DUMBING IT DOWN

Sunday, January 8th, 2012 | Uncategorized

Hey, kids!!  What time is it?!!  It’s the bestest and most funnest time of all!!  It’s time for yet another disgruntled Roman Catholic, in this case, a guy named Jeff DeGraff, to whine about the new Catholic Mass:

Prayers aren’t just words. They are the way we talk with God.

Using words.  Speak in tongues a lot, do you, Jeff?

That’s the brand promise of the universal church — like McDonald’s, it’s the same everywhere. You can attend Mass in an overcrowded parking lot in China where services are in Cantonese and not miss a beat — I’ve done it. All together now — stand, kneel, cross yourself and repeat after me.

“That’s the brand promise of the universal church — like McDonald’s, it’s the same everywhere.”  Apparently, to Jeff, all Christian worship consists of is walking into a big building, reciting a script, doing a little ecclesiastical choreography and heading for the golf course.  But now the Vatican has completely destroyed that.

So Mass is now new and improved but not necessarily the good kind. It’s more like Michael Bolton’s foppish cover of “Georgia on My Mind” (Senator, you’re no Ray Charles) or maybe the introduction of New Coke (Young man, you will drink it and like it). Yes, that’s it — the New Mass as New Coke.

Jeff’s got a point there.  I mean, you hardly see any Catholic churches anymore.  My little hometown of 23,000 people or so(and me) is down to three parishes so I can see why the Vatican would want to get the Roman Catholic Church in the headlines again.  Too bad Vatican PR screwed the pooch so badly on this one.

Thing is, my little hometown of 23,000 people or so(and me) has had three thriving Catholic parishes since before my family moved here in 1956.  And I don’t know, maybe Rome made the changes it did because it wanted to theologically toughen up and get people in the pews to think about the words they say rather than robotically utter them like the Episcopalians do.  If you’ll pardon the redundancy.

In a recent article by former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in The Atlantic entitled “Out of Step with the Flock,” she remarks, “As a woman and a lifelong Catholic, I sometimes marvel that faith can flourish despite the hierarchy’s not infrequent disdain for the faithful.”

By staying true to the word of God.  Okay.

In this case she is specially addressing the treatment of women in regards to issues such as birth control but the sentiment can be aptly applied here more generally as well. Not surprisingly, there have been reprisals on Catholic.net and the like with same message — God doesn’t answer to popular opinion. Sadly, these rebuttals miss the point entirely.

I think you all know where this is going.

The Church doesn’t belong to the Vatican, Cardinals or Bishops. It belongs to the faithful who are capable of interpreting the tenants of their faith for themselves.

Quite right.  Those particular faithful are generally referred to as PROTESTANTS!!  Damn it to hell, you snackeral mappers had damn well better appreciate what I put myself through for you people or so help me…

In short, we didn’t ask for this change to the Mass and from all indicators didn’t want it.

Jeff?  Buddy?  Catholics are exactly the same as everyone else.  If Rome gave them what they wanted, Communion wafers would be replaced by baklava, Communion wine by Jäger shots and you would not only have the right to drill your best friend’s hot wife during the liturgy, you would have the obligation.

Pope John XXIII believed in his people. He convened the Second Vatican Council with representatives from all over the world and all points of view to give the church back to its laity. Funny thing is that when you trust your people they have a tendency to return the favor.

Either that or they have a tendency to turn your church into something that doesn’t believe much of anything, influences nobody at all who can think through their arguments, whose members think that mindlessly performing ceremonies somehow constitutes Christian “worship” and whose spiritually serious members call around to find out when the Orthodox or Southern Baptist services are.  See the experience of the Episcopal Organization since the 1970′s.  Then my man Jeff gives the game away.

Supposedly this was all done in the name of authenticity. If that were true, why not embrace the Jesus Seminar, a group of over one hundred of the world’s foremost biblical scholars who have identified inaccuracies in the liturgy?

Jeff, nobody with a functioning intellect takes the Jesus Seminar seriously.

Why not go back to the original language of the Bible — Hebrew and Greek?

