This morning I was reading a part of the daily Liturgy of the Hours, or Breviary. It is an obligation of all priests, transitional deacons, and most vowed religious and permanent deacons to pray this daily liturgical prayer divided into “hours” according to the time of day. In the “Little Hour” of Terce ( “third hour” or Midmorning Prayer) there was appointed as the short Scripture reading this from the prophet Joel: Between the porch and the altar, let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say ” Spare O Lord your people, and do not give your heritage over as a mockery, with the nations ruling over them!”
Those words hit home. Just last week at the Grammy Awards a singer named “Minaj” thought it would be funny to appear in some sort of pseudo-religious get-up and accompanied by an impersonator of a major and famous religious figure. Was she dressed in a burqa? Was the impersonator dressed as an Ayatollah, an imam, or even Mohammad? Was she dressed as a female resident of an Hasidic community, with a bearded rabbi as her companion? Of course not! You know what religion she could mock with impunity. She dressed in pseudo-nun garb with a Pope John Paul II impersonator at her side in full “pontifical” rig.
I suppose she and the other sheep thought it was all so “courageous”. Yes, as courageous as shooting fish in a barrel.
Now while I see no good reason for Islam, Judaism, or Christianity to be so mocked; and our constitutional liberties even apply to tasteless drivel we all know that Roman Catholicism is the one major monotheistic religion that can be safely mocked and derided, its sacred symbols and figures used as props for secular entertainment and defilement today.
Not so very long ago, Catholic themes were treated with great respect by the major movie and entertainment moguls, many of whom were not Catholic. Priests, nuns, the Saints, even our rituals were depicted as positive and uplifting even in secular films and songs. A broadly tolerant and respectful consensus held sway about religion in general.
I remember an Alfred Hitchock film in which a wrongly accused man on trial for his life played by Henry Fonda was depicted quietly praying the Rosary under the defense table, an image of the Sacred Heart in his mind while at the very moment the true murderer was arrested and the man freed. Today, if you see a religious Christian portrayed you can bet that well over 70% of the time he or she is a nut, or worse, a villainous hypocrite. And it is only almost only Christians so depicted . Of Christians, it’s mostly Evangelicals and Catholics. Then again, what other religions pose a threat to the hedonism, vapidity, and irresponsible behavior that so permeates our popular culture?
There is one, but it is “off limits”. A “Minaj” knows very well NOT to appear in Islamic guise; that would take real, if misguided, courage. Today the country has been attacked and is under threat from practitioners of an overtly religious terrorism unknown for centuries. A world-wide religion serves as the cover for significant violence and bloodshed from vicious fanatics and yet you’d almost never know it from our cultural and entertainment trend-setters. Even the “action movies” depicting modern day warfare and “CIA”/spy type themes ( with rare exceptions) seem to have every category of villain other than the actual people who are our self-declared enemies. We see vaguely “WASP”-like “government” white men as the “baddies”, and so on. It would be like a remake of The Sands of Iwo Jima in which US Marines battle fanatical Eskimos and Dutchmen instead of Japanese.
(Oddly enough almost the only major entertainment figure willing to satirize the anti-Western islamic jihadis is the over-the-top, vulgar, comedian Sasha Baron Cohen whom the “Academy” can’t quite figure out how to handle. After all, he IS vulgar, which they can tolerate or even encourage; but “Admiral General Aleen- Death to the West” is a bit too close to reality for them.)
We are a made a mockery to the nations. Some of this is a result of our own follies and weakness, if not cowardice. The Jewish people , so long imperilled in the midst of unfriendly nations, know the sadness and the danger of the “Self-hating Jew.” We too I think have more than our share of self-hating Catholics who are afraid, indifferent, or even enjoy the mockery of their own Faith.
Then again, that’s just me….
February 28, 2012.