November 23, 2008

Double Agents

Some of the worst enemies of Holy Church are within. Another group of enemies to Holy Church are disgruntled ex-Catholics. Yet, another group of Holy Church enemies are people who were never Catholic but get all their information on Holy Church from the news and the other two groups of enemies. Woe, when these three groups get together. The haters who pretend to be Catholics teaming up with the haters who once pretended to be Catholics teaming up with the folks who get their news about the Church from PRI.

It's no secret that most local theater in this town is not staffed by people who support the Catholic Church*.It's no secret that most local theater producers, actors, and staff despise the Catholic Church. Their reasons vary-some don't even need one. Local theater, at least once per year, stages some obviously anti-Catholic production. Sadly, they probably do pretty well or else they would not be staged. It's easy for those who don't understand something to make fun of it. It's easy for those who've never moved beyond the surface and gone deeper into the Sacred Mysteries to mock them on a rudimentary level since that's all they are capable, or willing, to understand.

Local dinner theater is a typical culprit. Locally, Chanhassen Dinner Theater is currently staging "Altar Boyz" The Pioneer Press had two reviews of this production one here and the other here. Read them and weep.

The Pioneer Press either decided that just one brief mention was not enough material for Church haters to run out and buy tickets for this production or Mr. Dominic Papatola, theater critic, was upset that he did not get another chance to share his personal history with Catholicism (Hey, he went to Catholic school must be an expert!) and asked to be able to review it more fully.

In a lame effort to: give this production legitimacy, or calm people like me who might be upset, or to make fun of a priest, or maybe all of the above. (Mr. Papatola admits in the review he deliberately witheld information about the production that he'd seen before from Father) . Mr. Papatola invited a priest to attend with him whom he calls Father D. I got two words for you, Father D: Bad Judgement. Furthermore, you were set up. Mr. Papatola did you no favors by mentioning your presence at this show. For once, I hope a priest was not sitting in the audience in clericals.

This is all bad enough but is the CATHOLIC SPIRIT (the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis) so hard up for ad revenue that they've run ads for this production in three issues????!!!!! Not only that, the photo in the paper is the original poster shot that was on the Chanhassen Dinner Theater page but the dinner theater has since removed it. However, that's still the ad in the Catholic Spirit as recently as the November 20th issue. Let me say this: when I want to see buffed men in tight clothing with their shirts wide open I'll walk thru the aisle with the Harlequin Romances at Target. See anything you like, baby? The first time I noticed this ad was when it appeared right below the Archbishop's column (!) about a month ago. I, charitably and calmly, wrote to the Catholic Spirit, recommending they may want to, er, rethink this ad being in the Archdiocesan paper. I also said I was suspicious that this was a production that was going to mock Holy Church and, from the reviews, I was right.

I'm sad Father D was sucker punched and I'm sad that Mr. Papatola can no more discern than he can deliberate! But, I'm reserving most of my scorn in this post for the Catholic Spirit who it seems should know better. I'm not sure what's going on at the paper. The newspaper seems very bipolar these days. Faithful on this page and wishy-washy on this one. Well, that was always somewhat true but I had hope that the new Archbishop would keep a closer eye on the publication. I know he's a busy man and he has a lot of housekeeping to take care of. Maybe I'm just too impatient or I expect too much? My old Confessor used to call me on my impatience. He was right about that. But, how can we expect too much from our Archdiocesan paper? The vehicle that is supposed to inform and teach us not only about the bake sales going on and the Archbishop's schedule, but also Truths about the Faith should be solid.

There are other, local, Catholic newspapers to subscribe to: The Wanderer and The Catholic Servant that are very Faithful and informative. I subscribe to both of those papers as well. But, friends, there is a huge responsibility that comes with being the OFFICIAL newspaper of the Archdiocese that those two papers, as great as they are, do not have.

*If you want to support authentic, local, Catholic theater, turn your eyes towards Epiphany Studio Productions. Congratulations go to Mr. Jeremy Stanbary and Ms. Sarah Preissner who recently engaged to be married!!!


Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

What is going on over there with you guys??? The official diocesan newspaper running ads for anti-Catholic crap?? If this same thing is taking place here in Vegas, someone must be keeping well under wraps. Here in Las Vegas I hear a comment or two about a priest who may have mismanaged parish funds or a priest with an attitude. But the things I read out of St. Paul/ Minneapolis make me wonder if Pelosi or the Kennedy’s infiltrated the innermost regions of the diocese.

November 23, 2008 4:45 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Tom: Calm yourself. Go take your salts! :-) Things are WAY better than they used to be but there is still room for improvement (obviously).

We get a lot of heat for being a dissident hotbed but for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction. Witness the existance of the other two, solid, papers I spoke about. You can see that in our parish makeup too. For every SJA and St Stephens etc, there is a St. Agnes or St. Augustine or St. Charles Borromeo etc. For every dissident priest still in a parish there are 3 seminiarians loyal to the Magisterium waiting to take his place!

November 23, 2008 5:45 PM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...


I think I came across a little strong. Sorry about that. I know that there are good Catholics in your neck of the woods [like you :0) ] who are not emphasized as much as they should. be. My choice of "you guys" was entirely inappropriate and unfair.

What bothers me is how the Catholic Church is smeared by the individuals you are referring to yet, these same people, will not touch Islam or Judaism. I’m not saying they should, but the disparaging focus on the Catholic Church does indicate a personal and irrational abhorrence towards all things Catholic.

November 23, 2008 6:01 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Tom: I know you are passionate and you are right to be indignant! I also know you were not personally criticizing me. :-)

November 23, 2008 6:09 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Pick one:

Dahlheimer; Dandurano; Dease; DeBruycker; DeGrood; DeLaCruz; Dempsey; Deutsch; Deziel; DiLuzo, Dittburner; Dobihal; Doffing; Dolan; Do Linh Sang; Do Minh Tam; Donahue; Donnay; Dosh; Druckman; Dufner; Dufresne; Dummer; Dunne; Dvorak.

My list is a couple of years old. But I see some possibles there and one highly unlikely.

Good post. I was thinking of doing something on it after I read the PPD review. But you did a much better job than I could have.

I'll pass your on to "my people."

November 23, 2008 6:36 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Well done Miss Kale.

Ray - what if it was Fr. Dave? Or Fr. Dick? Or Fr. Donald? Or Fr. Derrick and the Dominoes?

November 23, 2008 9:59 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Back in the olden days, in my diocese, calling a priest by his first name would have been grounds for excommunication.

I still have trouble with it.

November 24, 2008 6:26 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray: Ter, is right. It could be a D from the first name or D for Father Duped.

November 24, 2008 6:36 AM  
Anonymous Chris C. said...

Have you seen the show? I have not, but I have read some other comments on the pioneer press website that have said it is not anti-catholic at all......In fact it preaches acceptance of everyone.....If you have seen it and have this opinion that is fine, but I do suggest seeing the piece before condemning it...

November 29, 2008 9:40 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Chris: Is insinuating the Apostles were gay acceptable? My suspician of acceptance of everyone suggests it's pushing for acceptance of non-hetero expression of sexuality. From the reviews I've picked up on all this.

I'm not going to see it. I see you have not seen it either. Don't most people decide whether or not to see something base their decision upon reviews or the opinions of others who have seen it?

November 29, 2008 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You absolutely gave yourself away with that last comment. The mere fact that you are criticizing something you personally have not watched is about the best example of ignorance I've heard in a while. I have seen the show. Twice actually. The plot is actually ABOUT five guys who are trying to "save souls" in the audience. Wow. My... how sacreligious. How dare they. What makes me laugh about all this ballyhoo towards this production about one "gay" character... is none of the actors onstage actually SAY he is gay. In fact, the humor towards him being gay comes from the audience putting it in their own mind. It is NEVER spelled out. And come to think of it, nothing offensive is spelled out at all. I thought Mr. Papatola's review was thoughtful because it specifically mentions that. Is this show for everyone? Goodness, no. But neither is "Carousel" or "The Sound of Music" or... yikes... "The Producers" which is playing the next room over from "Altar Boyz."

And since we're on this subject. Since WHEN do we discourage people from enjoying art? Art... is subjective. How dare you throw stones at something when you don't even know what you're throwing them at? See the show, because this is a line directly from it: "Jesus said Do not judge and you will not be judged"

Sounds like y'all are judging pretty hard....

November 29, 2008 11:10 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Anon: So making fun of the Catholic Mass is ok then right? One entire number reducing it to an aerobic workout is supposed to be funny to me, right?

What's the point, then, of the gay character whether it's obviously stated or not? Why is he in what seems to be a production making fun of Catholicism?

I'm always amused when people accuse me of discouraging art. I know now that you never read my blog.

It doesn't matter whether I attend the show, as I did with the vile "Pope and the Witch" last year to appease the critics who would be upset that I didn't see it, or not. The same group of haters is going to come over here and accuse me of not being supportive to the creative arts just because I'm not overjoyed that my Faith is being ridiculed.

November 29, 2008 11:21 AM  
Blogger Adoro said...

You know, Cathy, anonymous flamers do not deserve the dignity of a response. If someone has a valid opinion, they can sign their name. If not...then their comment shouldn't even be allowed to remain.