And do what?  Subtitle everything like they did in The Passion of the Christ?

Why not reconcile with the Eastern Orthodox Church which also has a legitimate claim as the original denomination?

Yeah, that little contratemps has only been going on for a thousand years.  Rome’ll polish that baby off tomorrow.

Some Jesuit scholars are now questioning if this new translation is indeed more accurate, but no matter, they are usually ignored and frequently excommunicated for their clever use of facts and their crazy powers of reason. Language is alive and updated with the times to be relevant to our lives — like our beliefs. But these innovations move forward to keep up with us and our emerging needs — not backwards to imagined halcyon days.

The other site I run has a motto.  It’s applied for a different reason there but I think it applies here as well.  “Because Christian worship is not supposed to be about you.”

Liturgically, there’s a danger in giving the laity what it wants.   Because the laity not only doesn’t want God to come near, it’s terrified of Him.  Kierkegaard descibed it thus:

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament. 

Far better then to design a liturgy which lets us think that we are worshipping God but which actually keeps God at a safe distance.

48 Comments to DUMBING IT DOWN

dwstroudmd
January 8, 2012

Et tu, Jeff?

FW Ken
January 8, 2012

A good answer to this doofus :

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/11/restoring-the-words

On the ”frequently” excommunicated Jesuits thing – name a few.

The core error lies here : It belongs to the faithful…

No, the Church belongs to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ed the Roman
January 8, 2012

John XXIII is also the man who, when asked about changing the Roman Canon, replied, “how can I change the Canon? I’m only the Pope.”

Donald R. McClarey
January 8, 2012

Bad enough that the fellow is a heterodox Catholic, but once you also toss into the mix his apparently also being a complete idiot…he fits right in at the Huffington Post!

Amy P.
January 8, 2012

As someone who’s only been a Catholic for just under 7 years, even I see how the changes in the liturgy make it much better.

The prayers are more focused and reverend, and the translations are more faithful to the original Latin, like other languages.

So this is one Catholic who happily welcomes these changes. In fact, I *like* them.

How’s that going to jive with this goofball’s meme?

Fuinseoig
January 8, 2012

I’m sorry, did I fall and hit my head or something? Because surely this man cannot be saying what he seems to be saying, which is that, as a Catholic, he could attend a Mass said in Cantonese and yet still know what was going on, yet a new English translation throws him completely out of kilter.

Isn’t that like complaining that you can’t keep reading “Dick and Jane” books as you progress in school but instead they give you ones with longer sentences, bigger words, no pictures, and expect you to put the time and effort in to understand them?

Fuinseoig
January 8, 2012

I admit it, I’m going for the cheap laugh here, but that “author, thought leader and innovation expert” who is “a Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan” apparently doesn’t know the difference between “tenets” and “tenants” of the faith.

Yes, that’s petty. Yes, that’s nit-picking. Yes, it only confirms my belief, reinforced by exposure to business-speak buzzword jargon, that business guru-types (the ones who write books about empty parachutes coating their missing cheese) and lecturers cannot speak English as the rest of us understand it, and so have to invent neologisms and perpetrate barbarisms upon the language for want of the vocabulary to express themselves.

And just to kick a man when he’s down – if that’s a picture of his local parish church, good God, it’s ugly. I shudder to think what the interior is like, if the exterior is so reminiscent of a Borg cube trying to camouflage itself as Lego blocks.

Dave Wells
January 8, 2012

The only good thing about the article on Huff Post is the generally faithful, orthodox comments taking Mr. DeGraff to task. As a former Episcopalian, I am absolutely delighted with the new translation of the Mass!

Dale Matson
January 8, 2012

What? The Kennedys are not the norm and standard of conduct? Who do I turn to now? She’d make a great Piskie.

Fuinseoig
January 8, 2012

“Why not reconcile with the Eastern Orthodox Church which also has a legitimate claim as the original denomination?”

Be delighted to see that happen, Jeff.

But as regards universal liturgical languages, the Eastern churches also have them. Church Slavonic, Jeff? Koine Greek – it’s only now that they’re translating into Demotic Greek for Scriptures and liturgy?

