A Much-Needed Kick in Kansas

When I think of the generation of Catholic churchmen, religious sisters, theologians, and songsters who were coming into their revolution when I was a boy, and who have never admitted a single error, not even in such non-doctrinal matters as what they did to works of art in their churches, I imagine elderly hippies returning to Woodstock with canes and walkers, shimmying to the piped-in blaring of Sly and the Family Stone.  “Bliss it was in those days to be alive!” says Wordsworth, looking back on the hopes he held in the French revolution.

But Wordsworth grew up.  He came to view those days with a critical and judicious eye.  With age, we hope, comes wisdom, and with that wisdom, regret for the sins and follies we all commit, most especially when we follow the spirit of the age and not the Holy Spirit, who does not change, and who is beyond all ages.

Yet I meet, all the time, stuck-in-the-mud progressives, fuddy-duddies of a revolution that has come and gone and left a lot of rubble behind, with very little institutional, intellectual, artistic, and cultural compensation.  The scandal surrounding the artist Marco Rupnik is a case in point.

The man was a monster.  If you invented his character for a novel, nobody would believe it; his filthy deeds seem to out of a bad rehash of The Exorcist.  But setting that aside, I am astonished that anybody still admires his dull old programmatic pseudo-primitive art.  What’s next, doing the Watusi as you come back from Communion?

I got the same feeling as I read the reactions to a commencement speech, at Benedictine College, given by Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs.  Benedictine is an hour’s drive away from the stadium, so it was a natural choice for the event’s coordinators to make, as Butker is a devout Catholic, and Benedictine is a faithfully Catholic college.

In his speech, the young man said that the greatest of all titles for a woman is that of a wife and mother, and as he did so he praised his wife, and came to the point of tears.  For saying what was not controversial when I was young, but what is abominated now, he has been the target of abuse and hatred.

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