You're not doing either the troll or your own blog any favors by allowing uncivilized behaviour. Letting such things stand sets precedents; draw some boundaries with a commenting policy, and that way you can summarily delete the comments that come from cowards.

November 29, 2008 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You both are VERY correct. So don't see the show, don't have ALL the information. And you're right also about a number being an aerobic workout. Actually... the number is about how people don't go to church anymore for various reasons.

...but you wouldn't know that...

As far as this being an anonymous post. Eh. Such is the internet. Set your own precedents then, I absolutely agree.

Lastly: I'm sure the actors would apologize for your faith being "ridiculed"... because (you wouldn't know this anyway) that's really what the heart of the show is about.

Wait. THIS is lastly. The point of the "gay" character is to point a mirror at society. In fact, his big number near the end of the show called "I am a catholic" is all about standing up to his Faith against others that would denounce him.

Again though... you wouldn't know that.

November 29, 2008 12:59 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Anon: Ok, I'll bite. The point of the gay character sounds suspiciously like it's pointing a mirror at society but probably also at Catholicism vis a vis the usual stuff about how a gay should be able to practice their sexuality but still call themselves Catholic. Same as any other dissenter.

But as you said, I'm speculating, not actually having see it. I'll turn your argument about not having all the facts back to you: How much exactly do you know about Catholicism? I suspect if you knew everything about it you would get why I'm upset.

November 29, 2008 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Justin said...

Well, first off, I want to say Thank You. Some friends invited me to this show and I went online to see the reviews and what people have been saying about it. And after reading your blog, I was so much more intrigued by something that would stir up such a strong reaction. I went this weekend and we all loved it! And before any of your other readers calls me a “flamer” (I still don’t know why the Anon. commenter garnered that response), I would like to say that I attended 17 years of Catholic School. Yup, kindergarten through college. I’m baptized and confirmed. I was a campus minister in high school and college, where I served as the sacristan for student mass. I even considered attending the seminary or joining the monastery at my college for a time. So I’d say I know a thing or two about Catholicism and quite simply, Cathy, Chris C. and Anon both have a point. All the theological wisdom in the world can’t help me understand how you can be so upset over a show you haven’t seen. I found the humor to be more endearing than hostile toward the church. The song about the “calisthenics” that the reviewer wrote about was something that I have joked about myself (along with what I call the “Catholic Drone”—the very lackluster and seemingly thoughtless responses from the congregation at Mass). I would say that it’s more along the lines of “funny because it’s true” than a mockery of faith. Throughout the show my friends and I exchanged knowing glances back and forth as we laughed. As for the, let’s say, “effeminate” character, what’s the big deal? Is he gay? Is he not gay? The important question to me is, does he have faith? My sexuality as a straight man has very little to do with my faith. In fact, the two are mutually exclusive. I have friends who are gay and are quite faithful. One of them is the brother of a priest. Should they not be accepted into the church? Are they not worthy of God’s Love? I also have friends who are straight and have absolutely no interest in religion whatsoever, Christian or otherwise. By my count, harboring this attitude toward any individuals of faith will only decrease the diversity within the church, and ultimately weaken it. If a gay person is a member of the faithful for their own personal reasons, should we turn them away, or should we turn our bibles to Matt 5:11?

When I was in college, I dabbled in theater and was a theater major for one semester before deciding on another major. And I must say that my friends from school who are now members of the local theater community (who got a degree in Theater from a Catholic university, mind you), as well as many others I have met through them, have much better things to do than sit around despising the Catholic Church. I understand that it might be a strong rhetorical opening or an interesting frame for your piece, but it is yet another unsubstantiated remark.

As far as the Catholic Spirit goes, I could see this production as being something that is a source of strength for young Catholics out there. It demonstrates that you can be a true believer and be hip and trendy (again, two mutually exclusive traits). As I look around my church at Sunday Mass, I see a rapidly aging population. If something like this can be self-deprecatingly light-hearted enough to possibly renew our young people’s interest in the church, I’m all for it. And if you’re afraid that printing an ad for this show in the Catholic Spirit will somehow diminish the faith in some within our Archdiocesan community, then perhaps we should examine the strength of our own faith rather than the speck in our neighbor’s eye.

December 01, 2008 2:45 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Justin: Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

Gays are accepted and welcome in the Church. It's just that if they are sexually active the action is sinful. Same rules for me. If I'm sexually active outside of marriage that is sinful. In both cases, we'd need to repent, confess, strive to amend our lives, and resolve to never do it again. Both of us are welcome, the expression of the sin is not.

I'm sorry your parish is aging but I'm not convinced that making the faith hip-hoppy is the answer. The more traditional Catholic communities that I've attended are not aging at all. They are very young. I think traditionalism and reverence is making big strides among the young Catholics.

December 01, 2008 8:48 AM  

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