Believers and Deceivers. The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could. Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy. The problem is rather distress. Distress is the product of frustration and repeated disappointment.
Disappointment has been around a long time, and all the way up the food chain. Imagine Moses’ disappointment. He leaves his brother Aaron in charge while he attends a summit conference with God and receives the Ten Commandments. Returning, he finds Israel in anarchy, idolatry and unspeakable perversion. Where’s Aaron? Leading the rebellion! When Moses needs him most, Aaron fails him miserably.Hence, the disappointed have always had good company. Or perhaps misery just enjoys like-minded company.
All shuffle round in circles
Their placards look the same
With a picture and a name
Of the ones who broke their hearts
All congregate at my house
Their voices sob with grief
That they want to be chief
Of the tribe with broken hearts
Once, I had no sympathy
For those destroyed and thrown away by love
Seems, your ring upon my finger
Signifies that I’ve become the spokesman of…
The Pope in Britain.A bit of a crash landing. Applause has been luke warm to middling, but not ecstatic.The ambivalence took shape in 1558 when Elizabeth I succeeded the notorious Mary, and that Tudor succession marked a definitive resolution of which way Britain would go in the Reformation era. The subsequent telling of the tale also indicated how British culture would develop: History would assign the two queens the names Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen. The British crown would for centuries be anti-Roman Catholic, on their home turf,even if more tolerant abroad…as long as tribute was paid.
…Will bear me on their shoulders
To a secret shadow land
Where a sombre marching band
Plays a tune for broken hearts
And day grows darker now
Are coming in their millions
They’re spilling from the bus
At a monument to us
Made of bits of broken heart
Are growing every second
They blot the sun to black
At the bottom of the pack
I’m the king of broken hearts (XTC, Andy Partridge )
The Pope met the head of the world’s Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in London. Relations between their two churches are said to have been strained ever since the Vatican unveiled plans to make it easier for dissident Anglicans to become Catholics, moving towards the Morman gambit of baptising dead souls and bringing them posthumously into the flock. Friday’s was seen as a gesture of reconciliation, as was the pope’s appearance at Westminster Abbey, Britain’s Anglican Cathedral.
Sir Thomas More, philosopher, writer and personal advisor to King Henry VIII. Henry was the king who split the English Church from the Vatican 500 years ago because it refused him permission to get a divorce. On friday, Benedict was on the same spot where More was tried for refusing to accept Henry as head of England’s church – a stance that cost More his head.
Jun 6, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- The Catholic League is demanding that an image of Pope Benedict XVI surrounded by swastikas be removed from a Florida art exhibit at the Broward Art Guild. The New York-based national organization argues that the piece should be removed because it is offensive to Catholics. The league says the action would be justified since another art piece considered offensive to homosexuals had been previously removed.
Catholic League president William Donohue said he was alerted to the issues regarding the art exhibit, called Controversy, May 31.The Sun Sentinel had reported May 27 that one of the artists, Michael Friedman, had complained to Mary Becht, director of the Broward County Department of Cultural Affairs, about an entry by Alfred Phillips, depicting President George Bush being sodomized.
Becht agreed and told the guild’s director, Susan Buzzi, to move it to “a less prominent space within the gallery.”It was subsequently “set near a corner of the gallery facing the wall.”“The irony,” said Donohue, “is that Friedman’s own contribution was allowed to stand: it shows Pope Benedict XVI surrounded by swastikas.”
The secular cheerleaders – Richard Dawkins, Geoffrey Robertson and their fellow non-believers – have suggested that the Queen, having invited Benedict, should have her constabulary arrest him as a sort of grand finale to the sexual abuse scandal. To the dismay of many, it didn’t happen. Perhaps diplomatic immunity. But, in mainstream British opinion there is no shortage of voices clamouring against even the idea of a state visit for a pope, and perhaps particularly this pope. Some of that reflects persistent and ignoble bits of British history, in which neither Catholics nor Germans are regarded kindly, so a German pope is doubly offensive.
The hostility that many British are voicing toward Pope Benedict XVI has surprised church officials in Rome, perhaps by its tone of football partisanship ; the first formal state visit to Great Britain by a reigning pontiff is seen as treating A.C. Milan at Wembly as the hated outsider. The four-day papal visit, has prompted negative reactions by far exceeding anything the Pope has encountered when traveling even to non-Christian countries such as Turkey or Israel. The protests have ranged from the mean-spirited and the tasteless to the vehemently ideological. Does he get what he deserves? And does the Lord indeed move in mysterious ways?
