Sophomoric is defined as suggestive of or resembling the traditional sophomore; intellectually pretentious, overconfident, conceited, etc., but immature. This can describe Donald Trump who now has so influenced his other rivals that they are imitating him. I suspect, too, since Donald Trump is an actual reality show star but now on steroids as a presidential candidate, that he is influencing scores of other people in society, to include the young and vulnerable, to act like he acts. All of this does not bode will for America and our popular and actual culture. We will continue to spiral down into a culture of corruption and narcissism if not anarchy.
Reality TV which is cheap to produce but in a highly competitive entertainment world that now goes way beyond the four major networks and the traditional television set, we see the perfect storm for the destruction of human maturity but worse yet society's morality or mores if we want to remain secular in our use of terms.
Secularism use to have its own morality based upon our Judeo-Christian heritage. You could see it in the television of the 1950's and early 60's. Shows like Andy Griffith had a strong story line that often had a moral point that was uplifting. But in no way would television shows intentionally make fun of or denigrate the faith of people, whatever that faith was, although extremes might have been shown in dramas, but never comedy. Well intentioned humor might have been used in comedy routines.
Dramas which would depict vile behavior never showed extreme violence, blood and gore. Much was left to the imagination. The same would be true of sexual immorality or acts, nothing explicit was shown although adults watching new what was implied.
Even soap operas were respectful of moral boundaries in terms of how these shows were viewed and bad guys were clearly understood as bad guys, immoral or off the wall. Immorality wasn't glorified but was associated with being the villain.
Television and other medias now portray immorality in a delicious way and as winning. Losers are those who are prim and proper, those who are religious and portrayed as self-righteous or bigoted because of their religious beliefs. Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular are villanized and denigrated.
And now with the blurring of private lives of actors with their media shows, reality TV blurs reality and fiction although many of the reality shows are contrived but one has the feeling that what is depicted truly depicts the lives of the so-called stars.
In a world where so many people no longer practice any form of religion, Catholic or otherwise, most people get their sense of morality and their desire to imitate others not from religion or the lives of the saints but from the cult of celebrity. What else accounts for the success of so many shows that depend on what celebrities think and say?
And now on to the presidential campaign. Usually politics is ugly. But I think all of us can agree what we are seeing in the Republican candidates takes the cake.
And it is all fueled by the 24 hour a day news channels who have made the news, be it serious or obnoxious, into reality TV for the purpose of ratings and making money for the networks.
And on the very real level of our lives, look at how people use Facebook and the other social communication venues to castigate, denigrate and gossip about others. Look at the language that is used that would cause a sailor to blush.
What does this say about us as we become more and more caricatures of human beings, more plastic than real?
How do Catholics, lay Catholics in particular, take seriously the Second Vatican Council's mandate that the laity bring their Catholic faith, especially our morality, our understanding of good works, to the very places that the laity have the most profound influence, at home, at work and at play, in other words in the public square such as politics and influencing others in a positive with with an authentic Catholic witness?
The churchiness that we have so emphasized for the past 50 years, meaning involving the laity in the institutional structures of the Church and her liturgy has eclipsed what the laity actually should be doing, not churchified ministries and work, but what they should be doing in the real world.
How can we recover civility and maturity in our lives and in the public square, on the internet and elsewhere. Is it possible to be a light set on a hill or are we covering our light with a bushel basket of sophomoric behavior?
"How do Catholics, lay Catholics in particular, take seriously the Second Vatican Council's mandate that the laity bring their Catholic faith, especially our morality, our understanding of good works, to the very places that the laity have the most profound influence, at home, at work and at play, in other words in the public square such as politics and influencing others in a positive with with an authentic Catholic witness?"
Is that are serious question? In the last 50 years Catholic liturgy has collapsed, Catholic religious life has collapsed, Catholic education has collapsed. All Catholicity has been removed by the hierarchy, from abstaining from meat on all Fridays of the year to women covering their heads in church (because sacred things are veiled, it isn't bringing women down but acknowledging the magnificence of the feminine), to reverence in church, to the holy habit of religious life. Everything has been stripped away. What is left. Instead of a priest reverently offering Mass on Sunday we are often confronted with a repressed stand up Vegas comic. And now we are faced with a pope who is openly speaking about things contrary to the faith such as contraception and remaining silent as another country falls victim to the gay "marriage" hoax. Italy of all places. And you wonder why?!
