When it comes to a man like Stan Lee, one must either write a whole book or a single short statement, and I will do the latter. Stan Lee, the mastermind of the Marvel ComicUniverse, creator and co-creator of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and countless other classic characters, has passed away at the age of 95. He was not just a brilliant creator and writer, but a deeply beloved man among his legions of fans, and he will be missed.
May the prayers of all those to whom he brought joy, inspiration, and enrichment rise up before the throne of God on his behalf, and may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.
I happened on a piece saying that propagandist Michael Moore’s recent anti-Trump film has thoroughly bombed at the box office. Sonic and Tails might have an idea why
I have been delayed in writing about this due to being on vacation, and from arranging my thoughts. Even so, this is going to be a very rough outline.
Despite taking so much time, I still find my thoughts in disarray, just because there is so much to talk about and so much of it (as with most contemporary issues) requires us to look in the opposite direction from where we’ve been taught to look.
Let me put it this way; the problem is not with the Church. The problem is that many in the clergy, laity, and hierarchy don’t want the Church. They want a kind of non-profit social program with the respect that the Church once held. They don’t want Christ or truth or salvation; they want ‘progress’ or ‘social justice’ or whatever other silly idol is popular with the smart set of today.
So, to be clear, when I say the problem is not with the Church, I mean that if the Church acted like the Church, and not even the ideal Church triumphant, but simply like the Church of past ages, this situation would never have happened, at least not to this extent.
Let me explain: in today’s Church, at least in the west, there is very little discipline, whether in the liturgy, doctrine, or morality. For instance, just a few weeks ago Fr. Thomas Rosica, an attache of the Holy See’s Press Office, called the Catholic devotion to Scripture and Sacred Tradition “and unhealthy attachment” which the Church is moving away from. As far as I know, nothing has happened to him. He hasn’t lost his job, been stripped of his office, or even been rebuked by his Bishop. In a sane age, a Catholic priest, even one not attached to the Holy See who said something like this would have his Bishop down on his head like a ton of bricks.
And this sort of thing is common: priests publicly denounce or oppose doctrine – and not obscure, fiddling dogmas, but basic truths of the faith – every day without any ramifications. The liturgy is regularly mocked and gutted by celebrants without any correction on the part of the Bishops, most of whom are no more concerned than the priests themselves. If anyone – priest or laity – complains, he’s more likely to receive a rebuke for being ‘intolerant’ or ‘rigid’ than to bring about any corrections. Again, Priests and Bishops shrug off or openly advocate for moral evils in the name of ‘tolerance’ and reserve their rebukes for those who call them on it. Morality and doctrine, for many in the contemporary Church, are determined by the latest fads in the secular world.
This is not how a Church that actually believes in the Gospel behaves: this is how a political organization that wants to attract members behaves.
I could go into the background of this, the various possible factors involved from Marxist infiltrations to Vatican II to just the absurd habit that most moderns have of treating their ancestors with dismissive contempt (see the recent move regarding the death penalty). Probably I will sometime, but the point is that all this amounts to a reluctance in the Church, as in the secular world, to call evil evil and falsehood false. Priests are all-but forbidden from calling each other out on liturgical or moral or doctrinal matters lest they be branded ‘intolerant’ or ‘judgmental.’ Even discounting tales of officially-imposed bullying and cover-ups, any warning signs or smaller infractions on the road to full-blown abuse were not acknowledged and not permitted to be sanctioned because to do so would be intolerant.
This is one principle we desperately need to relearn; that evil does not happen in a vacuum. A man does not one day become a pedophile or commit sexual assault or rape without first having gone down a long line of lesser sins. This is one reason for the Church’s former refusal to tolerate even small, venial sins or minor sexual infractions: because with the wisdom of ages, she knew that it never stops at these things. Now, however, along with the rest of the world we delude ourselves that these things don’t matter and then are shocked when they blow up in our faces.
Nor do I think the lack of doctrinal or liturgical discipline is unrelated. Even if we discount supernatural effects, there is simply the question “we don’t expect them to think like priests or pray like priests; why are we surprised they don’t act like priests?” We put up with heresy, sacrilege, and irreverence from them every single day without a word and then we are shocked to find them abusing their position. Once again, these things don’t happen in a vacuum.
All this is a way of saying that the Church is in this position because so many within her do not actually believe in Christ or want anything to do with Him. They believe in politics, in progress, and in all the other idols of modernity. I don’t say this as a judgment, but as an observation. If the Church is to have a renewal, I’m afraid she can no longer tolerate such members, at least not in the clergy. There needs to be a great cleansing within the Church, not just of those who are guilty of abuse or of aiding it, but of all those those who worship the gods of the marketplace rather than Christ. True, this would leave her a shrunk shell of her current self, but she could recover. She cannot recover as long as she continues to tolerate this kind of hypocrisy among her priests.
As so often happens, the answer is “Repent and Believe in the Gospel.”
More specifically, on some of the responses to her death.
