Tag Archives: catholic

Easy Prey

This pas­sage from Ezekiel struck me this evening:

What sor­row awaits you shep­herds who feed your­selves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shep­herds feed their sheep?.. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone look­ing for those who have wan­dered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harsh­ness and cru­elty. So my sheeph have been scat­tered with­out a shep­herd, and they are easy prey for any wild ani­mal. They have wan­dered through all the moun­tains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them…

For this is what the Soverign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shep­herd look­ing for his scat­tered flock… I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will ban­dage the injured and strenghten the weak. Book of Ezekiel 34.

It seems appro­pri­ate for all sorts of rea­sons. Last week the priest of my wife’s Catholic church shut it down under false pre­tenses (see savest​marys​.net/​b​log), the cul­mi­na­tion of a long plan to close it and ulti­mately most of the small Catholic churches in South Jer­sey. There are sheep that will be scat­tered by these acts. I’m also just so acutely aware of reli­gious of all denom­i­na­tions who are so caught up in the human forms of our church body that we’ve lost sight of those who are wan­der­ing in the wilder­ness, easy prey for the wild ani­mals of our worldly lusts. I take solace in the promise that the Lord’s Shep­herd is out look­ing for us.

St Marys

Sustaining the purpose for which we were peculiarly raised up

Marlborough meetinghouseJust fin­ished: Ken­neth S.P. Morse’s “A His­tory of Con­ser­v­a­tive Friends” from 1962. Like most his­to­ries of Con­ser­v­a­tive Friends, it’s both heart­en­ing and depress­ing. It’s great to read the quotes, which often put the dilemma very clearly, like this one from Iowa Friends in 1877:

In con­sid­er­a­tion of many and var­i­ous depar­tures in Doc­trine, Prin­ci­ple and Prac­tice, brought into our beloved Soci­ety of late years by mod­ern inno­va­tors, who have so rev­o­lu­tion­ized our ancient order in the Church, as to run into views and prac­tices out of which our early Friends were lead, and into a broader, and more self-pleasing, and cross-shunning way than that marked out by our Sav­ior, and held to by our ancient Friends.… And who have so approx­i­mated to the unre­gen­er­ate world that we feel it incum­bent upon us to bear testimony…and sus­tain the Church for the pur­pose for which is was pecu­liarly raised up.

I love this stuff. You’ve got the­ol­ogy, polity, cul­ture and an argu­ment for the eter­nal truths of the “pecu­liarly raised” Quaker church. But even in 1962 this is a story of decline, of gen­er­a­tions of min­is­ters pass­ing with no one to take their place and monthly and yearly meet­ings wink­ing out with dis­arm­ing reg­u­lar­ity as the con­cept of Friends gets stretched from all sides. “It is cer­tainly true that most of those who call them­selves Friends at the present time are only par­tial Friends in that they seem not to have felt called to uphold var­i­ous branches of the Quaker doctrine.”

Putting the book down the most remark­able fact is that there are any Con­ser­v­a­tive Friends around still around almost fifty years later.

The task of shar­ing and uphold­ing the Quaker doc­trine is still almost impos­si­bly hard. The mul­ti­plic­ity of mean­ings in the words we use become stum­bling blocks in them­selves. Friends from other tra­di­tions are often the worst, often being blind to their own inno­va­tions, oftener still just not car­ing that they don’t share much in com­mon with early Friends.

Then there’s the dis­unity among present-day Con­ser­v­a­tives. Geog­ra­phy plays a part but it seems part of the cul­ture. The his­tory is a maze of tra­di­tion­al­ist splin­ter groups with carefully-selected lists of who they do and do not cor­re­spond with. Today the three Con­ser­v­a­tive Yearly Meet­ings seem to know each another more through carefully-parsed read­ing of his­to­ries than actual vis­i­ta­tion (there is some, not enough). There’s also the human messi­ness of it all: some of the flaki­est lib­eral Quak­ers I’ve known have been part of Con­ser­v­a­tive Yearly Meet­ings and the inter­net is full of those who share Con­ser­v­a­tive Friends val­ues but have no yearly meet­ing to join.

No answers today from me. Maybe we should take solace that despite the tra­vails and the his­tory of defeat, there still remains a spark and there are those who still seek to share Friends’ ways. For those want­ing to learn more the more recent “Short His­tory of Con­ser­v­a­tive Friends” (1992) is online and a good introduction.

