and believed that. But of course, the simple conclusion here, is that Catholics should not have done that. Listeners should never had trusted “Catholic” radio; Catholic talk radio today, is not yet reliable at all. “Catholic” radio has for some time, been largely biased by right-wing Rush Limbaugh polemics and conservative philosophy; it does not honestly or adequately present the truth of the Church, or the fuller truth of God.
The strongly anti-abortion theology presented by Keating on some radio networks at first sounds very pious, and Catholic, and Christian. But we will have been showing here, in successive chapters, that there are many things in anti-abortionism that are actually a) against the Bible; b) against the Church; c) against Ethics; and d) against Science. Since the heart of the anti-abortion movement is found among Catholic specifically, we have noted especially that Keating’s, EWTN’s one-issue anti-abortionism, especially, has been repeatedly attacked by at least two cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church – and the Pope. These authorities in effect, censured Karl Keating and EWTN, when they censured “one issue,” anti-abortion Catholicism. (See McCarrick; and especially Card. Joe Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI’s, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” 2004 memo).
Pro Life antiabortionism, has since 2004 been firmly attacked, condemned, by science, ethics, and the Church itself; by the Pope himself. So how is it that EWTN and its false message, have been allowed to continue? Or why therefore, does anyone, still follow EWTN? The reason is even though they are false, by now, EWTN and antiabortionism, have a certain massive institutional force and power. Today, aside from church services themselves (which few attend), many religious people get their information on religion, from radio and TV and Internet. But people typically listen to only one media source of information on religion. Specifically, Catholics have gone to the only Catholic media source available in any prominent way: to EWTN/RN. Which is found on standard TV satellite and cable packages, and on the Web. And which is the only easily-available outlet that really addressed political issues, like abortion, and voting. And so, most people have never heard any other voice on the subject, representing itself as religious, as Catholic; they have only EWTN/RN, and contributors like Karl Keating. While any dissenting voices, are quickly hung up on. Thus the people never really heard the other, religious side of the abortion debate. Indeed, most listeners have no idea it is a “debate” at all; they were under the impression that the whole situation was finally, firmly settled. Indeed, eternally determined. Because EWTN not only narrowly focuses just on one issue; at that, it presented only one side of that single issue.
Does EWTN really offer a balanced view of theology? Does it offer both sides of religious questions? Does it offer any fair debate? First a) EWTN explicitly presents itself as “conservative”; which means it favors just one side of the conservative/liberal debate. To be sure, b) it and other “conservative” networks and shows, at times pretend to offer “fair and balanced” coverage; to offer both sides of major debates. But c) by now, everyone knows that conservative networks like Fox, have even admitted that they favor the conservative side. While d) we will have shown here and elsewhere, that the “debates” in conservative call-in shows, are not real, fair debates. To be sure, networks like EWTN are based on a “call-in” format; they seem to freely allow people to call in to the radio shows, to offer comments and objections; to debate whatever topic the network is talking about. But actually, we will have found in actual experience, the appearance of fair debate on conservative talk radio, is false: there is really no fair debate on conservative talk radio. The game, we will have found, is rigged.
Talk radio often looks like a “debate.” It has a speaker present a point of view – and then opens up the phone lines, for listeners to call in, and ask questions or make comments. But that is not a fair debate, exactly. Generally, a) only the radio station itself really knows much in advance, what the subject of a given day’s discussion will be on. So that only the network is prepared in advance, and knows what the topic will be. Then too, because only the network knows the topic in advance, therefore, b) only the network station, has expert guests, waiting in the wings, to represent their own side of the “debate.” In contrast, c) the other side of the debate, is represented by whatever callers happen to be listening; usually they are usually not trained experts in the subject. So that here alone, the network has an almost unbeatable advantage.
Then too, d) those people who call in to talk radio, are screened; if the station does not like them – or if it feels that the callers will be too-skilled opponents – the station just … hangs up on them, and does not allow them on the air. So that here again, the station controls the “debate”: and acts to eliminate any real competitors or speakers.
Or then too: e) when a caller gets on the air, and turns out to be too effective, too good, then the control room or the talk show host, just hits the “dump” or “off” button … and takes his opponent off the air. In that way f) the station once again, utterly controls anyone who would take the other side of the debate; and arbitrarily silences them, whenever it wants. Which is anything but fair debate. In particular, the “dump” button, always assures not only that the talk show host can just cut off his opposition unfairly; it also means typically, that the talk show host, will always get especially, the last word. In every call, eventually the caller is hung up on … and the talk show hosts issues an unanswerable objection to the caller; the host’s final word. And this gives listeners the sensation, that the host has come up with an unanswerable point. No one really realizing, that the host’s last statement is unanswerable … not because the “debater” does not have an answer for it, but because the host has just arbitrarily turned off his opponent’s microphone.
Many millions of people followed conservative talk shows, because they thought they were fair and honest debates; they heard callers, debaters, call into talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, and then engage in what many thought, were fair and honest debates; give and take. But in fact, the most popular conservative talk shows were never real, honest, fair debates. Though talk radio obviously respects democratic debate enough to mimic or fake that format, it never really respected the basic democratic institution of debate enough, to actually produce or allow, real, honest debates. Instead, conservative talk radio, almost to this very day, continually presents a rigged show, a rigged debate. In which the station, the host, really controls the whole show.
One day, when the public is told this, it should cause a massive scandal; a scandal much, much bigger, much worse, than the historic media “Payola” scandals and others. When, years ago, people and the Congress, discovered that certain radio stations were taking bribes, pay – payola – to play certain records. Or the Quiz Show scandals; when we found that a number of media quiz shows, were rigged; that often the station gave contestants the answers, to make the shows more dramatic. But beyond the infamous “Payola” and Quiz Show scandals, the yet-to-surface Fake Debate, Call In scandal, is far, far worse: conservative talk radio has been faking, bastardizing, the cornerstone institution of Democracy itself. It has been faking, rigging fair and equal debate. When the public – that thought it heard Rush Limbaugh winning one debate after another – discovers that the show was rigged, that the public has been duped, by false, rigged debate, then finally this new scandal should surface, bigger than all the rest. As suddenly the public discovers it was duped; that where the right wing appeared to win all the arguments, all the arguments after all, were rigged. In a most un-Christian, dishonest and deceitful way. Causing a “scandal” that after all, the Church particularly wishes to avoid. (See “scandal” in the Catechism).
So not only is talk radio a) not properly regulated by the relevant religious institutions they claim to represent, like churches; they are b) not regulated either, by even the simplest sense of honesty, or a sense of fair debate. The talk shows therefore, are unethical in many ways. Talk show hosts like Karl Keating – or today his successors, regular guests like Sheila Liaugminas – present themselves as authorities, and as capable of winning any debate. And they appear on the air, to be winning one debate on their topic, after another. But that whole appearance, we find now, is faked. So that it should by rights, soon become a massive, public scandal.
Given all these massive evils in Catholic talk radio and media, what should we and the Church itself therefore now say and do? What should we do about these new, unauthorized, un-approved, and fundamentally dishonest figures, that are now taking the role of priests and popes? Among other things, we need the real Pope to more fully devote himself to understanding this situation. And then again, more firmly than ever, warn the people, about it. Then we will need the Pope himself to speak up – and far more prominently than in the past. But to be sure, it is uncertain whether even more dramatic action by the even than just the Pope speaking out. Since the Pope has spoken out earlier … but prior pronouncements even by the Pope himself on this matter, have not been effective.
Why, how, have the ancient control mechanisms of the Church failed us? Many centuries ago, the Church had problems with various people – even priests and bishops and churches – issuing statements in the name of God, that did not really match what the Church wanted to say. And so eventually, the Church began to evolve mechanisms to control any message issued in the name of God. Beginning with a) the writing and then b) editing of the Bible, and then in part c) with the control mechanism of countless Ecclesiastical “councils” and so forth – like Council of Nicea, etc. – eventually the Church formulated carefully, what it considered to be acceptable Christian doctrines. Among other things, d) it developed a very, very tightly controlled liturgy; an outline, a very tight script, of what could be said by individual priests, in church services, masses. Then to, to further regulate any and all words issued in the name of the Church, and Christianity, e) the Church developed a number of controlled seminaries, orders; so that tightly controlled the way religion was taught to monks, and to future priests. While then too f) when the Church controlled the state, it also censored or burned any words that contradicted its message; while g) the Church also wrote many of the laws by which the people were to live. So that h) the Church often controlled many courts of law, as well as princely courts. While i) the Church assured the people that it was the voice of the Lord, or God. So that the Church often controlled the courts. Particularly in the Papal States. All these and other mechanisms of control, assured, among other things, that the message of the Church, was very, very tightly controlled. There was little opportunity for variation. While j) those who deviated, were convicted of heresy, and either censured or often even, tortured to death; burned alive at the stake.
Until recently therefore, the people only heard about the Church and Christianity, from very, very tightly controlled and heavily-monitored sources. Especially, the words and ideas that were delivered to the people, were delivered in the Mass; and those words, the words of the liturgy, were very, very, very scripted and controlled. So that for centuries – until today in fact – the Church has had an iron grip on any messages issued in its name. Until very recently, there has been a very strong system in the Church, for preventing heresy, for preventing any deviations from its message. For millennia, people heard mainly about Christianity, for example in church services – and there the message was extremely carefully controlled. What priests were allowed to say in the name of God, was very, very, very tightly controlled and scripted. The liturgy offered very, very little leeway. While even later, somewhat freer homilies, formed only part of the Mass; and even homilies were under severe constraints. So that to be sure, almost the only way to issue messages that deviated from the Church … was to use military force to break away from the Church totally, and found your own country. As Protestants did.
An incredibly tight mechanism for controlling what was said in the name of the Church therefore, has existed for years. But amazingly enough, all that was recently gotten around once again … without the Church ever realizing what was happening.
In the past, the Church has relied on the vast control mechanism described above; a series of regulatory institutions that very, very tightly regulated and controlled whatever was said in its name. That mechanism had evolved over a period of literally thousands of years; and it was quite effective (the Protestant Reformation excepted). The sole, successful rebellion against that – the Protestant Reformation – took place five hundred years ago; begging about 1515 or so. And yet, successful as that rebellion from the Church’s message was, that rebellion was a long time ago. While the Reformation eventually allowed dissenting Catholics, to simply go to another church. Leaving the Church to control at least, its own; or those who decided to stay. And so the Church has had control in at least its own limited sphere. While its control there at least, was still exceedingly strong. The Church being centered strongly, on a strongly hierarchical leadership, focused especially on the Vatican, and the Pope, and the traditional and contemporary body of doctrines, dogmas; the Magisterium, and so forth.
The Church has therefore, retained some very considerable control over its message; and for so long that, for some time, the Church has become very, very complacent. It knew that the message that was issued in its name, was offered primarily in Church services, liturgies – where there were many, many redundant devices in place, to make sure nothing went awry. But what the Church has not adequately noticed, was that increasingly, by 1983 or so, people were not getting their information about the Church from listening to the mass so much any more. Or from Catechism. Rather, instead, in the new media age – especially when “Catholic” radio and TV appeared – people have been getting their information about the Church and God, just as much from the media: from radio, TV, Internet. And if to be sure, there were warnings that ordinary, “mainstream” news “media” might be unreliable on religious subjects, when EWTN/RN appeared, and announced itself as authentically, conservatively “Catholic” – to be “Global Catholic Radio” – many believers simply accepted this network as being at last, a more accessible but authentic voice, of the Church itself; of the Pope himself. But we are here today, to show that this was a vain illusion. The fact is, EWTN/RN is not the authentic, monitored voice of the Church. In this network – unfortunately, due to neglect by the Church – the message is nowhere near as controlled or monitored, as it should have been. The message at EWTN, was loose enough, that almost any kind of heresy could slip in. And did slip in, in fact. Indeed, the devil himself slipped into EWTN – and has run the network for years.
How did it happen? The fact is, the Church had earlier had in place, a massive and rather reliable mechanism, to regulate any words issued in its own name; in the name of the “Catholic” church. In this old system – by the way, most information was delivered by word of mouth – the people learned what the Church had to say, by coming to church to hear words spoken, in a controlled liturgy, and homily. And in the liturgy, almost every single word uttered by the speaker, had been gone over and approved, by centuries of church councils and committees. While for that matter, after the invention of the printing press, the Church had a well-developed system of “imprimateur”s, or levels, stamps of various degrees of official approval; this system was applied to rank works written in its name, or the name of Christianity. But unfortunately, though this system of controls worked, with the old economies, the new media, the existence of a “Catholic” media network, was a brand-new development; one that threw the old system a curve. Meanwhile, the Church had become complacent about the old system of controls … and it never really adequately noticed (especially in the liberal 80’s), that there was a whole new medium out there, speaking constantly in its name. The Church never even really noticed, adequately, that a new medium was beginning to deliver a neo-conservative message, that was nowhere near as tightly controlled, or monitored, as the liturgy or the Mass had been. Even as that voice began to lead millions of Catholics.
No doubt to be sure, there had been some (unreported?) initial objections to Mother Angelica and her new radio station, when it first formed, around 1981 (not completely on line it seems; see local newspapers around her first station; in California?). But with increasing acceptance of such liberal innovations, and lulled into complacency by the presence of a nun, after all, as the head of the organization, and due to the avid resistance by the network itself, the Church did not shut the organization down. After a few years of operation, it did not bother to become alarmed at the fact that, in the new “Catholic” media, we were no longer dealing with carefully trained priests, uttering only very tightly controlled approved formulas. Lulled by the presence of nuns (and an occasional priest), and seduced by clever arguments from apologists for the new network, seemingly no one in authority was really very alarmed that in the new media, the Church was being represented by persons with often, little or no credentials; people who usually not priests trained in good seminaries. People who sometimes were not even Catholic. Worse, the Church never noticed adequately, that in such media, we are dealing with people with, often, political agendas. Who would utter political things, like advocating “conservatives” vs. “liberals.” Or even utter silly things off the top of their heads. All as the word of the Church and of God. For some reason, somehow, the Church just let this pass by. Perhaps because indeed, its original experiments with new media, with Bishop Sheen’s TV shows, seemed good enough. So that the Church was relatively complacent. While, if some authorities now and then noticed problems in the new media, and complained about them, then after all, they confronted a new type of conservative media spin machine: there were legions of professional spin-doctors and rhetoricians – “apologists” – ready to introduce a hundred arguments, in defense of the network. So that anyone who complained, quickly met with a barrage of cleverly manufactured rhetoric. In defense of problematic theologies, like the “conservative” attack on “liberals”; and antiabortionism.
That was how the new networks were able to keep going, for so long; and to get around many of the control mechanisms of the church. The new Catholic network media machine, was strong enough, apparently, to end or get around, any and all traditional institutional objections to its deviant message. As indeed, EWTN gets around them – even around the condemnation by three cardinals and the Pope – this very day. But finally, some of us have had enough: it is part of the purpose of our present book, to finally call to the attention of the public, and to our religious leadership, the huge problems with the new religious networks, like EWTN and Relevant Radio; and associates.
It seems clear that there has been a serious problem here, with the new Catholic media. So how can we and the public – and Church leadership – begin to fix it? In part, we are beginning the repair process, by simply sounding the alarm; by warning Catholics here and now, that there have in fact, been some massive problems in these network. We have begun by noting that the new media, are not what they pretend to be: they do not really have any official approval at all. Noting that after all, the latest media Catholic – currently, Sheila Liaugminas – for instance, is not the Pope. But then especially we have advanced our argument here, by noting that not only are these voices untrained and unauthorized: nor are the things they say, consistent with a more careful review of the Bible and traditional doctrines. Indeed in fact, more often than not, the things that say Sheila Liuagminas has said for example, are simply, heresies.
Unfortunately though, our warning here, comes very late. Already, a false theology has ruled America, for at least 28 years. Then too, the earlier efforts of the Church to date, to fix this, have failed. In fact, if anything, EWTN’s heresies are now backwashing into the Church, into priests, themselves. Those priests who appeared on lay networks like EWTN, were soon seduced by them; seduced by the glamour of media exposure and fame, and seduced intellectually by the sophistical arguments of talk show hosts and lawyerly apologists. So that although the EWTN “conservative” heresies were once partitioned outside the Church itself, found only in the new media, by now, after having been broadcast to millions for nearly three decades, the one issue antiabortion heresy, is now backwashing into the Church leadership itself. Today, a) more and more priests, like Fr. Frank Pavone, have completely, utterly accepted the one-issue anti-abortion apologetics of EWTN and Keating, as the word of God. Not just Fr. Frank Pavone, but also the other priests on “Priests for Life”; and Fr. Ed Sylvia; and it seems from his political statements, Archbishop Burke of the Vatican court. As we will see here. So that the antiabortion movement today, in its narrow focus on just one issue, seems poised to defeat health care for the poor. So that a minor issue in the Bible, now trumps, defeats, one of Jesus’ main concerns.
Shockingly therefore, the inadequacies and heresies of talk radio were never stamped out; not even after the objections of three cardinals and the Pope. Instead, the old heresies are in fact, stronger than ever – and are even now, taking over the Church itself; and the Vatican courts. And the American public.
It is clear therefore, that not only our own efforts here, but also new and extremely dramatic and forceful action by the Church itself therefore, is urgently needed. The Church needs to explicitly, repeatedly, publicly warn everyone, that neither Karl Keating, nor Sheila Liaugminas, nor even Fr. Frank Pavone, is the Pope. That Joe Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, not EWTN, is the Pope.
