Saturday, January 16, 2016

Vatican blesses David Bowie

The Vatican bestows its imprimatur on David Bowie

Mr. Bowie in concert

The Great Debate

1. A Misplaced Grief: The Vatican and David Bowie
by Fr. George Rutler

2. The New York Times takes Fr. Rutler to task for having “contempt” for Mr. Bowie 

3. Michael Hoffman takes the New York Times to task:
Time to Expose Liberal Hypocrites
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A Misplaced Grief: The Vatican and David Bowie
By Fr. George Rutler

In proof of Chesterton’s dictum that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly, I pound away at the piano playing the easier Chopin Nocturnes and I grind on my violin with a confidence only an amateur can flaunt. So I am not innocent of music.  I appreciate the emotive post-war French singers, and have a soft spot for the idiomatic form called “Doo-Wop” and its highly skilled harmonization and lyricism, along with some of the more whimsical Motown singers. But the world of rock and roll is to me a bewilderment, to the amazement of the same coterie who find it hard to believe that I have never had a cellular phone. It is a fact in witness to which I am willing to swear on a Douai Bible, that I have never been able to listen to an entire rock and roll song. This is not to say that I lack curiosity. In the South Pacific, I have listened to tunes on the aboriginal eucalyptus didgeridoo and the Polynesian nose flute, but what has developed as rock and roll music and metastasized into more raucous forms, remains an anthropological enigma and I leave restaurants and public gatherings where they are played.

Consequently, it was no surprise that news of the death of David Bowie was the first time I knew that he had been alive. If you find that hard to believe, you must remember that my instinctive taste for “pop music” is encoded by Gilbert and Sullivan and eclipsed by John Phillip Souza. What did surprise me was that the Vatican, just wiping up from its Climate Change light show on the façade of the Basilica of St. Peter’s, plunged into mourning for this man. At least the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, issued a statement quoting from some lyrics of Mr. Bowie: “Ground Control to Major Tom / Commencing countdown, engines on / Check ignition and may God’s love be with you.” What I found most intimidating, and indeed frightening, was the assumption that others would recognize the reference.

Born in 1942, Cardinal Ravisi is older than I and yet surpasses my information of pop culture, unless a junior staff member penned the elegy. His Eminence is an accomplished archeologist and was prefect of the Ambrosian Library, whose patron had musical tastes antecedent to and, dare I say, superior to, those of David Bowie.

A “celebrity psychic” named Uri Geller said of Bowie: “I was profoundly impressed by his deep understanding of mysticism, the mysterious and the universe. There is no doubt in my mind that David believed in Heaven.” I am not impressed by this, especially in light of the fact that three years ago Bowie produced an adult-rated video impersonating Jesus in pornographic positions. A statement of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Righteous said: “The switch-hitting, bisexual, senior citizen from London has resurfaced, this time playing a Jesus-like character who hangs out in a nightclub dump frequented by priests, cardinals and half-naked women.” But when Bowie died, L’Osservatore Romano, aching to be the Church of What’s Happening Now, eulogized the genius of Bowie, excusing his “ambiguous image” as one of his “excesses” but then remarking his “personal sobriety, even in his dry, almost thread-like body.”

The impulsive effusions of grief from the Holy See remind one of an extravagant tribute that the editor of L’Osservatore Romano paid to the crooner Michael Jackson when he died of acute Propofol and Benzodiazepine intoxication. The headline asked as if it were Holy Saturday: “But will he actually be dead?” Ignoring the epicene Jackson’s mockery of Jesus in his video “Thriller,” the Vatican newspaper lauded the star as a “great dancer” (“grande ballerina”) and declared that he would “never die in the imagination of his fans.” According to L’Osservatore, Jackson’s transgenderizing surgeries were “a process of self definition that was beyond race.” As for Jackson’s piroquettes with young boys, the unofficial voice of the Holy See commented: “Everybody knows his problems with the law after the pedophilia accusations. But no accusation, however serious or shameful, is enough to tarnish his myth among his millions of fans throughout the entire world.”

In his Republic, Plato said that music is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he who has received this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justify blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he will recognize and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.

Plato also knew the dangers of “anti-music” or Corybanticism, which perverted rhythms to stimulate the bodily humors in defiance of the good purposes of the muses. Its consequence would be a moral chain reaction, dissonant music deranging society and inverting virtue. The Corybants were priests of the Phrygian goddess Cybele, and their music was atonal, ecstatic, and dissolute. It was inimical to the ideal republic. But it incubated the ethereal realms of David Bowie and Michael Jackson and their sort.

