From Covenant Community to SCOTUS Nominee

Well, it’s official: the product of a Catholic Charismatic covenant community, Amy Coney Barrett, is the nominee to be a Supreme Court Justice.  My regular readers know that I’ve dealt with this subject over the years, from this piece in 2011 (where I document why I turned down the invitation to join one) to the present.  One of the albums I posted came from the People of Praise, the community Barrett is a part of.

If I were sitting in one of the meetings of the Community of God’s Delight over forty years ago and someone told me that a product of another major covenant community would end up in the situation Barrett now faces, I wouldn’t have believed them.  That’s not because the members of the community typically lacked formal education or were not professional people.  The man who taught my Life in the Spirit Seminar, Joe Canterbury, was a Dallas attorney whose delivery of the Seminar reminded me of a closing argument for a jury.  And of course we have David Peterman, the PhD holding engineer who ended up leading the Community.  The extreme bifurcation of education and status–and the wealth inequality that goes with it–wasn’t as extreme in American life then, which is interesting because one of the battle cries of Barrett’s opponents is “equality.”

The reason for my disbelief is because covenant communities, like much of the Charismatic Renewal at the time, were decidedly escapist and more akin to the “Remnant” theology of my Baptist grandparents, which I discuss in my piece on Elizabeth Warren.  In some ways these communities were the prototypes of Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option.”  Some of the leaders of the day, like Ralph Martin, still reflect that idea.  One of the things this nomination will be “about” is whether people who want to seriously live the way that Barrett lives will be permitted to do so, or even to express that desire.

The current idea in American politics–especially as it comes from the left–is that those who live in this country are obligated to support their racial and sexual construct.  That of course is totalitarianism, and their criticisms of authoritarianism from institutions like covenant communities ring hollow.  In order for that totalitarianism to succeed, things like rights must be set aside, and along with those rights the due process that judiciaries are constituted to uphold.

We’ve already been regaled with a “trial balloon” of setting due process aside with the blowback from the “Dear Colleague” letter than came from Barack Obama’s Department of Education on sexual harassment and assault.  The enthusiastic response of university administrators to this was breathtaking.  Now I’m not one to support the encouragement of the “laid, high or drunk” mentality our elites hold sacred, and I’ll bet that Barrett isn’t either.  But leaving due process in the rear view mirror isn’t right, and if you can get away with doing it in that important of a field of law you can do it anywhere else.  Barrett herself was involved in the judicial pushback against this; that’s a legitimate subject to discuss now, but those who oppose Barrett’s idea don’t want the issue framed around due process.

But getting back to the original point: I’m not looking forward to the whole issue of Catholic Charismatic covenant communities being front and centre in a this kind of process.  The whole issue is complicated from an ecclesiastical standpoint let alone a political one; a great deal of ignorance will be on display.  My reservations about covenant communities have not changed in the forty years since the choice was put in front of me back in Dallas, and I’ve never regretted my decision not to join.

But that doesn’t change the fact that covenant community authoritarianism has more than met its match, and that’s the fight we’re having now.

OCP Pulls the Plug (Finally) on the Angel Moroni

OCP managed to get itself into trouble by using an image of the Mormon Angel Moroni on the cover of its missal:

The image below is from the cover of a missal being published by Oregon Catholic Press:

The cover depicts an angel blowing a trumpet — but not just any angel.

It’s the Mormon Angel Moroni, who is the unofficial symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and who frequently appears on the cover of the Book of Mormon:

I’m no fan of OCP as an organization and have said so repeatedly when talking about their music. The trads trash them regularly, in part because some of their music is questionable theologically (although they had people like this to prepare the way.)  Much of their music is banal and explains why, after the initial rush, post-Vatican II Roman Catholic liturgical music has gone downhill.

Using the Angel Moroni is especially questionable, but they did it anyway.  I’m glad they’ve been called out for it and have retracted the cover.