“Every nation gets the government it deserves;” (Alt) “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”
-- Joseph de Maistre (1811)
The point of Vatican II was to encourage and empower the laity to flood out into the secular world and convert it.
Not to spend their lives squabbling over the inside of the church building and fighting useless, pointless, endlessly petty little wars over the liturgy while utterly abandoning the secular world to the devil.
STUPID. Utterly, totally, predictably STUPID. But then, we are called "sheep" and most people are - as the election in 2008 and 2012 shows us - basically emotional animals who flatter ourselves with being rational but by and large are motivated by appetites and urges, lusts, and pride of life.
You don't get the problems humanity faces by having too many Spock-like rationalists. You get these problems from slavery to sin which is slavery not to reason but to irrationality. Slavery to animalistic, self-desctructive urges *otherwise called "temptations".
We should have left the liturgy alone and focused all our attention on evangelization. Instead we waste 50 years hyperbolically de-constructing the liturgy and fighting over how to "accompany" our sexual revolutionaries without warning them of hellfire.... and not taking the pains to actually convert the post-war secular world.
At this late date we need to re-sacralize the liturgy AND re-catechize 3 generations of Catholics, despite low grade civil-wars among our theological schools, and facing the twin monsters of hedonistic secular materialism AND resurgent and confident (and demographically young) radical Islam. Hammer and anvil...and we're in between.
The Lord promised us the cross and ultimately His presence with us in this life and the next if we follow Him as either white or red martyrs (i.e. "witnesses").
We will be either persecuted via social, economic, and/or political means for what we say and do and live....or we will be hunted and shot for the same. There's no permanent truce with the world, flesh, and devil.
So be prepared to join the seemingly all powerful forces of Mordor or Isengard... or resist them unto seemingly certain death.
Me and my house, we choose the Lord. War is coming gentlemen - no matter who wins this little election of ours.
The Republican debate last Thursday was an embarrassment---Trump, Rubio and Cruz engaging in a verbal food fight. Trump has greatly lowered the decorum of discourse this year with his foul-mouthed and often outrageous statements. And this past weekend, he had no idea who David Duke of KKK fame---or infamy---was? In contrast, John Kasich stuck to the issues in the civil (if long-winded) tone. He has my vote today in the Georgia primary. Of course neither of the two Democratic candidates should be acceptable to Catholics or anyone else concerned with the moral decay of our country; the Democratic party has long been the party of "anything goes" and hostility to conservative religious practices and tradition.
1. The media's influence is overpowering. Most of us, myself included, have failed in some way by allowing the media to have too much influence in our lives. Obviously, if we take our faith seriously Someone Else should have the most influence in how we conduct ourselves and how we spend our time.
2. Donald Trump, love him or hate him, is a symptom of where we are politically and, frankly, I'm surprised that the Democrats haven't raised up their own "outsider" candidate. People of both parties are beyond fatigued with the careerists in Washington and the sense that they simply don't hear us. Yes, Trump can be vulgar, abrasive and even obnoxious at times, but at least he's real. His manner stands in direct opposition to the airbrushed, pre-packaged, focus-group tested messages career politicians use. I think many voters find that refreshing and are willing to accept Trump as-is, warts and all, because he expresses the deep-seated frustration too many citizens feel. I am not excusing some of his antics, but simply explaining them.
3. I have four daughters. I was able to homeschool one all the way through high school and she is doing honors level work at a small Catholic college. Circumstances have forced me to send my younger daughters to my local Catholic school. Before they went to this school and were homeschooled, they never made jokes about gastric accidents and other childish things and they largely were ignorant of pop culture. Since attending this Catholic school, they now constantly make crass jokes about body functions and have placed me as fighting a losing battle as they become pop culture junkies. As long as our institutions remain compromised, what they produce will be compromised.
Robert - you hit the nail on the head. "pop culture junkies". That's it! The secular hedonistic, materialistic Disney/pornification culture makes no apologies for being overtly about making converts, consumers, life-long devotees.... it is self-confident and strident and takes nothing for granted in keeping up a constant barrage of morality tales hyping all awesomely fun being a hedonist is and how boring and bland being Catholic will be....and we wonder why the youth abandon Christ and His Church?
Meanwhile we trip over ourselves and apologize for being Catholic! The secular world pushes transgenderism and open sodomy CLUBS in our GRADE schools and we're hushed and embarrassed to mention Eucharistic adoration. See, Catholicism is "weird" but boys pretending to be girls and sodomy - why, that's a-OK.
It's not even controversial to note in passing that Obama was at one time a member of the New Party (which was and is a Socialist party) or that Hillary has the Communist Party endorsement. The COMMUNIST PARTY. But no, let's hyperventilate about how Trump or Cruz are going to be Hitler for the 21st century (despite not being for genocide, ethnic cleansing, or gun control).
The Muslims and the secular pop culture are TRUE BELIEVERS. They are confident and act like it. But we? We're afraid of our own shadow and so won't defend our faith much less argue for it with others - so as to not "offend"! Does any OTHER culture hamstring themselves with concerns about 'offending'? Do the Hispanics jettison their culture so as to not offend or scare gringos? No! Every minority but Catholics are allowed to glory in their quirky 'diversity'.... every minority is given serious faced honor for their 'differences'.
It's easier to join Mordor or Isengard. It's much harder to stand and fight them.
"For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains." 1 Timothy 6:10
Rerum Novarum (1891): "That the spirit of revolutionary change, which has long been disturbing the nations of the world, should have passed beyond the sphere of politics and made its influence felt in the cognate sphere of practical economics is not surprising. The elements of the conflict now raging are unmistakable, in the vast expansion of industrial pursuits and the marvelous discoveries of science; in the changed relations between masters and workmen; in the enormous fortunes of some few individuals, and the utter poverty of the masses; in the increased self-reliance and closer mutual combination of the working classes; as also, finally, in the prevailing moral degeneracy. The momentous gravity of the state of things now obtaining fills every mind with painful apprehension; wise men are discussing it; practical men are proposing schemes; popular meetings, legislatures, and rulers of nations are all busied with it -- actually there is no question which has taken a deeper hold on the public mind."
"Media" bears some share of the responsibility, but I think there is a much more corrosive influence that underlies our social ills. We have come to idolize money and possessions. Although they are temporary, they demand more and more of our attention, our resources, and, ultimately, our souls.
Friedrich Nietzsche, seeing what Leo XIII was seeing, wrote in 1911: "What indices one man to use false weights, another to set his house on fire after having insured it for more than its value, while three-fourths of our upper classes indulge in legalized fraud...what gives rise to all of this? It is not real want - for their existence is by no means precarious...but they are urged on day and night by a terrible impatience at seeing their wealth pile up so slowly, and by an equally terrible longing and love for these heaps of gold... . What was once done "for the love of God" is now done for the love of money, i.e., for the love of that which at present affords us the highest feeling of power and a good conscience."
Speaking of television...as well as the collapse of the Church...
In 1965 A.D., entertainer Jackie Gleason, "The Great One", appeared on Inguiry, hosted by Paulist Father James Lloyd. Inquiry was produced in cooperation with the New York Archdiocese.
In the following video, Jackie Gleason discussed religion/Catholicism. Near the end of the program, at about the 24:40 mark, Father Lloyd and Jackie Gleason discussed for about three minutes the radical changes that had engulfed the Church.
Father Lloyd and Jackie Gleason spoke positively about the Church's entrance into the Ecumenical Movement. They also discussed the movement within the Church to ordain women to the priesthood. They noted with approval that the Church had begun to "listen" to "everyone" rather than try to "give answers" to people.
Jackie Gleason predicted that the Church, via the Ecumenical Movement, would cast aside Her "austere façade" and attract more people to the "human" Church. Hmmm...I wonder how well that worked for the Church.
Jackie Gleason noted that he had just read an article about a woman "who served Communion." He also praised the movement to ordain women to the priesthood.
Father Lloyd described the Church's status as "wide open".