I am surprised that Jeff did not mention that recently, Pope Benedict has been conducting the papal liturgies of the Novus Ordo Christmas and New Year’s and Epiphany Masses in Latin. Gasp, shock, horror! How’s that for going backwards? And how’s that for, when you have a congregation in St. Peter’s that has people from all over the world (including the cardinals), that a Latin Mass means everyone is equally befuddled and in the same boat when it comes to needing a translation, regardless of whether it’s to be turned into English or Cantonese?

:-)

Mark
January 8, 2012

“Why not reconcile with the Eastern Orthodox Church which also has a legitimate claim as the original denomination?”

Why, obviously, because the pope is a petty tyrant who hates women and sex. What other possible explanation could there be?

Maureen
January 8, 2012

Happy laypeople don’t count. We’re not the right kind of laypeople.

Bill2
January 8, 2012

Reminds of all the “inclusive” Piskies who want to run you out of town on a rail if you even suggest using the 1928 Prayerbook liturgy.

Damian G.
January 9, 2012

What the HELL is an “innovation expert”, and what credentials does one have to address Catholic liturgical studies?!

Daniel Muller
January 9, 2012

You can attend Mass in an overcrowded parking lot in China where services are in Cantonese and not miss a beat — I’ve done it. All together now — stand, kneel, cross yourself and repeat after me.

What a bizarre argument as the Chinese have been using the “new” translation for the last forty years. Unless he is fluent in Cantonese (or some other foreign language), the new English translation is his big chance to find out at last what he was hearing on that occasion.

Even though I have yet to attend a Mass in English this church year, I am very thankful that I know that I will never have to listen to those rotten translations ever again. (The new translation is like a dream come true to this layman.) In turn, I am hopeful that attending a Mass in some muttered foreign language or rushed Latin will be simpler as I will have already heard a reasonable facsimile in English for once.

Daniel Muller
January 9, 2012

Oops. I just realized that I have attended Mass in English this year … according to the Book of Divine Worship. Which did have a word changed and a phrase deleted due to the new translation. Nunquam reformatus quia nunquam deformatus.

FW Ken
January 9, 2012

On the “script” thing:

A friend told me about attending a Vietnamese Mass and she could follow along in general because the structure and ordinary prayers are uniform. Myself, I’ve only attended a Mass in Spanish, but I found it really nice to not have to attend with my mind so much, and just let my heart worship. I wouldn’t want to do it regularly, since the proper readings and prayers should be available in the vernacular. But I get the idea.

Plus, a fixed liturgy is something to cling to when my own spiritual life is in tatters. Because, as CJ notes, it’s not about me. Heck, it’s not even about “us”, except that together we form the Body of the Son of God, whose Spirit offers prayer and praise to the Father in our worship. Mass – and all Christian worship – is a Trinitarian grace into which we poor sinners are invited, for our happiness and our salvation.

Sinner
January 9, 2012

The Church doesn’t belong to the Vatican, Cardinals or Bishops. It belongs to GOD

of course, liberals don’t actually believe in GOD – whatever they may say.

Pope John XXIII is routinely understood as the worst and most heretical man ever to wear the robes — that’s including Pope Joan and the Borgias!

We praise GOD daily that Benedict quickly undoing every single heresy introduced by that most despicable of “Popes”.

Arnold
January 9, 2012

I lived in Austria and Germany for 13 years and can attest that they had the correct German translation way back in the 1970s already. English was the only major language group that had a banal and incorrect translation almost from the start. I say ‘almost’ because the initial translation included elements of the more traditional wording before the second attempt eliminated it. One thing I have noticed with the new translation (not “new Mass”) is that we are ‘forced’ to listen more carefully to the words the priest speaks. The new translation of the Roman Canon is particularly beautiful

Michael Berry
January 9, 2012

Having read the new translation, It’s very much like the Anglican/Episcopal 1979 BCP Rite I or the 1928 BCP. Any orthodox and liturgically savvy Episcopalian would feel rite [sic] at home.