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Doink Doink/Chunk Chunk/Bomp Bomp

As the evi­dence accu­mu­lates on the Follieri/Galante church-for-beach-house devel­oper scan­dal, it’s become some­thing of a par­lor game around the kitchen table to spec­u­late on who will play all the char­ac­ters in the upcom­ing mini-series. It’s only a mat­ter of time really. We’ve got a glam Euro­trash huck­ster, a Hol­ly­wood actress, the Sopranos-like mob vice pres­i­dent, Bill Clin­ton shady deal­ings with his all-but-pedophile drink­ing buddies–and of course the Dio­cese of Camden’s Bishop Galante and at least one dioce­san priest with a fond­ness for play­ing dress-up. It will only become more truth-is-stranger-than-fiction when a few more details work their way from open secret to FBI doc­u­men­ta­tion and NY Post headlines.

So while it’s not a sur­prise, there is a cer­tain sat­is­fac­tion in the lat­est media rumor that “Law & Order” is plan­ning one of their clas­sic “ripped from the head­lines” drama­ti­za­tion of the scan­dal:

Raffaello’s arrest was and still is the buzz in New York City’s social circles.…He was the ulti­mate con man; hand­some, rich, smooth and with a celebrity girl­friend to make him seem legit. I’m sure this will be the highest-rated Law & Order episode next season.

There’s enough angles to this story to fill an entire sea­son of tele­vi­sion so we don’t know how promi­nent the Bishop’s part will be. But L&O cre­ator Dick Wolf grew up an altar boy at St. Patrick’s cathe­dral in New York and the L&O cos­tume depart­ment has more cler­i­cal out­fits that Raf­faello Follieri’s closet. Wolf rarely misses the chance to throw a priest into the script. Whole sea­sons of the show were devoted to ripped-from-the-headlines pieces on the priest/bishop sex abuse scan­dal in the early 2000s and I’m sure a follow-up look at the web of finan­cial fraud fueled (or at least jus­ti­fied) by the set­tle­ment pay­outs would be a big rat­ings hit.

I just wish Lennie Briscoe was still around to make the col­lar. BOMP BOMP.

Anne Hathaway’s files aren’t “Diaries”

Well the Depart­ment of Jus­tice must be a Quaker Ranter reader because they fol­lowed yesterday’s advice and con­fis­cated the pri­vate papers of actress Anne Hath­away, ex-girlfriend, board mem­ber and busi­ness part­ner of con man Raf­faello Follieri.

But yet again her pub­lic­ity machine rolls on. Most news out­lets are call­ing the papers her “diaries” in oblique ref­er­ence to her appear­ance in the 2001’s “Princess Diaries” movie. One tongue-in-cheek head­line read “The FBI knows whether Anne Hath­away dots her ‘I’s with hearts.” Finan­cial papers, pho­tos, doc­u­ments, etc., are reduced to “diaries”. Boy oh boy. I won­der if the celebrity blogs will start describ­ing the D.A. as a “fire breath­ing dragon.” Poor lit­tle Anne bilk­ing mil­lions of dol­lars from investors, how was she to know?

The NY Daily News arti­cle says the papers included pho­tos of Fol­lieri with the Clin­tons, Pope John Paul II and John and Cindy McCain. Down here in South Jer­sey we can’t help but won­der whether a few chummy shots of the Ital­ian con man with pal Bishop Joseph Galante. Such pic­tures cer­tainly exist some­where, whether in Anne’s col­lec­tion or in the photo shoe­box of some South Jer­sey priest. I would love to see them.

What’s Anne Hathaway doing in Cape May anyway?

One of the things I don’t get about the press treat­ment of the Follieri/Galante scan­dal is their atti­tude toward actress Anne Hath­away. Until a few weeks ago she was the dap­per Italian’s girl­friend and they were con­stantly pho­tographed together. But they broke up the week before the scan­dal hit the tabloids, and all we’ve got­ten are these silly human inter­est sto­ries. We hear spec­u­la­tion she must be heart­bro­ken, we hear how she’s mov­ing on with her life, we even hear details about get­ting her dog back from her old apart­ment with Fol­lieri. She’s lost a lot of weight of her lat­est movie promo tour and mys­te­ri­ously showed up at a Cape May bar singing Jour­ney songs this week­end with a pho­tog­ra­pher con­ve­niently in tow.

Hello? She was on the board of direc­tors of the Fol­lieri Group’s char­i­ties. The New York pent­house they shared was paid for by conned money as were their lav­ish trips and high fly­ing lifestyle. Boyfriend drama is the last thing she needs to be wor­ried about right now. I sure hope the FBI is care­fully going through her check­book and date book right now. She both solicited and received stolen money. No won­der she’s lost a lot of weight.

And what’s up with her get­ting off the plane from Lon­don and dri­ving a cou­ple of hours to the south­ern tip of the New Jer­sey? The Cape May County house Fol­lieri bought from the bishop was report­edly just sold again. Could Anne Hath­away be on the deed or autho­rized to sign for  Fol­lieri? Idle spec­u­la­tion of course but I do wish her pub­li­cists weren’t mak­ing fools of the pop­u­lar press like this.