In speaking of the rock and roll genre, I certainly do not want to be lumped with those preachers who once condemned Ragtime music, or even Chesterton who in an unmeasured moment called Jazz “the song of the treadmill.” But I am a pastor of a section of Manhattan called Hell’s Kitchen. I recently had the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose, and whose musical world was Corybantic. His cousin, a client of the rock and drug scene, is in prison for murder. So I speak not only as an aesthete who publicly avows that he prefers Mozart and Chopin to Jackson and Bowie, but as a priest who has to pick up the pieces of those who never knew they had a choice. And I object to comfortable prelates in a higher realm, penning panegyrics for the doyens of a culture that destroys my children.
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“In speaking of the rock and roll genre... I am a pastor of a section of Manhattan called Hell’s Kitchen. I recently had the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose…His cousin, a client of the rock and drug scene, is in prison for murder. So I speak not only as an aesthete who publicly avows that he prefers Mozart and Chopin to Michael Jackson and David Bowie, but as a priest who has to pick up the pieces of those who never knew they had a choice. And I object to comfortable prelates in a higher realm, penning panegyrics for the doyens of a culture that destroys my children."
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Like a new Plato, Pope Benedict XVI said in his Spirit of the Liturgy: “On the one hand, there is pop music, which is certainly no longer supported by the people in the ancient senses (populous). It’s aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a cult of the banal. ‘Rock,’ on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumed a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe. The music of the Holy Spirit’s sober inebriation seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind is a shackle, and breaking out from both appears as a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments.”

Young people are embarrassed when their mothers try to be “cool.” These youths may tread wrong paths unadvisedly on occasion, for such is the indiscretion of nascent years, but they want their mothers to be mature and not adolescent. Mother Church appears ridiculous as Adolescent Church, as in the case of the Holy See lamenting David Bowie. The insatiable desire for approval by pop culture is beneath the dignity of the Church as the Mother of Nations.

One thinks of the breathless Catholic News Service commentary in 2009 on the murder of the fashion designer Gianni Versace, whose obsequies in a Miami church were attended by men dressed as women, and whose final Requiem in the Duomo of Milan featured Elton John and “Sting” sobbing on each other’s shoulders: “Versace was noted for his sensual lines and eye-catching combinations of textural shades.” 

This simply is the diction of political correctness and it compromises the prophetic charism of the Church; for, as sages have observed one way or another, political correctness is the speech of those who are terrified by what might happen if they spoke the truth. Perhaps the next nervous surrender to fashion will be a declaration of Bruce/Caitlin Jenner as “Person of the Year” by the editors of the gender-neutral New American Bible. 

Asserting his prophetic, priestly, and regal credentials as the Rock, Saint Peter warned the Christians in Rome against the celebrities of the Forum:

“For, talking empty bombast, they seduce with licentious desires of the flesh those who have barely escaped from people who live in error. They promise them freedom, though they themselves are slaves of corruption, for a man is a slave of whatever overcomes him. For if they, having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first.” (2 Peter 2: 18-20).

Christ was a carpenter and his apostles were mostly fishermen and none of them was what is called today a “metrosexual.” I am not sure what that term fully means, but it embraces anyone who weeps for paragons of degeneracy and paladins of vice.

Fr. George W. Rutler is pastor of St. Michael's church in New York City. He is the author of many books including Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943 and, most recently, Hints of Heaven (Sophia Institute Press).

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A Vatican Blessing for David Bowie
By Lawrence Downes 
The New York TimesJanuary 15, 2016

The Vatican’s cultural minister, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, wrote a generous appreciation this week of the late David Bowie, whom he described as a great, if tormented, artist and a lifelong spiritual searcher:

He prayed, in the depths of his addictions and lacerating questions: “Lord, I kneel and offer you my word on a wing / And I’m trying hard to fit among your scheme of things.”

But Bowie’s quest was unfinished and it did not cease to torment him, while always enriching his art. In those days – he himself told us – he wore for many years a small silver crucifix. His was a search, a questioning, that went to a greater height and plumbed a deeper mystery than any answers or responses were able to reach.