I really like the placement of the confession which is up front in the liturgy of the word rather than at the end.

Obviously the usual things that world bother Protestants are there, but it is a Roman Catholic Mass; and quite frankly, considering the heresies that the Episcopal Church (and the Jesus Seminar folks) have come out with, I don’t find them all that objectionable.

I would much rather argue transubstantiation and the immaculate conception, than whether Jesus is the Son of God, or the virgin birth or anything that Spong has written.

Katherine
January 9, 2012

Fuinseoig, I was also impressed by DeGraff’s ability to understand the people who rent within his church. Understanding one’s tenants is so important. I would say DeGraff needs an editor except that there’s no guarantee a modern journalism major working at a media outlet would understand the difference between “tenet” and “tenant” either.

Perhaps someday he will understand that the words he’s been repeating for decades in English masses in American churches weren’t words that meant quite the same as the words people in other languages were repeating at the same point in the mass. Words do mean something. He may have learned the wrong lessons.

midwestnorwegian
January 9, 2012

Some think, “why don’t these people just join the Episcopagans or Lutherans”?

It isn’t about that.

It is about pulling down EVERY single Christian denomination.

Because, this isn’t God “doing a new thing”. It’s Satan – doing a very old thing. And faithful Christians need to just say that out loud.

godescalc
January 9, 2012

Arnold – “and can attest that they had the correct German translation way back in the 1970s already. English was the only major language group that had a banal and incorrect translation almost from the start…”

Mass in German still says “for all” (für alle) instead of “for many”, or did the last time I went to church in Germany (half a year ago). (Slovak was the same till they tweaked the liturgy a year or two back.) Otherwise, the German translation was closer than the English one.

Zach Frey
January 9, 2012

I am pretty confidence that any discussion of whether English was out of step with the other vernacular Mass translations would be lost on DeGraff — clearly, English is the only translation that matters!

In short, we didn’t ask for this change to the Mass and from all indicators didn’t want it.

The irony here (no doubt lost on DeGraff) is that, by this standard, dropping the vernacular like a bombshell onto parishioners who were used to the Latin Mass and weren’t asking for a change should be an even worse offense. Somehow, I don’t think he will follow the logic in that direction…

peace,
Zach

Therese Z
January 9, 2012

am surprised that Jeff did not mention that recently, Pope Benedict has been conducting the papal liturgies of the Novus Ordo Christmas and New Year’s and Epiphany Masses in Latin.

That’s because he doesn’t KNOW. Watch EWTN? I doubt he even knows he has the channel. To be fair, I doubt if 80% of my parish knows it either, but they’re not writing whiny articles.

I love the changes, especially having the roof re-appear in the prayer “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” And I am interested in watching our grumpy, non-engaged, non-pastoral pastor. He is reallllllly interested in the new language; he is fully engaged by necessity and also I hope by devotion when he reads his way through one of the special collects and antiphons for the season.

[...] time, I’ll refer to a non-Catholic doing the fisk of a late malcontent, Jeff DeGraff, here: http://themcj.com/?p=27553 In short, we didn’t ask for this change to the Mass and from all indicators didn’t want [...]

The Little Myrmidon
January 9, 2012

“Supposedly this was all done in the name of authenticity.”

Jeff, You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Upstate
January 9, 2012

Let me interpret this for undergrads:
This Jeff guy: “la la la…me and John XXIII, best buds, la la la I love Vatican II…revise everything…la la la…”

MCJ in HONEY BADGER mode: OH NO YOU DON’T!!!! I TAKE WHAT I WANT!!! nom, nom, nom…

Fuinseoig
January 9, 2012

Frequently excommunicated Jesuits? Not frequently enough!

