Michael O. Garvey
Michael O. Garvey works in public relations at the University of Notre Dame.
By this author
Over at Our Sunday Visitor, my friend Greg Erlandson has posted a thought-provoking column, entitled Parish the Thought, which raises the question of where one should go to Mass: One’s geographical parish, or a parish where one is “comfortable.”
Mark Oppenheimer’s piece in today’s New York Times, about a Tennessee judge who has forbidden his parents to name a baby boy “Messiah,” reminds me of how agreeable it was to think that whenever my favorite atheist, the late Christopher Hitchens, signed a check or autographed a book about how religion poisoned everything, he was, whether he wanted to or not, extolling the privilege of a human being to bear C
A recent National Catholic Reporter editorial applauds Pope Francis’s apparent predilection for moral teaching which includes “the human application with all its messiness.” This was conspicuously registered in those off-the-cuff remarks to the press on the papal plane’s Brazil-Rome return flight. ("If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?")
I am certainly among those Catholics who tend to gush about what some religion writers are now calling “the Francis Effect,” and who make much of our new Pope’s evident distaste for baroque vestments, Prada shoes, and ecclesiastical bling; his evident preference for clerical work clothes to pontifical regalia, a casually hospitable residence to the opulent papal apartment, and a four-door Ford Focus to an exotically accessorized Mercedes Benz. All these splendid chops have been on worldwide display during his visit to Brazil, and we haven’t seen the last of them.
In one of his early poems William Butler Yeats memorably denounces those “old, learned, respectable bald heads” that “edit and annotate the lines that young men, tossing on their beds, rhymed out in love’s despair.” But if it weren’t for such boring old scholars, most of us would never have read that poem and perhaps never have heard of Yeats. Academics—the poor, slow unimaginative creatures—have always been an easy target, and Yeats was being as fatuous and unfair as, well, an academic, when he took potshots at them.
The late Hunter S. Thompson once arrestingly remarked that crack cocaine had ruined the drug culture. Television and corporate capitalism have similarly affected American vulgarity, which has become so depressingly homogenized that dwarf-tossing contests can find franchises and even the tattoos all seem to be copyrighted. American yokeldom has gone to the dogs. And to the reality TV shows.
I’m only an infrequent viewer of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), founded by Mother Angelica, because it is carried on cable television, which our household doesn’t have.
Here in my part of the country, northern Indiana, there once lived a nomadic tribe of ten thousand people. They descended, or so it was thought, from southeastern Native Americans, escaped African slaves, and Irish and Scottish apprentice workers. They came up from Kentucky in the eighteenth century, roamed the Midwest during the nineteenth century, and settled in the Indianapolis area by the beginning of the twentieth.