US Christians increasingly departing from core truths of Christian worldview, survey finds

A new survey shows that the majority of Americans no longer believe that Jesus is the path to salvation and instead believe that being a good person is sufficient.

As part of the ongoing release of the Arizona Christian University-based Cultural Research Center’s American Worldview Inventory, the latest findings — exploring perceptions of sin and salvation — from George Barna, the group’s director, show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than the particular faith with which someone aligns…

US Christians increasingly departing from core truths of Christian worldview, survey finds

Epoch/NALR Family Album Vol. 1

Epoch Universal Publications/NALR 33420/FAI-78 (1978)

“Best Of”/Compilations weren’t unknown in the “Jesus Music” era but they weren’t common either. This is an interesting one, selected from the extensive offerings the ministry had in the 1970’s. It includes many of their best known artists (and some lesser known ones) as follows:

  • Paul Quinlan, a pioneer in the field (featured elsewhere) now with his wife Nancy;
  • Grayson Warren Brown, one of the few (only?) black artists NALR had;
  • Saint Louis Jesuits, the famous, including Bob Dufford, John Foley, Tim Manion, Roc O’Connor and Dan Schutte;
  • Carey Landry, the “Catholic troubadour of the bayou,” who even serves up some “bon ton” in French on this album;
  • Deanna Edwards, the music therapist, one of whose cuts sounds like something from the soundtrack of an old movie; and
  • Wendy Vickers (also featured elsewhere.)

I’m not sure whether this album was ever commercially distributed; based on what’s on the album cover, it may have been intended as a promotional effort for parishes to adopt their music (which many did.) It’s not quite like “The Cry of the Poor” but it’s a nice selection from probably the strongest distributor of Catholic music in the NOM/Vatican II era.

The songs (with their composers):

  • Though the Mountains May Fall (D. Schutte)
  • The Lord is My Shepherd (P. Quinlan)
  • Son-Rise (D. Edwards)
  • How Good is the Lord (C. Landry)
  • Sow a Seed (W. Vickers)
  • Rise Up (P. Quinlan)
  • Jesus Died Upon the Cross (G. Brown)
  • The People That Walk in Darkness (B. Dufford)
  • Live Each Day (D. Edwards)
  • Blest Be the Lord (D. Schutte)
  • In Him We Live (C. Landry)

For More Music Click Here

Pope Paul VI: An Historic Journey to the Holy Land, January 1964

Twentieth Century-Fox TFM 3129 (1964)

It’s something of a departure from our usual offerings, but this is a vinyl phonograph documentary of Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land at the time of the Epiphany in January 1964.  First, however, some explanation of the medium is in order.

Until the advent of video disks and ultimately the VCR, there was no convenient way outside of a television studio for people to do “video on demand,” and thus phono documentaries like this one were very common in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  It was the best way that people could relive events like this one.

Paul’s visit to the Holy Land was described as historic, and in the context of the time it certainly was.  To begin with, none of the occupants of the See of Peter had come back to the homeland of the first one until that time.  (Kind of reminds you of Brother Andrew’s remark that Jesus told his followers to go, he didn’t tell them to come back!)  It was also the first time in 150 years that a Pope had left Italy, the result in part of the Vatican’s sixty year “imprisonment.”  To visit the Holy Land then and now required that the Holy Father visit the State of Israel, something dicey given Roman Catholicism’s penchant for replacement theology.  Last but not least the Pope met with the Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras; a Pope and Patriarch hadn’t met since the two branches of Apostolic Christianity angrily parted company in 1054.

The centrepiece of the recording at least is the Pope’s Mass in Nazareth.  Although Vatican II had been recently concluded, it wasn’t until 1970 that the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated.  The Mass was thus conducted both in Latin and in what is now called the “Extraordinary Form” but was then the ordinary one.  That should warm the hearts of Trads who usually use this pontiff’s picture as a dart board, but this Mass was not elaborate.  Then as now media types didn’t understand religion very well; the narrator proclaims the conclusion of the Mass only to have the Pope begin his recitation of the Creed.  (I’ve been to Masses like that, but…)

Outside of the Mass, the Pope addresses the President of Israel, the crowd at Nazareth, and the Patriarch in French.  At the time French was the language of diplomacy; our world has come a long way since then.  He also invited the Patriarch to recite the Lord’s Prayer; good thing he didn’t use the Creed, with the still-ongoing “filioque” controversy, that would have blown things up again for another 910 years.  It wasn’t until he returned to Rome that he addressed the crowd in his native Italian.

The world has changed a great deal in the nearly seventy years since this visit and recording, but the historic nature of the visit–and the way it was disseminated–are both worth remembering.

Bad Things at Camp: #MeToo Comes for David Haas

The composer and musician for much of the “sort-of Old Folk Mass” finds himself in hot water:

Three women on Wednesday accused Catholic composer David Haas of sexual misconduct, the country’s leading Catholic newspaper reported.

In an article in The National Catholic Reporter, the women detailed nonconsensual sexual acts by Mr. Hass when they were under his tutelage in music ministry programs or camps.

Two described unwanted sexual advances at a camp in Minnesota, and the third said Mr. Haas forced himself on her in an attempted kiss at a camp in California.

I’m sure the Trads are toasting each other at whatever watering hole at which they congregate.  (They should consider Mass there, in some places it’s easier to gather in a bar or casino than in church.)  Although I’m a fan of the “Old Folk Mass” David Haas is something of a “Johnny Come Lately” to the genre (the Archivist informs us that his first album was in 1979.)  So I don’t think I have any of his stuff in my collection.

Like I said, however, the Trads and #straightouttairondale types will be happy at this development.

But this brings up another thought: maybe with stuff like this and the Anglicans’ Iwerne fiasco, it’s time to reconsider this “camp” business in the hypersexualised age we live in.

Review – Prolegomena: A Defense of the Scholastic Method by Jordan Cooper — The North American Anglican

Prolegomena: A Defense of the Scholastic Method. By Jordan Cooper. A Contemporary Protestant Scholastic Theology. The Weidner Institute: A Division of Just and Sinner, 2020. 358 pp. $21.60 (paperback) Whether you realize it or not, a heated debate has been taking place in Protestant circles these past few decades, over the usefulness or even compatibility…

via Review – Prolegomena: A Defense of the Scholastic Method by Jordan Cooper — The North American Anglican

Note: This article notes the “heated debate.”  I’ve defended Scholasticism before, but generally in a Roman Catholic context.  But I’ve also seen the heated debate within Protestantism on this topic, especially from one belligerent and rude Barthian blogger from the Portland area.  (What is wrong with this part of the country?  It’s worse than South Florida!)  I still think Scholasticism has merit although it’s best done within a Catholic context.  (Unless, of course, you’re trying to revolutionise mathematics…)

A Catholic View of the French Revolution

From Joseph DeHarbe’s A Full Cathechism of the Catholic Religion:

Awful events, which make nature shudder, remain as yet to be related. We would fain pass them over in silence, if they were not most instructive for us. As with all human productions, so it fared with the doctrine of Luther; it became antiquated, it altered and entirely changed. Sects upon Sects arose: Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Quakers, Methodists, Moravians, etc. Each one of these Sects presumed, after the example of Luther, to reform the faith. At last impious Free-thinkers, first in England and afterwards in France, carried their presumption to the highest pitch, and contrived the infernal scheme totally to abolish Religion, and to exterminate for ever the Belief in Christ. Under the pretense of enlightening mankind, they deluged the world with writings in which they scoffed at all Holy things, grossly calumniated the Pope and the Clergy, and openly advocated the most shameful licentiousness. Their books, written in most attractive language, and sparkling with witticism and satire, found their way too readily among all classes of people, and at the same time the spirit of profligacy and impiety spread with surprising rapidity. At the same time the masses of the people were suffering from misgovernment, oppressive taxation and excessive privileges enjoyed, by the upper classes. These causes combined with the spread of infidel philosophy and the decay of religious faith brought about the French Revolution at the close of the eighteenth century. The Church was attacked, ecclesiastical property was confiscated; religious orders were suppressed by violence; monks and nuns were turned out of their peaceable abodes by force, and many religious houses were plundered and pulled down. Soon after, a sanguinary edict was issued against all priests who should continue faithful to the discharge of their duties. Was any one discovered refractory, he was cast into prison, or immediately hanged up to the nearest lamp-post. The Christian era was annulled, the celebration of the Sundays and Festivals was abolished, the churches were profaned and devastated. Everything that reminded them of Christianity was destroyed. Finally, the madness of these men arrived at such a pitch, that they proclaimed Reason to be the Supreme Being, and conducted a vile woman as an emblem of the Deity, on a triumphal car, into the Cathedral of Paris, where they placed her on the high altar, in the place of the figure of our Crucified Redeemer, and sang hymns in her honor. Order, prosperity, and public safety disappeared together with Religion; even the throne was overturned and shattered to pieces. France was for two years the scene of such horrible atrocities as are unequaled in the annals of history. Human blood flowed in torrents. Neither age nor sex was safe from the fury of those monsters. The total number of the people slaughtered in this Reign of Terror was, according to some, two millions. And all this was done under the pretense of promoting the happiness of mankind. Enlightenment was their word when they abolished Religion; Liberty and Equality, when they murdered their fellow-men. At last, in order to stop the complete anarchy that prevailed, the leaders solemnly proclaimed that the nation should once more believe in God and the immortality of the soul. In the year 1799, Napoleon, in quality of First Consul, seized upon the sovereign power, but he did not venture to govern a people without Religion. He therefore restored the Catholic Religion in France, and made a solemn Concordat with the Pope (a.d. 1801). However, the Church did not long enjoy this peace. Napoleon, blinded by for tune, attempted to extort from the Supreme Head of the Church certain concessions which he could not grant. The French troops invaded Rome, and carried away Pius VII prisoner in 1809. But as God had visibly protected His Church ten years before, when Pope Pius VI. and died a captive, at Valence in France, so now He did not abandon her to her enemies. Napoleon was vanquished by the Confederate Powers of Europe, and dispossessed of his crown, and the Pope reentered triumphant into Rome (a.d. 1814).

The revised edition pulled even fewer punches.

In their search for a catechism, the Trads frequently overlook this one.  I found a copy in an estate sale here in Chattanooga; evidently some American Catholics preferred it over the more famous Baltimore Catechism.

Déjà vu all Over Again with Ralph Martin

He’s done another video in the wake of the “unearthing” of Michael Scanlan’s prophecies:

Let’s be honest, Ralph: we’ve been here before.  And you dodged the serious question that never seems to change.

Back in 1982 you wrote a book entitled A Crisis of Truth, where you documented the drift from both Biblical truth that Roman Catholicism had experienced.  In a sense the video above is a quick summary of the idea of that book, forty years out.  (TBH Mother Angelica’s rant–and her response to a bishop that didn’t like it–was more to the point.)  So here we are again, you saying the same things and the rest of us trying to figure out a response.

The response many of us did at the time was to exit from the Catholic Church.  It wasn’t an easy decision and it’s one that some of our brothers and sisters didn’t follow us in, but we did it anyway.  But we felt that we could not live the life that Jesus Christ had intended to and stay in either the miserable pastoral system that was and is Catholic parishes in the US or in a church where what were then called “countercultural” (they’re mainstream now) elements were undermining the Church.

For me at least, your book was in part a justification of that decision.  I had seen what happened when the church I grew up in (Episcopal Church) underwent an assault like this, and I had no desire to go through this again.

