Is hypocrisy really worse than a moral vacuum? How valorizing the morally vacuous hurts people.

It took a week for the memorializing and eulogizing of infamous Playboy mag founder It's only creepy if he's poorHugh Heffner to be interrupted by another Entertainment mogul scandal.

On a personal note, I cannot write about Heffner unreferential to the gruesome monster lurking in my bedroom closet: The stack of decades old Playboy magazines perched out of the reach of my childish arms. As a 17 year old, trying to have some peace of mind, I demanded my dad remove his firehazard collection of Playboys from the closet in my bedroom. My childhood bedroom was the replacement to my dad’s mancave, one that was never properly transformed. When my dad agreed to let me dump every last one of them, my mom tearfully thanked me. Playboy caused me anguish, and likely caused my mom unimaginable pain as my dad listlessly kept them hidden away at home.

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Movies about Saints my way

Temptation

Salvador Dali’s Temptation of St Anthony

With the Golden Globes finished, and the Academy Awards around the corner, I wanted to publish this long overdue. I often find Catholic Saints film a bore. For fifth grade catechesis, maybe, but not much for inspiration in my faith. For Greater Glory & There Be Dragons pushed the Action and Intrigue. They attempted to make Saint stories suitable for Big Budget / Big Screen Cinema. In 2014, we had Biblical epics picked up by Directors who may have been atheists. The Gospel According to St Matthew, directed by atheist, marxist, homosexual Pasolini, is on the Vatican’s list of top faith films.

While many Catholics dream of big budget, suround sound, 3-D, nationally screened Saint films, I wonder what could be lost. Some saints might get their action sequences. Most saints are dealing with interior dilemmas that just cannot be communicated in the same manner as Big Budget / Big Screen Cinema. You might have to talk to directors who have dealt with smaller scale, intimate portrayals, accompanied by character development. On the one hand, you might limit the audience. On the other hand you might reach an audience (that wouldn’t waste their time on a cheesy sentimental saint film) for an intelligent, thoughtful, artfully crafted film experience around a particular saint.

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iWorship and the Analogical v Dialectic Imagination

judgmentOne time I went on a rant about iWorship. I saw the thing come up in my Google Play store. I just threw up my arms as another indication of how evangelical christian culture has for decades recycled pop culture gimmicks in order to create a family friendly bubble.

I am referring to all the media, music, books & tshirts which take an item, image, slogan, or idea in pop culture, and spin it for Jesus. While rebranding something as Christian, or Jesus, they will take the exact graphic design, color scheme, or jingle to “give God the Glory!

Nearly 2 decades ago, an LA-area rap group LPG (for living proof of grace), would spend time rapping at non-Christian venues. They went to open mics, and had a lot of street cred. On one of their records, they made the claim that you shame God with lousy art. Being prophetic while maintaining street cred, I imagine it would be difficult to gain a foothold in either the pop culture entertainment industry or the Christian media industry which had become pop culture’s hapless wannabe fangirl.

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Sisterhood, Reality TV about young discerners

Be sure to check out the show on LifeTime: mylifetime.com/shows/the-sisterhood-becoming-nuns

Be sure to check out the show on LifeTime: mylifetime.com/shows/the-sisterhood-becoming-nuns

The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns is a reality show on Lifetime candidly chronicling 5 20-something women discerning a call to Religious Life. I joined the Augustinians in my early 20’s, and thought I could attest to the validity of what these women go through in the course of the series. However, there were only two noticeable differences that I will comment on briefly. However, instead of commenting overall what seems true for almost anyone, I would rather comment on what I have related to in one way or another discussing each of the Sisters, and what they are going through.

“God or the Girl” Reality Show about Priesthood Discerners?

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“Christian Rap is cowardly disobedience.” How Reformed Theology will inherently see Christian Rap more problematic than Catholic Theology.

Several Reformed Christian Preachers/Pastors/Leaders engaged the validity of Christian Rap as a vehicle to evangelize. Every single one of these leaders found Christian Rap very problematic, and they quoted Scripture to justify their opinion. Reformed Theology, compared to Catholic Theology, often believes that they have a duty to be intrinsically antagonistic toward “the world.” On the flipside Catholics might look at their relationship with “the world” with more complexity & subtlety:

The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.