A television show offers a glimpse into the insanity that had engulfed the Church more than 50 years ago. The Church was collapsing and we have two Catholics gushing about the "wide open" state of the Church.
More than 50 years later, the Church has not recovered from Her "wide open" state.
Sorry, here is the link to the 1965 A.D. television show that featured a discussion of religion between Paulist Father James Lloyd and Jackie Gleason and Paulist Father James Lloyd discussed Catholicism/religion:
Fr. Allan J. McDonald is absolutely correct in this blog and so are on target several of the comments, but the Catholic Church should not be blamed for the downward spiral. We have become a secular society that worships immediate gratification and celebrity status. This is due to the power of those who pull the strings, controlling the media, academia, and the popular culture, compounded with an overt failure of parenthood, the public education system, the culture of government dependence, and the secularization of society.
With the sensationalization of violence by the media and the popular culture, coupled with the ubiquitous yearning for fame and celebrity status at any price, we have become a declining and decadent society. Someone here once called me a pursuer of "catastrophism," as if we were not witnessing a cataclysmic decline in culture and civilization— but we are! What more evidence is needed for the decline in morality and civility in conjunction with the obsessive and pathologic pursuit of the “fifteen minutes worth of fame” phenomenon than the immense popularity of vulgar “reality” television shows? It is not a big step to link extensive coverage of shooting rampages in both the press and the electronic media as a major contributing factor to America’s Psychosis — mass shootings — individuals on the edge morbidly attempting to attain celebrity status even in death: Shoot a lot of innocent people and you are guaranteed to enter the club of celebrities... You may die in the act, but everyone will know your name — and the gun will be blamed rather than the psychopath!
The secular society’s dyke is leaking, and it will take more than a finger to stop the leak! Thank you for the blog and the chance to comment. This is one of the most intellectually armed blogs and comment postings anywhere. Kudos to you Father McDonald! — Miguel A. Faria, M.D., Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI)
I'm really surprised that nobody has blamed it all on Obama yet. Where are you Newgene?
To tie the video that featured Jackie Gleason to Father McDonald's current post, I offer the following:
Jack Gleason was a voracious reader. During interviews, he spoke with eloquence and great intelligence. He was representative of many entertainers of that time.
At least during their encounters with interviewers, I believe that as compared to today, a great many entertainers at that time presented themselves as refined people. Television was populated with the likes of Steve Allen, an intellectual, the same with Dick Cavett, and Jack Paar.
It was not unusual to tune into a prime-time program to find Bishop Fulton Sheen, Reverend Billy Graham...to encounter Jack Paar interviewing Malcolm Muggeridge. The Jackie Gleason variety show might include Bishop Sheen.
Women often dressed and conducted themselves with eloquence. Men such as Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke, Perry Como, were superstars who shunned vulgarity. Conversely, today, it's the norm to encounter shows during which "entertainers" don't hesitate to dress and act provocatively...to speak and act in vulgar fashion. Yes, along with erudition, one encountered banality in the world of entertainment. But then, at least the banality was clean.
A great deal of the credit to the amount of clean entertainment that existed decades ago belongs to the Church, particularly the Legion of Decency. However, as the collapse of the Church accelerated throughout the 1960s, the collapse of the "public square" followed.
Father McDonald asked as to "how do lay Catholics in particular, take seriously the Second Vatican Council's mandate that the laity bring their Catholic faith, especially our morality, our understanding of good works, to the very places that the laity have the most profound influence, at home, at work and at play, in other words in the public square such as politics and influencing others in a positive with with an authentic Catholic witness?"
Answer: They are unable to do so as Rome and our bishops decades ago ripped the Church apart. They wrecked the Roman Liturgy. They replaced Holy Tradition with novelties and nonsense that helped to drive from parishes virtually any sense of what it meant to be Catholic.
Today, 80 to 90 percent of Mass-going Catholics favor contraception. They read/heard Pope Francis declare that Pope Blessed Paul VI approved the use of contraceptives. Some 50 to 60 percent of Mass-going Catholics support homosexual unions. On and on goes the approval of the Culture of Death by the majority of Mass-going Catholics.