Now you call us to follow Jesus in a serious way.  And that’s good.  But now we have an Occupant of the See of St. Peter who is basically dangerous, and dangerous people seem to lurk everywhere.  (I was always afraid this would happen sooner or later.)  Back in the day the accession of St. John Paul II put a stop to much of the mischief you documented in your book, or at least drove it underground.  You cast aside your guitar-strumming and prophecy-proclaiming form of Catholicism for #straightouttairondale, a volte face I still marvel at.   But that still leaves those who stay with the same hard choices–harder, really–that we had two score ago.

I’m not one of these people who say that “if you get saved, you must leave the Catholic Church.”  That’s basically conceding to the Church it’s own idea of what church is all about.  But once Jesus transforms our life we have to be somewhere until we ascend up to heaven.  Some have and will stick it out, but some will not, and what you say now–and what you have said in the past–will influence that decision in ways you may not find to your taste.

I would be the first to admit that life in the Pentecostal fast lane has its problems, from Bill Clinton’s Eucharistic Theology to its screwy racial idea.  But so far I’ve been able to leave many of the problems I would have had to deal with on an ongoing basis behind, and my church allowed me to work at a denominational level, something Roman Catholicism would never dream of.

At the end of his book The Power and the Wisdom, Fr. John McKenzie wrote the following:

There is another obscurity in one’s mind more difficult to express and not without some dangers.  Reflection on the New Testament gives one a keener sense of the differences between the Church which wrote the New Testament and the contemporary Church.  If one wanders down this path far enough, one will find oneself at its end in the company of the Reformers; and a Roman Catholic cannot join this company.

As a part of a Wesleyan tradition now, we’re way past Luther and Calvin.  Be careful of what you say, Ralph Martin; some of us may take it seriously.

Update: I posted a link to this piece on the video’s comments.  They responded by turning the comments off.

Another Scanlan Prophecy, and How Did Ralph Martin Get to #straightouttairondale?

Ralph Martin has posted a follow-up to his broadcast of Michael Scanlan’s prophecy:

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, much of what he says is fine.  One of the things I’ve tried to do is to discourage people from leaning too hard on the benefits of the civilisation (such as it is.)  The call of Jesus Christ is too high to do so, either in times of prosperity or certainly in times of trouble like we’re in now.  In this country the worst thing we do is wrap our Christianity around “moving up,” and I’ve decried this for a long time.  It may produce big numbers but it isn’t prepared for what we’re facing now.

My real issue is his context, and that may seem abstract, but it’s not.  He’s come up with another prophecy from Fr. Scanlan and that brings up two important questions, one for the time it came out and one for now.

In the traditional Roman Catholicism Martin professes to live in, the prophetic gift didn’t (and doesn’t) work in the way that Scanlan exercised it.  The Church has generally taught that the Holy Spirit acts through the church as a whole.  The way he exercised it is more in line with what we’ve seen in modern Pentecost.  So how can he fit the two together?  Or better, how did Ralph Martin, like Scanlan, get to #straightouttairondale?

The fact is that many of us at the time, when confronted with this radical call, couldn’t figure out how to respond to that meaningfully in the parish system then and now.  So we left.  Given the current state of things, the only way to do this is to go for a “church within a church.”  That was what the Sword of the Spirit was all about, and it wasn’t all that Catholic.  (It had other problems, too.)  That’s also what SSPX is about, and they’re having problems.  The Trads are trying to do the same, and they’re not getting the cooperation from the Church they think they should.  It’s great to set forth a radical call to the Gospel, but how do we get there?  We couldn’t figure it out forty years ago, why should we think you can?

There’s no doubt that we’re facing bad times.  There’s also no doubt that the Catholic Church at large in this country is unprepared for them or unprepared to defend its flock.  Do we need two layers of problems when it’s hard enough to deal with one?

But I guess these are the problems that result when you’re better at making unlikely transitions within the Church rather than facing the problems the way they are.