Today the people desperately need to be told by highest authority, that the liturgy and the Magisterium, the words of the Vatican – and not the casual words of Karl Keating and talk show hosts – are the definitive word of the Church. Today, everyone should be told repeatedly, that those Catholics who really want to follow the Church and God, should listen directly to the Vatican, an to the Bible itself. Not to Karl Keating. Not to Sheila Liaugminas. Not to Drew Mariani. Not to Fr. Frank Pavone. These people may honestly think that they are speaking for the Church and God; but they have been simply, deceived by the devil himself. To become deceivers themselves, in turn.
Given the extent of the problem, the many lives of the poor and the sick at risk, the potential for wars and environmental disasters – for all the evils of the Apocalypse in fact – we must all now act immediately against EWTN/RN and Relevant Radio, with every, very stern measures. To combat the growing “conservative” and antiabortion heresy that even now, threatens to take over the Church itself, we ourselves as public citizens, must being to vocally protest. While the Church itself must finally take very dramatic action indeed; something even more drastic, obviously, that the (too indirect?) criticisms of the heresies, by three cardinals, and the Pope.
What extremely drastic measures will be necessary? We will devote an entire chapter of this book, to a summary of the very serious measures that are now necessary, to correct this deadly error. Let’s more fully describe the problem first though. After talk show hosts, the problem is lawyers and apologists, taking over religion, and presuming to tell us what God wants. A situation rather like the situation of Jesus; confronting “lawyers,” and the lawyer-like Pharisees. And then of Paul, confronting too inflexible “law.”
Lawyers and Apologists,
The Unnoticed Destruction of True Catholic Authority,
Of the Cardinals and the Pope,
By Talk Radio; It’s
Lawyers and Apologists and Guests
The old corrective mechanisms of the Church, have broken down. They have not really effectively worked recently, on the new “conservative” media, in any case. The new media particularly, have broadcast uncontrolled, unapproved voices, to millions. To the whole world. But that was bad. Therefore, we will have begun here to try to expose in great detail, the great many Biblical and theological sins in various lay Catholic sermons, and talk-show rants. But for now, let’s continue with our look at the institutional problems in the heart of it all; the various professions, the new media staff positions or roles, that have been a large part of the problem. First, we have looked at a) talk show hosts. Next, let’s look at b) the new staff members in general; then c) lawyers; then finally, d) apologists. These groups, form the center of the problem.
121) # 140 Ultimately we will see, the problem is in large part, from the new media and new advocacy organizations … but more particularly, their lay staff-members. Among other things, the decline in the number of men who want to become priests, has lead to the churches hiring many non-priests, or “lay” Christians, to perform many duties formerly performed by priests and nuns and clerics. But these new “lay” persons often do not really represent true Christian values. Or in any case, even when they are pious believers, their do not know religious doctrines as well as highly trained and dedicated priests would. Especially bad in this vein, have been the talk show hosts, already mentioned. And then also “apologists” and lawyers in Catholic media. Though for a second, we might consider just media staffmembers, in general. (Don’t just casually follow the Pope; have a “purpose driven” life says a voice on Catholic, Relevant Radio, 1:05 PM Central Time, Jan. 22, 2010. Is this a Catholic message on Catholic Radio? Quoting from an evangelical minister, Rick Warren? Telling us not to follow the Pope? How far does the new Catholic evangelization now go? Just before the Wendy show).
This is the heart of the problem: today, many untrained and unauthorized people, people without adequate credentials in religion, mold and present a media message, that is next presented to the whole world, as the voice of the Church. And millions of people follow them. But the public desperately needs to be warned, that these staffmembers, and the message they project into the culture, are not really the voice of the Church itself; of the Pope himself. Such individuals and the organizations they contribute to, are not directly or effectively controlled by the Church; the casual statements that they support, that are taken by millions as the voice of God, are nowhere near as controlled as the liturgy they are mistaken for, or are thought to now substitute for. Millions now follow the new media religiously; mistaking them for the authentic, approved voice of the Church itself. But if so, then the Catholic public now desperately needs to be told repeatedly, from the Vatican itself, that such organizations and individuals, are not the voice of the Church at all. Though they have in effect presented themselves as the voice of the Church, in fact there is no document that officially authorizes them as that. In fact we will have found here, organizations like EWTN and much of their message, have been in effect censured by the Church itself, over and over again. For voicing “false” and misleading statements about many things. In particular, there are many errors in the new networks’ position against Abortion. Consider a) what the Bible really said – when it suggested that the embryo in the womb is not a complete human being, but is “unformed,” and incomplete (Ps. 139.13-16). Or consider the Bible, where God orders a priest to perform what would be in effect, if performed on a pregnant woman, an abortion and even sterilization (in Num. 5.12-28). Then too, after considering the Bible, Catholics should note what b) one of the most important saints in Catholicism said: St. Thomas Aquinas said that the young embryo did not have a “soul,” and implied that the embryo was therefore not fully human or sacred. Consider what St. Aquinas really said – and c) the canon law that supports him, and tells priests to honor him in effect (1917 Code of Canon Law, 1918 revision, canon 589:1, 1366:2). Especially, consider what d) recent Catholic authorities have said on abortion. Note first, Cardinal Mahony’s conflicts with EWTN founder Mother Angelica; then e) note Cardinal McCarrick’s statements against “one issue” Catholicism. But f) especially Cardinal Ratzinger’s statements, in his 2004 memo, allowing us to vote for pro-abortion candidates and “proportionate”ly more important issues. Especially note that f) this cardinal Ratzinger, was to become Pope Benedict XVI; and in his memo the Pope explicitly tells us that voting for pro-abortion, Pro Choice candidates, “can be permitted” (Card. Joe Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, “Worthiness to Receive,” 2004).
One of the foremost saints – and historically perhaps the most influential theologian of all in the Church – St. Thomas Aquinas, actually said that the embryo is not fully human or ensouled; and so therefore the current Pope, Benedict XVI, said that voting for pro-abortion political candidates “can be permitted.” But amazingly, anti-abortion “Catholics,” who normally told us to follow the Pope and all Catholic doctrines exactly and fully, to never to pick and choose what we follow, have themselves picked and chosen, what parts of Catholic doctrine they will hear, and follow; amazingly, they have ignored, disobeyed, parts of the a) Bible; the b) saints; c) canon law; and d) contemporary Cardinals, and especially e) part of what the current Holy Father have said. Instead of listening to the real authorities of the Church – the Bible, saints, the Cardinals, the Pope – for nearly 30 years, millions of Catholics have been increasingly following a number of media staff members, that claim to speak for the Church. Even though these voices are even usually not priests, and they do not have much authority or position at all. (As Ferrara warns). These staffmembers to be sure, try to substantiate their claim to be the new voice of God, by various stratagems. Like citing only parts of Catholic doctrine; the parts that, taken by themselves and out of context, seem to support them. We will have begun to present here however, a few of the many other parts of the real history of the Church, that disprove what media staffers have claimed. We have been presenting here, the parts of the Pope’s 2004 memo, especially: where he said that voting for pro-abortion candidates, “can be permitted.”
Many of these new media overlords, these new false priests, have tried to disguise the radical nature of their ideas, by presenting themselves as “conservatives.” These individuals and their organizations have particularly used the word “conservative,” in part to try to imply to us that they are conservatively loyal, to the ancient traditions of the Church. But their strategy has been dishonest. The fact is, we have found here that these new media idols, are “conservative” in the sense of following not religious, but political conservatism. The political conservatism of especially, Rush Limbaugh. But these new media talking idols, are anything but conservative in the sense of following traditional, well-established doctrines. Surely, one would think that truly “conservative” Catholics – indeed, all Catholics – should obey Catholic doctrines; follow traditional doctrine, dogma, Tradition. In particular, as described by Catholic saints, canon law, bishops, cardinals, and Popes. But EWTN and its on-air staff, has not been at all dutifully obedient to the real Church Traditions, at all. In spite of their constant protestations of their own obedience and loyalty and fidelity.
“Conservative” staffmembers, we have found, departed over and over, from established Church doctrine and authority, as established by the saints, cardinals, and the current Pope. And because of this, finally key cardinals like Cardinal Mahony, apparently began to criticize specifically and by name, EWTN founder and head, Mother Angelica, c. 1997. By 2004 especially, EWTN and Karl Keating’s Voter’s Guide especially – along with their “one issue” anti-abortion doctrine – were being specifically criticized, by Cardinals McCarrick, and Joe Ratzinger. Making it clear that the Church itself did not really approve of EWTN’s “conservative” message; which was actually, a radical heresy.
The fight between Cardinal Mahony and EWTN founder and chief Mother Angelica, was by far not the end of EWTN’s conflicts with the real Church authority. That conflict with genuine church authorities, came as two major Cardinals began criticizing the network’s radical “one issue,” anti-abortionist Catholicism. Which came to be censured by for example, Cardinal McCarrick. The censure by McCarrick was important; McCarrick was not only a cardinal, and therefore essentially one of the superiors of Bishops; he was also head of the USCCB; the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Which is the coordinating, oversight agency, for all American bishops. So when Cardinal McCarrick criticized “one issue” Catholicism, this was a very, very major criticism. By the superior in effect, of all American Bishops.
The attack by Cardinal McCarrick, in effect, on EWTN and Karl Keating and “Priests for Life,” and their one-issue anti-abortionism, however, important as it was, was not the most severe and devastating and definitive condemnation of the conservative Catholic media, staffmembers, and their doctrine; an even more devastating statement against them all, came in a memo from Cardinal Ratzinger. Who then headed the Vatican office or “Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith”; the very agency whose job it was, to examine the correctness of various doctrines. Like the antiabortionist doctrine of EWTN. But Cardinal Ratzinger did not support EWTN’s doctrine: in this central document, “Worthiness to Receive …” 2004, the Cardinal went flatly, absolutely against Karl Keating and EWTN. As he told us that a Catholic could vote for a pro-abortion candidate; given “proportionate” reasons. And concluded with the assurance that voting for pro-abortion candidates “can be permitted.” Though this message was never adequately reported on EWTN/RN.
How reliable are the new media staffmembers therefore? Amazingly, one Catholic authority after another firmly, utterly contradicts the media anti-abortionists. From this is becomes clear that “Conservatives,” and the radical anti-abortion theology they have taught to millions of people, are clearly not the obedient Catholics that they pretend to be; they are not really following the Church, the Cardinals, the Pope. Far from it. In actual fact, the new media staffers have systematically and persistently and willfully, violated one major authority after another, of the Church. Most recently – 2008 AD – by say, Bishop Steib of Memphis. In 2008. (Though to be sure, other bishops now seem to be opposing the Cardinals and the Pope on this issue.).
The Church had constantly criticized the major doctrines of Pro Life zealots. But these new heretics, do not hear or care. By now, they are used to rebelling against the Pope and God. By now, their hearts are hardened, their consciences are “seared” by continuous disobedience. By now, they listen only to their own sources or perspectives on the Church. So that by now they form in effect, a new, schismatic or apostate Church: EWTN, which some have called the new Apostate Church of Holy Fetus. And millions of Catholic have been fooled by false hearts, bad minds, into following this new dangerous cult. Many Catholics do not have other sources of knowledge about the Church: they do not go to mass, but instead listen only to the radio; and many never read the Catechism, the Bible, or listen much to the more obscure pronouncements of the Cardinals or Popes, and if they go to church still, few if any priests address political issues in homilies. Therefore, millions of Catholics, only know about Catholicism, from the new media associates. But the new media associates, broadcast unfortunately a biased, false message. They broadcast a “conservative” message; with especially the constant implication that God himself has told us that abortion is for all practical purposes, the only issue we must think about, or vote about. Since many millions now only listen to unreliable radio, many have become one-sided zealots. Zealots who are by now incapable of reconsidering things they learned from radio and TV.
So finally: how has it come to pass, that such a false theology, has been spread world-wide? And has managed to dominate one election after another? We will have been showing her that the problem has been that the Church was not attentive enough, aware enough, of the new “Catholic” media network, EWTN. Even at their most alarmist, Church authorities did not sufficiently anticipate how quickly and completely, any media organization that presented itself as “Catholic,” would allow so many unauthorized and unmonitored messages, to dominate the electorate. Church authorities did not realize, just how quickly and completely, such a network would establish itself in the eyes of millions of Catholics, as the authentic voice of God. Even when the network contradicted one traditional Catholic authority, after another. Even as it subtly, went against one saint, one Cardinal, one Pope, after another. And then, even as it managed to decisively affect one major election after another; electing one militaristic Republican after another, to office. (Without ever, ironically, achieving its major goal: ending Roe v. Wade, and Abortion).
In a very short time (historically speaking; though actually it has been 28 years or so), the first really major private “Catholic” media network has in effect, covered the whole world with a false theology, with a false idea of God and Christ. But how did this happen? In large part, it has been due to the new media, and to inadequate Church oversight of them. We might add especially though that it is especially due to the new “lay” staffing of the Church. When the Church began to accept and allow more and more relatively-untrained, non-priests, to take a bigger and bigger role in the Church, and especially to take over marginal new outreaches, like media outreaches, in effect, the Church was turning over more and more of its functions – and even its core message – to untrained, media staffs: to non-priests, including lawyers, and talk show hosts. But in doing so, the Church in effect, has been giving untrained persons, and people with political biases, more and power, in the Church, and in the world.
The effect of this shift in ecclesiastical power, has been far greater than many realize. In effect, a gigantic shift in authority, of religious power, is now taking place. But this is in many ways, not a good thing; as we are seeing now; the new Catholic media organizations and staffmembers, are selling a bastardized and prostituted Catholicism; not the real thing. They are selling their own, secularized, politicized, perverted Catholicism. They are selling their own confused blend of the sayings of the God of the Bible, with the sayings of Rush Limbaugh, talk show idol. Because of the domination of radio, by talk show conservatives, it was no doubt inevitable, that a Catholic media network that started with a radio station, would intermix religious and secular media staff. This odd mix would inevitably produce the strange, monstrous hybrid of a politicized Catholicism; one that intermixes and bastardizes the real Traditions of the church, with the worst traditions and philosophies of men. When religious and lay staffmembers began to mix, and as the Church ceased to monitor the new religious media, it was no doubt inevitable, that new heresies would arise – like worshipping the soulless, mindless, half-human body, of the fetus. (In part, this new deification of the “flesh,” the attack on the mind or spirit, was also encouraged too by the “Theology of the Body.” Which in spite of itself, ended up being popularized as supporting the deification of the body or flesh, and of reproductive lust; while minimizing the “life” of the spirit or soul).
The growth of media in general, probably made the growth of a new media religion, inevitable. Not only is there a) a general tendency to be fascinated by secular media or Hollywood idols. But in addition, as the new media grew, b) more and more people got even their religious services, not from priests directly, but from TV. While by today, many are not going to church, but are today, most listening to religious talk show hosts. Or many go to church, and listen to religious talk shows (see “The Catholic Vote,” 2010, Larry O’Neil.com; interviewed Jan. 22, 2010 Drew Mariani Show). And if most church services are not political, religious talk shows take it all one – and false – step further. So that a simplistic theology, merges with or creates, a simplistic politics, a sort of anti-intellectual national (istic) religion. Ultimately, the inherently idolatrous/fetishtic (cf. Barbie dolls) nature of Hollywood entertainment idols and so forth, combined with a desire to make a “relevant” religion that tells us what to do in every situation, combined with the power of media, has meant that a significant shift of power from priests and the Church, to media idols, images, media kings, was all but inevitable. Especially among those who have no sense of proportionately, balance, debate; seeing both sides of a question. But finally, we will have been showing here, that as religious and “Catholic” media idols, talk show hosts, replace the Church and the Pope, there are a whole battery of new problems, bugs, to be worked out, in that process. Today in face we see problems that desperately need to be worked out today – before they become fantastically destructive. In particular, for now, we have been considering problems with the new media staff members: especially talk show hosts, and apologists. Most of them (or even all of them in a sense), are inadequately trained and supervised, for the gigantic job they have presumed to take: to speak as the primary voice of the Church, over and above the Pope himself. (Staffmembers ignoring or twisting the Pope’s 2004 memo for example).
How has the Church allowed this? No doubt, when the new religious media and their curious staffs first appeared, years ago, some priests and bishops complained, and warned about the encroachment, c. 1920-1981. (See related warnings about the new “deaconates”). But today people are complacent about the ubiquitous media; and so those warnings about problems with media, are long since lost and forgotten. So that now we must reprise and expand on those first warnings, ourselves, here and now.
What has been the problem with the new conservative religious media staffers? The problem is that the new radio and TV stations, undoubtedly, could not find appropriate staff. There were not many priests, who knew religion well, but also how to handle the technology and marketing involved in keeping a radio and TV network on the air. So, just to get on the air, the new religious media, had to hire many non-priests. So that the organizations from the start, just from the nature of the business, were necessarily a compromise between priests, and secular/lay media experts. And so it was inevitable, that there would be an intermixture and confusion, of traditional religion, with the media mentality. (Hear a priest, apparently – Kubicki? – enthusiastically teaching a congregation to repeat one of the promotional mottoes of Relevant Radio, on that network, Jan. 22, 2010. Our new, heretical litany). But while no doubt, there is nothing that the Church needs more than the infusion of new blood, new ideas, the process of experimentally extending religion into new areas, should always proceed far, far more cautiously; with the full and continuous consciousness that such efforts after all, are experimental efforts; and that many experiments after all, fail, with even literally fatal results. So that, while it is useful to extend religion somewhat, we will need qualified people – more than just untutored nuns and self-appointed, self-important talk show hosts – to constantly oversee new religious outreaches. We need far better people than we currently have, to be constantly working to correct the dangerous errors that will – inevitably – appear.
