View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I know decay when I see it

I have been chided for suggesting that there has been a decay in morality.

Now I grant that there have been comparable periods in the past of low morality – and the world has never been all that moral to begin with.

The Church has also had its fluctuations – and certainly has merited a slap on the wrist many times over.

But I believe we are in one of the down cycles right now, and that elements in the Church have failed to provide proper leadership.

Locally, for example, there has been debate over unmarried couple living together, then seeking a Church marriage. Should the Church just go ahead and marry them? Should it require that they move apart before they can begin marriage prep?

Unmarried people living together is nothing new, nor is the issue of how the Church should deal with them entirely new. Yet it has become so “accepted” some priests don’t even bother raising the moral issues in marriage preparation, and people get the message that it’s okay. Gone is the old stigma attached to this immoral behavior. Gone is any sense of shame.

That’s a simple example, but there’s plenty more. Take television. What used to be offensive and was not shown or heard on screen is now standard fare. You can regularly see on a number of channels what used to be considered porn not long ago.

Or take a look at the Academy Awards this year.

I was glad to see Slumdog Millionaire win a number of awards – including Best Picture and Best Director.

Best Actor went to Sean Penn for Milk, a movie that the USCCB rated L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.

Best Actress went to Kate Winslet in The Reader, another film earning an L.

Best Supporting Actress went to Penelope Cruz in Vicky Christina Barcelona – and other L movie.

Heath Ledger won Best Supporting actor for The Dark Knight – that got an A-III (phew). As did Slumdog. And Frost/Nixon (Good old Ron Howard).

But another movie getting a lot of buzz was The Wrestler. Another L.

In many of these films up for awards as the “best” of the year, there was lots of sexual activity, adultery, nudity, foul language, nihilism, and violence.

At least with Slumdog there was an underlying moral message.

I don’t object to tough, challenging, complex films like Slumdog.

But as a whole, too many films seem to wallow in the gratuitous. Just like too much television. And literature.

And what used to be on the edge, in poor taste, objectionable, frowned-upon, is now deemed mainstream.

8 Comments:

Blogger Interstate Catholic said...

A priest I know likens marrying people who live together as sanctioning fornication.

I admit I went to see "Doubt" at the theatre last week. I thought it was a good movie. If anything, it reminded me that people and institutions are not perfect, only God is perfect.

2:43 AM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Lee, not only does--perhaps--a general sense of sinfulness wax and wane, but also various subdivisions.

Like many Catholics, you pick up on sex and sex-related sins. But there are others.

One might say that 9/11 and even Reconstruction spawned a disregard for select bigotry. One might say that MADD and similar organizations have put a certain stigma on drinking.

If sex (or torture or racism) is your sin of choice, then I suppose one might see the swings of morality a bit more clearly.

I'm just challenging you to focus your argument a bit more clearly and not swallow whole the conservative talking points of your friends.

In the matter of sin and its recognition, I tend to be a cynic where human beings are concerned. I think the level of private and public sin is always horrific, but the cast of characters changes as scripts get altered.

So sure, sex is one thing to harp on. But there are plenty of others I'd prefer not to see get a free pass.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I consider the Bush administration actions among the sins of this age - and I've criticized those actions when he was President. I repeatedly called the invasion of Iraq what it was - illegal and immoral - and took part in protests before it began.

I have also decried the torture of prisoners and the death penalty. I've called for more helth care - even government health care.

Issues besides sex.

And ones that are certainly not conservative talking points.

As for conservative "friends," I have few people I consider friends, and none of them is particularly conservative!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

By the way, abortion is not simply a "sex-related sin."

It is murder.

It is the abuse of women.

It denies the civil rights of the child.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you harp on abortion, over and over, just one note, blah, blah, blah...............

There's more to you than that, Lee.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Gee, anon, first I'm accused by one person of focusing on sexual morality, then you whack me for harping on abortion.

Jeesh.

Well, let's see, in the last couple of weeks I've written about abortion a number of times, true, but also posted about Archbishop Dolan, the Yankees, movies, Father Damien, American saints, Obama, lay preaching, Valentine's Day at the abbey, haiku, a wounded police officer, mystery novels, Rock of Faith band, Catholic rock, Springteen and his Grammy, SCHIP, good and bad Presidents, the economy, tainted peanuts, and more.

Maybe you haven't been reading regularly - or maybe you are fixated on abortion.

And besides, when a million babies are being killed each year in this country alone, I think that's pretty important. If you don't, then I think some soul searching is in order.

(Hmm, maybe that student was right and I am grumpy!) (Nah.)

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Todd and I accused you of the same thing, grumpy guy :)

12:43 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Of course, the student who made that accusation is noted for being rude, disrespectful, and a spoiled brat, and has been in detention numerous times. .... :-)

4:38 PM  

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