Best. Movie. Evar. Watch it now:
Best. Movie. Evar. Watch it now:
I connected Melissa with a former employee of mine, Zach Obront, and the three of us decided to collaborate on this project, to test it and see what would happen. Here’s the basic step-by-step process we came up with:
- Form a book outline: Zach did a few phone calls with Melissa, helped her clarify her book idea and figure out exactly what she wanted to say in her book. From these conversations, he wrote an outline for the book.
- Interview her for the content: Zach then scheduled four two-hour calls with Melissa, where he “interviewed” her, using the outline as a guide. He asked her questions until he got all of what she wanted to say, in her words, onto an audio recording.
- Transcribe the recordings: He used Speechpad to transcribe the recordings into a text.
- “Translate” the transcription to a book manuscript: If you have ever seen a raw audio transcription, you know they are basically unreadable. So we took the transcription and had an editor “translate” it from spoken word to readable book prose. They basically took Melissa’s spoken words and ideas, and made them flow as written sentences and paragraphs.
- Did some content/copy edits: Melissa took some time to go over the content and make sure it reflected her thoughts and vision for the book. There was some back and forth getting the edits and voice right, since this was the first time doing this and we were still figuring out the process. And of course, we made sure it had no spelling or grammar errors.
- Designed a cover: Because Melissa has an amazing aesthetic, the cover had to look great. This was not a job for 99 Designs. We worked with a world class cover designer (Erin Tyler) to get Melissa a cool cover that looked great and she was proud of.
- Did the rest of the professional publishing minutiae: There are a million little things that make the difference between a professional book and a clearly self-published amateur book; internal layout, marketing, blurbs, copyright page, etc. We made sure all of this was perfect.
- Published the book: Her book, Pop-Up Paradigm, is now up for sale.
- Ownership: Also, we did the deal such that Melissa owns all the royalties and all the rights to her book. She paid for a service, so unlike with regular publishers, she gets all the credit and all the upside. It’s her book, her credit, her money.
Start to finish, the whole process took about 5 months (that was because it was the first time we did it; now it takes about 3-4 months to go from idea to publishing date, and sometimes less).
As we were working through this process, I told a few people I know about this idea, and all of them loved the idea, said I should do this as a company, and they wanted the same service.
Yeah, yeah, everyone loves every start-up idea until it comes time to pay right?
Except two of them bought packages. Like…with real money…during the call.
A few weeks later, I went on a podcast to talk about a whole different subject. During that podcast, I talked about this idea for 20 minutes, sort of by accident. Off of that single episode, we sold four more packages, which meant six packages sold before we even confirmed to ourselves that we would offer this as a service to customers.
When you are selling a product before you even formally offer it to customers, you’re onto something. That is pretty much the definition of product-market fit.
Zach and I decided to call the company “Book In A Box” and officially started offering the services to customers in August 2014. In the three months since, we have done more than 200k in revenue. I had a different publishing services company, and some other side projects I was working on, and I have shelved all of that. Now we focus on Book In A Box full time.
If you’re interested at all in the changing world of publishing, the whole thing is worth a read. I’m always fascinated by new and innovative solutions to old and ever-present problems.
I come to my computer to work. To relax. To communicate. To find inspiration.
I sit here, most days for far, far too long, in an uncomfortable chair to an incomplete dining room set. Two screens glow in front of me, a tidal wave of information playing out on 46″ of liquid crystal. I write. I read. I edit. I design. I check email. I check Facebook. I check Twitter. I comment. I respond. I click notifications. I read. I edit. I write. I design. I promote.
There has arguably never been a better time to be in a creative profession. There are more tools and opportunities available for promoting your work than at any time in history. That’s not an exaggeration. Push-button publishing. Turnkey platforms. The ability to build a massive audience through quality of work and smart promotions through social networks, all without spending a dime. Oh, it was probably easier to make a buck back in the day, when writers were scarce and the arts had wealthy patrons. It’s a meager existence now, unless you’re very, very good.
I’m only very good. That other very is an order of magnitude away. It’s the difference between scraping by and flourishing.
The worst thing about it all is the digital grind. The screens are like magnets, sucking you in. The constant flood of notifications pushing little Pavlovian levers in the brain that say “engagement” and “opportunity” and “validation” while flooding the reward centers with dopamine.
I come to my computer to work. I stay to lose myself in the distraction.
I’ve noticed, lately, that my ideas dry up within an hour or two of sitting here. If I get up and go for a walk or read a book or stand outside, my head clears. I start to think differently. I think better. If I exercise, I feel better. But I have to find the energy to do it. To walk away. It’s almost like the Internet sits there whispering to me: “Read one more thing. Watch one more video. Check one more email. You’ll find the answer you’re looking for…”
It’s a lie, of course. There are some answers in there, but what it does to your brain makes it hard for you to actually work with them. It’s like trying to sculpt with your hands tied. Instead, you need to be like some sleek and mysterious water fowl, soaring high above, diving in at strategic moments, pulling out the nourishment you need, never becoming completely immersed.
I’m bad at this. The water, the overwhelming ocean of glittering, shiny, useless things…it sucks me under. I need to remember to surface or else I’ll drown.
Why, when I know that for my creative process to really start humming do I do this to myself? Habit. Ease. Addiction. I am a peddler of words and images on the Information Superhighway. A merchant of the Matrix. This is my comfort zone. It’s where I feel most at home. I’ve been staring into screens connected to computers far away for over 20 years. This is my rabbit hole. It’s where I go. And even if I’m smart enough to take a break and do something real, I always have to come back to do something with it. To shape it. Craft it. Publish it. Share it. And then, while I’m there, the vortex sucks me back in.
