11 More Ways to Make Enemies in the Church
Once again, I'm breaking my own rules.
The other week I posted a list of ten things that are guaranteed to garner enemies if you dare speak or write about them in the Catholic blogosphere. The negative feedback it generated validated my thesis in a marvelous way!
Since I couldn’t fit all the ELIs (Enemy List Items) into ten, here are ten more – because, let’s face it, telling uncomfortable truths can be both fun and freeing. In no particular order:
11. Harry Potter. Yes, even the most casual reference to the most famous Hogwarts alumnus will bring down the fire of the righteous. There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Master Potter. It’s either a fairly entertaining fictional book for pre-teens and older nerds or a diabolical handbook on how to be come a witch for real. Anecdotally, I find that the most vociferous anti-Potterites have never (koff koff) read any of the books.
12. Yoga. Oh boy! One wades into the Land of Om at one’s peril. Yoga has morphed in the last decade or so into a litmus test for True Catholicism. Two camps dominate the papal corner of the internet: a) yoga is an introduction, pure and simple, to demon worship; and b) yoga is just harmless stretching so chill. The via media is hard to find here, namely that yoga draws upon an alien religious anthropology that may pose a danger to your soul, depending on your level of engagement.
13. Vaccinations. Duck! As the Glaswegians say, whether your fer or agin vaccinations, someone is going to blast you for your position. The less professional medical background and experience the more the vitriol, I find. But any mention of vaccinations is going to be an enemy magnet.
14. Liturgical abuse. Look out! The particulars don’t matter. It could be holding hands at the Our Father (we shouldn’t be doing it, not even if you add that little squeezy-poo at the end of the doxology), or liturgical dancing (we shouldn’t be doing it, at least not in suburban America pretending we’re in the outback of Ghana), or correcting folks who keep calling Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion “eucharistic ministers,” or adopting the orans position during the Our Father (there’s no provision in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for doing so)… matters liturgical sure get people royally riled! My usual reply is to bring some context: the Blessed Mother witnessed the worst liturgical abuse in the world while standing on Calvary.
15. Capital punishment. Thanks for the residual confusion stemming from the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s 1990s era “seamless garment” argument (which, in practice, equalized abortion and capital punishment), there is almost no way to have a balanced conversation about the liceity – however rarely applied – of the state’s ultimate punishment of evil doers. Bumper-sticker example: “It’s murder to show that murder is wrong!”
16. Catholic social teaching. There’s nothing wrong with CTS, of course. In fact, I wish it were better known because it provides a third way beyond socialism on the one hand, and usury-based free market capitalism on the other. It’s precisely because it’s not well understood – and because its level of magisterial authority is not clear to most Catholics — that it generates so much heat. Broaching CST online will draw unto yourself charges that you’re a commie or the monocled, top-hatted rich guy from Monopoly.
17. Fornication. Or its current euphemism “living together.” Any pastor or any member of the lay faithful who raises so much as half an eyebrow about the spiritual and emotional dangers attached to sexual relations before marriage is destined to be pilloried as a judgmental doctor of the law, a Pharisee, a terrible no good awful person.
18. Immigration. Of course, this is code for “illegal immigration.” You know, immigration that breaks federal law. Immigrants built this great country. Without them, we’d all be speaking Mohawk and bracing for winter about now. But don’t bring up the morality or legality of “migrants” or “migrant workers” without preparing to be flamed, my friend.
19. The Republican Party. Not going there.
20. The Democrat Party. See No 19.
21. Crying Babies in Church. The social science data complied over the last 40 years strongly suggests that babies cry quite frequently, and, at times, quite loudly. They also exhibit a disturbing lack of self-control. Yes, these little narcissists seem to exist for one reason: to annoy God’s holy praying people. No wonder God’s holy praying people shoot daggers at the selfish parents for not breaking land speed records toward the crying room (that’s why God created the crying room — is anyone listening to me?!) to rid us of their lachrymose plays for attention.