The Church itself should have been monitoring the new media efforts particularly (through the Office of Social Communication? Bishop Foley, formerly presiding?). The Church should have directed a far, far more critical eye at the media, and its own latest pop pronouncements on sex and embryos. It should have particularly begun seeing much earlier on, the error of especially, non-profit, one-issue anti-abortionism. But no doubt, a perfect storm or confluence of many different factors, came together. To produce a network like EWTN/RN, that would end up covering essentially the whole world (through cable TV and Internet) with a false, obsessive, narrow, compromised, and heretical theology. In large part, it was inevitable, given the growth of the new media, that they would begin to compete with, or illegitimately extend, the church service, into problematic areas. But in large part for that matter, it was due to a twist on women’s liberation too; which allowed, pimped, the very personal but all-too narrow obsession of “Mother” Angelica. A woman who focused far, far too narrowly on a single woman’s issue. Who indeed, then repeated it with all the Poe-like, obsessive-compulsive repetition, of the guilty or fearful; and with the similar tolerance for endless repetition, of a obsessive-compulsive devotee of the rosary, or some other repetitive prayer. But this would have been a pathological, obsessive-compulsive state; while a more mature, fuller, more balanced theology, would very quickly see that the embryo never quite deserved quite that much adoration. Especially not in comparison to say, Jesus, or God, or the Trinity. A more balanced theology would have avoided mentioning the embryo, nearly a hundred times a day, for nearly an hour at a time; as Mother Angelica often did. (Here by the way, note that by making abortion seem very serious, Catholicism in effect makes women who have had abortions, feel more guilty; and actually causes obsessive compulsive and guilt disorders. To simply blame abortion on the abortion doctors, but insist that the women themselves are totally forgiven though, is not the answer).
Given the growth of modern new technologies, it is inevitable that religion would be infected, modified. Inevitably, the first new Catholic media networks, will have followed far too much, a new, individual bent. Having been pioneers in new technologies, a new field, it is inevitable that they should have tried many new things, that did not work so well. Indeed, it may even be, that it is all but impossible to have a major religious media network; the problem is that there is a constant need for novelty and entertainment in the media. But that militates against religion; which is holding true, to (all-too-familiar), traditional principles. The media need changes, drama; but it is in the very nature of religion, to date, to posit a God who “does not change” much, if at all. The media’s need for variety, sensationalism, therefore, might be inherently and irrevocably inimical to religion and God. While the attempt to fix this, by making a “conservative” and traditional religious media “show,” might such be an impossibility; a contradiction in terms; an oxymoron. Indeed, it was always an odd and perverse thing, to hear a radio station announcing Vatican “news”; as if things in religion changed so quickly, that we needed to hear what new and totally different thing the Church was saying, today. Different from what God said yesterday? Though unfortunately, indeed, since Vatican II, many people presumptuously change religion, Christianity, to suit themselves. In this case, to suit their “conservative” political bias. Perhaps after all though, conservatives should not have been changing the Church, religion, so much. Perhaps after all, God will not like that; and will punish them for it. Very, very, very severely.
Indeed, it seems possible that there should be no such thing, as a contemporary Catholic Church media “show.” Which is irreverent. Even heretical. Indeed, it was the great deception and trick of EWTN, to sell the concept that Catholicism could and should enter the media world; of rapid change and entertainment. There should be a difference between a media clown, and a priest. But religious talk radio eliminates that distinction.
If there is any room at all for the Catholic Church in the media, then surely, only more purely objective, informational/educational type web sites, should be allowed. Only official web sites simply reproducing only the (to date) far more vetted and authoritative print sources, by recognized Catholic authorities. A good example might be Vatican. va; the official wet site of the Vatican. We might hope for a similarly balanced presentation on the wet site of the USCCB: which is not however, what we see today; a site that was obviously not to date, taken seriously enough by Bishops; and which in any case, does not offer a definitive word. To be sure, serious, scholarly sites do not entertain the public; but is God supposed to entertain us every day, with silly novelties and heresies after all? For many years, Catholics criticized Protestants and New Agers, for their silly “innovations” and novelties in religion; but then ironically, “conservative” Catholics (who were often, significantly, former Protestants, like Chuck Neff or Sean Herriott?) merely recreated the very Protestant act they were condemning: inventing silly and heretical new religious novelties. Like the “new” conservatism; the “Neo-con” movement in religion.
There have been many very serious problems in religious media; the rare success and disastrous failure of EWTN and Relevant Radio, should today serve as an object lesson, in problems with new Catholic media. Remotely, this might be taken as the beginning of a guide to future, better efforts in the media. But to be sure, our immediate purpose is to try to clean up the serious mess already made, by some critical failures in the latest round of religious media experiments. Errors and problems which are serious enough, to almost totally prohibit any future “Catholic” media network.
It almost seems that serious religion, is inherently incompatible with most of the media; with the media drive for sensationalism, novelties, “news,” and higher audience ratings, with money, and so forth. All these seem intrinsically antagonistic to the main features of traditional religion. (Heard on Relevant Radio, a recording message at 7:35 AM, Dec. 17, 2009, “Morning Air” show with Sean Herriott; a message that tells us that “The leadership Committee has met to discuss directions for” Relevant Radio; and the leadership focuses on the need to “increase listenership and contributions.” Not say, “God” or the “Trinity.” But on money. Followed by a pastor, a Franciscan, who is unclear on whether the interval between 1100 to 1300 AD, is “two hundred, or two thousand” years. He decides finally, on two thousand).
Perhaps the only valid and safe Catholic media site, would be one that simply reproduces the Catechism, the Bible, and/or various Papal encyclicals, whole and entire, and without comment. Which is more or less what we have in fact, on the Vatican web site (Vatican.va?).
Anything else, any attempt to make Catholicism “relevant” or exciting and new, will most often attract immature people, who like to dramatize and sensationalize with novelties; and say things that after all, are from their own emotions and misunderstandings. But that are not from God at all. Indeed, the staffmembers of Catholic networks like EWTN, have a job that may normally be even fundamentally and intrinsically against, our eternal God.
122) # 141 Who are the main types of people generating the new religious “neo-conservative” novelties, the new heresies? More often than not, the new media outlets are not effectively overseen by any church at all. Instead, these networks are run by private individuals; individuals who typically do not adequate credentials in religion: most major religious talk show hosts for example, are not bishops; or even priests; but are private persons, with usually no formal training in religion at all, beyond a few days in Catechism classes, or a year or two in a Catholic jr. high school. On the periphery of this hard core, are people with perhaps a few years of failed experience in a seminary, at best. But more surprisingly, specifically, we do find that many of new staffmembers include specifically, lawyers.
As the churches increasingly allowed media televangelism to spread, soon control of religion and its message, was not in the hands of ministers, priests, churches any more. Instead, the media religious message was controlled more and more, by the media themselves. Or by the persons who control the media in turn. People who turn out to be often, not ministers, but … lawyers. Shockingly, it is often not really ministers or priests, but increasingly, it is lawyers, who run or dominate the new “religious” message. On media networks like CBN (Christian Broadcast Network; Pat Robertson’s network). Or EWTN.
Who are the real figures behind the new religious media, and their odd, religio-political heresies? Shockingly, several of the key voices, that we have heard on religious radio and TV for several decades, several of the voices that dominated the 1980’s, 90’s, the new voices that we heard speaking most prominently in the name of God, were not priests or ministers. Rather, the key new voices in religion, were the voices of …lawyers. Consider for example, the most prominent televangelist so far in history: a) Pat Robertson, head of the “700 Club,” and founder of Christian Broadcast Network. Pat Robertson, note, was originally trained, not as a priest or minister; but as a lawyer. Robertson apparently attended Yale Law School. (But apparently did not pass the bar exam. See “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” etc.. He apparently got an MA in religion later, but after achieving religious prominence; while he “is not longer an ordained minister” says “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” p. 14). While then too b) consider the chief engineer of EWTN’s “Catholic.” one-issue antiabortionism: Karl Keating, Attny.. Karl Keating, Attny. – the very person who more than anyone, historically created the one-issue anti-abortion message – is not a priest or a minister. Karl Keating is an attorney; a lawyer.
Oddly, the two people who are most responsible for the most influential but controversial and even heretical messages heard in religion, over the past few decades – Pat Robertson, and his Catholic counterpart, Karl Keating – were originally trained as lawyers, before being trained as priests or ministers. And indeed, that is a major source of their missteps. Because they typically employ thinking and rhetorical skills and ideas, learned at law school, more than authentic religious concepts. Pat Robertson especially, was trained as an attorney at Yale. And it was precisely this well-trained lawyer, who began to confuse, intermix, the world of the lawyer – legal and governmental and political – with religion. To intermingle real religion, with Right-Wing Republican politics, indistinguishably. To begin presenting Republicanism, as the word of God. (It was only belatedly that Robertson later got a graduate degree in Theology). And then it was precisely a lawyer, Pat Robertson, who had the rhetorical, sophistical courtroom skills, to sell his unholy witches’ brew of different ideas, to a gullible public, eager for all-too-simple and dangerous formulas. (Cf. also, the problematic John Calvin, burning dissenters at the stake).
The background of key televangelists, in Law, in part begins to explain the chronic intermingling of religious concepts, with political philosophy; and the less than honest rhetoric and so forth, that characterize the neo-con religious movement. That is the background of the founder of the most influential televangelical network of the 20th century; Pat Robertson himself. And surprisingly, the same pattern – a background in law – holds true, in the case the man who in many ways was the most influential Catholic televanglist of his time. Or in any case, who was a major author of one-issue anti-abortion doctrine: Karl Keating, Attny.. Keating was also a lawyer; an attorney.
While for that matter, c) one more major spokesman for anti-abortionism, or for excommunicating pro-abortion politicians , is Archbishop Burke of the Vatican courts. And he too is now associated with law; as head of a Vatican court. (Does he also have one of his several doctoral degrees, in law?).
This is a very curious and surprising thing: how and why is it that we suddenly discover that some of the very most troublesome and deceitful persons in neo-con religion (or just “Con Religion”?), have been trained as, or worked as, lawyers? How is it that lawyers have suddenly become so important, in Christianity? So important particularly, in the neo-con media? The reason in part was that a) the churches and the people, became lax, and increasingly allowed untrained “lay” persons in general, to speak in their organizations, in the name of God. But next? We suggest that b) when the traditional controls on who is allowed to speak for God were lifted or ignored, when lay voices began to take over religion, the laypeople who came to the fore, most strongly, were those persons with strong political and rhetorical skills: lawyers. (Along with talk-show hosts).
Lawyers are people who often know little about religion; or less than most priests. But they have another skill that soon comes to the fore: they are aa) skilled in speaking, or in rhetoric. Or in manufacturing arguments. Especially, they are bb) easily able to twist words around. In the case of the neo cons, they are able to make religion appear to support whatever political position the lawyer wants to present as the word of God. Then too cc) having a solid secular skill, they are able to fit the sort of half-religious, half-secular situation of religious media. They typically understand secular life and business better than priests; and they can use their legal skills directly, in legal aspects of the religious and media business. (Pat Robertson “runs his own … Religious Right law firm,” says Robert Boston, in “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” p. 15). More specifically dd) lawyers often study some social and political philosophy, which is part of the foundation of law. This means they can better understand and help generate, the sort of hybrid half-religious, half-political arguments found in religious media.
Probably the main skill of lawyers though, that has made them the foremost televangelists of their day – that even made Pat Robertson a Republican candidate for president, in 1988 – is that they are highly trained in persuasive speaking; in rhetoric or argumentation. So that they are able to make the weak side of any argument, appear to be the strongest. Or for that matter, they can twist the most politically-motivated and irreligious positions, to seem holy and pious. Keep in mind too, that lawyers are not committed to the truth: often in court, they have to defend clients that they know are guilty. And they don’t defend them in court, by getting their clients to tell the truth; instead, the lawyer’s whole job, when he defends a guilty client, is to make sure the truth never comes out. (The source of Pat Robertson’s perpetual, guilty, shit-eating grin – or grimace?).
The presence of lawyers, with their often dishonest arguments, deep in the very heart of modern televangelism, is very disturbing. Because, after all, lawyers are trained very, very differently from priests. In fact in many ways, their training is the opposite of priests. Lawyers are dd) not dedicated to honesty. But to using whatever argument seems to convince a jury or judge. Whether that argument is true, or not. Indeed, lawyers defending guilty clients, typically cannot tell the truth: they of course cannot tell the jury their clients are guilty (though to be sure, they may be rather like priests in this respect). Then too, ee) lawyers are dedicated to making money. Winning in the world. Which is the exact opposite, of a priest. Then too ff) they are of course, centered around the “letter of the law.” Which is after all, their job. Though Jesus himself warned about those who follow the letter of say, Jewish “law.”
Lawyers therefore, are deeply … irreligious, even anti-religious, in many ways. In fact, it is probably for these reasons among others, that finally gg) Jesus himself warned about “lawyers.” Since they are as a profession, said to have some characteristic flaws.
In ancient times in particular, hh) in theocracies, lawyers were a problem. Particularly in theocracies; governments in which it was said that the governmental laws of the land, were originally given to us by the Lord God. In theocracies therefore, to be sure, the professions of priest, and lawyer, were to some extent, intermingled: the laws of the land, were also said to be the laws of God. But whatever advantages might come, from having your God on earth in this way, intermixing religion and law, at the same time, Jesus himself seems to have had some problems with the masters of this intermixtures; as ii) Jesus condemned the “lawyers” and the legalistic “scribes” and jj) Pharisees” of this time. In particular it seems that kk) the intermixture of religion and “law,” meant that the thinking of ancient priests and rabbis, in the time of Jesus and the Jews, was not just contractual, “covenant”ial; but also often somewhat technical and even legalistic; even sophistical. That seems to be the reason that Jesus warned about the “lawyers” of his own time; the early religious lawyers, who were related to the “scribes and Pharisees.” Indeed, problems with legalistic thinking were one thing that bothered Jesus most: like scribes and Pharisees and “lawyers,” as the Bible said, getting lost in legal minutiae, and technicalities; getting guilty people, even themselves, off on technicalities, the “letter of the law,” especially. While “hypocrit”ically overlooking, even working against, “larger” or “weightier” matters of law – and morality. Like working against honesty. Bearing false witness.
Jesus’ conflicts with the Pharisees are today notorious, in everyday sermons. But not as well known, was that Jesus also complained bitterly about “lawyers.” As it turns out, both gg) Jesus and Paul complained about many people in general, but in often because they were too conservative, ironically; too “stiff-necked,” too attached to old false ideas, especially old false religions. Or related to this, many people in the time of Jesus were ii) all about too-strict enforcement, of specifically, ancient religious Jewish “law.” Including jj) too-strict enforcement of the technical side or “letter,” of the “law.” Lawyers, scribes and Pharisees Jesus said, tending to enforce every small, petty rule, rather than being about “grace” and “forgive”ness. In this kk) they were particularly annoying to Jesus, because they were “hypocrites”; they enforced the letter of the law on everyone else, but not on themselves. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for working on a Sabbath, or Saturday/Sunday; Jesus calling them hypocrites, and noting that they themselves were hiding, “whitewash”ing their own sins; and prosecuting others for things they did themselves. “Who among you,” he asked, would not break the commandment not to work on a Sunday, if it was necessary to save a lost sheep? Jesus himself therefore was impatient with the religious conservatives of his own time, and their attachments to petty religious rules and laws. For that matter, Paul suggests that Jesus was mad at them, precisely for their conservative attachment to traditional religion. Which at the time, meant not giving up attachments to Judaism. And which implied conservative’s inability to see the value of any “new covenant” or contract with God. Like Christianity. Indeed, Jewish conservatives, were among the foremost enemies of the new religion, Christianity. While no doubt real conservatives are the enemy of any future progress in religion to this very day.
There are many surprising reasons therefore why, though God himself had supported “laws” in the Old Testament heavily, Jesus himself apparently did not like the “letter of the law,” or lawyers very much, in the New Testament especially. Jesus seems to have lumped “lawyers” with the hated religious conservatives of the day, the Pharisees. With those who ostensibly followed the conservative “letter” of the law, or enforced the law rigorously on others – but who were often hypocritical, and did not follow the law themselves. Rather exactly like conservatives today: who accuse others of being “Cafeteria Catholics,” of picking and choosing which laws to follow … even as they themselves ignore many aspects of Catholic Tradition; like the writings of Aquinas, and the end of the Pope’s 2004 memo. You could say that the lawyers and Pharisees are just like our present-day conservatives. Or to turn it around, our present-day neo conservatives, are the same as the lawyers, and Pharisees, that Jesus condemned.
Jesus at times even seems to have hated the conservatives of his own day; those who followed old (in those days, Jewish) religious laws technically, but who betrayed the truer “spirit” or “weightier matters” behind the laws; who forgot their own sins; who forgot to “forgive.” Who were “hypocrites.” So that Jesus and his followers said of lawyers, for example:
“The Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves” (Luke 7.30 NRSV).
“And he said, ‘Woe also to you lawyers!’” (Jesus, in Luke 11.46).
“Woe to you lawyers!” (Luke 11.52).
“And Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, ‘Is it lawful to cure people on the Sabbath, or not?’ But they were silent” (Luke 14.3-4).
The predominance of lawyers in conservative theologies today, therefore, is alarming. Because in the New Testament, conservative lawyers are among the greatest enemies of Jesus.