How can the laity leaven society when 80 percent of them refuse to assist regularly at Sunday Mass...and the majority of those who assist at Mass (Novus Ordo) regularly have, in many ways, thrown in with the Culture of Death?
American society is, speaking humanly, beyond repair. Only a miracle will spur the (Latin) Church to return to Holy Tradition. That, it turn, would allow the laity a fighting chance to leaven, at least to some degree, American society.
Unfortunately, our leading Churchmen have made it clear that will resist any attempt to "turn back the clock"....translation: They will not abandon the destructive novelties that they've inflicted upon the Church.
Sorry. That sounds depressing...but it's simple reality.
"It is not a big step to link extensive coverage of shooting rampages in both the press and the electronic media as a major contributing factor to America’s Psychosis..."
I think making this link is a VERY big step. The effect of the media, you note, is on those "individuals on the edge morbidly attempting to attain celebrity status even in death." They are already on the edge. Seeing reports of mass shootings might be minimally influential, but something else got them to the edge long before that.
As for the "immense popularity" of Reality TV, for the week of February 8, 2016, Neilsen reports that not one Reality show was in the Top Ten watched on Prime Broadcast Network TV, Cable Network TV, or Syndication Network TV.
For the entire 2014-2015 TV season, the highest ranked Reality TV show was The Bachelor, coming in way down the list at number 22. (The Top Ten were 1. Football, 2. Empire, 3. Football, 4. Big Bang Theory, 5. Football, 6. Football, 7. Big Bang Theory-2, 8. Modern Family, 9. Scandal, 10. The Voice.)
I am not usually pessimistic and I hope that if Trump is elected president, which he may well have a shot at doing, some kind of authentic conversion will overwhelm him and he won't create a disaster that will demolish any semblance of order and morality in our country.
But I do fear that we may be seeing the collapse of the USA according to the fall of the Roman Empire and it isn't our leaders necessarily leading the way but the narcissistic media and their henchmen the celebrities who are brainwashing a quite willing audience into accepting life as a reality show. And the populace satisfied by seeing life as a reality show are will to allow it to happen as it opens a new chapter of excitement in the reality show's narrative and plot. It kind of reminds me of the Truman Show from a few years back.
Fr. K, I think the biggest reality show on TV based on the flops you write about are what CNN, FOX and MSNBC are doing to the news and the celebrity they give to killers with incessant coverage of these kinds of stories and going so far as to give a title to these. The carnival that is the Republican candidates and with Trump leading the charge is a prime example. The inordinate amount of time the networks give to him, the dust up with Megan Kelly (which I think is contrived for ratings purposes) and the rest of it is unbelievably. And I am sure that the more liberal media are pushing Trump because Hillary will certainly beat him. I can't imagine what it would be like for him to debate her if he is as ugly to her as he has been to his own party candidates. This has all the ingredients for great ratings for the news departments of all the networks, especially if they land any debates.
The "carnival" is the Republican's own making. See: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/an_open_letter_to_the_republican_establishment_20160301
Unfortunately, many of the heavily Catholic states are also among the most reliably Democratic for president, places like California, Illinois and New York and smaller ones like Connecticut and Maryland. The Republican base is in the more evangelical, Mormon or otherwise conservative Protestant states, places like the Dakotas, Utah, Alabama and Mississippi, but they have few electoral votes. The math for Republicans is daunting---since 1992, 18 states with a combined 242 electoral votes have voted Democratic 6 presidential elections in a row, and another 3 states (15 combined electoral votes), Iowa, New Hampshire and New Mexico, have voted Democratic 5 of the last 6 contests. So to use some football lexicon, Democrats are only 5 years away from the winning touchdown with 2 minutes and all 3 time outs left, Republicans are 95 yards away with no time outs and 10 seconds left.
Fr. K, I have no idea where you are going with and you certainly lost me with your unintelligible assertion:
“I think making this link is a VERY big step.The effect of the media, you note, is on those "individuals on the edge morbidly attempting to attain celebrity status even in death." They are already on the edge. Seeing reports of mass shootings might be minimally influential, but something else got them to the edge long before that.”
True. I don’t see what you think you are refuting here. Perhaps you should re-read what I wrote!
