I recently sent Bud Malby an e-mail message, thanking him for the many comments he has posted here and asking him if he would consider writing a piece now and then that I could share on this site. He has agreed to do so and today I’m pleased to publish his first blog on this website. I would guess that the majority of the readers of this site have already read “Yes We Are! The Living Body of Christ” by Jim Hogan but if you have not I highly recommend it (even though or perhaps precisely because the diocese does not). It is an excellent read. Bud’s book “Windknocker” is equally a great read and can be ordered on Amazon.com in paperback or on Kindle.
| by Bud Malby | November 27, 2012 | CCMT |
“Those who are aggrieved by what our present leaders have done to the true spirit of Vatican II and have stayed in the Church to demand a reform in and of the institutional Church, I say, ‘hang in there, People of God!’”
This quote comes from Magy Stelling in a magnificent essay she gave us on November 24th. I agree passionately with what she says, well, just about everything, and even then I don’t disagree. Instead, I have growing doubts that “hanging in there,” to be the leaven of renewal, might not be where we should be expending our energy. As I said, my doubts have been growing, and I’m no longer sure trying to reform an institution that doesn’t want us, can be justified. Stay with me for a moment, as I’m not trying to be provocative, but more like proactive.
I first heard of Jim Hogan’s book, YES WE ARE! THE LIVING BODY OF CHRIST, while I was writing my own book, WINDKNOCKER. I knew a little of the content of Jim’s book, and as a result declined to read it. I didn’t want to be swayed by it. While my own book wasn’t meant to be earthshaking, still, I wanted it to be original and not influenced by the thoughts or insights of another. Jim’s book was the first one I read after mine went to the publisher. It is a great book, one I refer to and recommend constantly.
It was about then that the Diocese of Great Falls published, in their diocesan newspaper, a denunciation of Fr. Hogan’s book. Here’s a short excerpt:
“This book is a case study in the mindset of the aging “spirit of Vatican II” generation and the frustration they feel that the Church is no longer moving in a direction they desire.
“Perhaps his [Fr Hogan’s] favorite analogy is: trying to stem the spirit of Vatican II is like trying to put some pre-packed merchandise back into its box; it cannot be done. This does come across as whistling past the graveyard. It does not seem to occur to him that perhaps we now have a bigger box…
“This book has become fairly popular in our diocese; but it is fraught with errors and a myopic view of history. It should be avoided at all costs.”
Avoided at all costs? What kind of nonsense is that? However, the first line quoted above is more germane, and has become almost a mantra for the fundamentalists who have taken over the church. The word, “aging,” is key, since you can read that refrain on a host of conservative Catholic websites today. What it means is, we’re dying out, and all that’s necessary for the Church to return to those pristine and holy days of yore is for us mixed up and wrong-headed old “spirit of Vatican II” types to kick the bucket. That doesn’t exactly make me feel welcome.
Increasingly, you read on those same websites that victory has been declared. You hear it in words like, “We’ve won in case you haven’t noticed, so get used to it.”
This is where my growing doubts are centered. Instead of using my time and effort to reform the Church from within, do I even want to hobnob with folks with that attitude, and who would reject a book, with the right questions and the right answers, like Jim Hogan’s? We are the Body of Christ! But that doesn’t have to happen within the walls of a building or at the whims of the institution.
As a footnote, the work that Concerned Catholics of Montana are involved in has been recognized worldwide, and now even New Hampshire has become aware of that forbidden book, YES WE ARE! THE LIVING BODY OF CHRIST.
Fr. Emmett Coyne lives in New Hampshire, and recently published his own book, THE THEOLOGY OF FEAR. You could summarize the content this way:
“In exorcising fear from its current theology, the Roman Church can yet offer hope for humanity. This was the hope of Vatican II which unfortunately has turned into a winter of discontent.”
I’ll try to have something specific to say about his book in the near future. In any event, the other day I got an email from Emmett, and he said,
“I put your book on my bookshelf and it was next to Jim Hogan’s! Montana, back to back.”
A note from Rosemary
Yes We Are! The Living Body of Christ – and it takes all of us, those of us still well within the institutional church, those of us with one foot in and one foot out and those who have stepped away. We love being Catholic with a capital “C” and a small “c” and we who are “Concerned Catholics” appreciate all perspectives and are willing to listen and learn from them all. Thank you, Bud for your contribution to the conversation!