(Guadiem et Spes 1)

So, while a Reformed minded theologian/Christian might see the travails of a contemporary culture as intrinsically evil, or a cause for grief, a Catholic minded theologian would see the same travails as an opportunity:

To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. Some of the main features of the modern world can be sketched as follows…

Influenced by such a variety of complexities, many of our contemporaries are kept from accurately identifying permanent values and adjusting them properly to fresh discoveries. As a result, buffeted between hope and anxiety and pressing one another with questions about the present course of events, they are burdened down with uneasiness. This same course of events leads men to look for answers; indeed, it forces them to do so.

(Guadiem et spes 4)

Hence, the opportunity.

I do not mean to reduce Reformed Theology (as if they have no sense of Pastoral Care & Response, which they do), and I recognize the controversy that this video has caused (despite the apparent panel agreement that Christian Rap is inherently problematic), that among Reform Christian is some kind of disagreement. Further, the panelists have also publicly apologized, and do feel somewhat embarrassed at their broad-brushed statements. In the same way, I could imagine that intelligent Catholics might find Christian/Catholic Rap inherently problematic.

However, were a panel discussion like this to happen in a Catholic scenario, among Catholic leaders, I couldn’t imagine it happening the same way.

Now, in regard to the actual panel, and the issue that they engaged: WORSHIP.

I have said before that Hip Hop is not appropriate Liturgical Music, not merely because it is not “reverent,” but precisely because Hip Hop has a lot more to do with proclamation than with worship. For a lot of the popular so-called Christian Rappers, they often make some sort of Hip Hop Worship song of Praise to God. Many of the Hip Hop artists that I like that are Christian, never create songs that are meant to be used as Prayers, Praise or Worship.

Hip Hop has always been about “dropping science” (which is another term for imparting knowledge and wisdom) or exposing social issues of injustice that receive no credence in most media outlets. What most people think (particularly the first man on the panel), is that Rap is about Rappers. Hip Hop is a culture about elements & expression, but is much broader than rappers rapping about themselves. A lot of emcees rap about much more than themselves.

Measuring this against the Christian tradition, Hip Hop would seem to have a lot more to do with the Prophetic Office (proclamation) than with the Priestly Office (worship). Christ holds both of these offices, and through him so does every Baptized follower of him. But because everyone holds all of these offices does not necessitate that the functions of these offices are interchangeable. Perhaps, in certain circumstances they are not interchangeable.

Therefore, in my own expression, even though I am an ordained Priest, I am also an ordained Prophet. Since I am ordained to proclaim I rap. I do not need to incorporate hip hop into worship or liturgy, except, in certain circumstances, in the Proclamation.

There might be some Catholics that do not see it this way. Some that would feel that Hip Hop could be appropriate for the Liturgy. I might wonder if they have an insufficient comprehension of Hip Hop culture as much about Catholic Liturgy. In fact, I could imagine that Catholics who would be most supportive of hip hop could easily be white people over the age of sixty, who are happy to give themselves a round of applause about how diverse & modern they are, while their grandkids would probably be rolling their eyes at how gimmicky the whole enterprise is.

NYTimes op-ed has a piece The Flight from Conversation by Sherry Turkle. Here’s
some of her point:

In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being
in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough
of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we
can control: not too close, not too far, just right. I think of it as a
Goldilocks effect.

Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the
self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can
delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much,
not too little — just right.

Human relationships are rich; they’re
messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with
technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this.
But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that
over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.

We
are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to
a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook,
all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and
friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for
conversation.

We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite
is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely.
If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be
lonely.

I remember after Facebook for a year, it seemed everybody who met and
had a conversation had to add each other on Facebook. It seemed reasonable
if I can assume to see the person regularly that adding eachother on FB
made sense. But I realized I was more concerned with people on FB halfway
across the country, while ignoring my next door neighbor, my classmate, and
everyone else. It was easier to pretend the world in front of me was
irrelevant than the allegedly self-affirming text message from somebody
that never reached the real depths of real affirmation.

The piece also introduces the idea that we flee to social media in order
to escape or cure loneliness. Loneliness is incurable really. In some way,
we are all alone, and we have to learn how to be ourselves alone, without
having the incessant need to hover from one shallow interaction to the
next. I know it sounds cliche, but we need to accept ourselves first.

