Oh Noes

They found me:

Calling all “lapsed” Chicago-area Catholics: There are plenty of empty pews waiting for you.

That’s the message that Roman Catholic leaders in Chicago, Rockford
and Joliet plan to send via a $1.3 million TV ad blitz aimed at
bringing the fallen away back to the flock.

The commercials are to air on the Chicago affiliates of ABC, CBS,
NBC, Fox, Telemundo and Polvision for six weeks, starting Dec. 16.They
will highlight the Catholic Church’s social contributions
, include
testimony from prodigal parishioners who found their way back to the
church and ask folks to “take another look” at Catholicism.

“If you’ve been waiting for a sign, this is your chance to begin an
adventure with God that will last forever,” a narrator in one
commercial says.

In the Chicago Archdiocese, about one in five Catholics regularly
attend weekend Mass, according to the latest church attendance figures.
Last October, about 473,000 of the estimated 2.3 million Catholics in
Cook and Lake counties attended weekend services.

Emphasis mine. OnTrue Blood the other night, Lafayette summed up his prayers: “Jesus and I agreed to see other people Don’t mean we don’t still talk from time to time.” Personally, Good Old Dirty Hippie Jesus and I are fine. The insanely wealthy, corrupt, lying, often-openly-racist scumbags in His employ claiming to speak with His voice areseriouslyon my nerves, though. Those assholes and I have agreed to get divorced and I make no promises to be polite to them at the holidays for the sake of the children.

Still, I find it interesting that the Church’s social work is being highlighted. Not “come back to church, it’ll make you feel good about yourself,” but “come back to church, we do a lot of good for the community.” That is actually the sort of message that would appeal to me. I have a therapist to help me with my feelings, I don’t need one on Sunday mornings calling my feelings God. What I need, on occasion, is a kick in the ass to stop being so damn lazy and go do something for somebody else for a change instead of eating chips and watching the first season of Buffy again. Church bills itself as that, I might be buying.


25 thoughts on “Oh Noes

  1. Interesting to me from a couple of angles. One is that the definition of “faith seeking understanding” was changed by many in the 70s to “faith seeking experience / action”. Of course, this also joins well with the emphasis on voluntarism that is a strong undercurrent in America.
    But also that one of the big arguments I have for Church is that as an individual I can do a lot of good. But to change things for the better at a larger scale and deal with problems too big for individual action, I need to band with others.

  2. My friend that lives in your nabe goes to a great UU church – those people do the progressive social justice work. As well as have a hell of a lot of fun.

  3. OK, not to go all OT but since you are also a huge buffy fan is true blood worth getting started on? We don’t get any tv/cable but we watch things a year or so later, so maybe its not even an option at this point. We also loved, variously, Carnivale, BSG,and Dexter if that gives you a better hint about how we’d feel about true blood.

  4. I gave up Catholic and got Unitarian instead. Love it, love it, love it. They don’t care if you believe in god, gods, or some pagan whatever. Oh, and they are way liberal. Our minister was with me at Rep. Issa’s health care town hall last night, where we died the death of a thousand somethings in a room full of hateful, horrible people. I love her.

  5. An “adventure with God”? Without a priest or an intercessionary saint between me and God? I wouldn’t know what to say.

  6. Come back to the church = “we’re need money”,or “with dwindling numbers we’re losing influence”. And I agree with S, the fact that they think you need an intermediary between yourself and God is offensive. I don’t miss the Catholic Church and they way they treat people and will not go back.
    aimai: I just bought the first season of True Blood from Amazon to see what all the fuss was about and I LOVED it. It’s whacky and addicting.

  7. When I was a kid our church focused on family and group activities, and had tons of members. I watched it change to a focus on religion itself, and everyone except the older people stopped coming. The booming evangelical churches got it — everything about them is geared towards social activities, turning church into a big social activity with movies, lots of music etc. What the message is there, who knows. People just interpret it to be whatever they want it to be, which is why the right wingers were able to sway the evangelicals so well.
    The Catholic church has been too into doctrine and forgotten its true function as a social member. Good to hear they are starting to remember it. Let’s hope other churches follow the example. And let’s hope the evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons get out of the political business and back to helping their members as a social community.

  8. as a) a chicago resident and b) a recovering catholic and c) a former ad man, i think they’d have better luck with buddy christ and “catholicism WOW!” – a la kevin smith’s great movie “dogma” (even my non-observant jewish wife likes it).

  9. aimai, True Blood takes a while to get going. I watch it for everybody BUT the male and female leads (which isn’t new for me, it’s always the tertiary characters that kill me) but as a portrait of a world going bonkers it’s pretty damn good. And FUNNY. And there’s lots of pretty boys naked or mostly naked a lot.

  10. well, last season had nice naked. now we got creapy naked.
    is the offering box getting low?
    i ain”t catholic, but i wouldn’t listen to the lutheran church either.

