Sunday, April 16, 2006

Why aren't the Curmudgeons "Easter People"?

I just learned that every year during Holy Week, the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key, features several individuals or groups who are living the Catholic dream, at least as dreamt by the editor of the Catholic Key. I didn't know about it until my friend Orville Dishwater called me yesterday. This is my first year to take the Key, and I hadn't bothered to look at this week's issue yet. (I only just yesterday opened last week's issue, but solely for the purpose of spreading a few sheets of it under a door I was painting).

So anyways, Orville (who knows my true identity, but keeps it in confidence under threat of catapult) calls and starts complaining to me about the fact that I'm not one of Albert de Zutter's "Easter People." Orville says if
some high school kids who sit around drinking fair-trade coffee and repeating "human rights" propaganda generated by leftist organizations that do NOT have a Catholic worldview...if they can be "Easter People," we Curmudgeons ought to be Easter People too!

Perhaps we should. But then again we lack the sort of "passion" that these kids have:
This is about activism in everyday life," Levitt said. "We can't really go around the country and take part in demonstrations, but we can write letters and research issues and communicate what we learned to others. We can share our passion for human rights with others."
All I manage to do is bring home a paycheck, raise kids, stay up too late reading online articles that reinforce my narrow worldview, and blog. Okay. So do a lot of people (except they're watching TV or, perhaps, reading good books instead of surfing and blogging). Perhaps I'm just not emotional enough. Perhaps I'm too busy recognizing distinctions and differences between people:
Brian Noland added that there was also an emotional component to activism. "We associate emotions with humanity," he said. "We should treat everybody the same. I think the prime motivation of human rights activism is to see all people in the same light of love and caring."
Or, most likely, I'm just not open-minded enough, and I'm inclined to take one side of the issue, and advocate it a bit too firmly. I've mentioned secession and the potential of a "hot" culture war erupting from our current losing "cold" war too many times. I haven't opened myself up to the world. I haven't answered God's call to be easygoing and fair (you know, like Pius X called for in his encyclical--I forget the Latin title--on the reconciliation with and implementation of the principles of modernity--what was it called?).
We all come from Catholic high schools and Christian backgrounds," Martin said. "Our protesting is not screaming, cursing and horn honking. Violence in activism depletes its influence. Ours is respectful activism. We listen to both sides of an issue and weigh what we've learned before coming to a decision on our beliefs."
Or maybe I'm just ordering the wrong thing at Starbucks:
She recalled that after the first meeting, the group went to a nearby Starbucks and purchased cups of fair trade coffee. "That's one way of action," she said.
Oh well, on second thought, perhaps they deserved to be Easter People more than me. Perhaps too the baton twirler.

Seriously, I do not bring all this up to make fun of a little girl who twirls her baton better than most, or the poor kids from Rockhurst and Sion who were never taught that there's a difference between the French Enlightenment's "Rights of Man" and Christian charity. It's not their fault that they've grown up in a culture, and in a Church, wherein the priority is first to find something in this world--a hobby, a sport, a person, a cause--that makes oneself happy, and then, second, to find God in it, or impose a generalized air of piety over it. They didn't learn that one is first to know, love and serve God, and second to do his commandment by acting in charity to one's neighbor.

I can't fault them for that, because I grew up in...generally...the same sort of Church and the same sort of culture, wherein the Bishop of my hometown was more interested in protesting a local weapons plant than he was in teaching, sanctifying and governing us as a successor of the Apostles (while many of his priests were....well....nevermind). But for God's Grace in putting the right people in my path at various stages of my life, I might not know any different myself.

But that doesn't mean we can't fault people on the payrolls of diocesan newspapers and supposedly Catholic schools for letting kids get these confused ideas, and for nuturing them, and for reinforcing them by putting them in the paper. And I do. Getting Fair Trade Coffee at Starbucks does nothing in furtherance of Christian charity. NOTHING. Twirling a baton may be a pleasant leisure activity and (depending how one is dressed when doing it) harmless, but it's not an act of piety worthy of newprint--even diocesan newsprint.

C'mon chancery people! Even if blogging into the wee hours doesn't qualify me to be among the "Easter People," I know of a couple who started a Catholic radio station. Why aren't they Easter People? I'm told of another family that hosts scores of people every year for stations of the cross on Good Friday. Why aren't they Easter People? I know of a couple whose efforts and support of a good old priest have kept him in active ministry for more than a decade longer than his peers, and have, indirectly, turned a once-moribund parish on the closing list into a vibrant one in the process. Why aren't they Easter People? There are a few key families that suffered Sullivan's destruction of Christ the King and, instead of writing off the diocese and going over to St. Vincents (as many understandably did), persevered inside the regular structure of the church and held together the indult Latin Mass community on the Missouri side in the face of hostility from bishops and disrespect from their pastors for well over a decade. Why aren't they Easter people? I met a guy who had a high-paying job at a big-shot law firm but he gave it up to work at a non-profit defending religious freedom (you know what I mean--for our side). Why isn't he among the Easter People? What does a coffee-drinking Sion girl and her Rockhurst buddies got over them? What does a baton twirler got over them?

So, Mr. de Zutter, if you're not going to place me among the Easter People, at least look a little harder next year--there are people out there doing some unambiguously Catholic stuff out there who ought to be the sort of folks you want so feature as Easter People.


Anonymous said...

Classic Curmudgeon! Up there with Felt Museum.

Curmudgeon said...

Thanks. Remind me, somebody, how much a Rockhurst or Sion education will set you back?

CS said...

More than a Key subscription.

Anonymous said...

You need to call the Key and suggest some of these people. They're open to ideas. The problem is, people bitch about someone who didn't get mentioned but don't have the foresite to make suggestions. You can't write about someone you don't know about.

Anonymous said...

These schools will cost you about $9,000 a year. I am a graduate of Sion and I have received some press in the diocesean paper for pro-life work. I wasn't a student there when I got the press. I will say this that they don't always portray the most outstanding grads(including me). There is one Sion grad who became a Sister of Charity after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School. Of course, alumni news usually reads, "After vacation in Greece at the Olympics, we attended our sons graduation at Yale. Then we returned to our home in Sunset Hills before our next vacation . . ." I love that article for one reason, it was just so simply "Sion". I'll just always love that place in a weird sort of way. Besides, there is always hope.

Mike G. said...

I had a son graduate Rockhurst H.S. (2003)and a daughter graduate Sion H.S. (2006). If you call the Sion office and listen to the recording, they bill themselves as a "values based education". Not even generic Christian anymore, much less Catholic. Their Catholic identity has been deliberately neutered. They do this to (supposedly) accomodate the many different faiths of the students enrolled there. (Excuse me, but didn't they know this was a Catholic school when they enrolled?)
Rockhurst is quite a bit better than Sion in the Catholic identity department. However, if you're expecting Padre Pio Academy South, forget it. On the positive side, there are many pro-life and more conservative Catholics enrolled at both schools. This point of view is generally suppressed by the faculties, unfortunately.
The Key will continue to showcase the secular-leaning version of Easter People as long as Mr. DeZeuter is still at the helm. I don't want to denigrate his hard work or dedication, but that is his influence coming through in this reporting.