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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Fr. Rob Johansen's "Empty Chair" homily and its discontents.

Father's moving homily can be found at his blog here. Dissenting opinions can be found here.

The pious outrage from dissenter Jim should remind you why homilies like Fr. Johansen's are hen's teeth rare. The prospect of the perennially-offended bleating "how un-Christian!" (read "not warm and fuzzy!") is not a pleasant thing to face so much as once a year.

Should a controversial topic be touched upon, it's done so in a way that inverts it (think of those passages from Ephesians and Colossians you almost never hear), or at most offers the "collective guilt" interpretation--"yes, but we're all to blame...." While it may be true in a sense, it's also profoundly false: when everyone is guilty, no one is guilty.

Instead, it's easier to focus on topics that won't singe the consciences of the flock--consumerism, or intolerance, or suchlike. Almost no one ever sees himself in those discussions, or if he does, he isn't going to approach the priest in a huff about it.

Instead, the path of least resistance: Even easier still to focus on the importance of singing Kumbaya while practicing your penmanship, being nice to springer spaniel puppies or other affirmingly non-controversial topics. Be thankful for the priests like Fr. who put themselves on the line in their homilies.

Not so BTW, we expecting our third child in September, which explains in part the dramatic pause and prayer request (no need to stop, for a myriad of obvious reasons) two weeks back. FWIW, we think it's a girl.

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