Lawyers, especially conservative ones, were among the greatest enemies of Jesus. Jesus in effect, was to try to found a new religion: Christianity. But the traditional Jews of course, resisted. Especially the traditional, conservatively Jewish, lawyers and Pharisees. These two classes of professionals, were related, in that lawyers and Pharisees both, were conservative; authorities who were too devoted to the (then-Jewish) Tradition of their time; to the letter of the Old Testament Jewish “law,” some said. They were among the first conservatives; they held to the old laws; and insisted that Jesus should be prosecuted, for breaking some of the Old Testament or Jewish laws; against working on a Sabbath and so forth. The Old Testament had said that working on a Sabbath or Sunday was to be punished by death; but Jesus preached and healed on a Sabbath; and allowed his disciples to pick corn to eat on the Sabbath, too. But the “lawyers” and “scribes and Pharisees” and “priests,” in their conservative fixation on ancient religious laws, all insisted that these old laws of God, should be obeyed to the letter, by Jesus and the early Christians. So that when Jesus did not follow all of them, no doubt the lawyers and judges, helped get Jesus arrested, tried, and executed. On charges of not being conservative enough; on charged of non honoring, breaking, Jewish/Old Testament “law”s. (Here we criticize conservatives, at times, for being hypocrites; not for being too liberal per se, but being liberal in many ways … while claiming to be conservative. Or say, for being too liberal. Here, we seek a moderate, balance; not too conservative, not too liberal).
Just before he was arrested and executed, by the conservatives of his day, by Pharisees and Lawyers, Jesus managed however, as we are noting here, to get in a few objections to religious, lawyerly, law-oriented conservatism. Jesus objected that these legalistic conservatives, were just too attached to old, unjust laws; laws that were no longer generally applied anyway. When accused of working/healing on a Sabbath or Sunday, Jesus argued that everyone else did it: who among them, would not work to save a lost sheep on a Sabbath, Jesus said. So that Our Savior suggested that the very conservative religious persons of his time, those who insisted on following the religious laws of the era, were in effect, inconsistent deceivers, and “whitewash”ing “hypocrites.” Because they themselves often violated, the very laws that they enforced on others, and “judge”ed others for. Jesus himself therefore presented many arguments against the religious conservatives of his own day; especially lawyerly ones. Arguments that would still be useful today, for liberals to use against our own contemporary religious conservatives, especially conservative religious lawyers, like Pat Robertson. And Karl Keating.
Conservative lawyers were among Jesus’ greatest opponents and enemies; in part because of what Paul might have thought of as their exaggerated, stiffnecked attachment to old religious rules and “law”s; or as Jesus himself hinted, their inability to “grace”fully “forgive” minor sins. It is therefore ironic and ominous, frightening, that the persons trained as lawyers, like Pat Robertson and Karl Keating, should be precisely, the two most prominent persons in televangelism. Pat Robertson of course, being the most popular and successful Protestant televangelist in history; with his own TV network, CBN, and over one billion dollars in assets/contributions, it is said. Karl Keating, Attny., being far less well known … but being perhaps the major figure behind the Catholic versions of Pat Robertson. Indeed, it at first seemed like a frightening but merely strange coincidence, that so many of those who have played such a prominent role in the new conservatism, are lawyers. And it seemed like just a strange coincidence again, that the major voice behind excommunicating pro-abortion politicians – Archbishop Burke of the Vatican – is now in a lawyerly position; in charge of a Vatican court.
But is the strange domination of lawyers, in the conservative religion that is the greatest enemy of Jesus, really a coincidence after all? We have suggested here, that there is a logical and historical connection, between expertise in law, and religious conservatism. Clearly, as noted above, a) in ancient theocracies, governmental laws and religion, were related; laws were thought to be given by the Lord or religious leader. So that lawyers in ancient times, in theocracies, were a sort of hybrid creature; combining expertise in religion, and law. And then too, as we mentioned above, b) lawyers are often (if not always) conservative, in the sense that they are devoted in part, to getting people to follow traditional laws. There are some curious ties between law and religion therefore: indeed, the word of God in the Old Testament, was often called God’s “law.”
But if there are historical ties between religion and law – especially in theocracies, like the Kingdom of David – on the other hand, there have often been problems with this link. Jesus himself began to suggest, that c) lawyers for example, are rather hypocritical and duplicitous; they are at times devoted to getting others to follow the law. But other times – when defending guilty clients or even their own bad actions – they are devoted to actually, getting around the law. Getting their lawbreakers off. Part of the lawyer’s job in fact, is avoiding the law; or helping others to break the law; protecting criminals, “whitewash”ing their own sins, and those of their clients, with sly, dishonest arguments.
So how are the new conservative, evangelical lawyers – like Pat Robertson, Karl Keating, and Archbishop Burke – related to the lawyers and scribes and Pharisees that killed Jesus? They are like the ancient lawyers, scribes and Pharisees, in all too many ways. First, a) they are lawyers. Then too especially, b) we note their hybrid nature – their unholy blending of religion, with devotion to “law.” And to an a-moral politics. Then too, c) they are like their predecessors, in their hypocritical conservatism; allegedly but not really, following the letter of the law. Then too finally, to make it all stick and be effective, d) the modern conservative evangelical lawyers, just like the conservative lawyers and Pharisees that God and Jesus complained about, are great sophists, skilled in dishonest arguments. Who make the lesser good appear the greater; who “deceive” others with “sophistries” and “false” arguments. Who focus on the letter of the “law,” but e) neglect “weightier matters.” Who neglect to “forgive.” Who f) are too conservative or “stiffnecked” to adapt to truly “new” covenants. Or to embrace g) those who would give “liberal”ly to the poor and heal the sick. As Jesus did.
Lawyers have been extremely persuasive in Christianity. Especially because of their skills at dishonest “argumentation.” That, combined with knowledge of just a little bit of a childlike Christianity, their ability to use some of the phrases and concepts of the Bible and the Church convincingly, has been enough – combined with the extraordinary forces of the new media – to effectively, take over a major segment of Christianity; to dominate conservative, church-going evangelicals and Catholics. And to see their unholy hybrid, Pharisaic mix of religion and politics, to millions. Especially, in order to direct votes, to the conservative or Republican party. But we need to note here, that this kind of professional has appeared before, earlier in history: in the time of Jesus. At that time though, they were not the allies of Jesus and true religion … but were among Jesus’ greatest enemies.
Today, three conservative lawyer-priests, all but dominate Christianity. First, especially, televangelist Pat Robertson. But now we add his Catholic equivalents: Karl Keating, Attny., and Archbishop Burke of the Vatican court. These are the forces that have been calling the shots deep down in American political today; determining the vote, and the direction of America. But in the past, such lawyer-priests were among the greatest enemies of Jesus himself. While we note severe deficiencies in these new lawyer priests, today.
These three hybrids – Robertson, Keating, Burke – are very strong; they are able to put two strong professions together into one. Armed with a bit of religion, along with unlimited ability to string together legal sophistries, these three figures, have largely put together the conservative movement; while Keating and Burke have been the spearhead of the anti-abortion political movement in the Church. Their rhetorical positions, have been the semi-intellectual power behind EWTN/RN, and played a major role, in convincing millions of voters, that they should vote for the conservative – Republican – Party (formerly, the law and order fascists/Pharisees.) But at the same time as these lawyers have many even genuinely useful conservative credentials, there have been too many things, that are not quite right about them, or their philosophies. As Jesus warned of their predecessors, there is something very “hypocrit”ical about them. In part, among other things, their “conservatism” is false. They claim to be supporting ancient religious traditions, conservatively. But they constantly go against one Christian tradition after another. Whether deliberately or accidentally, out of their own mixed legal/religious backgrounds, these figureheads have constantly introduced their own questionable amendments, into Christianity. They have constantly interjected a much too political philosophy, into Christianity. They bent and twisted the Bible; to support a philosophy that after all, is partially false.
Aside from their “conservatism”? Among other things, these lawyer/priests, the new Pharisees, have exaggerated the sentimental aversion to abortion, of women like Mother Angelica, into a major theology. Almost into a separate religion, in itself. Acting against the Cardinals and the Pope, Keating and Mother Angelica and Burke, have founded a splinter, schismatic sect or cult, of the Catholic Church; one obsessively, pathologically focused around just “one issue.” Even though three cardinals – including one who became the current Pope – objected to such things, these new false priests, with their lawyerly skills, have managed to push their private agendas through. In particular, their dumb, thuggish love of simple force, physicality, war, deified the soulless and the mindless embryo, and the brain-dead body of Terri Schiavo for example. (Even though to be sure, you would think, that lawyers at least, would have a greater appreciation of the central importance of the spirit, soul; or at least, the mind. No doubt lawyers, with their essentially argumentative nature, are at their best rational. Indeed they often do well, are less hypocritical, in a secular environment, like secular law and government. Where in fact lawyers predominate. In the US, often as many as 95% of our congressmen and senators, have law degrees. So that lawyers can be useful and good … in the right environment. When they do not go backward, toward the flesh and DNA. They do better when they progress still a little further forward; into the mind, the spirit, and the light).
Whatever the reasons for their success, the odd prominence of three attorneys in the very heart of televangelical, conservative religion, is striking .. and alarming. Jesus himself had warned often about the lawyers and the conservatives of his own time. And for very good reasons. In Jesus’ time, lawyers in religion, were devious hypocrites. At once they were able to hold others conservatively, to the letter of the law – even as they were experts at “twist”ing and bending language and logic and the laws of the Bible, to suit themselves; to serve their own personal political philosophies and agendas.
Lawyers in Jesus’ time, ignored the spirit of truth and grace and forgiveness, behind Jesus’ religion. Because of their hypocritical attachment to the letter of ancient Jewish laws, their imposition of a hypocritical conservatism, finally lawyers were one of the major parties that was responsible for arresting Jesus, and executing him. Jesus, these early conservatives said, was being too openly liberal. He wanted to change or disobey too many old laws; like the law forbidding working on a Sabbath. The conservatives therefore wanted to arrest Jesus, allegedly for breaking their traditional, conservative idea of following traditional religious laws. But since they often disobeyed those laws themselves, Jesus claimed, it seemed to many that they really wanted to execute the liberal Jesus, mostly because he was a threat to their own corrupt, hypocritical conservative regime. Jesus was pointing out the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the old rule, the Pharisaic conservatives. That was why they decided to, conservatively, apply the letter of the law to Jesus, to have him arrested and executed, on charges of heresy and insurrection.
Priests today like to say that many different people, many different professions, played a role in the arrest and execution of Jesus. But religious lawyers, Pharisees, were no doubt prominent in the group of people that were most directly responsible for the death of Jesus. Legalistic Jews, like Lawyers and Pharisees, were mentioned by Jesus as his major opponents; no doubt lawyerly priests and others, were in the core of those who first accused Jesus of being a heretic; of being a breaker of Jewish/Old Testament “law.” While it was finally a number of judges, courts, that sentenced Jesus to death. Yet in spite of the key role of lawyers – and their bigger brothers, the judges – in the opposition that finally executed Jesus himself, and in spite of Jesus’ warnings about lawyers and those who “judge,” today, persons trained as lawyers have played a key role in forming the religion of our era. From about 1976 to 2007, a Protestant, evangelical televangelist who had trained originally as a lawyer, at Yale Law School – Pat Robertson – changed Christianity in America. And then, right after Robertson, a rebellious Catholic nun, Mother Angelica, began to follow suit; founding her own radio station, to broadcast a similarly “conservative” message. While prominent on EWTN/RN, was an actual lawyer: Karl Keating, attorney. Mother Angelica was the sentimental heart behind the new conservative, anti-liberal Catholic network; but Karl Keating was the legal mind. Both of them backed conservatism and Pro Life antiabortionism; but it was particularly the lawyer – and apologist and talk show host – Karl Keating, that eventually, c. 1997-2007, outlined the semi-intellectual foundation of the Catholic version of Pat Robertson. That outlined a Catholic “conservatism” – while adding to it, a Catholic opposition to Abortion. EWTN copied its Protestant predecessor, Pat Robertson, and transposed much of the same method and message, to Catholicism. And though Keating was much better at logic it seems, than Robertson, still, Keating did not mind “twist”ing the facts, misrepresenting the fuller message of the Church, to get to the results, the conservative philosophy, that he or his chief employer, Mother Angelica, wanted.
Karl Keating, attorney, took the essentially motherly sentiment of Mother Angelica and her “heart,” and intellectualized it. Keating and other apologists at EWTN/RN, began to supply or organize a vast body of rational-seeming, lawyerly arguments to support antiabortionism. Karl Keating, Attny., on the air in front of ultimately tens of millions of Catholics, in years of broadcasting, played a very significant role in strengthening the message of the radio network; and ultimately, in creating EWTN’s own schismatic branch of Catholicism. Or in creating the embryo cult. When traditional priests and others objected to Mother Angelica and her message, staffmembers or associates like Karl Keating – who appeared hundreds of times on EWTN, especially on his EWTN show “Catholic Answers” – was able to supply much of the semi-intellectual, lawyerly, rhetorical, sophistical, apologetics firepower, that defended Angelica, EWTN, and their radical, narrow theology. The theology that centered itself constantly, obsessively, on the embryo.
To be sure, all this legal expertise and effectiveness however, has all been for the worse; the new theology that Angelica and Keating were defending, was essentially, false. Religious conservatism, and especially antiabortionism, were an unholy mixture of naïve sentiments of the deceptive “heart” of Angelica (the heart is often deceived, says the Bible), with the political and social opinions – the “traditions of men” – of persons trained predominantly in law and philosophy. Karl Keating, Attny., along with other apologists on EWTN, constantly used a lawyerly but false rhetoric, sophistry, to defend the network and its false theology. While there, unfortunately, Karl Keating was all too successful
[Another very significant aspect to lawyers, that makes them, unfortunately, far more effective than most heretics? The fact that since they are attorneys they can, people think, easily sue people and thus stop anyone who speaks against them or their positions. Therefore, most people are afraid to speak up against lawyers. For fear of lawsuits for libel, slander, etc.. Even though, the law allows us to criticize such persons, so long as we a) do not knowing use false information; and b) where they, like Karl Keating, were acting as public figures, seeking publicity, “seeking the limelight,” for purposes of publicity of himself or his cause. In particular, c) the law allows much individual freedom, in matters of Religion, involving freedom of Religion, especially. So that such figures as Karl Keating – seeking the limelight by appearing on radio, speaking of religious matter s – can be rather freely criticized; so long as we are not intentionally misrepresenting what he said, and so forth. Then too, c) our work here after all, has claims to being academic and scholarly; the law typically also gives a great deal of freedom to academic criticism too.
So that any ordinary person, or minister or priest who today, chooses to stand up to politician lawyers, lawyerly religious leaders like Karl Keating, should know that the law rather strongly protects our “freedom of speech,” and our right to criticize such persons, and the institutions they work for. Particularly so long as we never deliberately misrepresent such people, and say nothing known by us, to be false. And indeed, d) so long as, after all, we are all Christians, then we are all, even lawyers, sincerely interested in confessing our sins, and correcting them. And then moving on to a right relationship to the truth, and to God.]
Materialism, vs. Liberalism;
Lawyers in religion, almost inevitably intermix religion, with politics, and some of the less attractive “traditions of men.” To be sure, the entire Catholic Church for instance, has also often been accused, by Protestants, of following the traditions of men. The Protestant Reformation was based in large part around the assertion by Martin Luther that the Catholic Church was becoming corrupt, worldly. The Popes and Papal states, often had large palaces/churches, and armies; and often wanted money to keep them going. In the time of Luther, the Church was therefore beginning to sell “indulgences,” or partial forgiveness of sins, time off purgatory, for money. The Church was beginning to give the impression to the people that the Church could in effect selling the people tickets to heaven (or less time in Purgatory). But Luther said that what was important was that we convert, become good, in our hearts of minds; that if our hearts were evil, all the money in the world should not save us. The Church thus stressing money, Luther thought, did not stress the inner faith and devotion in our hearts enough; and was simply a very worldly way by the Church, to raise or extort money from the people. In any case, to find Biblical precedent or language for this objection to a worldly, money-driven Church, Protestants asserted specifically, in part, that the Church was intermingling too much of religion, with the worst “traditions of men”; with their worldly love of money especially. Following Luther, Protestantism came to say that too much authority had been given to mere, all-too-human and fallible men, like the Pope, in Catholicism. So that Protestants protested against the Church; and asserted too that they did not have to follow the Pope. But that every individual or minister, could read the Bible himself, and get direct access to the Bible, and even God, without such unreliable intermediaries as popes and so forth. As was increasingly possible, when the Bible was translated not just into Latin, but also local or vernacular languages, and then was widely printed by the new printing presses.
So there has long been a criticism, since c. 1515, that Catholicism in general, was all too worldly, all too devoted to money, to the world; and that the Catholic Church matched the dire prediction in the Bible, that one “day,” corrupt, “false” and “deceit”ful religious leaders, would give up on following God, and begin following the worst “traditions of men.” And for that matter, following a false or “Anti-Christ”; “another Christ” than the right one. In our present book, we don’t want to say whether the Church itself, was fully guilty of giving up on “real” religion, in favor of money, worldly things, or “mammon.” But whatever the case may be with the Roman Catholic Church itself, it seems clear enough here today, that some splinter movements of the Church – like the conservative lawyer priests, the anti-abortionists, their in-effect, Apostate Church of the Holy Embryo – are certainly, heavily influenced by traditions, political and worldly ideas, from outside Religion proper. The conservatives, are a little too mundane, a little too devoted to the life of physical things. In this case, in the matter of the embryo, they are devoted to, they see, only physical characteristics: like the DNA, and the vaguely human body of the embryo; and on the basis of that alone, they declare the embryo to be a human being. But the crude, football fan physicality of prosperity gospel conservatives, makes them insensitive to what really makes us human, that makes us more than the animals: conservative antiabortionists today, do not really see or care about, the soul or spirit or mind. Concerns which belong to the sphere of academe and religion; spheres which crude materialists do not see, or care about. All they see is the physical body. And regarding defining what is human: if it has human physical DNA, and a vaguely human body, they declare it to be a fully human being; whether it has a mind or spirit or soul, or not. But ultimately, this radical de-emphasizing or even attack on the mind and spirit, by conservatives, attacks – and seriously weakens – the very heart of religion and humanity. As conservatives return religion to a very crude materialism.
