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Friday, June 16, 2006 

Re-introduction of "traditionalist" language in Catholic Mass part of larger assult

Growing up under eight years of Clinton rather thoroughly destroyed many of my social democratic leanings. Likewise, growing up Catholic, and under the iron first of Karol Wojtila (aka John Paul II) deeply scared my spirituality.

Needless to say, I am not a Sunday regular anymore. Refusing to name and pray for fictitious, as-yet un-conceived fetuses began me on the path that the COINTELPROesque persecutions Wojtila and his head of the Inquisition Karl Ratzinger visited upon radicals especially in the global South effectively closed off. Ratzinger continues Wojtila's assault on post-Vatican II reforms, much like Bush is allowed to further gut social programs thanks to eight years of Clintonite neo-liberalism. Today's New York Times reports on one such major victory for Catholic "traditionalists" in the so-called "liturgy wars."

I have said before that growing up Catholic was in many ways the most politicizing force in my life. The Church has never been an enlightening institution, but during mid-highschool years, while I refused to participate in the "mini-nationalisms" of high school sports spectating, my religious dogma was of extreme personal importance. I rejected many aspects of family life, and since they made me go to Mass, Mass sucked. But this had little or nothing to do with respect for God, and certainly not for the Church.

I should further clarify what I mean by "most politicizing." When I was in the 11th grade, I was exposed to Liberation Theology. It blew my mind. Without it my current political outlook could have never been cultivated. I was as Propogandhi called it, a pre-teen McCarthyist all the way. Somewhere there is a very poorly written anti-communist diatribe I did for my 10th grade world history class.

But the writings, homilies, lives and deaths of Gustavo Gutierrez, Camilo Torres (¡presente!) and Óscar Romero (¡presente!) fundamentally changed this. As I struggled through translated academic theology I felt moved, inspired and ultimately won-over to a mission of justice. I read Howard Zinn's a People's History of the U.S. that same year and I knew without a doubt that I was a radical, that there was an enemy, and that it had a name.

When my novice CCD (Catholic Sunday School) instructor couldn't win theological arguements with me, and I began convincing some fellow CCD students to read a ragged 1984 copy of Gutierrez's We Drink From Our Own Wells another CCD instructor (and Opus Dei member) met with me to explain this books "Marxist message." That was the first time I ever considered that I might be a Marxist.

The more research I did on the subject, the more open I found myself to ideas of armed struggle and Marxism (Marxism-Leninism in particular). Seeing this OSPAAAL poster (and in the process seeing hundreds of other examples of Cuban made solidarity art) solidified this outlook. Religious dogma, like all class ideas, represent the views of a certain class defined by certain historical experiences. To fully understand the decision to re-install even more out of touch language into the Catholic Mass can only be correctly understood in such a context.

Now listen, you who are rich, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived in luxury upon the earth and have gone in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocents, who were not opposing you.
James 5:1-6

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