Gabriel Garnica
Fifty shades of Catholics ....and counting
By Gabriel Garnica
August 23, 2012

At first glance, one might think that any title linking the brainless smut Fifty Shades of Grey with Catholicism is at least contradictory and at worst blasphemous. However, upon a brief, closer inspection and reflection, one receives the sad news that the association is all too accurate and every bit as tragic as one could imagine.

First, the popularity of Fifty Shades, first among so-called elites, then the mainstream media, and finally among housewives, college coeds, and teenage girls, reflects the superficiality, emptiness, diluted moral character, warped personal responsibility, twisted view of relationships, and pathetic hypocrisy so characteristic of this society. After all, we live in a society where legalized abortion is championed as an answer against the objectification, patronization, abuse, and subversion of women yet, that very society, without nary a pause, swoons and fawns about a novel which glorifies those very same evils under the myth that their stench is sweetened by the notion that the relationship is "consensual." There is something inherently sad and twisted about the notion that mistreating a woman is acceptable if she has convinced herself that she is ok with that abuse, much less has been sufficiently convinced, or brainwashed, of that illusion.

Apparently, the phrase "fifty shades of grey" means accepting, embracing, and even becoming enticed and excited about uncertainty. While an entirely predictable existence may not necessarily be the stuff of dreams, uncertainty as an intriguing target and a positive trait for any human endeavor is a questionable, if not dangerous, motive. In fact, one often-cited rule of postmodernist philosophy is the notion that "if you cannot beat them, confuse them." Nowhere is this attack strategy more evident than in the present Catholic Church, especially as it exists in this nation.

It is clear that we are witnessing a climactic and far-reaching modernist schism of Catholicism spurred by three players. The first player, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is alternately negligent and complicit in promoting a diluted, confused, appeasing, cowardly and, ultimately, destructively feeble defense of traditional Catholic teaching. Dissident groups such as the American Catholic Council, Catholics for Choice, Dignity, New Ways Ministry, Pax Christi, Voice of the Faithful, the Women's Ordination Conference, Call to Action, and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, all liberal front groups, are all too happy to fill the void left by the increasingly lax or blurred USCCB.

The second player in this schism is the liberal mainstream media, which spares no opportunity to depict traditional Catholic teaching as intolerant, hypocritical, and even dangerous and the Catholic Church as an abuse factory despite evidence of the Church's good work and findings showing that there are other organizations with equal, and even greater, incidents of abuse. The mainstream media's desire to bring the Catholic Church to its knees so as to transform it into a liberal, social arm of the political Left is as obvious as its increasingly shredded public image and disrespect for the truth free of any fawning bias. The only thing more pathetic than the mainstream media's obvious Left bias is it's even more ridiculous denials of same.

The third player in this schism is the present American president, who has shown at every angle and in every opportunity that he is no friend of the Catholic Church. One would have to be living under two rocks to be unaware of the myriad of ways that the present Administration ignores, mocks, patronizes, or even attacks Catholic teaching. There is a clear strategy to subvert and divide Catholicism by elevating, appointing, and publicizing favor with, dissident individuals and groups who openly revolt against and seek to destroy the Church's traditional teaching. This mutualistic relationship legitimizes dissidents in the eyes of the faithful while depicting the Administration as acceptable to Catholic leadership. From being allowed to speak at dissident Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame to the HHS Mandate mess, this president has taken every opportunity to cloud the waters of his relationship with true Catholic teaching.