Very crude materialistic ideas, and political philosophies – traditions of men – are all too obviously behind much of “conservative” religion. In the case of the two lawyers behind Protestant – and later Catholic – televangelism – Pat Robertson and Karl Keating respectively – it is clear that they were not only political, and added, intermixed their own merely human opinions, the traditions of men, with their religion; it is clear too that though they imagined themselves to be very “spiritual,” actually their definition and understanding of what a human being is, was actually, far too crudely materialistic; far too focused on the physical body.
And then too again: conservatives ending up saying “conservative” things which were not really found in the Bible or in God at all. Their ultimate, barely-veiled opinion especially – that God commands us to vote Republican in every election; and get into physical wars, contests, with our enemies – is probably true to the Old Testament; but not so much the New. Indeed, it even contradicts much of Jesus, it seems to many today.
Why has this crudely physical, materialistic movement been allowed ? Why didn’t the many various churches and spiritual people, take action? In part, it was because a) very few people today really know enough about religion and humanity, to really know about the importance of the mind or spirit or soul. And then too b) everyone thought these ideas were approved by the Bible itself; these lawyers were at least superficially clever, at finding quotes from the Bible, that seemed to authorized their crude materialism, and war-mongering. And then too, c) some of these conservative televangelist lawyers, were making a lot of money; drawing in many contributions. Not only do they have enough to run media networks; it is said that Pat Robertson now controls a fund, with more than one billion dollars in it. So that conservatives were motivated to keep going. While then too d) that money was in part used to finance networks … to spread their crude prosperity gospel, even further still. Then too, e) there was a ready audience for this: many people agreed with this crude materialism; conservative elements in the church hierarchies probably thought these new voices were speaking for them, reflecting their own opinions. Or in any case, f) these new lawyer priests, the new religious conservatives, the new Pharisees, were very, skilled with words and argumentation. Or at delivering a simple, compelling message, to the uneducated masses. These new lawyer priests, like Pat Robertson, could make their simple physicalisms seem plausible to ultimately, hundreds of millions of viewers (internationally). Millions who were basically inclined to greed and materialism and physical thinking, anyway; thanks to their uneducated status, and involvement in manual labor, making physical things for a living. To be sure, there is something to be said for Materialism; but we need a less crudely materialistic philosophy, than that often offered, deep down, by Pat Robertson, Karl Keating, and others. With their promises of physical miracles; and their all-too-bodily, physical definition of the human person.
The simplistically physicalistic, not spiritual or scientific, but worldly thinking, of fiscal conservatives and religious conservatives, has been the counterpart in some ways, of the crude materialism of rich people in Jesus’ time; the crudely Greedy Church of Luther’s day; and the crudely physical mentality of the not too intelligent, uneducated football fan of today. But Pat Robertson was all too successful in finding his massive audience, and reinforcing its worst traits. So though Robertson was not himself elect-able in 1988, he and his friends controlled enough votes, to elect one anti-intellectual, anti-liberal politician after another, from 1980 to 2008.
Especially, Robertson and others like Karl Keating, were trained as lawyers. So that they were very good, at inventing simple para-theological justifications for their crude positions. While Robertson and Keating were joined by hundreds, thousands of members of the conservative Christian coalition; which included hundreds, thousands of think-tanks and conservative advocacy groups, generating hundreds of arguments to justify their own position. So that, thanks to a body of semi-intellectual justifications for their position, the priests of the Roman Catholic Church for example, were taken in. They listened to apologists like Karl Keating, Attny., justifying his crudely physical view of the embryo; and after hearing a few simple arguments, the priests, never bothered to effectively monitored or debate these new Pharisees at all. But let them with their massive networks, effectively controlled the “Catholic” message in America.
Thanks to being constantly defended by lawyers and others, the neo cons, the new conservative media idols, like Mother Angelica and Karl Keating, were quite successful. The Church allowed them to speak in its name. Or in any case, the Church was never able to find a way to stop them. Even the censure of the movement by three cardinals and the Pope, was not enough.
While indeed, the Church itself inadvertently encouraged the movement, by the a) championing of a “theology of the body.” Then too, it pumped it all up, by b) increasing employment of lay staff members, like lawyers. And c) then it never shut down EWTN/RN. While d) next, inevitably, as real priests intermingled with these new false media priests, fallible “conservative” and other political opinions, began backwashing even onto priests themselves. And then, into the Church itself. So that by c. 1998 or so, the false, lawyerly, crudely physical opinions of anti-abortionists, were increasingly announced as doctrine and dogma, even by priests … and even by some bishops. Like Bishop Burke, now Archbishop of the Vatican courts.
The constant presence of lawyers, meant that the new false doctrines of conservatism, antiabortionism, were ably (if sophistically) defended, with countless false but ingenious, lawyerly arguments. The presence of a few lawyers at the very heart of the movement, in leadership roles, therefore, caused much of the problem. But probably the major immediate cause of the growth of the new heresies though, of the “new conservatism,” was the Church’s failure to really look at, and engage, the new conservatism. It had failed to address it philosophically; and then it had failed to adequately oversee its new operations, even as they were operating as “Catholic” media. Likely too, it appears that EWTN/RN lawyers, had made provisions from the beginning, to defy the Church: perhaps they left the name “Catholic” out of their official name, just so in fact, they would not be under the direct control of the Church. (And/or the Church itself might have insisted that such a questionable operation, did not present itself formally as “Catholic.” In either case, the new media network … was not operating under the direct control of the Church. Then too, probably the Church thought the network was adequately supervised; the presence of a radical nun, Mother Angelica, and a few priests, gave the whole thing only the superficial appearance of conventionality and conservatism, and religiosity. But in fact, the mere presence of a mere nun – or even of dozens of priests – we will have been finding here, was never enough to control or monitor such a major operation, as EWTN, or to counter its legions of clever lawyers and talk show hosts and apologists. Or to counter the simplistic, football-lineman physicalism, that is endemic in the masses, anyway. (See the many links of conservative talk show hosts to football; and then the football hero killed in Iraq or Afghanistan).
Surprisingly, though Catholics had always opposed Protestants, the growth of Catholic media, came about too in part, by copycatting earlier Protestant operations. Like the televangelism of Pat Robertson. No doubt in part, this was part of the simple media influence: Catholic radio and TV, copied the pre-existing model of televangelism. Which as it happened, had been set by Protestants. Like Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham. And especially, Pat Robertson.
But when EWTN copied Protestant models, some problems ensued. Protestants had never been quite as clearly tied to a central authority, like the Pope. And so the many various Protestant ministers and denomination therefore, have never being quiet as tied to any fixed set of doctrines. Protestants have their own rules of course; but overall they have been more free and independent than Catholics; free enough to begin new operations, like religious radio shows. And to begin their own new doctrines too.
In spite of a few small Catholic efforts in media, it was the Protestant, televangelism of Pat Robertson, that set the tone, the model, even for Catholics. It is ironic that rebellious Protestants – who were founded protesting against the Church – dominated the new broadcast media; and formed the media model accepted by Mother Angelica in 1981. But the Protestant/ “evangelical” model was extremely popular and dominant. Many, many years ago – around the time of Great Depression in the 1930’s – Protestant evangelicals had begun extensively using the then-new AM radio stations, to broadcast their religious message. While some radio evangelists, became extremely popular. (Indeed, the popularity of the idea that there are “evangelist” Protestant denominations, probably comes in part from the fact that the word “evangelist” was used to describe the new media ministers; radio “evangelists” who became enormously popular). When television came onto the scene prominently in the 1950’s, Protestants began using that medium too; to create “televangelism.”
From the very first days of radio evangelism though, even at the time, there were already many complaints from intellectuals and educated priests and ministers, that the new media priests, and their theology, the sense of God that many of the new Protestant media preachers broadcast, was not really, fully good. There had always been criticism of the new religious “demagogues,” populists, and their “harangues,” right from the start, in the early 1900’s. (Cf. “Babbitt”). And there were more very sage criticisms of televangelism, in the late 1970s and early 1980’s, when Pat Robertson and other Protestants began broadcasting their increasingly Republican religion, to millions. Many cogent people described huge problems, evils, in the intermixing of Christian theology with mere right-wing, Republican political opinions, from the 1980’s on. Especially, many complained bitterly and extensively and articulately, about Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, and Dr. James Dobson.
To those countless complaints, we might now add one or two or our own. Though few if any critics noted it at the time, the very word “conservative,” that formed the heart of the “Christian” or later “Conservative Coalition,” was not a biblical word or idea. As we have noted here earlier, the word “conservative” that was at the center of EWTN, is a word not found in the Bible at all. And if conservatives are mentioned or described in the Bible, they were the Pharisees, enforcing every “letter” of the “law”; and they were not admired there. For that matter, the constant attack on “liberals” went rather against the Bible; because the Bible itself explicitly advocated liberalism, in the sense of helping the poor. Praising people who did “liberal” things like this:
“Be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous” (1 Tim. 6.18 NRSV).
“A liberal man will be enriched” (Prov. 11.25).
“He also … gave gifts with royal liberality” (Est. 2.18).
“He who contributed, in liberality” (Rom. 12.8)
“In a wealth of liberality on their part” (2 Corin. 8.2).
“Furnish him liberally out of your flock” (Deut. 15.14).
“Gave alms liberally to the people” (Acts 10.2).
No doubt, not just conservatives, but also liberals themselves at times, illegitimately mixed secular/political ideas, with traditional religion. In fact, liberal use and misuse of religion, quoting only parts of it, probably set the pattern for 1980’s conservatives to similarly misuse it. (Arguments that the Bible was feminist for example, or pro-gay, being rather strained). Having established a certain loose fidelity to the Bible, a freedom of interpretation, liberals inadvertently cleared the way, for misuse of the Bible. For allegedly “conservative Republicans to began to misuse the Bible freely, too.
But to be sure, the new conservative/Republican misuse of the Bible, was especially objectionable. Their pro-military stance, and obedience to the letter of the law, “law and order,” (the slogan of Nixon’s conservative/ corrupt Vice President, Spiro Agnew, originally the slogan of the great right-wing fascist, Mussolini), focused primarily on the violent God of the Old Testament, the god of war and killing in part. But conservatives neglected the kinder, gentler (and some say, far more liberal, gracious) Jesus. The Jesus who forgave – or some would say, liberally allowed – sinners, like adulterers.
No doubt to be sure, there were misuses of the Bible, unbalanced, unfair exaggerations of this or that part of side of it, by both conservatives and liberals. But let us focus for a while on conservative, evangelical abuses of the Bible especially. From the earliest days of radio religion, and then televangelism, there have been very serious complaints about problems in idiosyncratic and simplistic theology, in televangelists; even with the rev. Billy Sunday; or later Billy’s Graham’s extremely pared-down, call to “Jesus.” The problem was however, not all that serious, in earlier decades. Because the new religious media were still, very much in the shadow of – and in effect, under the control of – the old churches. Churches, with their very careful, if unofficial, monitoring. The problem did not really grow, until people became all-too comfortable with the new media, and listening to the radio, rather than their local church, or their denomination. The emerging problem was, that when a minister or priest began using radio and other media, he or she suddenly moved into a different world, from delivering sermons to a few dozen people in the pews; suddenly the minister was connected with a mass audience of, sometimes, millions. And in that situation, the media minister, in effect, feels a certain amount of power and independence; to say what he wants to say, without regard to traditional church, denominational constraints; or without paying attention to details carefully worked out by others, over centuries, millennia. While televangelists, seeking a mass audience, were particularly prone to saying things that were not well established in theology, but that were dramatic and popular, and attracted many listeners. Indeed, the seductiveness of media power, was such that when even a Bishop, like Bishop Sheen, began using TV, there were muttered objections to his extremely odd, modernist theology. While the seductions of power, may have corrupted him somewhat. And indeed, modern biographers of Fulton Sheen, found him to have lied on his resume, about obtaining a Ph.D., which he did not have. So that, when the Church itself stepped in to regulate this media god, it was not him, but his rival Mr. Spellman, that was made Cardinal. Still, Catholic networks like EWTN regularly play Bishop Sheen; the networks use his shows as alleged Catholic approval for media Catholicism. Without noting, or leaving out the parts, where Sheen had problems with the Church itself.
A few wise persons to be sure, had always noticed problems with even Bishop Sheen, (as recent, c. 2007 biographers would note). And those problems were serious enough; serious enough to prevent Bishop Sheen from ever becoming a Cardinal, after all. But even then, the problems with the new networks were not as serious as they became around 1980 or so. When a media man, was elected president of the US. Ronald Reagan had been, earlier in life, a radio announcer, movie star, TV actor, and Army propagandist; a media expert through and through. And so when Ronald Reagan, became President in 1980, that was a sign that even a “conservative” Republican Party knew well enough, that the media were extremely important in winning elections; and it knew how to exploit the newer media, thoroughly. While indeed, you might say that the media – in this case oddly, old, conservative media – had taken over the presidency, and the world.
By this time, the media had also taken over much of religion. Part of the background of the election of a B-Movie actor as president of the US, was the activity of religious media conservatives, televangelists, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Buchanan. These three especially were, by the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, appearing in the media continuously. And they were regularly intermixing their religion, with barely-disguised plugs for the “conservative” or Republican Party platform; what were later called its “family values.” Never mind that Jesus himself had said that anyone who does not “hate” and leave his family, cannot get into heaven (Luke 14.26). Never mind that the Bible told us to “be liberal” in helping the poor. In spite of good biblical-based objections to the movement, the increasingly heretical televangelical intermixture of Christianity, with “conservative” political opinion and personal philosophy, grew rapidly. And we are noting here, media religion became particularly annoying when, in 1981 or so, a rebellious Catholic nun, Mother Angelica, decided in effect to form her own Catholic radio station and TV network. In part to promote her own, heretical, anti-abortion views, as the word of the Church.
Catholicism to be sure, came late to the particular abuses of religion, of the Bible, of God, by televangelists. It was Protestants, not Catholics, who had successfully adopted the new media earlier. Protestants were more likely to embrace new media, in part because Protestants had always been rather decentralized and individualistic; individualistic enough to allow (in spite of occasional objections) a renegade minister, to branch off into a new medium like radio, and then TV (and now Internet). And to begin his own unique message. Protestants indeed, had founded themselves, as in opposition to one centralized message, from just one Catholic Church. So the were already trained in an essentially revolutionary/nationalist war of independence, c. 1515 AD – 1917, against one central religious leadership; against the Catholic Church and the Pope in Rome. Independent as Protestants were, they were flexible to pick up new opportunities, like the then- still rather new medium of radio, in the 1920’s. And they were independent enough, to allow a rather flexible, individual theology too (in spite of occasional objections from some). In contrast, it was part of the very essence of the Catholic Church, to advocate remaining very, very tied to central authority in Rome; to “Tradition,” the Pope, and dogma. The Church constantly fought with Protestants and the Orthodox churches over precisely that issue: obedience to central authority, in Rome. So that any openness to new things, new media, any new innovations in media and theology, came slightly later to Catholics, than to Protestants.
The Catholic Church had allowed much less individualism, innovation – or deviation from central doctrines – than Protestantism wanted. And the Catholic Church therefore had not really quite had the televangelist presence in the new media, of Pat Robertson, say. But by post Vatican-II days, 1964-1981, under the constant influence of (to be sure, opposed) “modernism” and so forth, the central authority of even the Roman church, began to weaken somewhat. And so when a Catholic nun became influenced by Pat Robertson and other Protestant evangelicals, and began believing firmly in – and publicly espousing – the new Republican Family Religion – the Church simply gave in. The Church was increasingly accepting of the new media; and in spite of its own occasional misgivings, it really failed to see or monitor the threat, or to deal adequately with it. When around 1981, a Catholic nun – Mother Angelica – was inspired to create a “Catholic” radio station, the Church might have thrown up many initial objections; but the Church did not stop her. Indeed, John Paul II was repeating earlier calls for a “new evangelization”; that seemed to even want to try to ecumenically repeat and second and join, Protestant televangelism.
“Mother’s” station – Mother Angelica’s new “Catholic” radio station, and later, radio/TV/Internet network – essentially copied Protestant televangelists. Especially from the increasingly massive success, of conservative Republican televangelist efforts, like the 700 Club, and CBN. To which Mother Angelica added however, often for hours every day, her own personal obsession: her strongly anti-abortion opinion.
Mother Angelica’s network, EWTN/RN, essentially copied Protestant evangelism; as theological justification for copying Protestants, evangelicals, her network used the Pope’s “call for a New Evangelization.” While she and/or her talk show hosts, also copied the language of “conservatives” vs. “liberals.” But to be sure, Mother Angelica added some new elements, a new emphasis of her own, to what Protestants were talking about: Mother Angelica was totally fixated on the embryo; on opposing abortion. (Almost as it she had some personal experience of her own with it?). In any case, she constantly spoke in a motherly tone, about the embryo; often for hours at a time. So that it was the distinctive feature of her network.
Essentially, “Mother” copied Protestants, and their televangelism. But what was the unique, distinctive contribution of Mother, to televangelism? First, a) she was a Catholic; and carried some of that flavor over, onto the air. Second, b) there was Mother’s position against abortion. Which to be sure, found a partial basis, in the Church’s own inconsistent, but ultimately relatively moderate, opposition to abortion. But Mother herself had a strangely obsessive, mother’s attachment to embryos. And her sentimentality there, was constantly egged on, and given semi-intellectual credibility, and was constantly expanded, by talk show hosts and lawyers like Karl Keating.