Is there an aesthetic component to theological disappointment? The two have to be connected to the nature and substance of beauty, both real, objective and perceived. Its origins, at some point, have to be rooted in the error; fallcy of repearted attempts, make that assault by the clergy themselves of a campaign of humanizing God; a banal patronization that dilutes and neuters the scope and power of the dynamic.This has to be the source of the theme of aesthetic disappointment.
There are, of course, many ways that we could be disappointed aesthetically speaking. The sort of aesthetic disappointment of interest involves the sudden and irreversible loss of aesthetic interest in and appreciation of a given object or event due to the discovery that what we had formerly admired is not the kind of thing that we had taken it to be.Illusion or outright fraud in presentation. It is precisely the kind of disappointment that, for Danto,or Kant, might occur if one were to discover that a much admired artwork had been replaced by its identical twin from the world of ordinary objects. Perhaps gravity pulls everything down into the world of the mundane.
Thinkers like Kant and Danto are actually much closer in their accounts of aesthetic disappointment, and thus aesthetic appreciation, than one would initially suppose. From Danto, we learn that our aesthetic response to art is deeply conceptual in ways that our aesthetic response to mere objects is not. From Kant, we learn, through his elucidation of two cases of aesthetic disappointment that full appreciation of natural beauty crucially presupposes the capacity to view natural beauty “as if it were nature’s art.” Read in light of Danto’s discussion of the crucial differences between appreciating art and appreciating beauty, Kant’s treatment of cases of aesthetic disappointment in The Critique of the Power of Judgment yields rich insights into what it means to appreciate the beauty of nature once one is cognitively prepared to interpret something as a work of art. the prosaic aesthetic of religion, devoid of the poetic has perverted any aesthetic of spirituality that would be ambiguous enough, yet coherent and comprehensive enough to side step this man-made morass of disappointment. The result is a transfiguration of the commonplace which a vulgar and grotesque concoction, which as much resemblance as Frankenstein would have to a ballet dancer.
“In May, the Clergy Health Initiative, a seven-year study that Duke University began in 2007, published the first results of a continuing survey of 1,726 Methodist ministers in North Carolina. Compared with neighbors in their census tracts, the ministers reported significantly higher rates of arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. Obesity was 10 percent more prevalent in the clergy group.
The results echoed recent internal surveys by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which found that 69 percent of its ministers reported being overweight, 64 percent having high blood pressure and 13 percent taking antidepressants. A 2005 survey of clergy by the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church also took special note of a quadrupling in the number of people leaving the profession during the first five years of ministry, compared with the 1970s. ( Paul Vitello. N.Y. Times )
…At the bottom of the scale, the cost of the visit — an estimated 10 million pounds (about 15.4 million U.S. dollars) to British taxpayers — has generated repeated complaints, although such protests are never heard when other heads of state come to Britain.More seriously, a controversy arose in April after the leak of a joke memo that a junior Foreign Office official had written suggesting that the Pope should bless a gay marriage and open an abortion clinic as part of his official program.The government offered an apology to the Holy See, but the prank betrayed the sort of ignorant contempt that passes for cleverness in the corridors of power in Britain.
The National Secular Society, an atheist lobby group, has submitted to the government a petition against the papal tour and will demonstrate against the pontiff during the visit. The group’s opinions are quoted widely and even promoted in the British press whenever the papal visit is discussed.Is the papacy an easy target? The society’s protests against Islam, by contrast, seem limited to campaigning against the ritual slaughter of animals, perhaps due to fear of Fatwa’s and holy wars. Worst of all have been the vocal antics of those who say they want to put the Pope behind bars. Professor Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, the evolutionary scientist and militant atheist whose book “The God Delusion” sold millions, has stated that he would try to stage a citizen’s arrest of the Pope.
Together with human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, Dawkins claims the Pope bears guilt for the child abuse scandal. A week before the papal visit, Robertson published a book arguing that Benedict should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and explaining why he believes the Pope cannot claim sovereign immunity. And on Monday, just days before the Pope’s plane was to touch down in Edinburgh, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was given an hour on prime-time television to attack the Pope, the visit, and Catholicism generally in the most simplistic, ignorant, and virulent terms. Indeed, so bad-tempered has been the mood in Britain surrounding the visit that the British ambassador to the Holy See felt compelled to suggest in August that it is better for the Pope to generate hostility than indifference.
But why would there be such enmity in a Christian country when there was none from a Muslim or a Jewish one? The fact that these attacks come from people who are already discredited has done nothing to stem their resonance. Tatchell attacks the Pope over the child abuse scandal, but he himself defended sexual relations between adults and children as young as nine in a letter to The Guardian in 1997.
Robertson, meanwhile, was sacked from his post as president of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2004 because he refused to withdraw as judge in a case whose defendants he had proclaimed guilty in one of his books. But he continues to pose as an authority on the law and due process. On the contrary, the outpouring of anti-Catholic feeling has put British Catholics so far on the defensive that many of them now think their opponents are perhaps at least partly right.
Britain has become one of the most virulently anti-Christian countries in the world. After a few decades in which the traditional anti-Catholic prejudices fell into abeyance, the basic anti-popish reflexes of an ancient Protestant nation have come back with a vengeance, spurred on by ideological attacks on the only Christian church that seems to stand for anything at all. The Anglicans, meanwhile, having been mired in their own internal problems for years.
ADDENDUM. Elizabeth Lev:
“…congratulating France for what seemed like a successfully completed revolution. The hated King had been brought to heel, and change had swept through an oppressed nation, offering hope for a brighter future under better government. Newspapers, then coming into their own, proclaimed the dawn of a new era of peace and prosperity while proto-pundits compared the change of rule to England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688.
One observer however, English statesman Edmund Burke, wasn’t fooled by the triumphant images produced by revolutionary PR teams; he saw gathering clouds for the darkest storm yet. His first clue that the Revolution had yet to run its course? The sustained hostile attacks on the Catholic clergy. After the National Assembly diminished the authority of Louis XVI in 1789, anti-monarchical literature dwindled, but fierce accusations against Catholic clergy for misdeeds past and present increased. Isolated cases of clerical immorality were magnified to make depravity appear endemic to the entire priesthood (ironically, in an age where sexual libertinism was running rampant). The French propagandists labored night and day, dredging the past for old scandals whether decades or even centuries distant.
In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790, Burke, a Protestant, asked the French, “From the general style of late publications of all sorts, one would be led to believe that your clergy in France were a sort of monsters, a horrible composition of superstition, ignorance, sloth, fraud, avarice and tyranny. But is this true?” What would Edmund Burke make of the headlines of the past few weeks, as stories of a clerical sex abuser in Germany a quarter century ago, made front page headlines and top TV stories in US news? What would he think of the insistent attempts to tie this sex abuser to the Roman pontiff himself through the most tenuous of links?
In 1790, Burke answered his own question with these words: “It is not with much credulity I listen to any when they speak evil of those whom they are going to plunder. I rather suspect that vices are feigned or exaggerated when profit is looked for in their punishment.” As he wrote these words, the French revolutionaries were readying for the mass confiscation of Church lands. As the present sales of church property to pay settlements swell the coffers of contingent-fee lawyers and real estate speculators, one has to credit Burke for a profound and historical sense of human nature.
The salacious reporting on clerical sex abuse ( as if it were limited to only Roman Catholic clergy) has been given a prominence greater than the massacres of Christians happening right now in India and Iraq. Moreover, the term “clerical sex abuse” is often misleadingly equated with “pedophilia” to whip up even more public outrage. It doesn’t take the political acumen of an Edmund Burke to wonder why the Catholic Church has been singled out for this treatment. While no one denies the wrongdoing and the harm caused by a small minority of priests, their misconduct has been used to undermine the reputations of the overwhelming majority of clergy who live holy quiet lives in their parishes, tending to their flocks…
First time I heard of moral panic and it is a good one from a Cohen. Your observation of burnout is relevant for the times. Perhaps Moses had a moral panic, but he was alone. Ha, ha, ha, except for those of the House of Levi that were totally cool headed. It was a good combination against Aaron and the people of Israel.
Why would there be moral panic from ministers got me curious. Nice one, Dave.
thanks so much! You brought up the point about the Cohanin which is interesting. There is this conflict that has never be reconciled between the two houses, and its implications are profound; elitism etc. also the matter of death in particular, the value of life, aesthetics and so on. Best, Dave.
Dave, Glad you have the issue on the Cohen. Has this been a problem from neglect of Jewry in America and in Britain? On the two houses of Davidiy, I do not know where to place the tribe of Judah from his book. :) Though I do not find problems about rites of return, or perhaps I am not abreast on the latest.
Do you think the actions of the Brooklyn rabbi and Teitel really that widespread amongst rabbis and the Cohanim? Say, something unique to them and their perceived identity as from the tribe of Levi?
No, i don’t think it is widespread; the link between religion, money and madness is somewhat intriguing however. The Cohanin and the House of levi yes. an eternal opposition. where do you think the goth movement came from? You always pose amazing questions that frame complex issues not brought to people’s attention. I think all faiths have this division as well as a “lost tribe” issue and complex, which ultimately is that necessary third way.