Forcing myself into perspective is one of my urgent goals. Riding an analog wave out of the digital fog. Grabbing on to things that are real and holding on for dear life. Things that are tactile. Things that are alive. Things that don’t glow in the dark.
I love being a writer in 2015. It’s everything I could have hoped it would be. And so much worse.
I was on the receiving end of the “crypto-lefebrvist” charge yesterday – a neat trick considering that the originator of that term is now sentenced to pay hefty restitution for defaming the founder of a religious order. Still, it would seem that in the minds of some, the charge bears a certain sting. And I suppose it does. I’m a long-standing devotee of the traditional Mass. We go to great lengths to ensure that our children are baptized in the old rite (because what kid these days couldn’t use a double-exorcism upon arrival?)
I came across yet another online discussion this morning about the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (there seems to be a new one all the time) and those who attack them. Sadly, they are always under fire from pretty much all sides, which must only deepen their sense of isolation.
Reading the back and forth, I have to admit that I do not know what to make of the SSPX situation. I have always carefully avoided becoming involved with them, because it feels like a trap. I know there is good being done there. I know good faithful people who are involved. I refuse to accept asinine arguments like the one made by Fr. Paul Nicholson about how Satanic “masses” are less offensive to God than those offered by the SSPX in good faith. But there are questions that demand consideration:
Does anyone here think it’s possible to disagree with the disobedience of Archbishop Lefebvre but still agree with the theological positions he put forth?
Does anyone believe that Rome has been in any way clear about the canonical status of the SSPX, or whether or not people can attend their Masses, support them financially, or even receive other sacraments from them?
Does anyone believe, after taking into account ALL the various pieces of documented evidence which so frequently seem to contradict each other, that they can say with 100% certitude they know that the SSPX is a) in schism or b) not in schism – based solely on the statements of popes, cardinals, and the relevant persons in the appropriate dicasteries and commissions in the Vatican?
Is there a single person reading these words who does not believe that the very existence of the SSPX serves as a perpetual indictment of the Church’s post-conciliar liturgy and ecclesiology, and that any validation from Rome provided to the SSPX beyond the occasional vague updating of the semantics of their status or the lifting of the excommunications would absolutely decimate many of the precepts upon which the current Catholic edifice stands?
Subsequent to this last point: can anyone think of a reason why, considering the modernist/gnostic/neo-pagan political machine that the Vatican has sadly become, we could reasonably expect there to be sufficient interest in Rome to accomplish reconciliation or at least offer sufficient clarification to pull us out of this morass?
It seems undeniable that we (faithful Catholics) are being manipulated by at least some of the Roman officials who should be dealing with this, and quite possibly actively being lied to. The SSPX remains a stigma-by-association deathtrap for all those traditionalists who take pains to maintain clear communion with Rome. If you show any sympathy to the SSPX and their arguments or positions, you, like me, will be branded a “crypto-lefebvrist” or a flat-out schismatic. If you cite any of the clearly-articulated theological arguments made on their websites as part of a discussion, you will be instantly dismissed and the citations disregarded. They are, for all intents and purposes, radioactive. And while they have done things over the years that demonstrate that they share the blame for this, they appear to be intentionally kept in the outer darkness by those whose very job it is to make them a full and licit part of the Church.
Perhaps most important is this: if it is schismatic or somehow un-Catholic to believe the things that they believe, then this means all of our ancestors in the faith should be similarly condemned for believing and worshiping the same way. As an institution, they do not hold a single theological position that is not clearly and unequivocally Catholic. They cannot be condemned because of their theology – it is simply not possible to show it to be in error. They even believe in and promote submission to the Petrine office. (One could cogently argue that they have more respect for the institution of the papacy than even the last few popes have – because those last few have been willing to make changes that no pope, if he desired continuity with his forebears, should have made.) Even the infamous act of disobedience has been presented with a very explicit canonical justification. Agree or disagree that this justification is valid, they do not appeal to their own authority, but to the law of the Church.
Their isolation has damaged them. I have no doubt pride has crept in in some areas, which can be very off-putting to those on the outside looking in. The act of disobedience remains a scandal to many. They are most certainly not perfect.
And yet…and yet they are what the Church was before it abandoned its patrimony. They give every appearance that they are doing their best to be faithful to an authentic Catholicism. Should any of us be surprised that there are many in the Vatican who want to keep them as far away as possible, and keep us confused and wary about them in the process? They represent, to Rome at least, the sort of problem that would by its very solution create more problems than it alleviates. Thus, I cannot accept that the confusion surrounding them is entirely an accident. Too many contradictions in official statements exist; too many distinctions without differences are made. Meanwhile, nothing moves forward, and the majority of Catholics associate all traditionalists with the black legend of SSPX schism.
What do you think?
Well, sort of. Let me give a brief rundown of what the Dealy-O is.
Last year, after writing a handful of things about the wild and weird things happening in the Catholic Church here in the pages of ye olde blog, I realized I was on to something and decided to start a website dedicated to precisely that sort of thing.
194 days, 295 posts, and almost 2 million pageviews later, OnePeterFive is a real thing. A Cinderella Story. A contender.
Before I launched the new site, however, I had begun trying to do essentially the same sort of thing here (before realizing it was too big in scope to be a personal project.) This site had begun a transmogrification into an online magazine. The formatting changed. I added too many ads to try to keep it funded. It got ugly and unwieldy. And then it got abandoned, because I was spending too much time working on 1P5.
Well, after countless notifications that people were trying to hack this site while I was off playing with my shiny new toy, I decided to finally upgrade my hosting, downgrade my theme back to the one I had before, and make it a personal site again.
After all, I used to write about other things. And those build up after a spell.