It is precisely for this reason that any action which could conceivably further confuse the faithful, or send the wrong message, is an ill-conceived action. We are dealing with an Administration whose philosophical and historical roots stem from Saul Alinsky, a man who relished using dissident factions of the Chicago Catholic Church to legitimize his socialist and political moves. The old-time, award-winning comedian Red Buttons turned the idea that "the most famous people in history never got a dinner" into a classic comedy routine. While the upcoming Al Smith dinner is not being held in honor of President Obama, it might as well be, for the president will cultivate nearly as much political and public relations gold, and further confuse Catholic voters enough, to feel pretty fortunate for being invited. This president has had no problem breaking traditions such as not mentioning the Divine Birth at Christmas, referring to Christ as "a good man" and not the "Son of God," not attending the National Day of Prayer, and not saluting Medal of Honor recipients. Considering the present climate of disrespect for religious liberty and traditional Catholic teaching promoted by this president, a refusal to invite Obama would have been a bold, and significant, public stand against his actions sending a clear message to undecided Catholic voters.

Some of my fair-minded, well-intentioned Catholic friends, many of them optimistic faithful seeking to take the higher road, have suggested that Cardinal Dolan's invitation of the president is a noble, perhaps even shrewd, maneuver designed to ultimately sway the undecided to the Church's side, etch the present Catholic leadership in the pages of history as the more reasonable and open side, or some other positive effort. Certainly the Church has a history of reaching out to those who oppose or disagree with its teaching in an effort to instill the seeds of future success through present, open dialogue. One need only see the efforts of St. Paul to instruct through openness to change.

However, I regret to say that my fair-minded Catholic friends have failed to grasp a very critical yet clear distinction in the actions and words of Christ relevant to this debate. Simply put, Jesus dined with sinners and tax collectors to convert them privately, by reaching their hearts. It is as naïve to think that Dolan is dining with the president to convert him as it is to believe, even for a moment, that this dinner is anything resembling a private opportunity to reach the heart of an opponent. It is likewise naïve, even delusional, to think that the president is merely seeing this dinner as a chance to enjoy a nice meal. He knows very well the history of this affair, and how being photographed smiling with Dolan can only help him win even more confused Catholic votes.

Regardless of Dolan's intentions, his actions will only serve to perpetuate the kind of diluted and destructive inconsistency which has turned the USCCB into a running joke which warns one day and winks the next. Despite his interior reasons, inviting the Catholic Church's primary enemy to dinner weeks before this critical election when that foe marches daily against traditional Catholic teaching shielded by an army of dissidents is precisely the wrong thing to do at precisely the wrong moment.

Christ reached out to souls privately, and fought to uphold God's teaching publicly. He knew the power of personal persuasion and public perception. Every action Jesus took had a logical purpose, and was intended to bring souls closer to God, not send them into greater confusion. The same Divine Hand that reached out to others, even opponents, in fraternity, also threw out the moneychangers when public disapproval was necessary to make things perfectly clear. Jesus did not dine with the moneychangers because they were manipulating religious association for profit in addition to disrespecting God. John The Baptist did not speak out against Herod and his wife only to dine and smile with them afterward. Catholic charity is one thing; Catholic confusion is quite another. It would be one thing if Dolan were dining privately with the president. At least his efforts to reach out would not be as easily manipulated to subvert the very Church he purports to be representing. Publicly dining and smiling with the very man whose mandate he claims to oppose is a gift-wrapped political and public relations favor by Dolan to a master manipulator trained in turning photo-ops with clerics into political and social points by the works of Saul Alinsky, who did it better than anyone.

Fifty seems to be a popular number in America these days. We start, of course, with the fifty states representing the greatest nation this world has ever seen at a critical crossroads. We have over fifty percent of Catholics incredibly, inexplicably, yet predictably, poised to vote Obama into office again. We have a literary and moral piece of trash glorifying confusion called Fifty Shades of Grey illustrating just how distorted this society's values have become. Lastly, we have fifty shades of Catholics demonstrating that the present Catholic Church is already in schism, and an ill-conceived dinner invitation reminding us of why at least half of those shades of Catholics will be confused enough to vote for a man holding darts in front of a Catholic Church bullseye. Anyone who does not think that the one who will benefit most from this dinner invitation is precisely the same man who has most attacked the Catholic Church over the past four years probably expects President Obama to gleefully accept a similar invitation and photo op to sing God Bless America with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

© Gabriel Garnica


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