Okay, that’s unfair to the Jesuits in general, but it does irresistably remind me of the following joke:

A Capuchin dies and goes to heaven, humbly knocks on the door, and is let in without any fanfare. One day, a long time later, he notices lots of commotion. Flowers are arranged, all the candles are lit, and a red carpet is rolled out. He asks an angel what’s going on, and is told that they are preparing to welcome a Jesuit into heaven. Perplexed, he asks St. Peter, “I always thought there would be justice and equality in heaven, with no one receiving preferential treatment. Why are you going to such great lengths to welcome a Jesuit, whereas you hardly took any notice of me when I arrived?” St. Peter tells him in reply, “Don’t you see? Another Capuchin enters heaven almost every week, but you can’t imagine how long it’s been since we welcomed the last Jesuit up here!”

Sinner – Pope John XXIII died just as Vatican II was getting underway. This means that he can conveniently be used by the “Spirit of Vatican II” crowd, since he convened the Council and did want to reform much of the tradition which, in fairness, needed an overhaul – however, since we have no idea what he would have decided had he lived to the end of the Council and thereafter, and how he would have (for instance) dealt with questions such as liberalising the use of birth control (that Pope Paul VI dealt with in “Humanae Vitae”), the liberals can console themselves with the fantasy that had he lived, all their wishes and dreams would have come true.

You might as well say that had Pope John Paul I lived, all their wishes and dreams would come true. It’s easy to hang your doctrines on a dead man who can’t contradict you. I don’t think John XXIII would have gone as crazy as the progressives think and I know that you’re only stirring the pot when you talk about “the worst and most heretical man ever to wear the robes”. Believe me, we’ve had quite a few to contend for that crown (as I found out when I did a quick gallop through the history of the Papacy for a guest post on a post-evangelical, all kinds of Protestant, Catholic and others blog).

Oh, and Pope Joan (1) never existed (2) wasn’t a man, either.

:-)

Fuinseoig
January 9, 2012

Katherine – indeed, as we can see with the situation between Trinity Wall Street and the Occupy movement, proper understanding of one’s churchly tenants is vital to prevent these kinds of awkward and embarrassing miscommunications.

Kathy C
January 9, 2012

Pope Joan is so much wishful thinking. The best thing was her being revealed a woman when she gave birth during some huge procession. That’s in the same class as a standard bodice-ripper. Funny stuff!

Katherine
January 9, 2012

Fuinseoig, that made me laugh! Although I think it’s improper to call Occupy “tenants” since there’s little evidence they’re paying rent, or paying for anything else. They seem to be all take and no give.

FW Ken
January 9, 2012

If Pope Joan did exist, it would only mean that the Chair of Peter was vacant for a period of time. It’s not much of a scandal when you get down to it. Although we have been blessed with a century of good popes, that has not always been true. The Holy Spirit protects the Church from essential error in matters of faith and morals, not from foolish and wicked leaders.

Did anyone catch the Decoded episode recently shown on The ”History” Channel? It claimed that John Paul I was murdered because he was going to reform the corrupt Vatican (”the Vatican has always been corrupt), particularly the Vatican Bank. Of course, the bank did have problems that were addressed, so if that was the reason for the murder, it was a waste.

Katherine
January 9, 2012

I know people, otherwise pleasant and apparently sensible on many issues, who believe Dan Brown’s novels are based on fact. They probably watch the History Channel, too.

Arnold
January 9, 2012

Katherine, I had a Greek Orthodox colleague whose GO wife was really into the Da Vinci Code. I offered to lend her a book I had from Catholic Answers about the lies and misstatements in the book and mentioned that to the husband. He told me the next day that she had no interest in reading something debunking Brown’s book. I was so tempted to say something to him about closed minds but decided against it for discretion’s sake.

Fr Theodore
January 9, 2012

Something that caught my attention was the implication that Mr DeGraff first encountered the new translation of the Mass at Christmas. Did he not attend any services during the four weeks of Advent? Does he actually attend services more than a few times year?

Allen Lewis
January 9, 2012

“…It belongs to the faithful who are capable of interpreting the tenants of their faith for themselves.”

It really lowers your profundity when you misuse words, Jeff. “Tenants???” How about “Tenets?”

By the way, Jeffy-poo, The Church belongs to Jesus, the Christ of God. He is the Head of the Body.

I think Jeff needs a refresher course. What is the Catholic acronym for the adult confirmation class where they study the catechism and all?