So here we are. A return to free form. I’ll write what I can, when I can. Personal projects. Observations on life. Things that amuse me. I haven’t picked up any spare time along the way, but I needed the outlet back. I’m a writer. And sometimes, a man who calls himself that has to write about things other than his religion.
Consider yourself updated.
OK, defenders of all things troubling in the present papacy. You told me I’m not allowed to believe that Pope Francis scorned the spiritual bouquet he received; you said that I could not believe he told Tony Palmer and Rt. Rev. Greg Venables and Brian Stiller and Antonio Scalfari and Rabbi Abraham Skorka that they don’t need to convert and/or he doesn’t want to evangelize them; that I’m not allowed to believe he told Marie Collins that she doesn’t have to come to Mass to be part of the Church; that I can’t believe he told Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona that she could receive communion despite being in an adulterous marriage; and you insisted that I mustn’t believe he told Archbishop Jan Graubner that the traditional Latin Mass is just a fashion that doesn’t need much attention.
You said because none of this came directly from the pope’s mouth to your ears that it was “hearsay” and not trustworthy, no matter how credible the witness.
So guess what? That means you don’t get to believe this and tell everyone the matter is settled.
A conversation I was having with a friend this morning reminded me of this short story I wrote, back when I was in college. I dressed it up in narrative language, but the whole thing was a vivid dream I really had. Thinking back on it now, it seems more true than ever.
Darkness enveloped him.
It was like a fist clenched around his soul, squeezing, crushing. He fought it, struggling, writhing like an insect caught in some unbreakable spider’s web. It poisoned his mind, making him sleepy, his eyes feeling heavy and detached. Mind spinning, he began to become complacent, embracing the darkness, all the while knowing somewhere, deep within, that it was killing him. That little voice in the corner of his consciousness screamed out, searing, pleading, telling him to fight harder. He couldn’t think, thoughts sluggish, mind like wet cement. The answer came to him.
He whispered it, the name.
And then, light, piercing, shattering the darkness, the death grip lost like crumbling sand falling from his aching body. The light so bright he could not see, could not face it. It was pure and sweet, as it touched his skin he felt euphoria, joy, love, emotions in a tangled swirl around a deepening sense of peace.
The light subsided, now revealing its origin to him, arched doorway framing light no less intense but easier now to see. He moved toward it, entering, and now inside, looking, panoramic view of gothic structure, marble columns and gold leaf, ancient wooden pews, the smell of furniture polish and incense washing over him in waves. His footsteps echoed, reverberating off the distant walls as he traversed the course that led him to the altar. Now, kneeling, before a golden tabernacle, red sanctuary candle glowing with a presence always felt but never seen.
On his knees he prayed, supplication and repentance, begging strength and insight, repeating the name.
Behind him, voices enter, kind words and salutations, greetings from friends and queries about things of daily insignificance. He turns to look, over his shoulder, and sees them, coming, the members of the masquerade. Their clothes are unremarkable, flannel and denim and pressed cotton shirts with oxford collars, cheap silk and polyester, rayon and khaki and tweed.
Their faces contorted behind grotesque masks of piety, mocking imitations of reverence and holiness, eyes heavenward, lips parted in prayer or song, frozen facades of ingenuous religious fervor. The masks are tied behind their wagging heads, the mouths beneath them moving slanderously, the eyes behind them gazing lustfully, the minds behind them thinking murderously.
He rises from his post and turns, whispering the name, repeating it in endless succession, feeling the darkness enter this sacred space. The masquerade goes on, them filling up the hallowed halls with insincere hearts, the masks looking heavenward as their mumbling continues, deafening, sickening, confusing.
Again, behind him, footsteps heard, this time from the sanctuary. Wheeling, turns to see the man in black, his vestments cut from plastic like the costume of some child on Halloween, his face behind a sneering mask as well as he commends his audience on their goodness.
And now he knows that this name can be whispered no longer. Like a bullet from a gun to pierce the heart of all that threatening darkness in the unholy masquerade, it issues from his lips, a thunderbolt that deafens all in silence and in awe.
The masks now contort in horror, their ears ringing with the name of truth, and weakened, fall to their ungrateful knees.
Every knee shall bend….
The vested man is urging all to stand again, to rise up, but he has lost his sneer.
Again, the name is called out, directed now at this opponent, a crushing blow to he whose purpose is to represent the very same truth which strikes him now.
Every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth…
The priest falls to his knees, his arms raised to shield his face from unseen blows. The darkness now has lost its hold upon those deceived to believe in its power. Their masks are falling off, and behind them bruised and beaten faces show unmitigated fear.
Once more it issues forth, again the driving blow of truth, aimed at the darkness now deprived of its hosts, collecting in an evil cloud above the polished floor.
Every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth, and below the earth…
The darkness recoils from the blow, and shrieks in rage, inhuman screams, falling to the floor and taking form, a hideous blackened thing. It kneels before the majesty of truth, its own creator, and beats itself unmercifully for the foolishness of its own loss of light and life.
A final time the name resounds, and silence follows, all frozen in their place before the power of this spoken Word.
Every knee shall bend, in heaven and on earth, and below the earth, and every tongue shall proclaim the glory of the Lord.
In unison, the huddled mass begins to chant the name, and darkness is destroyed before them, shattering like obsidian beneath the blow of a mighty blade.
He awakened with a start. The fan droned on in his window, attempting to drive away the lazy heat of August through the merciless nights. Outside the crickets chirped, and the brightness of the moon offered comfort from the darkness in his room. He groped beside his bed, hand hitting his alarm clock, then his watch, finally finding the small jar with its crooked lid. Unscrewing it, he dipped his fingers into its cool and holy contents, blessing himself with the water and letting it drip down his forehead before he wiped it off.