It was mildly surprising to see a prominent Catholic Church official speak so warmly of a rock star. But it was fitting: Speaking well of the deceased is what decent people do. But it was too much for some irritable Catholics. The Rev. George Rutler, a priest in Manhattan, wrote a response in the Catholic magazine Crisis. In it he complained about “misplaced grief” for a musician he called a paragon of “degeneracy” and “vice.” The essay is such a curious object – a rebuttal? to a eulogy? – that it’s worth reading in full:  http://www.crisismagazine.com/2016/a-misplaced-grief-the-vatican-and-david-bowie.

In it, Father Rutler admits knowing not a thing of Bowie’s music or art: “News of the death of David Bowie was the first time I knew that he had been alive.”

He is upset that Cardinal Ravasi tweeted a line from Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” that song about ground control and Major Tom: “What I found most intimidating, and indeed frightening, was the assumption that others would recognize the reference.”

Pope Francis has declared this a Holy Year of Mercy, so I will not indulge too much further in repeating the turbid sentences of Father Rutler. But I do feel compelled to mention – forgive me, Father – that his essay is an illuminating example of a thing that has long puzzled me about some conservative Catholics who wear the faith so prominently on their sleeves and chasubles. Why, when they speak on faith and morals, are they so contemptuous of their fellow humans? If the Gospel message is love, and forgiveness for sinners, why does the message, coming from them, sound so wretched?

I speak of people like the permanently indignant head of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, self-anointed spokesman for the Church, who disgraced himself on Monday with this vicious tweet: “All I know is that Bowie is a switch-hitter who tried to sing.”

Father Rutler similarly stands by his ignorance. But he stands ready to accuse Mr. Bowie and his ilk (rock-and-roll musicians) of being accomplices to fatal drug addictions and murder:

“I am a pastor of a section of Manhattan called Hell’s Kitchen. I recently had the funeral of a young man who died of a drug overdose, and whose musical world was Corybantic. His cousin, a client of the rock and drug scene, is in prison for murder. So I speak not only as an aesthete who publicly avows that he prefers Mozart and Chopin to Jackson and Bowie, but as a priest who has to pick up the pieces of those who never knew they had a choice. And I object to comfortable prelates in a higher realm, penning panegyrics for the doyens of a culture that destroys my children.”

His anger seems to have been set off by a moody Bowie video that mixes Catholic imagery with blood and women’s breasts. 

Whether the video was a work of irony or rage or mockery, or what statement it makes, if any, Father Rutler cannot know, and is in no position to judge. But he knows what he hates. As his essay veers into a discussion of Gianni Versace, Elton John and Caitlyn Jenner, it becomes clear that something else has been on his mind the whole time. It wasn’t the music, that’s for sure.

“Christ was a carpenter and his apostles were mostly fishermen and none of them was what is called today a “metrosexual.” I am not sure what that term fully means, but it embraces anyone who weeps for paragons of degeneracy and paladins of vice.”

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Time to Expose Liberal Hypocrites Who Have Contempt for their Politically Incorrect “Fellow Humans”

By Michael Hoffman
www.revisionisthistory.org 

In seeking to shame conservatives like Rev. Fr. George Rutler, NY Times columnist Lawrence Downes asks, "Why, when they speak on faith and morals, are they so contemptuous of their fellow humans?”

Please, let’s have less hypocrisy! Liberals and progressives in many cases are exceedingly contemptuous of dissenting historians who they insult as “holocaust deniers,” and of right-to-life campaigners they call anti-abortion activists (to cite but two examples),  because liberals feel passionately that the public positions these two groups advocate do great harm. Somehow liberal outrage and contempt are acceptable, and even salutary in these cases.

When conservatives are outraged by Mr. Bowie’s drug use and sodomite lifestyle and regard it as a harmful example for the young, liberals appeal to civility and tolerance. Sins and transgressions that don’t trouble liberals (or which they share) like those practiced by David Bowie, are to be tolerated.

The New York Times editorial mentions Mr. Bowie’s blasphemy in his video, which featured “Catholic imagery, blood and breasts,” in trifling terms: “Whether the video was a work of irony or rage or mockery, or what statement it makes, if any, Father Rutler cannot know, and is in no position to judge.”

No position to judge? Those who ask scientific and technical questions about how exactly alleged mass gassings took place in Auschwitz are most certainly judged by the liberal Establishment, and in no uncertain terms, as guilty of blasphemy against Judaism and Allied war dogma, and deserving of total ostracism and contempt.