Obviously, she does not address prayer and meditation, which are
activities that we can cultivate our alone-ness. I believe that some people
are called to be single, and some called to be celibate, to disclose the
fact that we as humans are all born, and all die alone. You won’t whither
into a eccentric geriatric merely by balancing your rich conversational
socializing with deeper richer genuine alone-ness.

shallow social network connection in exchange for rich conversation

My thoughts on Nicki Minaj Grammy performance, and why she sucks on being a bada–

This year, I intended to watch the Grammy’s, if at least to point out some of the strange absurdities in our culture that become glorified at the Grammy’s. Somehow, maybe, I feel like I can be a decent hero to alarm the readers on my blog. It may not be much, as if anybody with common sense can scratch their head at some silly Katy Perry or Drake garbage. The Grammy’s, over the past several years, have been less about rewarding talented musicians for their achievements, and have been transformed into an ostentatious showcase of entertainment industry elitists. Well to be honest, at the very least, I refused to watch the Grammy’s in much of my youth, because they have always consistently ignored some great talent within the Hip Hop world.

Instead, because of some work sucking up much of my time last night, missing half of the show, I decided to just watch Midnight In Paris instead. Oh, I had a good time.

Then comes Nicki Minaj, who knows how to draw out the most reviling of reactions among many of my Catholic twitter comrades. Some people were crying the greatest and most insulting blasphemous stage performance, or heretical anything period. I do not mean to minimize or defend her in any way, if you get to the end of the post you will find something that goes beyond me being insulted. If anything, many of the comments only brought me undue curiosity. Was she desecrating the Eucharist or the Sacraments? Was she insulting the Liturgy and turning into something banal, or a prime time sex fest? I mean, any kind of outrageous recasting of our Sacraments would have probably caused me to throw the television off the roof.

Nicki Minaj, not a fan, I will be up front. She has some flow, but her lyrics have absolutely no substance or content. She sells not merely on sex appeal, she sells out principally to an entertainment industry that is principally interested in exploiting negative images of black youth for profit. Nicki Minaj is not a solo independent phenomenon, she is mindlessly and uncreatively recycled tool of music industry interests. She, as a musician or rapper, or whatever, lacks any inherent value, or lasting meaning to what matters to things like Music, or specifically Hip Hop Culture. I have not been able to listen to her, not just because of her lack of sincerity, originality, or substance, but also because of the way that she perpetuates the sexual objectification of girls.

When I pulled it up on youtube, I think there is a deeper problem, and I think it might be the way in which I am interpreting it all.

1. Nicki Minaj is not a Catholic, and although I cannot easily excuse her merely for ignoring something valuable to us as Catholics, it is difficult for me to believe that Nicki Minaj even has the depth of comprehension to know what reverence is, or what The Sacred is and what attitudes that would naturally humanely evoke. No, she is not merely ignorant, she is too spiritually inept. It does make me wonder, why does she select all sorts of Catholic symbols, and what does she believe that she is doing with it as a result? She constantly takes up Barbie things, and plastic materialistic things, but here is a world of symbols and things that she probably saw on an exorcism movie that she wants to manipulate into something.

2. I also ask, what it is that I should be offended by in this the most. Is exorcism a sacred thing, well it is not like the Sacraments. I don’t think something as serious as demonic possession should be a spectacle to be laughed at, although sadly we see it turned into a spectacle all over. What I find very troubling, is that she dresses a man like a Bishop, and walks him down as her date. What I find even more troubling, is that identifies herself with the possessed person, or with the devil himself. It skews notions of good and evil, and gives more credit or sympathy towards evil then necessary.

3. So Nicki Minaj is really trying to convey that she is a Bad A— B——. She thinks, that by showing herself outwitting the Church which is allegedly some powerful organization. She thinks, that she succeeds by being daring, courageous, bold, rebellious, and well bada— that she can get away with it. Is it really bada—? Really? Not in the least. If she were so bad, why is that it has the absolute support of the entire entertainment industry, that will put together a crew of 20 something dancers, that will choregraph a show with all kinds of special effects, and pull out all the stops? I mean, is she really controversial? Absolutely not. If she has no trouble putting this kind of spectacle at the biggest national televised music event of the year, then it only goes to show that she is a mouthpiece for the tired and sad entertainment industry, to whose interests she cannot be seperated from. Why is it, if she was so bad, that it gets such preferential treatment. Imagine if she tried to do a song exposing the problem of sex trafficking of young girls, and then that song or performance would likely get halted, that might be controversial, it would indict the entertainment industry in their complicity. I mean, there are plenty of messages that could get the entertainment industry in a hissy fit. Insulting and degrading the Church is not one of them. Nicki Minaj, has showcased her exceeding failure to prove how rebellious, bold, or that she is even a Bad A— B——. She is merely a sad, unoriginal, uncreative, unsubstantial, insincere tool of entertainment industry interests. Nicki Minaj not only sucks at rapping, she severely sucks at being bada—.