Wednesday, July 24

Valiant sisters around the globe:

In China, nun detained for teaching catechism class

and

In India, an Ursuline sister arrested for facilitating the conversion of 94 from Hinduism.

Meanwhile, back in the US, Sister Sandi Monroe has just finished up her two-week summer course on "Was Mary an 4? Meeting the Women of the Bible through the Prism of the Enneagram" and is hurriedly packing up to return to from campus to her own apartment, because if she doesn't beat the rush hour traffic back home, she might miss her appointment at the hairdresser's.

From Zenit: How the Pope is spending his time on Strawberry Island
Well, they've appointed all but one of the members to the bishops' board. Here's the list.

Leon Panetta?

Fark had a link to this police blotter story because of the first item relating a couple's fight over a Mountain Dew. I found almost every item on the list so strange, though, that I really did think this was an Onion type of deal, and what pushed me even closer is the title of the minister's sermon listed in the events listing at the end.

But I don't think it's satire. I think it's serious. It's Tennessee.

I can say that because I lived there, you know.

One of the experiences that has prompted my "why bother" train of thought was seeing, several months ago, Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens on C-Span. In that interview, Hitchens explained his atheism/non-Christianity (whatever he isn't) in something like the following words:

A man was executed 2,000 years ago in Palestine. I have no responsiblity for that event and it has nothing to do with me...

Thanks to reader Ken who sends along this Atlantic interview with Garry Wills
Peter Nixon has posted good, lengthy thoughts on the "why bother?" question
An interview with Peter Gumpel, SJ, the man in charge of writing the brief on Pius XII's canonization.

As it happens, Fr Gumpel is not only an academic expert on this period: he was also a first-hand witness of it. Now aged 78, he remembers as a boy of ten watching his grandfather, a close personal friend of Field Marshal Hindenburg, turn white with anger when he heard that the German president had appointed Hitler chancellor. ‘Hindenburg promised me he would never do this!’ said the grandfather. The old man and one of Gumpel’s cousins were subsequently shot by the Nazis, and the same fate would have befallen Gumpel and his mother if the Nazis had caught them hiding a former socialist minister in their apartment near the Kurfürstendamm.

Dreher on the Pope in Canada
From yesterday's WaPost: Left Behind series has sold 35 million copies.

Here's my take on the series.

Or...does it all come down to Hell?

The threat of eternal damnation played an enormous role in past thinking and acting on these questions of evangelization and mission. Isn't the hesitancy to evangelize partly rooted in our sense that since the nice agnostic down the street seems content and in some ways is probably a better person than we are, we probably don't have much to offer him, so let's leave him alone and let him reach eternal life his own way?

(Remember - I'm trying to paint a picture here, with the ultimate goal of reaching an answer.)

Best comments on the Web, that's what I've got. Here's a sample:

Ever since the conversion of Constantine, missionary work was done by a materially superior culture bringing its faith to materially inferior cultures. Missionaries had the dual function of evangelizing and civilizing. Now the most advanced civilization the world has abandoned its Christian faith, and has its very material success to prove that it did the right thing. We Christians are closer to the Church of the first three centuries than we are to anything since, in terms of evangelism. For the first time in 1700 years, we must bring our message to an advanced, and therefore self-satisfied culture. How did the Church convert the Roman Empire? By living as if the world and its glories were worth nothing compared to the kingdom of God; and by martyrdom. Finally, why should the Church evangelize? The King commands it.

NY Post gossip columnist Neal Travis does some reporting on former Bishop McCarthy

I'm told that McCarthy flew to Washington, D.C., Monday for a closed-door meeting with the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo. The popular McCarthy emerged from the session reeling in disbelief at what the pope's representatives told him. I understand Montalvo directed McCarthy to "leave the New York area . . . sell your house in Dutchess County . . . find a bishop who will take you in . . . but you can never again say Mass publicly . . . and you will remain 'in supervision' for the rest of your priestly life." Others who know of this conversation say it's a virtual "death sentence" on McCarthy and that the Papal Nuncio is clearly echoing Egan's line in the controversy. Many believe that the rigid Egan wants the protégés of the late John Cardinal O'Connor (of whom McCarthy was one of the most prominent) out of his hair. Egan would clearly like me and Gannett's White Plains newspaper, the Journal News, out of his hair as well. I'm told that the other day the cardinal left a blistering message on McCarthy's voice mail: "How dare you! If you and your friends think this will help you - forget it! This is all rubbish! I'm outraged that you and Eileen White [she was O'Connor's chief of staff] would leak these things."

Lotsa he said - she said - he said here, and a distinct underreporting of McCarthy's situation (Travis said it in involved one woman, other reports say...more than one over the years), but intriguing, nonetheless.

If you're not in the habit already, check out the Touchstone blog. Interesting stuff.
I hope you're reading all the comments on what's becoming known as my "why bother?" blog below.

A quick read-through, however, fails to yield an answer to this, the fundamental question I guess I was asking. And I guess the answer isn't there because I didn't pose it so explicitly:

How do you evangelize a culture that doesn't think it needs evangelizing?

Of course, that could be said for any culture that Christianity has ever encountered, except for one intriguing difference: the culture doesn't think it needs the Christian message because it thinks it's already basically Christian, as it understands Christianity.

And if this is the case, could it be possible that they're right? That they don't need it?

And finally, how does a Church that's talked itself out of the missionary imperative evangelize? And why?

So which is it?

Frail Pontiff arrives in Toronto...

Robust Pope arrives in Canada

or...Ailing Pope arrives in Canada

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