As he moved to the bathroom, he shook himself free of the dream. It wasn’t like him to dream so vividly, or to dream at all of things religious. The metaphor pounded in his head in unison with every beat of his pulse, deafening him as he drank from the faucet, lukewarm water coming where the cold should be. He lifted his head and felt it again upon his lips, the holy name.
“Jesus.” He whispered.
No word had ever held such power.
A little over a week ago, I told you about my new project, OnePeterFive.
This morning, I launched the new site. I’d say it was a rousing success.
To the best of my knowledge, we weren’t covered by a single Catholic media outlet, traditional or otherwise. Our single biggest referrer was Facebook, where our fan page has reached 355 “likes” in just two weeks. Propagated entirely by word of mouth over social media, OnePeterFive has already had 3,442 pageviews today. Not too shabby for something that has been merely passed along from person to person.
And I’m proud of what we’ve done. With essays from science fiction novelist John C. Wright, author and priest Fr. Thomas Kocik, senior correspondent for TheWeek.com Michael Brendan Dougherty, Professors of theology (at Wyoming Catholic and Franciscan University, respectively) Dr. Peter Kwansiewski and Dr. Michael Sirilla, and Islamic scholar Andrew Bieszad, we had an absolutely stunning lineup of commentary at launch.
And we’re just getting started.
We’re building this thing, as Fr. Z would say, “brick by brick”. And the bricks are big, and bold, and beautiful. We’re not whining or complaining. We’re teaching, exhorting, and encouraging each other.
With the exception of marrying my beautiful wife and welcoming my children into the world, I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud — or felt more blessed — by anything I’ve done.
I hope you’ll join us on the site. Share it with your friends. By God’s grace and your support, we’re going to knock this one out of the park.
Enough of the crumbling faith. Let’s build something for God and for His children. Let’s do it together.
For a while now, I’ve been alluding to a new project that I have been working on. I want to tell you about that. But first, let me give you a little background.
I’ve written about my first impressions of Pope Francis, and how deeply disturbed they left me. Upon his election, I wrote a tentative piece, wherein I did my best to give him the benefit of the doubt. And though I ended the article on a hopeful note, as I go back and read it, I can see the deep concern I had seeping through my attempt at balanced tone.
“For the first time in over three decades,” I wrote, “we have a pope whom we do not know. I suspect that he will surprise us, and his will be a very different papacy in many respects than the last two that came before him, but also familiar.”
Seven months later, when I finally wrote my first post detailing my concerns about Pope Francis, I had a sense that it would touch a nerve, but I couldn’t have guessed the size of the door that I was opening, or where it would lead. Within days, I had inquiries from NBC News and the New York Times. I granted interviews to both, because I believed it was important to bring these concerns to light. More requests came in. CNN wanted me to go on live television to talk about my concerns. I heard from 60 Minutes Australia. I got a request to talk to a TV show in South Korea.
It was too much. I responded to the CNN producer:
I appreciate the offer, but I think I’m going to pass. Now that I’ve written on this topic and done a couple of media interviews, I’m quickly starting to be typecast. I haven’t really made it my mission to be “that guy who criticizes the pope.” The discussion is valid, and it needs to be had, but nuance is so lost in soundbites and short interviews. Further, my credibility as a commentator (I’m a “Catholic Blogger”, after all, and that’s about the only thing you could put on the chyron to give context) isn’t really much to stand on to a larger audience.
This is a grassroots conversation, I think. It’s happening on Facebook, in comment boxes, at friends and family get-togethers.
This blog was, for quite some time, not simply a repository of Catholic commentary critical of the papacy and the Modernist virus that spreads through the Church like spiritual Ebola, causing the Mystical Body of Christ to hemorrhage uncontrollably. I had other interests. I wrote about other things. I wanted to keep it that way.
But this was the thing. It was the thing that kept coming back. And since I’ve started posting on these topics, my traffic has skyrocketed. I’ve had over a hundred thousand pageviews in the past 60 days. I’ve never had a top Catholic blog. This place is literally where I publish anything I want to talk about that has no other outlet. I have posts about the paleo diet, barefoot shoes, social media platforms, my opinions on corporate communications strategy, and my little science fiction writing projects. None of those generated interest like this. I’ve heard from so many people, gotten so much encouragement (and no small amount of hate), and received lots of emails from people who want to speak up, but can’t, because they’re trapped in jobs that require them to toe the Catholic line. They ask me, “Please, keep writing what you’re writing. We need this out there. This conversation needs to happen.”
The level of interest in these posts tell me that people are worried about where the Church is going. That much is clear. Even people who want to pretend like they’re not. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the past year, since this all started. Something isn’t clicking. The nature of what I’m doing here is essentially critical. I’m not building up, I’m tearing down. And that’s not good enough.
I’ve been feeling called to do something more. Something inherently positive and productive in nature. The criticism of error that I and others on the Internet offer serves a purpose, and it’s needed. But if it becomes our whole focus, what are we doing? We’re just having an argument about whether the titanic is sinking while the icy waters rise above the deck. And we’re inviting a tendency to become cynical and off-putting. We need to do better. We need to offer more.
So I’m starting OnePeterFive, a resource aimed at building Catholics up in this time of crisis. OnePeterFive is the grassroots effort I was talking about, but with a different focus: to rebuild culture and restore the faith. The website will launch on August 1st, the feast of St. Peter in Chains. It will feature commentary from Catholics of all walks of life, lay people and religious alike. We will work together, looking at the problems we face in the Church and in the world, and try to re-establish a sense of the Christian community that must exist if we want reform. How many times in the last year have you heard (or asked) the question, “What do we do if things in the Church get really bad?”