Mother Angelica had made a few changes on the Protestant model. But many of those changes were for the worse; anti-abortionism became a sort of mantra; a shibboleth. But in the end, especially under Angelica’s talk show hosts like Jimmy Akin and Karl Keating, EWTN essentially fell in line with the predominant televangelism of the time – in supporting the Republican Party and what from c. 2003 or so, was called its “values.” Mother Angelica’s obsessive network, eventually became so extreme, as to constantly intimate that Catholics were ordered by the Pope and God, to vote for anti-abortion politicians in every election. Which meant, vote Republican. If the network itself seldom told us this explicitly – seldom just told us to “vote Republican” – that message was continually implied. Mother Angelica’s network a) systematically supported one candidate after another, who “happened” to be Republican. While it also b) attacked candidates who happened to be Democrats. It supported Republicans over Democrats too, not only c) on abortion but d) also nearly every other issue. While it e) supported “conservatives” – a code word for Republicans. Over “liberals” – a code word for Democrats. Furthermore, Angelica’s network f) supported overwhelmingly, only Republican issues; insisting especially that God and the Pope told us we must vote for anti-abortionists … who incidentally, were mostly Republicans.
Without ever officially announcing itself as a Republican Party organ or stooge, the party affiliation of EWTN/RN and its message, was clear enough, structurally, to anyone who could do a little content analysis: on nearly every social, electoral issue, at least 95% of the time or more, Angelica’s network attacked Democrats, and supported Republicans. EWTN was Republican, by a factor of probably 50 to 1.
Do the math: the network was Republican. Without explicitly voicing an political affiliation very often, the network was clearly pointing again and again, to an alleged command from the Pope and God, to vote for Pro Life, anti-abortionists; which meant for all practical reasons, that the network was telling us to vote for the Republican Party. But this is a dangerous message: it meant that EWTN/RN was in danger of being found to be politically partisan; of being found out not to be a religious organization at all. And of being found among other things, to be in violation of IRS laws for non-profit, religious organizations. To avoid such charges, of being, deep down, a partisan political organization, EWTN often claimed on the air, to have gotten to its positions, by a simple objective study of “issues.” It claimed that after having simply examining social issues – like overwhelmingly, the one issue of abortion – on their own independent or religious merit, EWTN just happened to come to a conclusion that justified the Republican Party. Just as a coincidence. But we will have been finding here and now, that … the various positions of Catholic radio, especially as defined by its lay talk show hosts and guests, were a) heavily influenced by politically-charged ideas from Protestant, “conservative” Republican televangelists, like Pat Robertson. And by b) conservative/right-wing Republican talk show hosts, like Rush Limbaugh. While c) the “conservative” stand of the network, backed Republican over Democratic stands, and Republican vs. Democratic candidates and politicians, 95 % of the time (or more). Then too, after noting such Republican influence, we have also noted here that d) the position of the network on abortion, was not in fact, justified by Religion. It was not justified by say, the Bible itself. Nor e) by the Church or Pope either.
Three Cardinals and the Pope no less, have criticized EWTN in its leadership, and in its dis- “proportion”ate, “one-issue” anti-abortionism. So that the fact of the matter is, the critics of EWTN and antiabortionism were right: the theology and message of “conservative” “Catholic” media, was molded not by God, but by various political philosophies. More specifically, the networks that now present themselves as the voice of God, were not formed by the Church; they are not priests; they mostly did not go to seminaries. Instead, they were “formed” by the “conservative,” pro-troops, pro-American – or nationalist/militaristic – conservative, right wing, of the Republican Party. Conservative Catholic media, belonged to the wing of the Republican Party, that affected great love for the embryo … in order to back a military-loving credo, that did not mind killing many adults in wars, as “collateral damage.” .A credo that did not mind polemically confronting or baiting other countries; and then when others responded with violence, did not mind militarily attacking other countries in self- “defense.” As Bush I did in 1991; Bush II did in 2001. Mother Angelica and others like Fr. Frank Pavone and most of the staff at EWTN, specifically and persistently disobeyed the commands of the Church, the Cardinals, the Pope, to avoid any dis “proportionate,” “one-issue” focus; specifically, Mother Angelica and her co-workers and associates, were deliberately, persistently, obstinately strong, just on the one issue of abortion. But they were not so strong on other issues; like a) emulating Jesus, and turning the other cheek. To avoid other issues, like global wars. While for that matter, Pro Lifers are b) not so good on issues like avoiding environmental disasters (through overpopulation and epidemics, diseases among other things). In c) 2009/10, they mostly opposed passing “universal health care” for the poor. Attempting to leave millions to die, from lack of adequate care.
Just like her real, Protestant overlords or role models, Mother Angelica often called herself a “conservative.” A code word which, at the time, did not seem to be overt; but that most understood, referred to the conservative party in America, the Republican Party. The word “conservative” though was a very useful word. Since it avoided obvious and open affiliation with the Republican political party. And thereby, this tricky word fooled the IRS, and the Catholic hierarchy. Cleverly, the word “conservative” mollified and deceived nearly everyone. It seems to have a) fooled the IRS and others, into thinking that EWTN/RN was a genuine non-profit organization, backing issues, not parties. And in b) fooled the Church leadership; the word “conservative” seemed to clearly imply that whoever followed it, would continue to be a moderate, following tradition in a sort of mild, staid – conservative – way. This tricky word, seemed to reassure everyone that these new “Catholic” media, would not attempt any strange new moves, strange “new doctrines,” or any revolutionary novelties, or dangerous social experiments. And, using this word, Mother Angelica and her staff were successful in avoiding too much suspicion from her superiors. This trick word in fact, allowed Mother Angelica, EWTN, and right-wing fascist Republicanism, to avoid suspicion, for a very, very long time. Substantially, EWTN have avoided exposure, to this very day. Though it seems the IRS did ask questions about the EWTN show, “Catholic Answers” (Live?), by Karl Keating. Which appeared regularly on EWRN, c. 1997-2004.
The word “conservative” did much to conceal a cornucopia of evils. Thanks to this clever bit of semantics, most bishops neglected to note that these Catholics supported a political conservatism; one which was anything but conservative in terms of religion. Or in fact, the new conservatism had many liberal elements in it too. From the point of view of religion, Mother Angelica herself for instance, was in fact, a radical revolutionary. She was a) Catholic woman, speaking prominently in a patriarchal Church; she was b) using new media to do that; even as she c) was promoting a radical agenda of pro-Republican sentiments, combined with or overwhelmed by d) her own radical, one-issue obsession: Pro Life, anti-abortionist ethic. For a very long time, thanks to the tricky use of language – helping along by apologists and lawyers – all this passed casual inspection. Indeed, until this very day, and even after the complaints of Cardinal Mahony, Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal McCarrick, Pope Benedict XVI, no one in the Church ever noticed – outside of a few Cardinals and the Pope – that the neo conservatism, was not a religious, but was a political/social philosophy. One furthermore, that was totally out of keeping with the real Tradition of the Church, and the tradition of the Bible itself.
In particular, where it deviated most of all from the Bible, was the new religious conservatism’s, the conservative Church’s obsessive focus, just on one issue. Mother Angelica’s main focus, on clearly, simply, the issue of abortion. Her focus on this subject was so obsessive, that it was even nauseating. Normally the subject would be mentioned dozens of times every day; and typically, for at least an hour or two every day. The embryo was mentioned more times, probably, than Jesus himself. So that in effect, the whole network was overwhelmingly, distinctively centered around this single issue. One that was not mentioned by the Bible by name, at all.
How often do these various networks mention abortion today? Right at the moment of writing this page, as it happens, the author of this book does not have easy access to EWTN itself. But a quick survey of a copycat network – Relevant Radio, with Drew Mariani and Sheila Liuagminas [pronounced: “Log-MEAN-as”] – reveals that on a recent show, Abortion was mentioned about eight times in an hour and a half. (See our earlier mention of this; of the Sean Herriot “Morning Air” show, Dec. 3, 2009). Mentioning Abortion or the embryo seven or eight times, in an hour and a half, would probably be about average for such networks. Though on many days, these networks typically discuss Abortion at least a half hour, a day. This massive focus on the one issue of abortion, is particularly striking because, before these networks began, abortion was typically not mentioned a single time, in an entire year of church services. Whereas today, Abortion is mentioned in our new church, EWTN/RN, far more times than say, Jesus; or the Holy Trinity. So that what we have in EWTN is not even recognizably Christianity, centered around Jesus or God. What we have is an heretical new cult; even a new, non Christian religion. Following her Protestant models, who had long since left the Church, Mother Angelica followed them straight into … leaving the Church.
To be sure, the Roman Catholic Church itself, has long opposed abortion … somewhat. But we will have begun showing here that though the Church often found abortion to be repulsive and bad – and even “grave” at times – other times, key authorities in the Church often made statements that would in effect, allow abortion; with at most only relatively minor penalties. Or that would allow us to vote for pro-Choice, pro-abortion candidates. But Mother Angelica and most of the people on EWTN, did not really know enough about the Church, and what it really thought. Particularly, they were not very highly schooled, and they were not observant of literary qualities, like ambiguity and equivocality, in Church and Biblical pronouncements. Mother Angelica voiced a very simple sentiment, repeatedly, to often, a very, very simple people; many of whom did not even speak English well. As Cardinal Mahony hinted, her “theology” was not very observant of fine points, like equivocality. Angelica and others to be sure, called for a very plain, simple, direct message or rule; one easy for the masses to understand. And as part of this, perhaps, she decided to pick this single, “one issue.” Angelica remade Catholicism, into one simple rule, easy for working people to understand: the Church says abortion is extremely evil. And to this Karl Keating and others added implicitly: therefore, we must never vote for Pro Choice politicians. Which finally meant that in the end, EWTN was delivering this all-too-simple theology, as the core of the Church: God says, Vote Republican.
“God says, vote Conservative, vote Republican.” The message was short, and simple. And affecting. It soon became the very center and heart of EWTN.
Or more specifically, beyond a general religious attachment to Conservatism, Angelica and the network built their network around one particular, single conservative issue: the embryo. Early on, the network became more and more devoted to the embryo, to the fetus; more than to God himself. So that in a very short time, the network became in effect, its own splinter cult: EWTN and Pro Lifers became the “Apostate Church of the Holy Embryo” as some might call it. Or the “Church of Fetus.” On EWTN, Abortion was discussed, on average, at least a dozen times a day; every single day. More often than not, it was discussed for at least a half hour a day; more than any other subject or issue, in Christianity. Mother Angelica was in fact, an obsessive/compulsive. In direct violation of, rebellion against, the Cardinals and the Pope, her organization was focused distinctively, overwhelming, on just “one issue.” Mother Angelica and EWTN/RN were obsessive, rebellious, the degree that finally the Church should declare that she, in effect, was creating an heretical new Catholic splinter religion, or sect. In effect, her radio network spoke about as much or more, about the Embryo and abortion, than say, the Trinity for example. In effect, a new church had been created. One with four major figures in it: God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit … and the Embryo, Fetus. Or indeed, since the embryo is the one issue that alone can determine our votes, Mother Angelica has made The Embryo her new god.
Because of her narrowness, her obsession, Mother Angelica had inadvertently (?) created a new church; or an heretical splinter group or cult. One centered not really around God, but around the embryo. In effect, Mother Angelica and EWTN/RN have created an heretical “branch” of Catholicism. One that shifted the focus of millions, from “other issues” … like say, the Bible. Or like say – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mother Angelica and EWTN, followed their Protestant evangelical models all too well; and like Protestants, they have ended up in effect, separating, schisming, from the Roman Catholic Church. Because she didn’t know enough theology, Mother Angelica and EWTN invented their own – and their own, new God. They have in effect, separated from the Church of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, and have a whole new splinter cult. Or even in effect, their own church. One that some might call, the Apostate Church of Fetus. A distasteful name, for a distasteful, narrow-minded, obsession.
A massive heresy, an heretical Catholic splinter cult, an apostate Church, has been created by EWTN; a network which we might now call, the Pro Life Cult of the Embryo. How did this happen? In part, a) the growing new heresy was the fault of the Church’s ineffective monitoring of the new “conservative” media. Media which offered both wonderful opportunities – but also unforeseen pitfalls. And of course, b) it was largely the fault of “neo-cons”; the New Conservatives. Who were eager to derail or hijack religion, and direct its votes to their party, the Republican Party. While c) it was thanks to talk show hosts and lawyers, and d) their rhetorical/sophistical spin-doctoring skills, the word-“twist”ing semantic games, that all this was made to seem plausible. Like their cleverly engineered use of the term “conservative.”
Lawyers and talk show hosts are probably the major source of the heresy. Yet to be sure, e) the increasing heresies of conservative Pro Lifers, were in part the fault of revolutionary Liberals too. The fact is, Liberals had earlier set the model, for bending religion, bending the Bible, to suit themselves. Liberals and others had long bent the rules of religion, in their own way; to support their own issues. Beginning probably with Jesus’ own extensions on the Old Testament; then with the liberal reading of religion, by the Protestant Reformation. But most especially, since 1963, with readings that allowed women’s rights, and gay rights. Ironically in fact, it was in large part a very, very Liberal climate that, in the disco era of the late 1970’s, allowed a woman, a mere nun, to found a radio station, and then a massively influential media empire. For a woman to run what in effect became the major organ for the Church in America, was unheard of. But even more radical, was what she chose to say on it. The relaxed, liberal climate of the day, was soon taken advantage of; as Angelica founded a radical neo-“conservative” movement. One that pretended to conservatively follow traditional religion, but that actually, became more and responsive to political ideas. Or that also followed the often heretical sentiments, deceptive “heart”s, of millions of easily deceived women. (The Bible often warned, that women and others often followed their “hearts.” But the Bible warned that the heart often “deceives” us; the heart if often even evil. For this reason, the Bible tells us to follow not just our hearts, but even more, to use our “intelligence” and “minds.” But there are many Catholic women who especially, follow the “sacred heart” … but ignore the “mind” and even “soul”; even the “mind of Christ.” This is in part what lead to neglect to see, in fact, the importance of the mind of the embryo, and the mind of the human being, as being central to what it is to be a human being. Sentimental women, ethnic Irish and Spanish Catholic women, were entranced by the “heart” and “love”; and were unaware of the Bible’s constant warnings about following thereby, their own false hearts; ignoring the importance of the brain, the mind, the soul.)
How did this happen – and who was making the attack on the mind and spirit, happen? There were many contemporary social and cultural developments that contributed to this, in addition to those mentioned above. In particular though, the heresies of the “neo-cons” or “new conservatism” (note the oxymoron there), were due to one rebellious nun. But Mother Angelica was also working with and greatly aided and abetted by, secular lay assistants and associates. Like apologists. Like talk show hosts. Like her lawyer friends. Who gave Angelica’s crude sentimentality, some para-intellectual credibility; and used Angelica’s massive religious/media megaphone, to broadcast a false theology, which they are even now, speaking to millions. Offering themselves indeed, as our new Popes.
But who specifically has been spearheading this heresy, this new cult? Among many other forces at work in creating the new apostasy, it was the increasing prominence of lawyers in the new religious networks, that made them so successful … and so dangerous and heretical. In fact, as early as 1980-83, America was experiencing a near-takeover or “hijacking” of Christianity itself, by … lawyers. Lawyers like a) Pat Robertson, developed and controlled the very largest evangelical show and network in America; and appeared regularly on TV, nationwide (and even internationally?). Pat Robertson was even able to run for President of the United States, in 1988.
But the abuses of Christianity, by Pat Robertson are well enough known; though to be sure, it is not well enough known, that Pat was trained as an attorney. And in any case too, what we will have been concentrating on in our book here, are similar abuses – in party, by lawyers – not in Protestant stations, but now, in nominally “Catholic” media. In the same way that the legally-trained Pat Robertson took over Christianity, c. 1987-1998, yet another lawyer – Karl Keating, attorney – took over media Catholicism. Around 1997-2004. While his influence from the foundations and behind the scenes, at EWTN, remains seminal, considerable. Even after the censures of EWTN by Cardinals and Popes began.
The hijacking of Christianity and the Church, by especially anti-intellectual, right-wing lawyers, was not a positive development. Lawyers and similarly-trained “apologists” and argumentative talk show hosts, supplied the (semi-) intellectual power behind the new heresies. Strikingly, lawyers were at the center of it all. Amazingly, it was precisely lawyers that took Christianity away from the central and vetted authority of well established churches and from trained priests. Strikingly, both Pat Robertson and Karl Keating both, were trained as lawyers; both were trained in, or oriented toward, law. As was EWTN protégé Archbishop Burke, now head of a Vatican court. It was no doubt, the rhetorical, sophistical, argumentation skill of lawyers, that inspired and aided apologists in developing hundreds of dishonest, sophistical justifications, for their heresies. Lawyers and talk show hosts and guests, fooled the priests; fooled the Bishops; and ultimately, fooled America – and the whole world
Jesus Christ himself in fact, was killed by lawyers (and judges), in part. Jesus argued with many kinds of people, many professions; but he especially weighed in against “scribes and Pharisees” and “lawyers.” And his complaint about all of them, was often essentially the same complaint: they were “hypocrites”; especially in that they held others to the letter of old religious laws, while they themselves did not really obey the letter of the law, themselves. And so typically, when religion falls into the hands of legalistic lawyers, that was the beginning of the end; and when religion fell into the hands of scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers, that was the end of Jesus. Who was arrested in part on legal charges: the crimes of heresy, and insurrection. One might have wished or hoped that Jesus’ warnings about lawyers and judges, then his execution by them, would have served to keep the people and the Church alert to dangers in the predominance of lawyers in religion. But somehow the Church missed this, and allowed lawyers to take over key new roles in the media. Probably in part, because lawyers are clever, and can talk their way into many situations. So it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that lawyers have been extremely influential in religion, televangelism, 1980-2009. With the likes of specifically, Pat Robertson. And Karl Keating. But that was not a good thing. The chief fault of lawyers, is that they are used to defending the guilty – and to do that, they must use dishonest arguments. Therefore, lawyers are used to being dishonest and deceitful. This, among other things, makes them singularly ill-suited to real religion.
