The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Extra, extra! News and views for Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Here are some articles, essays, and editorials that caught our attention this past week or so.*

(Image: Timothy Eberly/

In Court for Quoting the Bible – “Believe it or not, the Trial of the Century just happened in a courtroom in Helsinki.” We Cannot Say We Weren’t Warned (European Conservative)

Breaking the Boredom, Sharing the Faith  – “Boredom is the deeper existential threat to our parishes—boredom with an utterly non-provocative Church constantly chasing after the latest boutique shop issues—and this boredom with the Church is grinding her down.” Evangelization in an Age of Unbelief (Larry Chapp at What We Need Now)

Enlargement of Our Being – “James Matthew Wilson recommends five contemporary poets every Catholic with an interest in literature should read.” Contemporary American Poets that Every Catholic Should Read (Five Books for Catholics)

Stagnation in Productivity – “The British lack the qualities to succeed in a postindustrial age.” Ill-Served (City Journal)

Framework of Catholicism – “The human person is always faced with a choice in the midst of the flow of the human culture in which he finds himself: He can drift downstream with the prevailing cultural current…or he can prove he is alive by swimming against it.” Only the living swim upstream (Catholic Culture)

Pariah or Paragon? – “The main difference between Sweden’s strategy and that of most other countries was that it mostly relied on voluntary adaptation rather than government force.” Sweden during the Pandemic (CATO Institute)

Church in America – “During a recent visit to a Jesuit school in Portugal, the Holy Father once more criticized the Catholic Church in the United States.” Why Does the Pope Dislike Me? (First Things)

Canny Canaanite Confusion – “… it is interesting that Spadaro blathers here about Christ being bad (“theologian”) and Francis also just ranted about theology being “ideology”, aiming it at these United States.” Blasphemous sermon about the Lord and the Syrophoenician woman (Fr. Z’s Blog)

Conservative Catholics and Protestants – “Evangelicals should care about the direction of the Roman Catholic Church.” Conflict among Catholics (World)

Unproven Stories – “After two years of horror stories about the alleged mass graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada, a series of recent excavations at suspected sites has turned up no human remains.” No human remains found 2 years after claims of ‘mass graves’ in Canada (NY Post)

First-Degree Arson – “Police say a Salem man started a dumpster fire Thursday morning that damaged St. Joseph Catholic Church in one of the largest structure fires in recent Salem history.” Salem man accused of deliberately starting fire at St. Joseph Catholic Church (Salem Reporter)

Becoming Small – “In a radio address back in 1969, a young German theologian named Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, saw hard times ahead for the Catholic Church.” The Future of the Catholic Church (First Things)

(*The posting of any particular news item or essay is not an endorsement of the content and perspective of said news item or essay.)

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  1. Larry Chapp’s article about breaking the boredom that lies as the fundamental problem to today’s Catholic Church rings very true to me. Chapp also highlights the fact that Bergoglio’s diagnosis of what ails the Church as rigorist moralists, backwardists, and traditionalist Latin Mass types is far off the mark. Pope Francis: Your Catholic faithful are bored to tears. And “making a mess” is not the solution to boredom.

    Here’s the money quote from this article by Chapp in my view: “And dealing with modern boredom with chatter about “synodal people doing synodal things” will be as useful as a defibrillator in a morgue.”

    • From chapter 4 of the book by atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, titled “The Conquest of Happiness” (1930). I often wonder what contributions to Christianity he could have made if his tutors had had different views.

      Boredom as a factor in human behaviour has received, in my opinion, far less attention than it deserves. It has been, I believe, one of the great motive powers throughout the historical epoch, and is so at the present day more than ever. Boredom would seem to be a distinctively human emotion. Animals in captivity, it is true, become listless, pace up and down, and yawn, but in a state of nature I do not believe that they experience anything analogous to boredom. Most of the time they are on the look-out for enemies, or food, or both; sometimes they are mating, sometimes they are trying to keep warm. But even when they are unhappy, I do not think that they are bored. Possibly anthropoid apes may resemble us in this respect, as in so many others, but having never lived with them I have not had the opportunity to make the experiment. One of the essentials of boredom consists in the contrast between present circumstances and some other more agreeable circumstances which force themselves irresistibly upon the imagination. It is also one of the essentials of boredom that one’s faculties must not be fully occupied.