There’s a storm coming. More and more of us are waking up, raising our eyes and seeing it gathering on the horizon. We have families, jobs, parishes, dioceses. We need to patch our roofs, check our foundations, and batten down our hatches. It’s like preparing for a hurricane.
There was a time in the Church where the average Catholic in the pews had no idea what the pope was saying in Rome. It had no impact on them. They had the sacraments, their pastor, their daily work, their family life, their devotions, and the Deposit of Faith. The pope was like a far away star in the night sky, shining ancient light from across an unfathomable distance. If he had a message for the faithful, by the time it reached them, there was no certainty that his star was still shining. He could be dead and gone, even if his message lived on. The Church was always bigger than any particular pope.
The immediacy of communication in the modern world forces us to confront messages in real time. If something troubling comes out of Rome, we know within hours, and the world at large has already begun forming an opinion of what was said, and whether it has changed what the Church teaches, or what we are supposed to believe.
This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. It’s incredibly disruptive.
It is my purpose to help my brethren in Christ to turn our eyes to the permanent things. We will draw strength from that which cannot change. From the Church’s timeless teachings and treasures. We will talk about the traditions and devotions we find beneficial in our lives and families. We will discuss those parishes and pastors who are doing things that are invigorating the faithful. We will examine those religious communities experiencing real growth in vocations and seek to understand what makes them special. We will talk to artists, musicians, writers, architects, and others living in the world about how their faith informs their work, and how we can come together to begin rebuilding culture drawn from a Catholic ethos. We will examine the form of liturgy and sacraments, and how these nourish the life of faith. We will seek to understand and promote the proper relationship between the Church and the world.
We will not run from the crisis. We will lock arms and lean into the storm, gathering everyone we can along the way. We will pray for each other. We will encourage each other. We will not face the darkness alone. We will build our fortifications to weather what comes. And when the land has been ravished, we will take what we have learned and use it to rebuild. Our forefathers in faith built Western civilization. We have an obligation not to cede it to the enemy. If we have no choice but to start again from within the ruins, that’s where we will begin, placing stone upon stone. We are the Church Militant. This is our battle. A battle that starts at home, together with our families in prayer. A battle that wields Our Lady’s rosary as a sword, and draws its nourishment from the Blessed Sacrament. We — you and I — were chosen by God to live in these days. It’s no accident. We each have a role to play.
The Church and her teachings are for all men, throughout all time. Our age and its toxic zeitgeist seems overpowering, but it has no particular advantage or control over what is divinely revealed and immutably true, only over those of us willing to be seduced. Modernism is a vile disease, and it will winnow Holy Mother Church in ways we have never seen, but it will not kill her, even if it scatters many of her children.
I cannot build something like this without God’s help, and yours. I am, in so many ways, an unsuitable instrument, but despite my fear, I am a willing one. I believe this is something He wants me to do, so I’m taking the plunge, despite not being able to see very far down the path ahead. I am so excited to bring together so many amazing people who have so much to offer and bring their unique gifts to bear for the good of the Church. I’m excited precisely because they offer so much that I can’t.
The advice of St. Peter to the early Christians applies to us as well:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory. Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
If you would like to stay up to date on our progress, you can subscribe to our mailing list, join the 200+ other fans we already have on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. If you can, do all three! We’re building this from the ground up. We need all the support, prayers, and yes, financial assistance we can get. (For now, if you want to help out, hit my donate button on the sidebar. I will be paying the costs associated with starting the site directly until we grow big enough to take the next steps.) If you, or someone you know, should be writing for us, send me a note through my contact form. For the time being, this is an entirely volunteer effort, so I won’t be able to pay writers at this time. I sincerely hope we can change that in the not-too-distant future.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get started. See you at www.onepeterfive.com on August 1st!
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
– 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Another day, another off-the-record papal conversation. This time, the person in question is a woman by the name of Marie Kane, who was was a victim of clerical sexual abuse in Ireland.
ONE of the two Irish survivors of abuse who met Pope Francis this morning in the Vatican has described the meeting as a “huge vindication” for her.
Marie Kane, who has never spoken publicly about the abuse she suffered at the hands a curate in the archdiocese of Dublin, told the Irish Independent that the meeting with the Pope would help bring her healing.
“It was pretty amazing. There were no time constraints on the meeting and the only others in the room were Marie Collins, who came as a support to me and [Cardinal] Sean O’Malley who acted as translator,” she said.
In all six survivors of abuse, two from Ireland, two from Britain and two from Germany met the Pope individually this morning, the first official meeting the pontiff has held since his election in March 2013. The other Irish survivor was a man. His identity remains unclear at the moment.
According to Marie Kane, the Pope “listened intently” to her and “at times seemed frustrated by what he was hearing” about her experiences. Her case was covered in the Murphy Report into the mishandling of allegations of clerical abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin. Her abuser was taken out of ministry but has not been defrocked.
All of this seems reasonable, even promising.
But then came Miss Kane’s radio interview, in which she recounted her experience, and her meeting with Pope Francis (excerpts transcribed by me):
“I think I’ve been angry my whole life at the Catholic Church. I, you know, I could never sit in a Mass without feeling anger…”
“From meeting all the survivors and listening to their stories, and, they’re all unique stories, but the effects and the damage is the same. And it’s the loss of faith. You know? We all want something to hang onto in these really difficult times. And, you know, I have two children, 18 and 14, and, their faith has been affected. You know? So, I have my own beliefs, I…I’m a good person. I help a lot of people. And, you know, I think, but it has definitely, it there, there’s no replacing what was taken, you know, even for my kids. And these…these are the kids that are coming up now, and the Church will disappear if something doesn’t change.”