When Judeo-Christianity itself finally fell, recently, into the hands of lawyers and apologists, that allowed a sophistical, lawyerly, dishonest, argumentative vision of religion and life, to dominate the Church; and then to be spread worldwide. Thanks to the new broadcast media, heresies, false arguments, were developed extremely rapidly, and then were quickly spread worldwide; and thanks to liberal laxity in the Church, they were spread without any really effective checks from established priests, churches, or even bishops. Oddly enough, curiously, priests and ministers have been largely blindsided, and apparently never saw it coming. Apparently priests never really read or understood, constant biblical warnings from Jesus himself, about lawyers.
Even St. Paul himself, to be sure, is sometimes criticized for his “legalisms”; for being a little strained, sophistical, lawyerly, in his efforts to make Christianity seem absolutely consistent with Judaism. And then lawyerly, sophistical reasoning, recently had a new renaissance, with the recent growth of the field of “apologetics” (c. 2000 AD); attempts to defend Christianity, promises of miracles, with strained, but superficially reasonable arguments. This combined with a conservative love of traditional laws, to produce figures like lawyer/apologist Karl Keating. The love of at least traditional law, was a major factor in neo-conservatives: conservatives disliked new laws making homosexuality legal, and establishing equal rights for minorities, and so forth. Indeed, the foundation of neo conservatism – the Fascist movement in Mussolini’s Italy, and Gen. Franco’s Spain, in the 1930’s – generated a phrase – “law and order” that was taken up early Republican conservatives like Spiro Agnew (Nixon’s Vice President): who also stressed “law-and-order.” And that encouraged the presence of a certain kind of lawyer.
In part, there is always a common impulse always found in many people, to make history and progress and time stop, to try to get by on an old way of life and old, well-known rules. Indeed, it takes a lot of intelligence, to learn new ideas … and many people simply don’t have much of that intelligence, or are unwilling to use it. Such people often end up fixating on traditional religious laws, especially. And related to all that perhaps, deifying a simple, obvious physicalism; a “body,” without a spirit or mind. Specifically, all that came to a head, in conservative religious networks like EWTN. Where we see legalistic, lawyerly conservatives, like Karl Keating Attny., fixating obsessively on the letter of the law. And he found a ready audience among millions of uneducated Catholics, who were confused by new ideas and theology, and just wanted a few simple, traditional formulas and rules, laws to live by.
But to be sure, life is never all that simple; and the effort to give up creative thinking, and just fall back on established “laws,” rules, will inevitably fail to deal with all that life throws at us. While indeed, something in conservatism itself, seems to depend on, and glamorize, stupidity itself. To be “conservative” just means, following things that are well known and constantly repeated. But a stupid mind say, can only comprehend, learn things well known, and constantly repeated. So that stupid people are drawn to conservatism. Maybe indeed, conservatism is just a dignified name for stupidity, some of its more severe critics would say. (Though we ourselves, make some concessions to conservatism at times).
Clearly though, there is an anti-intellectual, even anti-intelligence side to conservatism; its desire to find a few simple rules to live by, caters to stupidity itself. Or for that matter, they focus on simple physical things that can be seen by the eye; not things in the mind or spirit. (Or at most, to the all-too-often “deceit”ful “heart,” and on sentiment.) And they focus too much, on the “body.” In this way, our new media conservatives, began to subtly minimize, attack, and destroy … the spirit, the soul, the “intelligence,” the “mind.” As in the “mind of Christ.” Conservatives attacked intelligence, and all-but deified, or pronounced fully human, the letter, the body of the law, and the physical body. But as they did that, they inevitably have been lead to their own reducto ad absurdum: they have finally declared a human physical body, without a mind or soul, to be fully human. As in the case of the embryo, and the nearly brain-dead body of Terri Schiavo, say. To be sure, it is possible to be over-intellectual, over-spiritual; and not attendant enough on the physical, empirical side of life. On the other hand though, it is also possible to be too physical and intellectually simple, too.
In looking at victims of accident and disease, whose brains have been partially destroyed, or looking at embryos without much of a mind, it is hard to draw the line where we decide just how much of a mind they should have, before being considered human. And so in the past, priests have thought that it would be better in such cases, to “err on the side of over-caution,” in declaring these bodies – the embryo; the nearly brain-dead body of Terri Schiavo – as fully human. But as it turns out, extending human status to some of these “marginal” persons, turns out to create huge problems. Oddly enough, among other things, it ends up attacking the value and importance of Intelligence itself.
Thus it was an interesting, folk combination of a) conservatism and b) anti-intellectualism, along with c) a mother’s sentimentality about her embryo, and then d) a great deal of sophistical lawyerly reasoning, without any respect for honest logic and thinking, finally dispensed recently, with the soul or mind. In favor of the flesh. And amazingly, this is making some inroads in religion. Today, even many bishops declare that a blob of physical flesh, of human DNA, or a brain-dead body, is a full human being; based on (at that, only a few) physical characteristics. Today even priests and bishops today, forget that Aquinas rightly felt that particularly the “unformed” flesh is not enough; that we need a body in good enough shape, to allow it to develop an intelligence.
No doubt to be sure, there were excesses to liberal intellectualism, in the 1970s. Still though, the counter-reaction has been excessive. Conservatives – and their lawyers – therefore, have had their day. Today, it is time for the pendulum to swing away from the neo-conservatives; which tended too far, to the radical, fleshly physicalism, that is all too natural and easy, for the uneducated … and the simply stupid. No doubt to be sure, traditional priests were often too spiritual; but our new media priests today, are far, far too physical. Media figures and many lawyers are driven largely by money; mammon.
No doubt, there were some excesses to extreme liberalism and over-spirituality. But now we see the excesses of over conservatism too. What humanity needs therefore, is a more balanced theology; one that will clearly indicate the importance of both body … and mind. Flesh, and spirit. Here we suggest that a full, balanced view of life – and of the Bible, and of Catholic Church doctrines too for that matter – will ultimately show that the thinking that insists that a human body without a mind or spirit is fully human, is a little too simple-minded. A physical body, with only a heart, but without much of a mind or spirit, without much human intelligence and education, with an IQ of say, less than 40, is not really fully human, or partially divine, after all. An embryo, needs a brain, and then a mind, a developed intelligence, a spirit, to be fully human, and good. While a mindless, soulless physical body, is “unformed,” not fully human, at best. And oddly enough, this is confirmed by traditional theologies. Even the most traditional theologies, once suggested that a body without a mind or spirit or soul, cannot share in the divine nature, spirit, of God.
No doubt, many priests wanted to be compassionate. And to favor the weak and the defenseless. And to err on the side of caution. It is from such impulses that they have declared the embryo to be a full human being. But we find here, that when they “erred” on the side of over-caution, they after all, erred. In particular, when they over-valued one thing in life, the embryo, they under-valued other things, other issues. Like the mind, and intelligence. And the result of that, is not compassionate at all; it is literally fatal.
“Erring on the side of caution,” being a little too clever, lawyerly, in defending the defenseless, gave so much status to embryos (and mindless bodies?), that it attacked the mind, and intelligence, and education. All too successfully.
Why would lawyers – who are often reasonably intelligent – end up helping others, to attack intelligence? Perhaps it is because for many criminal lawyers, their work involves really, a kind of perverted intelligence: defending the guilty. So their experience with intelligence, is intelligence in one of its not totally admirable moments: intelligence, used to deceive. And so some lawyers finally come to despise intelligence, or to be mistrustful of it. But such lawyers need to be simply reminded, that the fault is not with intelligence, the mind itself; that after all, not all people miss-use their intelligence, the way many lawyers do. There are intelligent people out there, who use their minds to discover the truth; not to make up convincing lies.
Unfortunately, for a time, the lawyers and apologists and sophistical talk show hosts at EWTN, have been all too successful. With their semi-intellectual deceptions, their won self-loathing for intellectual things, they have been able to join common cause, with anti-intellectuals and simply unintelligent people; to defend the mindless. But ultimately, they cannot win. Soon enough, people will begin to see the problems with attacking intelligence; will see the damage done. The damage by a) attacking intelligence, and b) focusing just on a few simple rules, or c) single “issues,” like abortion. Sooner or later, people will discover – perhaps the hard way – that when you give embryos all the rights in the world, even outweighing every other issue in the world, then you end up protecting embryos, and letting children and adults die. So that today, the conservative Catholic Church, following EWTN etc., now opposes health care; because the current health care bill funds abortions. Thus this narrow, one issue Church, lends its authority, to refusing health care for the poor; refusing “universal health care” for the sick. Thus the narrow, disproportionate worship of the embryo, and mindlessness, will leave millions of real children and adults, to die. From lack of better health care.
How fatal will the attack on intelligence, the mind, be? Even now, EWTN and Relevant Radio, and Pro Life activists – and the Roman Catholic Church, when it supports them – value mindless embryos over real human children and adults. To the point that they are willing to deny them health care. So in effect, conservative Catholics are responsible for the killing of millions. Disrespecting, dehumanizing adults, and children with minds, lead them to denying medical care to children and adults.
Anti-abortionists are quick to trade millions of other people’s lives, for embryos; to vote for embryos, and against health care. But does an average anti-abortionist really think that an embryo is the same as a grown adult? Would the average Pro Lifer, really, actually trade his own life, one-for-one, with a frozen embryo? Or a fertilized egg?
Really? Or is your disdain for (or incomprehension of) intelligence so great, that you don’t care to see what honest logic concludes? Are you so extreme, as to sacrifice a piece of flesh, for other’s lives? If you think that, your life has been bent, by the dishonest arguments of lawyer/priests; by the new Pharisees. Like Pat Robertson; and Karl Keating.
Another Major Problem for the Church: “Apologists”;
The Spin Doctors of the Church;
Their Selective, Secular, “Sophistical,” Biased Presentations of
123) # 142 Aside from lawyers, the next great problem for the Church, is a new kind of professional. One who is the spiritual brother of the lawyer: the apologist. So who are, what are, “apologists”? Like say – on EWTN/RN – Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, Tim Staples, etc.?
An “apologist” is simply a person who does not tell us to follow religion just based on blind faith, but who attempts to offer more reasoned, logical defenses, of religious doctrines. The word “apologist” comes from “apologia”; or a reasoned defense. Apologists though, are usually not priests. More often they are secular or lay people, who want to find a compromise or conduit, between religion, and practical sense and reason; they want to offer a reasoned defense of their faith. But admirable as that end would be, the whole problem with apologists, is that often, their reasoning is not honest; their argument are dishonest, tricky, sophistical, rhetorical. Apologists in the end, are very much many lawyers who defend guilty clients; they want to win arguments, more than they want to know the truth. It should not be surprising therefore, to find that the leading apologist in the Pro Life movement – Karl Keating – was also an attorney.
Apologists use logic, reason. However, they are not necessarily following it fully. Many of them are committed in advance, even before rational investigation, to believing in a particular church or doctrine. And they are emotionally (or financially) dedicated to following it, whether reason confirms it is true or not. Many are sworn to defend this or that Church, in advance, through faith; so they not really following honest logic or science. And in many ways, they are like lawyers defending a client that they know is guilty; they do not really want the truth to come out at all; but are merely using whatever arguments they can, honest or not, to try to bend people to their opinions. In this sense, apologists are very, very much like lawyers and other rhetoricians; their goal is not really to be honest or true, to reason or logic, but merely to make people believe whatever position the lawyer or rhetorician wants them to believe; whether that position is true, or not. To do this, apologists use arguments that might seem logical or reasonable to many people; but often that appearance of reasonableness is deceitful. Though apologists use logic, facts, they do not have full confidence in them, really; they are using that appearance, merely in service of their religious beliefs, or whatever they want people to think.
As religion comes under more and more fire, for hard-to-prove promises – like Christianity’s promises that it can give you the power to walk on water and so forth – religion has attempted, to try to defend itself. To make a case for itself, by reason and science. Since science and reason have proven so successful, there are more and more similar attempts to try to justify religion, in terms of science. And related to this, there was a sort of “apologetics explosion,” around 2007; so that even some seminaries teach courses in apologetics. But in effect note that a) most apologists, are not priests. So they almost inevitably, don’t really know the religion they pretend to defend, all that well. While furthermore, since they are not priests, they are not well regulated by the Church; and will often defend positions that their church has not authorized.
Then too, b) many of these new apologists are deceitful, in the way they bend truth, logic, and the facts. They are just religious enough, that they don’t really believe in the Reason and Logic they pretend to follow; so that their apparent dedication to Reason and Logic is dishonest. Or in Jesus’ words, “hypocritical.” Probably the root of the problem with Apologists is that, like their brothers, the lawyers, apologists are yet another kind of hybrid cross, between aa) faithful religion, and bb) an at-times rather cynical “lay” person. Like a lawyer. Often they don’t really believe in Logic and Reason … and they are willing to bend reason and logic, to suit whatever they want to prove.
For many years, many believers and religious scholars, have been enamored by the legitimate dream, of providing a reasoned defense or even proof, of the many things religion claims. Or of reconciling religion and science. Which is a very noble aim. And in some ways, the infusion of some Reason into religion, is extremely useful and necessary. In recent years, important advances have been made in Religion, by scholars and others, applying reason and science to things we once had to just take on faith, without any rational justification at all. Yet, useful as the efforts of honest scholars might be in this direction, apologists however, are not as fully-trained as religious scholars. In effect, they are usually amateurs, non-professionals. Even the most famous of apologists, C. S. Lewis, at Oxford, was not a scholar of religion, but of Medieval studies. So that even his ideas on religion, many say, were not entirely honest, or logically compelling.
So there are many problems with this new breed of semi-religious half-priests: the apologists. First, most of them are not priests; and therefore their commitment to – or at any rate, knowledge of – religion, is usually not so great. Next, if they are genuinely religious (which most are not), their commitment to reason and logic and facts therefore, is not so great either; many apologists pretend to use Reason and Logic, but they bend it to their own purposes.
Many apologists at first, seem fairly convincing and useful. So that some of their writings are immensely popular; like the writings of C. S. Lewis. Still, there are many sins and errors in their reasoning. Ultimately – as serious, scholarly theologians know – the emphasis in apologetics is ironically, defending religion, by tricks; by arguments that look reasonable, but that are deep down, not sound or valid. The last virtue apologists learn, apparently, is intellectual honesty. Like a lawyer defending a guilty client, their primary concern is not exposing the truth at all. It is in fact, obscuring the truth, so that their guilty client gets off.
In outline, what’s wrong with apologists? They share many of the shortcomings of their brothers, the lawyers. But more fully, their shortcomings are as follows:
a) Apologists are often not priests. So they have far less official authority than they pretend. No church officially recognized them as its voice.
b) Partially because many are not priests, they are not under very direct supervision of a church. As priests would be.
c) Then too, the fact that they never became priests, suggests that the apologists on say Global Catholic Radio, are not necessarily as committed to honest religion, as a priest would try to be. They are not necessary even as committed as one would think, to say the Roman Catholic Church. Apologists typically are usually private or “lay” persons. Often they are persons with different careers, before they began working for religion. They never decided to join a religious order; they never made that kind of really full commitment to the church. So that that loyalty might be suspect.
d) Since most apologists are not fully-trained priests, they also often did not go to serious seminaries. To go through the full “formation” of scholarly or priestly study. So that after all, they are often lacking in full “knowledge” of religion and theology. As Cardinal Mahony hinted.
e) Indeed, in many serious, scholarly theological circles, the word “apologetics” has a bad name. Apologists are considered to not be well-trained at all. They are lacking full seminary training, “formation,” most of the time. For all these and other reasons, apologists are not reliable defenders of the faith. And are they are usually not reliable representatives specifically, of the Church.
f) Even when serious theologians or priests come to try to rationally defend some new anti-abortion doctrine, on EWTN, their message is expected to conform to whatever their employer wants to hear; if they don’t say the right words, they are not invited back. So soon, even fairly good theologian scholars, even priests, come under social and even economic pressure, to conform to the biases and philosophy of whoever they are working for, or whoever is publicizing them. Because of these pressures, finally, whatever reason and theology someone knows, often collapses. Under pressure to conform. To deliver the “right” message.
g) Then too, some apologists are aware that most of their own arguments are dishonest tricks. Knowing this, many apologists descend into deep cynicism. They know their arguments are often false and politically- or economically motivated.
h) So that, among other sins, they are hypocrites: pretending to honor something (either Reason or Religion) they do not really honor.
i) Once they have become cynical, then at that point, they take even less care than usual, to be honest about marshaling their facts. Typically, apologists present only parts of the facts; the parts that seem to support their case. While they leave out any parts that seem to refute them. As for example, Sheila Liaugminas tells Catholics all about the part of Joe Ratzinger’s memo that allows Bishops to excommunicate pro-abortion politicians … but then she does not adequate stress, the final conclusion of Ratzinger’s 2004 memo, “Worthiness to Receive”; where the future pope says firmly, that voting for pro-abortion candidates “can be permitted.” (Relevant Radio, early Dec. 2009; see fuller citation above). This is one of the main ways that apologists lie: by quoting only misleading parts of the truth, and of the Bible. In effect, our book here is an answer to a hundred or so typical apologetics arguments, that are commonly used to defend Pro Life antiabortionism. What we find about them, is that in the main, anti-abortionist arguments commonly deceive, by quoting only misleading parts of the truth.
