2. Last night, I attended Lemoyne College's annual Loyola Lecture in Syracuse, NY. Given by Mark Massa, a Jesuit theologian from Fordham, its title and theme was: "A More Evangelical Catholicism? Catholic Identity in the 21st Century." I was interested in attending because I know and admire Fr. Jay Scott Newman, a convert and parish priest in the South, whose robust adult-education efforts are combined under the umbrella of what he justly calls The Center for Evangelical Catholicism. (It's right down the road from Bob Jones University.) Two things about Massa's talk turned out to be what I expected, and one turned out to be a delightful surprise.
First, his diagnosis of the American Catholic Church's difficulties in handing on the faith to the young, especially young adults, was devastatingly accurate. Most of Massa's prescriptions were spot on too. I found little I could disagree with, and I hope he publishes the talk soon as an article. It deserves wide circulation.
Second, it soon become evident that Massa is a middle-of-the-road Jesuit, which today means that his theology is too liberal. (He actually thinks the question of women's ordination is and ought to be open. Sigh.) He and Fr. Newman, whose bent is more conservative, would probably disagree about many things. But as I opined in the Q&A, a conversation between them about the nature and necessity of "evangelical" Catholicism would be most interesting. Each of them would probably find it incomprehensible that I agree with both of them about said topic. Such is a very small instance of the ironies with which the Catholic Church in the US abounds.
Third, Massa interlarded his rich material with a number of jokes that elicited a few real belly laughs, from me and others. I needed that. Spreading the joy, here's a sampling:
*** Georgetown University started out aspiring to be the Catholic Harvard. It ended up as the secular Notre Dame.
*** Just sitting at Mass won't make you into a saint any more than just sitting in the garage will make you into a car.
*** When a ding-a-ling gets ordained, what the Church gets is an ordained ding-a-ling.
3. My previous post, "Which contest is worth pissing in?", was premised on a misapprehension. I had thought that the Facebook thread out of which it grew was visible to anybody on the Internet, so that no special difficulty would arise from my bringing the conversation—or at least my part of it—into the blogosphere. That turns out to have been false. The initiator of the original "note" and thread, whom I criticized sharply in my post, had made the note and thread visible only to Facebook members whom he invited to the discussion. He had reasons of his own for doing things that way, and I ran ignorantly roughshod over them. I've already apologized to him privately.
Accordingly, I shall delete the post tomorrow while saving the combox discussion and emailing it to anyone who cares enough about it to request a copy of it. I shall then rewrite the post both to respect people's privacy and to focus more attention on the doctrinal questions raised by "the theology of the body."