As for for your refutation of the "immense popularity" of Reality TV. You certainly used a very narrow interpretation! Father McDonald has very accurately already explained that the “popular culture and reality TV” is everywhere, which is what I meant. In fact, news coverage, celebrity coverage, talking heads galore, election coverage, and certainly all the football games and other sports, as you should know, is nothing more than the modern counterpart of the ancient Romans’ panum et circenses, which in the hands of Julius Caesar brought the death knell of the Republic, eerily as we see today, unless we change course!
which in the hands of Julius Caesar brought the death knell of the Republic, eerily as we see today, unless we change course!
Lol, Augustus did more for Rome in 50 years than the Republic did in 500. Not the best example if you're going to defend republicanism.
Dr. F - The assertion isn't unintelligible. It boils down to this: You say, "It is not a big step to link extensive coverage of shooting rampages in both the press and the electronic media as a major contributing factor to America’s Psychosis — mass shootings..." I respond: You assert causality but do not show it. What's the "link"?
I don't think any culture has been without Bread and Circuses - we have all had our diversions and delights. Are ours, today, worse, more invasive, more destructive than in other cultures, than in ages past?
Again, you make an assertion, but assertions are not proof of causality.
Fr. K. the fact is Dr. Centerwall and myself have studied this problem for years. The popular culture influences people in general, and TV violence in particular (a form of mass psychology akin to indoctrination) is associated with increases in crime, violence, and homicide. So here are the LINK:
As to Flavius: “Lol, Augustus did more for Rome in 50 years than the Republic did in 500. Not the best example if you're going to defend republicanism.”
Nonsense! I made an excellent comparison when the entire history is taking as a whole. It is easy to make selective comparisons! Flavius picks the best emperor of all times: Augustus, who even kept the idea and the trappings of the Republic alive, is compared to the end of the Republic, “the death knell of the Republic” at the time of the bloody civil wars, proscriptions, corruption violence, etc.
How about picking emperors like Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Commodus, Caracalla, Elagabalus? And compare them to the philosopher warriors of Republican Rome like Scipio Africanus, Scipio Nasica, Scipio Aemilianus, Claudius Marcellus, Aemilius Paulus, Quintus Titus Flaminius; and the philosopher statesmen of the Republic, such as Cato the Younger, Cicero, Varro, etc.; and the Republican Senate who was called “an assemblage of kings” by Pyrrhus’ ambassador, the senate who fought heroically, the First and Second Punic Wars, who rebuilt Rome after the Gauls sacked it in 390 BC., etc.
It is obvious Flavius, you are also not aware that the aqueducts, the roads, the rule of law and government structure, not only the Senate, but the popular assemblies and the courts; separation of powers; legal appeal by citizens; and the greatest expansion of the “empire” occurred at the time of the Republic. Our own form of government is based on the Roman Republic largely. Dictators have picked Tsars, Shahs, Kaisers, etc. LOL! The American nation established by the Founders, not as a Greek democracy, but as a Republic!—MAF
The US went from the 5th largest Navy to the largest in world history from 1940 to 1944.
Until the Vietnam era, it was customary for the federal government to balloon for a major war and then demobilize radically - actually cutting the entire federal budget and paying down the federal debt.
Then along came LBJ and he embarked on the 'guns AND butter' agenda that has directly lead to federal debt balloons and the permanent budget deficit - that has financed the unparalleled expansion of the scope and power of the federal government at the expense of the states, cities, and "we the people".
In the "bad old days" before the sexual revolution, the cost of health care didn't bankrupt people - nor did college. The whole idea of financing current consumption with DEBT was unheard of except in the smallest of situations.
Obviously we can't easily go back once we've addicted 3 generations to lifestyles premised on never paying down the debt and only adding to it... but like Rome, we will eventually run out of even theoretical dollars and the collapse will probably destroy us like it has destroyed every other empire that embarked down the same road of living beyond our means while actively undermining the culture that created wealth and prosperity in the first place.
Rome never recovered. Neither will we.
Have a nice day!
'It is obvious Flavius, you are also not aware...'
No, I'm quite aware. I just don't give a damn. Now, go write a response to someone who might actually care.
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