j) In fact, apologists, whether they are lay persons or even priests, are simply, not honest people. If they are genuinely religious, then they feel they must prove religion is true. But this means that the root of their religion, is a pre-logical conviction, after all. While deep down, they might not really have so much confidence, after all, in reason. Many really believe that Christianity can be reached only by faith after all. Therefore, first of all, aa) they are not honest in their apparent devotion to Reason. Second, because of that, bb) not having much real confidence in Reason after all, they are willing to bend and twist reason. You would think that apologists would realize themselves, that they are not being honest; and see that lying to defend religion, is like robbing Peter to pay St. Paul. You would think that they would realize that surely, real religion, the God of Truth, cannot really be reached by lies. The Bible itself says that “Satan,” not God, “is the father of lies.” But somehow, many apologists never quite realize this the hopeless conflict in what they do. Or finally, many do realize it. But rather than quit apologetics, they become deeply cynical, willing, conscious hypocrites. After all, they need to make a living; so they continue to pretend that their rhetorical tricks are true; because they simply don’t mind lying for a living.
k) There are dozens of ways that apologists deceive people. Especially, apologists use nothing but what the Bible would call “sophist”ical arguments; arguments that appear logical, but that actually “twist” and bend the facts, and twist and misuse reason and logic. Their deceitfulness, is evident from our exposure of a hundred or so of their typically dishonest and inadequate arguments, specifically, against abortion. Here we found that their arguments from “consequences” for example, overlooked basic problems with arguing from consequences in general; and also ignored far more severe consequences as well (in wars, environmental collapse, and so forth). In effect in fact, our whole book here is a response to apologists’ top 100 attempts to defend a radical pro life attitude. While we have found fundamental dishonesties in all of their attempts. From all this, we should suspect that apologists, like many lawyers, do not really have a good, full sense of how important it is in religion, in Christianity, to be simply, honest. Especially, intellectually honest.
l) Where do we see or hear apologists? One of the most common format for hearing apologists on the radio, are the call-in shows on radio (and soon, Internet?). In call-in shows, listeners are invited to call in, and ask questions; or to debate any given issue with the apologist. This format is extremely important; this format in fact is massively popular, and is the standard format of much of conservative talk radio. And people like the format, because it superficially appears to offer real debates. Talk radio appears to offer listeners a chance to call in and honestly debate whatever issue or topic the talk show host or apologist announces. People love to listen to these shows, in part because they think that in such shows, at last topics are being fairly debated; with both different sides of a question, being defended. But we will have shown here, that these “debates” are not real, fair and honest, genuine, debates. EWTN for example, will never honestly, set up equally-weighed opponents, and give each opponent equal time, in a really honest and fair debate. In effect, almost all the “debates” on conservative talk radio are dishonest and rigged. Typically, aa) only the station itself knows ahead of time, what subject is to be discussed; so that only the station itself is given time to prepare. Furthermore bb) therefore, only the station has trained, prepared debaters, experts available, when the discussion occurs. Then too, cc) the station itself decides who their opponent will be. First, the radio stations have a “call screener” – who accepts only callers the station wants to debate. While usually screeners simply do not accept callers who seem too good; screeners reject those callers who seem like very able debaters, that will argue the case against the station, all too effectively. Such persons are simply screened out; their calls are never allowed on the air. Or dd) if some able debaters do by some accident, get past the call-screener? And begin to make headway against talk radio’s hosts, and apologists? Then the talk show host, or the control booth, simply “cold mikes” them; the station hit the “off” or “dump” button, and take their opponent off the air. So that there is almost no real, fair debate on conservative, call-in, talk radio. By letting listeners with opposing opinions call in, conservative radio stations fake the appearance of honest, fair, reasoned debate. But it is all an illusion; all a lie. The game is rigged. The second a debater turns out to be too good, the minute a caller begins to make too many valid points … the station simply hangs up on him. This is today one of the dirtiest secrets in talk radio, in the media; a scandal much worse that the classic “Payola” and “Quiz Show” scandals. Conservatives have enough just respect for Democracy, to fake or mimic the appearance of the backbone of Democracy: to fake the appearance of fair free and open debate. But they don’t really believe enough in Democracy, to actually allow the real thing. Apologists on call-in shows therefore, are speaking in an inherently dishonest format; a rigged game. Which they take unfair advantage of.
m) You might think that sooner or later, apologists’ consciences would start to bother them; and they would give up. But, as noted above, most of them are not priests – and so they are not very dedicated to honesty. Or in any case, they are not closely monitored by the Church. While then too, finding out that much of Religion is simply indefensible, in honest reason, but needing to make a living, they decide consciously, to live as hypocrites. Pretending to use and defend things they don’t really believe in n(either Reason, or Religion). While indeed, the Bible predicted this: it warned there would be many bold liars, hypocrites, in Religion; people who didn’t mind lying, either. People who were so deeply cynical, that they didn’t really believe in anything at all; any “truth” at all. So that they didn’t mind lying. So that finally, their own consciences, have atrophied/”seared,” as the Bible warned. Having come to believe that there is nothing really true in Religion or perhaps Reason either, they simply don’t mind lying about religion or reason; just to make a living. Thinking everything is a lie, they don’t mind lying for a living. Offering arguments they know are false, just to get a paycheck.
n) Somewhat related to this last point: many apologists on “Catholic” shows, were often former Protestants. This aa) suggests first of all, that their attachment to any given religion, like Catholicism say, is not as firm as one might hope; they changed religions once before, after all. Then too, bb) it is ironic that so many Protestants are found defending Catholic doctrines; in a way, it is an indirect tribute to Protestantism. Protestants were often trained to read; to read their Bibles more closely, to be more scholarly, and sometimes rational. So that they make more effective debaters and talk show hosts. Better than Catholics who were trained not as much in words, but in physical/magical thinking: just to touch the bone of a saint, or put a piece of bread in their mouth, and consider themselves fully saved; almost (some mistakenly believe) just by that simple physical/sacramental act alone – and no inner act of belief, conviction in their heart, etc.. The fact that many “Catholic” apologists are originally Protestants therefore, made the networks far more effective in debate. And probably more acceptable ecumenically, to Protestants too. But in the end, Catholic networks end up by paying an unintended compliment to their rivals, the Protestants. For employing so many of them. But at the same time, all this suggests that after all, there are fundamental problems, insufficiencies, even in a really, truly, “Catholic” point of view. While then too, the networks that employ so many ex-Protestants, are often infected by residual Protestant ideas. Indeed, the willingness to leave the Church on the issue of abortion, and to form their own anti-abortion church, is a deeply Protestant act. And so regarding apologists? In the end, we question the sincerity and judgment of nearly all apologists. First, we question how good and honest their commitment to real logic really is. Then we question the sincerity of their attachment to religion or a church, too. Many Catholic apologists are former Protestants (like Scott Hahn) – so they have already given up one church. In that sense, they have already been heretics, apostates, once; they left their original, Protestant church after all. Perhaps in the end, they are not reliable, solid, they are vacillating. And perhaps they do not believe so firmly in any church at all, finally. Maybe some Protestants cynically, even joined the Catholic church or Catholic shows, just to get a job. Or to pursue this or that idea or hobbyhorse that is, after all, really not a religious, but a political issue; like anti-abortionism. So that the motives, the sincerity and honesty of ex-Protestants, who became say “Catholic” apologists, might be examined more closely.
So what should we say about apologists? This new breed of half-priests, or false priests? On the one hand, it is a very, very good thing that people try to put Religion and Reason together; and to come up with a “reason for their faith,” as the New Testament commanded. But still, trying to reconcile reason and faith, is a very difficult thing to do; and people fall short. Many things in religion at times, seem almost impossible to defend with reason and science. So in the end, many apologists run out of good logical answers and defenses … and then they resort to dishonest logic. This tendency to dishonesty, is compounded by of the main problems with apologists: most of them are not priests or ministers. Therefore, they just don’t have enough training in – or commitment to – either the real doctrines of their church; nor for that matter, to good religious virtues. Like simple honesty.
The temptation to be dishonest, is very great in apologetics. Not only because it is just so hard to reconcile Faith and Reason, that finally one resorts to tricks to do it. But also because apologists particularly, are usually not under the very direct authority or supervision of the Church; though they may feel devoted to the church, and disciplined by Confession, still, these disciplinary mechanisms are inadequate for persons with great responsibility and influence. The fact is that non-priests cannot be as closely monitored, overseen, as much as priests are. For many reasons. In part, such persons are usually, temperamentally, not as personally, intimately, entirely committed to a church, as priests are. Priests gave up their lives, jobs, to follow the Church; living a life of “Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience”; but apologists, laypersons, did not make that commitment. So first of all, apologists are not as deeply committed to the Church. This would be the first reason therefore, that apologists often are not easily corrected by the Church. Since deep down, they are not fully committed to the Church; and so they do not feel entirely chastened by any rebuke or correction, by that institution.
Further confirming that they are rather less devoted to Religion or a church than they like to seem: apologists are often people who have already left one church for another. Or in some cases, they have some considerable allegiance to reason, over faith.
There are many reasons therefore to suggest that there are fundamental problems with the whole profession of Apologetics. Apologists are not really as fully committed to believing a Church, as priests are. In spite of their own protestations of loyalty to this or that institution, many apologists deep down probably do not personally really believe in any church; they simply find that pretend to follow a given church, is a convenient way to make a living. Or as a convenient “cover” or mask, from which to spout their political opinions. They way that many Catholic apologists use the Church as a cover, to present their own ideas about abortion. Pretending that their own views, as the views of the Church.
One would think that the Church would have seen this problem with apologists long ago, and tried to fix it. While in effect, we have noted many efforts by three Cardinals and a Pope, to rein in one-issue Pro Life apologists, like Karl Keating and EWTN. But obviously, even these rather severe attempts by the Church to correct one issue anti-abortionists, all previous chastisements or pastoral rebuke, have been ineffective. All have received with the appearance of piety and chastisement … but deeper down, the tougher, lawyerly antiabortionists have seared consciences. Many brush off the criticism of cardinals and popes, they way water runs off the back of a duck. Blandishments, criticisms, pastoral advice – and a mere call for honesty – even from Cardinals and Popes, has manifestly had no real effect here. Aside from worrying about their jobs with this or that church, many apologists probably do not really, deeply care all that much about censure, or even excommunication by Church authority. Probably, they were never that committed to the Church it the first place. Perhaps their superficial reason has shown them too many flaws in holy things. While then too, their residual faith, or the obvious prostitution of Reason in apologetics, has taught them distrust in Reason. So that finally, some probably really believe in nothing at all. Thus, when it comes to appeals to any “truth,” even from Cardinals and the Pope, they have as the Bible warned, “hardened hearts” and “seared consciences.” Such appeals do not really move them much at all. They do not really believe in faith in the Church; because of their interest in Reason. While their residual faith leads them not to have much confidence in Reason, either. In the end, they really don’t believe in anything.
Such people as that, are undoubtedly not above regularly, cynically taking advantage of the gullibility or trust, the ignorance, of the public. And the public is quite gullible and far too trusting here: particularly, much of the public confusedly thinks that the new talk show hosts and apologists, are some new kind of priests. On the only radio shows they listen to, the public is never made aware of anything different; apologists and talk show hosts never clearly tell others they are not priests; our new lay helpers, are not above taking advantage of the public’s lack of awareness of their questionable status. When religious apologists and talk show hosts are questioned on the air about their status, about what license or authority they have, or even whether they are priests, apologists are typically simply silent. They say nothing. They are not quick to disabuse the public of the delusion, that they might be priests. (“How do you know I’m not a priest,” Drew Mariani asks one caller, c. 2009. While Drew never makes his status clear).
In fact, to boost their own authority, many apologists and talk show hosts are in effect, pretending to be, priests. Often apologists and religious talk show hosts speak of their “ministry” for example. And most say prayers, like priests. For this reason, it might finally be good to warn the public, that the Bible often warned that there would be many “false” people even in religion, even in what is called Christianity. The Bible warned of “tares” or weeds in the wheat; but even more of “false prophets” and bad priests; wolves in sheep’s clothing. And many other kinds of deception, even among those who say they are Christians, crying out the “name” of God, crying “Lord, Lord.”
For that matter, the Bible often warned about, “sophist”s and liars, who pretend to speak for God, but who “deceive.” The Bible warned about people who appear very, very pious on the surface, even to themselves perhaps, but who, deeper down, are cynical, heretical “hypocrit”ical masters of false argumentation. The New Testament especially warned of those who are on the one hand, eager to tell everyone else to follow the “letter” of the “law” – just as apologists tell us to follow Catholic doctrines to the letter. But Jesus warned that underneath, those who tell others to follow every word, letter of the law, are often really hypocrites; they themselves typically pick and choose which doctrines they themselves really follow or not. The Bible warned too that such people will change, “twist” church doctrines, to fit their own political “philosophy”; they will speak falsely, or present their own opinions, even in the “name” of the Church and God.
As foretold, the world and the church both, are full of “fools,” and liars and deceivers, therefore. Many of these fools and liars get a large audience, by presenting themselves as the voice of the Church, and as the voices of God. So how can ordinary people defend themselves against them? The bottom line here is that though apologists present themselves on the air, as the voice of the Church and of God, lay apologists particularly, are not reliable. Such persons are not fully trained, not fully monitored – and most important, not fully approved – by any authoritative agency; and not by the Church, either. So how can we defend ourselves against them? In part, when your talk to an apologist, you should ask him or her, whether he or she has a document from the Church itself, that fully, formally authorizes, approves, every rash thing they say on the air. The fact is, apologists have no such authority; no such document.
Therefore, the simplest defense against these new false priests, is just to note in public, and on their radio stations, that talk show hosts and apologists, are not officially recognized by the Church, as its authoritative spokespersons. Certainly not in every rash thing they say on the air. So that though apologists and others appear to be great authorities, speaking for God, they are no such thing.
Criticizing apologists to be sure, should be done carefully, however. First, a) they are at least superficially clever people; and though they don’t know much, still they are much better versed in religion than the average man on the street. Then too, b) now and then to be sure, networks like EWTN will air an informal statement of support of EWTN etc., by an actual priest or Bishop. Implying that the network is the official voice of the Church. But even here, note that even if a priest or bishop on a talk show speaks, he is speaking informally. So his or her words do not have to be taken with the same force or certainty, as words uttered in the litany. Or words uttered by the Pope, speaking “ex cathedra”; which in some opinion, is the only moment when any word by anyone in the Church, is “infallible.”
There are many things wrong with apologists. In many ways though, bad as they are, they have protected themselves by dishonestly controlling debates with themselves. And as easy as they are for a practiced debater, in a real debate, to defeat them in a fair contest, unfortunately, apologists today have rigged the game. While by now, they are hardened, trained, seared opponents; with enormous power. First, they own the microphone, the radio station: they rig and control all debates. Any capable person who wants to call into a radio station, and argue with an on-air apologist, will generally never be allowed on the air by the call screener. Or then, if he or she manages to get on, and makes a good point, then he or she will be immediately cut off. Leaving the apologist only, on the air, unopposed, making one “unanswerable” point after another. No one in the audience quite realizing, that his points seem so good, so unanswerable, because after all, his opponent has been arbitrarily silenced, simply hung up on. But to the audience, it looks as if our conservative hero has silenced, dutifully dispatched, yet another challenger. Today, bad as they are, it is still almost impossible to argue successfully, with an on-air apologist; because the media network has enough resources, that it typically rigs the game, every single time, every day. Then furthermore, the power of their dishonest arguments, and of their rigged debates, has also been artificially boosted, thanks to the enormous new media networks, like EWTN. These vast organizations, put apologists on the air, to fool, ultimately, millions.
Thanks to these dishonest institutional advantages, unfortunately, apologists today, are stronger than ever. Indeed, their many, many dishonest arguments and institutional coercions, have all but triumphed. The public is doubly vulnerable to them, because many listeners and viewers of EWTN for example, unfortunately, are often relatively unsophisticated or uneducated, Irish or Spanish Catholic women and “widows” (as some say). Such an audience is typically unaware that apologists, talk show hosts, don’t really have any real authority. Such an audience, easily falls prey to Apologists; to anyone who maintains the illusion that he or she is a reliable, reasoned, authorized representatives of the Church, or Christianity.
Such dishonest persons have been extremely influential; indeed, they in effect leveraged most elections in America, c. 1980-2008. (Even in the Democratic Clinton administration, the Congress was mostly Republican). And when they thus controlled America through the vote, dishonest conservatives in turn, controlled the whole world. Indeed, all of America. But soon, it will be time for better informed Catholics, Cardinals the Pope, to take more effective action. Readers who have read our arguments here, should be better prepared to at last make it clearer to everyone, first of all, that the arguments used by apologists, Pro Lifers, are not good or honest. Next, they should be prepared to tell everyone that furthermore, neither these new religious networks, like EWTN, nor most of the apologists and sophists that appear on them, have any official connection with the Church itself. Apologists are not priests usually; and so they are not the official voice of the Church, or of God. Not at all.
Here to be sure, we are offering a first, casual survey of arguments; and given the fact that an entire anti-abortion industry and machine is working against our arguments and others, finally, one of two of our arguments here, will be temporarily defeated, by one clever sophist or another. But that is partially why we are offering more than 100 arguments here. Though it is impossible to win against the antiabortion machine with just one bullet or two, here we offer one hundred; and it only takes one, on target, to win the day.
Some of our 100 criticisms of anti-abortionists, apologists, may not hold; but about half of our arguments here, should hold fairly well; especially as updated periodically, to answer counter-objections.