  11. Disclaimer: I am a recovering Catholic. I’m past my anger, but I’ve not yet arrived at forgiveness.
    No doubt the Church once had a bigger role in people’s lives than it does now. How do they improve their numbers? Become more like the evangelicals who are strong on membership even while weak on doctrine? I’m with Sam Harris on this point: religious moderates give cover to the fundamentalists. Why stop your nonsensical beliefs with virgin birth, coming back from the dead, etc.? Why not worship The Bible (substitute Quran without changing the meaning of the point)instead of worrying about some esoteric point some dude was trying to make about personal spirituality? By worshiping the Bible, you get to keep all your petty prejudices.
    Sen. Kennedy’s funeral this past week-end is the closest I’ve been to an RC Church in a dozen years. I was touched by the senator’s sincerity of belief. That helps me to remember that it’s the Church I rejected, not its members. I loves me some Catholics. I got cousins by the dozens in all of the stages of embrace of or recovery from the Roman Catholic Church.
    But before you go all soft on the bastards, read this article about the new bishop of Oakland, California. Bigotry is bigotry, even when wrapped in the clothing of a saint: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/news/the_father_of_proposition_8/Content?oid=1172744

  12. Given just how much hostility the church hierarchy has shown to liberation theology over these many years, and how much money they’ve poured into legal fees to keep their plump asses out of jail during the abuse scandals, I’m kind of surprised that they would emphasize their “good works.”
    No doubt those good works exist, but, always with a price.
    And I damned sure haven’t forgotten their little hissy fits over Kerry in 2004, effectively trying to throw Catholic support to Bush, who–by not so extreme standards of definition–is a mass murderer and a modern Torquemada.
    The irony, of course, is that those little explosions of pique were all over abortion, and the chances are excellent, given Bush’s general indifference to anyone not himself, that he was responsible for many more of them than Kerry.
    Beatifying fascists also didn’t sit too well with me…
    Nope, Catholic Church, I’m not buying your snake-oil pitch at all.

  13. Aimai, True Blood is no Buffy but it’s entertaining. Lots of blood and gore,and lots of people desperate for love and acceptance. The books are lighter and more fun, but the tv show is fun too. The author is a Buffy fan too, of course, and True Blood’s Eric reminds me a lot of Spike, while the main vampire, Bill, is more like Angel.
    (By the way, Warehouse 13 was co-created by Jane Espenson.)

  14. And the Church can have me back when they’re ready to stop treating me like a second-class human being, which will be never. If they are advertising they need money badly. Too bad; they should have thought of that before they committed crimes.

  15. Hi A. Very nice post, really nails the point. A few years ago I was in a master’s class for pastoral studies and we watched a video where one of the people on it said: “Only two things matter. God matters, and reality matters – and if religion doesn’t serve both of those it should be set aside.” I grew up in the shadow of Vatican II, when lots of moves towards openness were being tried (roughly the mid-sixties through the 70’s). The hierarchy clearly believes it gave the rabble too much freedom because since then it’s been nothing but backlash and retrenchment. That combined with unconscionable hardball tactics against molestation victims has driven a lot of people away. If they’ve decided to get people back in the pews with appeals to their better natures it would be a welcome change. Maybe their first proof of that commitment could be a vigorous lobbying campaign for universal health care as a human right. Reality, huzzah!
    Permanent pet peeve: prodigal means wasteful, not wandering. Why does no one get that right?

  16. Bill, is more like Angel
    Creepy, self-indulgent and controlling. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like him.

  17. LOL. Poor Angel, compulsed to replay his family trauma for centuries, repeating the same patterns of misbehavior with Darla, and then Buffy, Cordy and Connor.

  18. Ha!. susan of texas. Might have known you and athenae were both critical buffy fans. That is, fans with good critiques. I, too, detested angel. Much prefer spike. Also, see above, dexter. I tried one of the true blood books and found it kind of irritating but it did have good things in it, and funny things. Maybe we’ll give it a try as a tv show.

  19. I respond to those that try to tell me I need to go to church or whatever, “Jesus and I are cool.” That sort of shuts them down because how would they know if we are or we’re not?
    I LOVED it when Lafayette said that!
    I haven’t experienced the RC church, thank goodness. Southern Baptist was bad enough. Hypocrite city.

  20. As another recovering Catholic, I want to second the recommendation to head for the UU’s. All the liberal social good works, none of the dogma, and NONE of the second class citizenship.

  21. Bill, is more like Angel
    Creepy, self-indulgent and controlling. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like him.
    So Athenae — how do you feel about Special Agent Seelye Booth?
    (Bones is a pretty cool show, actually…)

  22. Bones has actually totally reversed my dislike of Boreanaz. He’s really good in it, really funny and charming and kind of cute. It’s a total cheeseball show but I love it.
    I don’t like Spike any more than Angel. Neither of these guys were good for Buffy. Neither of these were healthy relationships and both of them being TWU WUV doesn’t excuse it.
    /waits for flames

  23. I used to be Catholic but I am all about the Flying Spaghetti Monster nowadays. if you’re not, you need to do some hard thinking.

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