“I prayed for change, change in the Church. Um, maybe that’s very naïve of me, I don’t know. But when you’re sitting there and in a very small chapel and the homily was written in English so you could read what he was saying, because [the pope] speaks Spanish, so, it was very moving for me personally, and, yeah, change. That’s…you know, just, do more. Get these guys out of power that shouldn’t be there. That are guilty of coverup. And who covered up in my case as well. And they know who they are, like, you know? So yeah. Change. Change. I’ll never get my faith back. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the church. And actually the pope, I said that to him. And he said, ‘You know you don’t need, you don’t need to be in the Church, you are part of the Church, you don’t physically need to be in it, inside it you know to be part of God’s family like.’ So, little messages like that were really nice, you know. He put thought into what he said to me today. It wasn’t just answers off the cuff. So a very positive experience, for me.”
I was with her, right up until she recounted what the pope said.
“You don’t need…to be in the Church, you are part of the Church, you don’t physically need to be in it, inside it you know to be part of God’s family…”
Let’s all open our Catechisms, shall we? Paragraph 2041-2042 :
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.
While one can certainly understand the desire of a clericial abuse victim to avoid Catholic clergy and the Mass, it’s difficult to understand how cutting a person off from the sacramental life would in any way facilitate healing or salvation.
More troubling is the formula the pope is alleged to have used in assessing the situation: “You don’t need to be in the Church” to be “part of the Church.”
Are we ready for the well-trod quote? We are? Good:
The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, and heretics, and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire “which was prepared for the devil, and his angels,” (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
(Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441 – Emphasis Mine)
It’s a tough quote. And yes, there’s been some development of doctrine since the 1400s. We believe that there’s something to the “Baptism of Desire” — though nobody who loves souls would ever want to count on that. We need the sacraments for heaven like a man in the desert dying of thirst needs water. Do men in the desert sometimes, against all odds, survive sunstroke and dehydration? Yes. Would you care to take a crack at that experience on the off-chance that you’ll be the outlier?
Yeah. I thought not.
We all need sanctifying grace to get to heaven. Sanctifying grace grows in the soul by means of sacramental reception. So the sacraments are really, as far as anyone knows, completely non-negotiable. If God chooses to work outside their efficacy, how He does that is his prerogative, and frankly, a complete mystery. I sometimes have a hard time believing even with them, I’ll squeak in the door of heaven. I can’t imagine trying to get there without them.
So why would a sovereign pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church tell anyone — anyone — that they don’t need to be in the Church to be saved?
Some are arguing that this is, once again, a woman who is recounting what the pope said from memory, and that it is therefore not trustworthy. One person offered this hypothesis, “Maybe a pissed off woman that was was sexually abused saw an opportunity for payback and took it?” (To this person’s credit, they later admitted it was a stretch.)
But let’s imagine that this was the case. We’d have have to add Miss Kane to the growing list of vengeful “liars” all saying that the pope told them the same thing. Also, they’d have to want to “get back at the pope” by only ticking off the small segment of Catholics who care if the pope says something so…Catholic. Because most Catholics these days, if we’re being honest, would think such a statement was positively fantastic, demonstrative of “mercy”, and even more, a sure sign of progress within the stodgy old Church.
And there really are a solid handful of these folks out there. People we’re supposed to believe are just making things up to make the pope look bad to a small handful of true believers, and awesome to everyone else.
Let’s have a look at the statements from those who have said what Pope Francis has told them:
1. “When he speaks about evangelization, the idea is to evangelize Christians or Catholics,”to reach “higher dimensions of faith” and a deepened commitment to social justice, Skorka said. “This is the idea of evangelization that Bergoglio is stressing — not to evangelize Jews. This he told me, on several opportunities.”
– Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano in Buenos Aires and close personal friend of Pope Francis
2. “Bp Venables added that in a conversation with Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the latter made it clear that he values the place of Anglicans in the Church universal.
‘He called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans.’”
– Rt. Rev. Greg Venables, Anglican Bishop of Argentina and close personal friend of Pope Francis
3. “And here I am. The Pope comes in and shakes my hand, and we sit down. The Pope smiles and says: ‘Some of my colleagues who know you told me that you will try to convert me.’
It’s a joke, I tell him. My friends think it is you want to convert me.
He smiles again and replies: ‘Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good.’ ”
– Eugenio Scalfari, Atheist founder of La Repubblica (and grantee of three papal interviews despite his habit of reporting quotes without taking notes)
4. “At lunch I asked Pope Francis what his heart was for evangelism. He smiled, knowing what was behind my question and comment was, ‘I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.’ ” (Of course Evangelicals do evangelize Catholics and Catholics do the same to us. However, that discussion we will raise another day.)
– Brian C. Stiller, Global Ambassador, World Evangelical Alliance
And finally, though not specifically related to membership in the Church, this anecdote, which relates to following her most fundamental teachings:
5. Pope Francis called an Argentine woman married to a divorced man and reportedly told her that she could receive the sacrament of Communion, according to the woman’s husband, in an apparent contradiction of Catholic law.
Julio Sabetta, from San Lorenzo in the Pope’s home country, said his wife, Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona, spoke with Francis on Monday.
Jacqueline Sabetta Lisbona wrote to the pontiff in September to ask for clarification on the Communion issue, according to her husband, who said his divorced status had prevented her from receiving the sacrament.
“She spoke with the Pope, and he said she was absolved of all sins and she could go and get the Holy Communion because she was not doing anything wrong,” Sabetta told Channel 3 Rosario, a CNN affiliate.
A Vatican spokesman confirmed the telephone call but would not comment on the conversation’s content.
