Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Putting on the Flak Jacket

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 21, 2009

Sometimes I’m still surprised by the strange email messages we receive at the contact address. The reaction to the perpetual rosary for President Obama and his Administration is a case in point. I was both surprised and saddened by the number of people who wrote in to say that they would not pray for Obama, thank you very much. Some even went so far as to suggest that it was complicity in evil to pray for someone so deeply committed to abortion as Obama. This represents a very strange view of Christ’s command to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44).

Of course I don’t know that those who write such things are Catholics. Lord knows we get enough mail from profoundly anti-Catholic “Christians” seeking to correct our faulty theology on this or that point. Sometimes these people send along documents and ask me to comment. If I make the mistake of thinking the document has been sent in by a confused Catholic, I can waste quite a lot of time reading and replying until I realize that I’m simply being baited. Usually the author’s intention is obvious, but not always. Earth to Would-Be Instructors: If you don’t wish to engage in a reasonable discussion, please don’t ask questions.

Another delightful group consists of those who simply cannot stand being asked to contribute to our work. Up to a point I can understand this; nobody looks forward to solicitations. But we bend over backwards to be up front about our need for support, emphasizing that no one is required to contribute to use our resources, but that we do need the opportunity to make our case in order to keep going. Despite these efforts at clarity, every time I send out a fund-raising message, a score of registered users demand to be “taken off the list” and perhaps a half-dozen send nasty messages to the effect that only fools have financial needs, and only knaves talk about them. Sigh.

And then there’s the political advice we get. A helpful correspondent informed me today that if only American Catholics would stay away from Republicans and instead turn their efforts to taking control of the Democratic Party, our problems would be over. I had no idea that winning the culture wars could be so simple! Of course, it’s a plan, and there may well be some in a position to do great good along these lines. But unfortunately it is a plan that is easier said than done. Meanwhile, strengthening the Democrats still further would enable such intrinsic evils as abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning and gay marriage to advance far more rapidly than they already are. There are no simple solutions here, especially with Catholics themselves deeply divided. Yet every new batch of email brings some sure-fire strategy for solving all our problems.

Fortunately, the number of thoughtful and/or encouraging emails we receive far exceeds the daily dose of the bizarre. These make the flak very worthwhile and, anyway, we do have thick skins, really we do. So here’s to frequent encouragement and a good flak jacket—the things that keep us coming back for more!

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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