We observe that when confronting what they regard as sins and transgressions which offend them deeply (“holocaust denial” and “anti-abortion protest” for instance), people on the Left are often highly indignant, judgmental and contemptuous of their “fellow humans.” They maintain their own categories of the damned — anyone who adopts a diametrically opposed position on illegal aliens and Second Amendment rights is likely to be subjected to withering contempt from the pompous defenders of Mr. Bowie.

Indeed, liberals believe in these cases it is their duty to express their contempt in absolute terms that are lacking in the very same charity and tolerance they tell conservatives like Fr. Rutler they must embrace.

The self-righteous liberal elite are blind to their own double standards. They pontificate from their alleged perch on the moral high ground so as to shame into silence and submission their conservative rivals for the hearts and minds of the American people. Their devious strategy is not going to succeed however, because the hypocrisy behind it is much too apparent, and risible.


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3 comments:

James said...

Thank you Mr. Hoffman for yet another hard hitting and excellent commentary. Please excuse the somewhat disjointedness in my own.


As for the good Padre Rutler, the typical conservative in the manner of conservatives being liberals in slow motion, let us at least give credit where credit is due. In this article Rev. Fr. Rutler is for the most part operating on the right side of liberalism's inherent inconsistency. As for the fairly reliably erroneous and slanderous NY Times, we know that it generally operates on the wrong side of the liberal equation in placing lies, ugliness, and goodness, not to mention obvious hypocrisy above, or rather in place of, truth, beauty, goodness, and integrity.

Due to my relatively lengthy commentary I will cite just one example of the Times' typical vomit. Their editorial writer Lawrence Downes declares, "Why, when they [i.e., in Downes own words: " some conservative Catholics who wear the faith so prominently on their sleeves and chasubles"] speak on faith and morals, are they so contemptuous of their fellow humans? If the Gospel message is love, and forgiveness for sinners, why does the message, coming from them, sound so wretched?" It appears that Mr. Downes does a rather good job here of putting his ignorance (intentional or not), not to mention bias, on open display for anyone with proper discernment. Let it suffice to merely ask what the oh so pretentiously loving and caring sounding Mr. Downes would say about the God-man who said things such as, "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and he stood not in the truth; because truth is not in him." Can it not be said that this passage is a rather accurate statement for the liberal media in general and the NYT in particular? You bet! If the whited sepulcher fits...


If Fr. Rutler can act inconsistently in offering the Novus Ordo Mass while also offering the Traditional Mass; if he can give a free pass to the Tribe's Holocaust narrative as well as its 9-11 myth we may still laud him for the good he does in calling out the Vatican on its disgraceful homage to David Bowie.


Experiencing ironies are certainly part of the human condition so it should not be too surprising to read Fr. Rutler, correctly asserting how youths "want their mothers to be mature and not adolescent [and yet how] Mother Church appears ridiculous as Adolescent Church, as in the case of the Holy See lamenting David Bowie." The problem is that Fr. Rutler has unfortunately helped to lend credence and a sense of legitimacy to the impious spirit of Vatican II whose very essence has in large part made Holy Mother Church appear ridiculous (and even much worse) as "Adolescent Church."

P.S.

As a bit of an aside, I mention here how Fr. Rutler astutely notes: "In his Republic, Plato said that music is a more potent instrument than any other." I would venture to say that if Plato were alive today he would -- and this in no way taking away from the immense evilness of so much of what would pass itself off for music today -- declare that pornography (and, of course, so much "music" is audibly and with videos visually pornographic) is a "more potent instrument than any other." Its incredibly "straight out of hell" impure imagery has the capacity of burning itself onto your soul in an instant! Even burns can heal, but generally not very readily.

JMoore said...

Excellent article from Fr. Rutler. He writes; "the insatiable desire for approval by pop culture is beneath the dignity of the Church as the Mother of Nations." Of course this is true and we see this constantly from the present regime in the Vatican, especially the Pope himself who has acheived man of the year status from nearly every organization in the world that hates the Catholic church and objective truth. This Vatican praise for bowie seems to be a form of signaling to the hordes of catholics drowning in the horrific sins of sodom that the mean old judgemental and patriarchial church is being replaced, while the merciful Pope francis is working hard to find you a place at the table.

seraphim said...

Would you believe me that the first time I heard about David Bowie was just at the announcement of his death? And I am older than him!