Let’s not forget that one of the pope’s closest advisors, whose theology the pope has said he greatly admires, is Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has (in)famously said:
“The only thing I wish to say is that the document Dominus Iesus does not state that everybody needs to become a Catholic in order to be saved by God. On the contrary, it declares that God’s grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises.
This touches the problem of mission towards Jews, a painful question with regard to forced conversion in the past. Dominus Iesus, as other official documents, raised this question again saying that dialogue is a part of evangelisation.This stirred Jewish suspicion. But this is a language problem, since the term evangelisation, in official Church documents, cannot be understood in the same way it is commonly interpreted in everyday’s speech. In strict theological language, evangelisation is a very complex and overall term, and reality. It implies presence and witness, prayer and liturgy, proclamation and catechesis, dialogue and social work . . . which do not have the goal of increasing the number of Catholics. Thus evangelisation, if understood in its proper and theological meaning, does not imply any attempt of proselytism whatsoever.”
In light of the above, I propose five very serious questions for your consideration:
I think the answers to these questions, taken together, provide a rather obvious conclusion. Don’t you?
There is simply not a shred of evidence that Pope Francis wants to disabuse people of the notion that he both believes and said these things. And if that is so, what a heartbreaking situation we find ourselves in.
We shouldn’t be surprised that what St. Paul prophesied in 2 Timothy is, in fact, coming to pass. But if you’re like me, it’s more than a little surprising to see it coming from the Vicar of Christ.
We need to batten down the hatches and dig in for a long haul. This isn’t going away, and talking about the latest shocking thing the pope has done is reaching a point of diminishing returns. We need to keep our eyes on the goal of eternal salvation, and focus on building a foundation that will withstand where this is all taking us.
In the next few days, I plan to announce a project I’m working on that is aimed at helping us to do just that. Your prayers for the success of this endeavor would be appreciated.
UPDATE – 7/19/2014 @ 5:48PM: Friend of the blog Codgitator submits another quote for our reference in the comments.
“I’m not expecting any of you to join the Catholic Church. Please understand that’s not what this is about. What we are talking about is a unified position to go before the world and say we are proclaiming Christ as the only hope of salvation.”
The quote is taken from this video. I’ve set it to play at the relevant timestamp:
The video is from John and Carol Arnott, who are (according to their website) “the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch The Fire (formerly known as the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) and overseers of the Partners in Harvest Network of Churches. ”
UPDATE 2 – 7/20/2014 @ 8:55AM: My thanks to one of my priestly readers, who kindly pointed out my error in attributing authorship of 2 Timothy to St. John instead of St. Paul. It was the result of some incautious Googling, and the fact that I’m an absolutely terrible exegete. Something in the back of my mind told me to go back and check that before posting, but I completely forgot. It’s nice to have readers who help you correct your silly mistakes instead of exploiting them. The post has been corrected to reflect the correct author.
There’s no way to keep up with the furious pace of those seeking to change the Catholic faith from the inside out, and it’s gotten pretty exhausting trying. It’s like theological whack-a-mole. This is why, I think, it’s good to step back and try to engage in pattern recognition, looking for the larger picture that is emerging through their death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach. Taking any single statement, appointment, interview, etc., on its own is most likely (though not always) insufficient. Seeing many pieces of circumstantial evidence pile up on one side of a scale gives weight to a thesis that’s difficult to definitively prove.
In other words, Modernists are tricky. That’s kind of the point of their whole operation. They are infiltrators, waging war through ambiguity and endless nuance, throwing chaff at their pursuers in the guise of this or that apparently orthodox thing they embrace while simultaneously dealing damage with the other hand.
The latest symptom of the Modernist infection comes from the appointment of the new Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne, Germany:
The Vatican has appointed the archbishop of Berlin, seen by German media as part of a “new generation” of less dogmatic clergy, to take over the Cologne archdiocese, the largest and richest in Germany, it said on Friday.
The move makes Rainer Maria Woelki, who turns 58 next month, one of the most influential Roman Catholic cardinals and is an indication of the type of person Pope Francis wants to see in prominent Church roles.
Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper called him “the prototype of a new generation of bishops … not grumpy and dogmatic … these men speak of mercy and mean it. They’re open to people, even their critics, to a point and have a heart for the disadvantaged. Still, they’re theologically conservative.”
Woelki is a Cologne native and served there for years under his retired predecessor, the staunchly conservative Cardinal Joachim Meisner, before becoming bishop of Berlin in 2011.
When his Berlin appointment was announced, some politicians and Catholics in Berlin said he was too conservative for a city with such a large gay community, pointing to comments he had made that homosexuality was against “the order of creation”.
They also noted that he did his doctorate in theology at a pontifical university in Rome run by the conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei.
But Woekli surprised Berliners by saying he respected all people and would gladly meet with gay activists.
A year later, in 2012, he said: “If two homosexuals take responsibility for each other, if they are loyal to each other over the long term, then one should see this in the same way as heterosexual relations.”
Berlin’s Alliance against Homophobia nominated him for its Respect Prize that year, an honour he politely declined by saying it was normal for a Christian to respect all people so he should not receive an award for it.
Some people read this and see only certain keywords and phrases: “mercy”; “conservative” (x3); “open to…critics”; “Opus Dei”; etc. These work in support of their confirmation bias, namely, they support the fact that a pope they want to like is appointing prelates they want to believe are good men to be in charge of important things.
When I read these articles, however, I can’t help but view the facts through my Modernist-doublethink-secret-decoder-ring. In the life of those who advance the Modernist cause from within the Church there is always some confusing mixture of laudable and problematic characteristics, which makes it difficult to figure out exactly what they are about. This is why, I think, men like Cardinal Schönborn can be responsible for the organization of the new Catechism that is widely lauded as a theological resource while simultaneously participating in or approving of scandalously inappropriate liturgies.
My “decoder ring” is, of course, Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, since it warned us with great specificity about what to look for. For example, in referencing the credibility of the modernists within the Church:
[N]one is more skillful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices; for they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for irreproachable morality.
“Mercy” is the word of the day that covers a multitude of anti-Catholic thought popular within the hierarchy of the present-day Church: it is not merciful to forbid divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving the Eucharist; it is not merciful to forbid Catholic politicians who support abortion from receiving the Eucharist; it is not merciful to leave heterodox theologians outside of visible communion with the Church (even when they do not publicly retract their heresy); it is not merciful to treat homosexual relationships as qualitatively different than heterosexual ones when approaching from a pastoral standpoint, etc.
I can’t help but view the facts through my Modernist-doublethink-secret-decoder-ring.
Mercy, when contrasted with dogma, is set up as an alternate orthodoxy. It is the orthodoxy of the heart, of kindness, of the anti-Pharisaical ethos. But those who would set up this dichotomy never acknowledge that true mercy is always inextricably intertwined with justice, and justice is predicated upon law.
These people wish to change dogma to create an inclusive Church. A Church without boundaries, unfocused on rules and sacraments, unwilling to exclude salvation to those who choose not to embrace it, a Church that can lock hands with people of every other faith in a seamless garment of interwoven theology, all respecting each other’s “faith walk” progressing on a path to the same “god”. And dogma gets in their way, because the real Church looks nothing like that.
Again, from Pascendi, the Modernist’s view of dogma. It should sound eerily familiar to anyone paying attention:
Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles. For among the chief points of their teaching is the following, which they deduce from the principle of vital immanence, namely, that religious formulas if they are to be really religious and not merely intellectual speculations, ought to be living and to live the life of the religious sense. This is not to be understood to mean that these formulas, especially if merely imaginative, were to be invented for the religious sense. Their origin matters nothing, any more than their number or quality. What is necessary is that the religious sense — with some modification when needful — should vitally assimilate them. In other words, it is necessary that the primitive formula be accepted and sanctioned by the heart; and similarly the subsequent work from which are brought forth the .secondary formulas must proceed under the guidance of the heart. Hence it comes that these formulas, in order to be living, should be, and should remain, adapted to the faith and to him who believes. Wherefore, if for any reason this adaptation should cease to exist, they lose their first meaning and accordingly need to be changed.
Pope Francis, who will soon preach at a Pentecostal church in Rome — and plans to offer them “an apology from my church for the hurt it has brought to their congregation.”
(No word on whether the Penetecostals will apologize for their propagation of heresy.)
In any case, the Vicar of Christ evidently doesn’t want anything to do with that solemn nonsense known as “evangelization.” Again, he tells a non-Catholic he has no intention to try to convert anyone:
It’s fair to ask what kind of Catholic Church we as Evangelicals want to see. At lunch I asked Pope Francis what his heart was for evangelism. He smiled, knowing what was behind my question. His comment was, “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”
I’ve talked before about Cardinal Kasper’s dismissal of the “ecumenism of return”. People who question why Kasper is a hand-picked adviser of the pope fail to recognize the congruencies in their theology (or anti-theology, as the case may be.) All one needs to do is refrain from projecting the orthodoxy they desire in a pope on a man who holds the office but has little interest in what it is meant to signify, and the mystery solves itself.
Matthew 7:15-20 comes to mind.
So take a walk with me, will you? A walk into a possible future.
Let’s say that in this future, medical technology has become sufficiently advanced that medical implants can be installed which will disperse pharmaceuticals at regular intervals for years. Decades even. Doctors can remotely monitor the dosage, check vital signs, and make necessary adjustments without ever troubling you to come in for a visit.
When it comes to your health, you just set it and forget it!
Now let’s imagine that in addition to your seasonal antihistimines, your mood-enhancing seratonin reuptake inhibitors, and your cholesterol-fighting statins, you also have an implant for the peskiest of medications. You know what I’m talking about. The pill that if you forget to take, a little parasite grows inside you, diverting your body’s nutrients, making you lethargic and moody, and ultimately becoming so large that it bursts out in a gory mess from a place that you’d rather not think about.
That’s right. I’m talking about your birth control.
Who has time to hassle with pills, barriers, creams, shots, patches, and the like? All the nuisance of running a chemical defense screen really saps the joy out of hot nights filled with casual sex with consensual partners you identified through a GPS-powered location-based “hookup” app on your phone, amiright?
I mean, who doesn’t want a radio transmitter in their butt that could effectively render them sterile at the whim of a complete stranger?
So instead, why not outsource the worry to someone who went to school for this? Someone who routinely wears a white coat and gets to say cool words like “plasmapheresis” at the office? Why not let someone — perhaps a lab technician or a nurse’s assistant you’ve never even met — have a remote control kill switch on your fertility for the next sixteen years?
What. Could. Go. Wrong?
If Bill and Melinda gates have their way, this fantastically convenient future could be yours for the implanting! I mean, who doesn’t want a radio transmitter in their butt that could effectively render them sterile at the whim of a complete stranger? Especially since our government never acts coercively in matters of health care, uses its bureaucratic tentacles to harass political dissenters, or invades our privacy for no reason.
I, for one, look forward to a world where our fertility is just one more thing we don’t even have to think about. And why should we have to, when someone else is willing to do it for us?!
After all, despite any Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, we all know we have a fundamental human right to be provided by our government with the means to enjoy consequence-free sex as much as we damn well please!