I’m a Detroit native, and for that city the death of Aretha Franklin is as the death of a home-grown President or war hero. She was a major and beloved figure in the city’s history and culture, all the more so because, unlike many of her contemporaries, she continued to make her home there after she made it big. Personally, I don’t have much interest in her music, but that hardly matters; the woman left behind a staggering artistic legacy and brought joy and inspiration to millions, and that counts for a lot.
The trouble, and the reason I’m writing this, is that I keep hearing commenters who seem to think that isn’t enough. They keep trying to talk about how she ‘changed the world’ or ‘changed the complexion of American music and society.’ Meaning no disrespect to her (and I suspect she’d agree with me), but this is nonsense. Black female singers were not at all uncommon or unpopular before Miss Franklin. In terms of breaking down barriers, Marian Anderson, a generation before, was probably much more instrumental than Aretha Franklin.
This is a problem I notice a lot when a major entertainment star dies; people feel the need to insist that their work had a significant social or political impact. That it ‘changed the world’ somehow, rather than simply being an excellent example of the craft. I remember the same thing was done when Prince died: articles about how he ‘changed the world.’
The problem with this is not just that it’s faintly ridiculous, but that it is actually rather insulting to the field of entertainment. It seems to imply that the real purpose of entertainment, the thing that makes it worth celebrating, is the effect it has on the socio-political landscape. Not whether it brings joy or inspiration or comfort to people, but whether it moves the social needle in the preferred direction.
See, to my mind the fact that Aretha Franklin was a fantastically gifted performer whom millions of people loved to listen to is far, far more important than any supposed social impact her music had. The latter will always be dubious at best (how can you possibly say objectively what effect a certain brand of music had on people’s opinions or behavior? Individuals would be hard pressed to definitively say that of their own lives, let alone some armchair commentator speaking about thousands upon thousands of strangers), the former is undeniable. The latter is, when all is said and done, ephemeral: social issues come and go (despite the best efforts of some parties to keep them on life support for as long as possible), but art and music remains. It may not always be as popular, but if it touches hearts in one generation, it will do so for as long as it is remembered. Great entertainment and great art are immortal, or at least much longer lived than socio-political matters.
Moreover, being a singer was her profession; the celebrate the fact that someone did her life’s work so well seems far more to the point than celebrating third-party speculation about how her work may have affected some other issue.
Basically, what I am saying is that entertainment has value independent of and superior to any kind of socio-political effect it may have had. I think most people would agree with me on that, but one would hardly know it from the way we tend to honor the passing of great entertainers. This is part and parcel of our tendency to subordinate all other concerns to the political, causing us to devalue the actual virtues of a artist’s work in a desperate grasp to talk about the same tired issues once more.
In any case, Mrs. Franklin left behind a great body of work that will likely remain beloved for generations to come, which is an enviable legacy. May she rest in peace.
I’m a little late on this, but it’s too good not to share. This is a textbook example of why I despise the whole concept of ‘privilege’ (be it ‘white privilege,’ ‘male privilege,’ or what have you).
To sum up, the incomparable Larry Correia, sci-fi / fantasy author extraordinaire, had been invited to Origins Game Fair as a Guest of Honor, as he’s known as a huge gaming fan and amateur RPG creator, in addition to being a best selling novelist. Shortly after he was invited, someone took to social media to protest that he was racist, sexists, etc. chiefly because he’s an outspoken Libertarian. Origins then immediately caved and disinvited him because of his personal views.
Now, there’s a lot to be said of that, but others have said it better. For here comes the juicy part (fyi, all this comes from Mr. Correia’s blog, but I’ve found him to be pretty honest and upfront in the past, so I feel comfortable citing this as facts. And most of it I’ve verified from other sources).
It turns out that the person who attacked him is the fiancee of a man whose article Mr. Correia fisked several years ago. Here’s the article. Apparently, she considered this as meaning Mr. Correia “personally hurt [her] loved ones” and even refused to link to the article because it was “too painful.”
The really funny thing? A.A. George, who wrote the article that was fisked four years ago and who took it so personally that his fiancee launched this attack, is apparently the son of a billionaire, who went to a high school with a $37,000 yearly tuition. Mr. Correia, meanwhile, grew up poor on a dairy farm in central California, where he went to school at what he describes as a “junior gladiatorial academy.” But Mr. George’s family is from India, while Mr. Correia is of Portuguese extraction, so guess which one is considered to have ‘privilege.’
But it gets better: in the article that was the source of the quarrel (again, from four years ago), this rich son of Indian immigrants was complaining that geek and gamer culture isn’t diverse enough and doesn’t have enough characters who ‘look like him.’ Four years later, he and his fiancee successfully expel the Portuguese author of an award-winning epic fantasy novel where all the characters are…Indian (okay, it’s actually a made-up fantasy culture, but set in a world and culture based off of India).
So, to sum up, Mr. George was so upset by Mr. Correia taking apart his article complaining of lack of ‘people who look like me’ that four years later he tried to sideline and discredit the man who wrote a bestselling book where everybody ‘looked like him,’ and justifies it in part by citing the “privilege” that the son of a dairy farmer had compared to the son of a billionaire.
Social Justice, ladies and gentlemen!
Fitting words both for the day and in relation to my last post: