Friday, June 20, 2014

Why focus on Christ on the cross, He rose didn't He?


Dear Rev. Know-it-all,

Why do Catholics still have a crucifix in Church and say dreary prayers like,“…to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears”?  Jesus rose from the dead and we are an “alleluia people.”  It’s a wonderful world and the Catholic Church is still spouting on about sin and repentance and self-denial. It’s like that old song,  “You'll get pie in the sky when you die.”  I’m glad I was raised in the new, more upbeat church. Get with it!

Yours truly,  
Ann Thusiast

Dear Ann,

Face it. Rock Hudson was uninterested in Doris Day, though he and Gomer Pyle of Mayberry were quite close.  And Doris Day’s first husband beat her and eventually committed suicide. Her second husband divorced her. Her third husband died and then her fourth husband divorced her.  Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz endured three divorces and died of an overdose and probably cirrhosis of the liver. Alfalfa of the little rascals — one marriage, one divorce, was shot to death in a fight over 50 bucks.

So what’s my point?  “You'll get pie in the sky when you die,” is an old lyric from “The Preacher and the Slave”, a song written by the union organizer Joe Hill in 1911. It was written as a parody of the hymn “In the Sweet By-and-By.” It mocks the promises of eternal happiness that Christianity offers to the poor and downtrodden of the world.  The song holds that religion is just a way to keep people down.  Promise them heaven and rob them on earth.  We should get our pie now!

I would venture that it’s quite the opposite. My generation was raised by movies and television and everyone else in this country was raised by the media as well. The entertainment world made outrageous promises. One could live happily ever after despite a few fights just like Rock Hudson and Doris day, home was just a click of the heels away like Dorothy and her ruby slippers and children were sweet and innocent just like Alfalfa of the Little Rascals. The era of happy escapist movies started in the beginning of the 20th century and blossomed into the happy marriages of the sitcoms in which one or two children were allowed, like Rob and Laura Petrie (Rob two wives, one concubine in the real world. Laura: three husbands).

My point is this: You were lied to, not by the Church. You were lied to by Hollywood.  Your expectations of a happy life in which all problems could be resolved in a half an hour, except for the serious one that took a whole feature film. Happiness was being loved and having the man or woman of your dreams and just a couple children.  The most self-evident doctrine of Catholic faith is that of original sin. We are a flawed race of beings and this world is most certainly a valley of tears, tears of our own manufacture.

It didn’t work out for the television people, but we still believed the lie.  We now live in a world of lies. Television, radio and even internet commercials tell us that diets work, we can lose weight without even trying and that miracle foods cure everything. I dread turning on television or radio because invariably I hear or see a commercial for some product guaranteed to perk up men’s sagging interest.  I am especially amazed by the commercial with the two old people sitting in two separate tubs on a beach as the sun sets. Have you ever sat in tub on the beach? Have you ever wanted to sit in tub on the beach?  All I can think of are sand fleas and mosquitoes — and nosy tourists.  Pie in the Sky? How about tubs on the beach?

Christianity says things like, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’” (Acts 20:35) and “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) — not, “slimmer thighs in 30 days or your money back.”  The Gospel promises a struggle with evil and human weakness.  Socialism and capitalism promise an earthly paradise in which Science will solve all our problems. Science is great, but it seems to create at least as many problems as it solves.  Science has made better weapons, but not better people.

Our indoctrination by entertainment has been a non-stop barrage of lies and, after a century of lies, we have believed it all. We marry only to divorce. We want what we want and we want it now.  Our entire sexual morality is based on wish fulfillment no matter what that wish may be.  People have been taught to say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with it?”, or “Who am I to judge?”  Certainly, we would never want to judge, or to condemn anyone. We would just like to point out that a rose by any other name would still have thorns.
My favorite is the transgender thing.  How painfully, exquisitely tolerant people are expected to be when an old friend comes to a gathering wearing a dress and heels announcing to the old frat buddies that the name is no longer Al, but Alexandra.  I have no objection to anyone’s fashion choices, but the mutilated former rugby player confronting me is not a woman, no matter how well the hormone shots are working.  This is not judgmental, nor is it condemnatory. It is just true.  But I want it… It will make happy… It’s who I really am….  We have watched entirely too much television and we have lost our minds.  We believed the TV and the Movies and have tried to find happiness by going from bed to bed, from marriage to marriage. We have left behind us a string of broken hearts and homeless children who can’t seem to hold down a job.  The Gospel has always told us that this life is not about happiness. It is about faithfulness and generosity, heroism and the highest human nobility and it actually used to teach that sex was about children! Now we have a world that believes it should have what it wants and that sex is about me.

I suppose I shouldn’t expect more from the world. Its Prince is a liar and the father of lies, but what really alarms me in this madhouse age is that some of those in leadership in the Church seem increasingly to tell the same lies.  As you may have heard me say already, can anyone remember a sermon that says the purpose of life is sacrifice? Have you heard any sermons that remind people that artificial birth control is gravely immoral? Or a funeral sermon that doesn’t canonize the deceased? “Uncle Alexandra was a wonderful caring person.  She was loved by all three of her wives and will be greatly missed by her current husband whom she married after her operation.  She was literally father and mother to both her children and we know that she is in heaven with Jesus.”  Maybe she, or he, is. Maybe not.  We have lost our minds and to point out that fact is impolite. It is hate speech.

Give me pie in the sky. It can’t be any worse than the pie in the face that we are currently enduring.

The Rev. Know-it-all


  1. Reminds me of my favorite homiletic one-liner: "The Gospel never said, 'Take up your cushion and follow me!'"

  2. Our pastor's homily this week actually focused on sacrifice. We are truly blessed.