Katherine
January 9, 2012

Arnold, when my older daughter read the da Vinci Code nonsense, her our other daughter, a literature major, showed her the page with the copyright, ISBN, etc. It says clearly, “This is a book of fiction. Any resemblance between characters and events in this book and actual fact is purely coincidental,” or some similar statement. She handed the book back and said, “Anything which comes after this page is FICTION. FICTION.” It worked. Older daughter enjoyed the book and didn’t take it seriously.

Paula Loughlin
January 9, 2012

Yeah,yeah, yeah, Jeff. Suck it up, cupcake.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
January 9, 2012

Pope John XXIII is routinely understood as the worst and most heretical man ever to wear the robes…

Especially given your reference to “Pope” Joan and the Borgias, I assume this is John XXIII the first, (Baldasare Cossa) anti-pope from the 15th century and not Angelo Roncalli who the Church has declared “blessed.”

FW Ken
January 9, 2012

That was GOOD, WTF!! REALLY good!

;-)

Daniel Muller
January 9, 2012

What is the Catholic acronym for the adult confirmation class where they study the catechism and all?

That would be the RCIA: Rite of Christian Initation for Adults. Especially for those adults who need to be baptized, but also for adults who may need to be confirmed, e.g., converts. In many if not most places, inquirers who are only kicking religious tires at the moment are welcome as well.

The young fogey
January 10, 2012

Good takedown, Chris.

Regarding the Orthodox, I don’t believe for a second that this jerk cares about or even likes them. Because if he tried to force his kind of service on them, they’d kick his ass. Literally.

Orthodoxy logically should be an embarrassment to people like him. No Pope to blame yet they’re not liberal or Protestant.

If Pope Benedict’s improved English for the Novus Ordo makes him cry, he’d really hate the Divine Liturgy.

Like one reason these jackholes don’t become Episcopalians is the Episcopalians worship too much like us, thanks to 19th-century Anglo-Catholicism. Thomas Day explained their aversion to high church. Can you imagine these old liberal priests and nuns having Mass with kneeling Communion at an altar rail, Anglican chant, facing east and wearing maniples? Me neither.

John XXIII isn’t the character the liberals created. Right, because he died early on in the council, they’ve claimed he agreed with them. Nice, nice man. The real Pope John ordered stepping up teaching Latin in seminaries and told religious orders not to ordain homosexuals.

SouthCoast
January 10, 2012

Sounds as if Our Author finally showed up at Mass, discovered he didn’t know a couple of words, and suffered a bad case of prickly anguish at being thus exposed as ignorant in public (since, of course, the entire attention of those also attending was focussed with fascination on him). (I also wonder if he is one of those I have come across who do not like the proper translation of “Credo”, as it now forces them to actually commit to a personal belief.)

Michal
January 10, 2012

Re The DaVinci Code: always seemed a ripoff of an earlier book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail…at the end of the latter the whole scam was exposed for what it was. And yet, I’ve known a grad student who had a tattoo, supposedly based on something in The DaVinci Code book, who was utterly serious about it. She had been reared a Roman Catholic. Invincible ignorance?

Re John XXIII: My favorite story about him is that after he became Pope someone who had known him as a military chaplain met him and immediately knelt to kiss his ring. At which Pope John helped the man to his feet and said, “Officers shouldn’t kneel to a mere sergeant.” Seems he was a lovely man with a sense of proportion.

SouthCoast
January 10, 2012

I believe there may have been a lawsuit, or threat thereof, over the DaVinci Code’s extreme family resemblance to Holy Blood, Holy Grail. (I’ve read neither, myself.)

Elaine S.
January 11, 2012

“The DaVinci Code: always seemed a ripoff of an earlier book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail…”

I always thought of “Code” more as a sort of ripoff of Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” and “Foucault’s Pendulum.”

Kelso
January 11, 2012

You know, this whole furor over the new translation could be squelched by going back to Latin for all services!

After all, used to be you could attend ANY mass ANYWHERE in the WORLD and understand everything perfectly.

But that’s a sensible approach, so no dice.

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