  2. @ Breaking the Boredom, Sharing the Faith
    Boredom, not ‘exclusion,’ is the existential cancer that is eating away at the Church’s vitals (Chapp).
    Larry Chapp right on topic again. Bishops are the source and failure for drawing back to life the corpse, we the members that constitute a once fiery Church. As Pius XII was recently quoted, it’s laxity not rigidity that is anesthetizing the Body of Christ.
    Fear is a hidden enemy of valor, fear of obtrusively standing out among peers, appearing to draw attention to oneself rather than the issue, losing the tax exemption, of the Vatican. Why do we feel elation when acting bravely? It must be our nature. We weren’t ordained by God to be cowards. From personal experience of fearful hesitation becoming habitual, the virtual death of integrity and fight for restoration, that truth became a lifelong pursuit of its virtuous effect in our lives. If there’s a cause worth risk, death itself, it’s certainly our witness to Christ.
    Origen in today’s breviary, “It is written, ‘You are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it’. Thus even if the harmonious alignment of the stones should seem to be destroyed and fragmented and, as described in the 21st psalm, all the bones which go to make up Christ’s body should seem to be scattered by insidious attacks in persecutions or times of trouble, or by those who in days of persecution undermine the unity of the temple, nevertheless the temple will be rebuilt and the body will rise again on the third day, after the day of evil which threatens it. For the third day will dawn upon a new heaven and a new earth when these bones which form the whole house of Israel are raised up”.
    Those among us whom will rise are those who remain steadfast in time of trial, who vanquish fear for sake of the splendor of truth.

    • Thank you Father Peter Morello! “..those who remain steadfast in time of trial, who vanquish fear for sake of the splendor of truth.” To be faithful and brave, you need love. “But I have somewhat against thee, because you have left thy first love.: (Rev 2:4). If you have lost your love for Him who is love and “loves us as nobody else can”. Even “if I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor:13:2). God bless!

  3. The City Journal article on Stagnation in Productivity provides another illustration of the suicide of the West. Think it started with pushing aside past values in Christianity and now morphing is a never ending slide to who knows where.

  4. @Framework of Catholicism: “Only the living swim upstream”

    Pope St. John Paul II: “Man receives from God his essential dignity and with it the capacity to transcend every social order so as to move toward truth and goodness” (Centesimus Annus, 1993, n. 38). and even Pope Francis, early to youth (e.g. 2014): “We need courage to swim against the tide…”

    Butt, now, in 2023, are we not even swimming–but only floating downstream into a Synod on Synodadrift?

  5. I always find Larry Chapp interesting, and his reflections on the broader cultural malaise is astute, yet I believe insufficiently focused on the essential origins of boredom. Despite his lukewarm sympathetic quote of Delbrêl, for example, revolutionaries are the most boring of people, often promising utopian visions while facilitating suffering or mass murder.
    His overarching theme is spot on. Boredom is a loss of a sense of God’s love. Clawing away in desperate orchestrations like synods will not restore it. God gives heavy crosses of despair to even the saintly among us such as St Thérèse of Lisieux and Mother Teresa. But we, the less saintly, often lose our sense of the love of God in proportion to a loss of a sense of honesty to our own soul, which is almost always a disconnection from our lives of sin, suppressing the paradoxically painful joy of remorse. The real origin of boredom is sin as this is the only thing that separates us from God even when the saintly have to suffer disproportionately for the damages from we the more sinful. Much of the effort we put into the continuous, often desperate, recreation of our belief systems, even through cultural distractions, is due entirely to trying to find an explanation for evil in the world in ways that does not include ourselves, and this is the essence of boredom.

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