Thursday, May 19, 2005

On the box
‘Dateline NBC’
NBC did its final news programme about miracles to lead into the last episode of ‘Revelations’ (fake excitement and anticlimactic really — you know who’s gonna win):Fr Emmanuel McCarthy a not unsympathetic look at Medjugorje (problematic as Mud Gorge is — I don’t think Stone Phillips mentioned that the local bishop, who calls the shots on such, didn’t approve it) and, more interesting, they showed Fr Emmanuel McCarthy* (whom they called ‘Charlie McCarthy’ — oops, that was Edgar Bergen’s dummy), a Melkite priest who faithfully follows the Orthodox tradition, is married and the father of 13, a peace activist (co-founder of Pax Christi USA) and was instrumental (through the saving of one of his children’s lives) in the beatification of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (better known as Edith Stein). In many ways Fr Emmanuel seems a recruiting poster for this blog: traditional religion and the right kind of granola politics**, not mutually exclusive but with one logically coming from the other, part of the Catholic thing.

Then from the sublime to the ridiculous they showed a clip of John Spong, unwittingly capturing the modern Broad Church act perfectly: high trappings that don’t mean anything. In the background, as quondam +Newark was talking, was a big crucifix, while Spong was presenting his reheated 19th-century scepticism/functional atheism: he doesn’t believe in literal miracles as a modern man.

(If he had any honour he’d give up his pension but atheist cranks who aren’t nominal Christian clergymen don’t get as much attention and besides he’d have to rename his column or whatever something less dramatic than ‘A Bishop Speaks’.)

Spong, a Southerner, started out as a conservative Presbyterian. Looking at history, Robert Morse is proved right again: Calvinism shatters into Unitarianism.

At least with the sympathy towards Medjugorje NBC didn’t dismiss miracles or make fun of belief in them.

*Not our kind of nuns but a useful page to introduce you to Fr Emmanuel.

**Thanks, John Treat, for that summation of this blog.

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