When Pope Emertius Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum first came out back in 2007, I remember there being a lot of excitement at St F’s because we widely believed that it would cause a proliferation of Latin Masses in the archdiocese. Eight years later, the number of officially sanctioned Latin Masses in the Archdiocese of Atlanta is the same as it was then: one. I checked the Latin Mass Times site for all Latin Mass sites in the state of Georgia, and it lists three “independent chapels” (whatever that means), the SSPX parish up in Roswell, an official Latin Mass once a month at a parish in Macon, a weekly official one at the cathedral in Savannah, and St. F (http://www.latinmasstimes.com/Georgia). For those of you who aren’t familiar with Georgia geography, Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah are all in completely different parts of the state. When I was still “orthodox,” I visited the church in Macon where the Latin Mass is held, and the woman who ran the parish bookstore told me that it’s mostly attended by elderly people. If Catholics are demanding the Latin Mass, as traditionalists claim, they don’t seem to be in Georgia.
A common meme among conservotrads and traditionalists is that millenials who were raised in “traditional” parishes are keeping the proverbial faith, while young people who were raised in “Novus Ordo” parishes are leaving Catholicism for Protestantism, atheism, or who knows what else. A variation on this theme is that “traditional” liturgical churches are gaining more millenial converts, while liberal mainline churches wither and die. As a member of one of those “traditional” parishes for three years and a former convert, I feel uniquely qualified to comment on these propositions.
A couple of months ago, there was a post on the Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta Facebook on Hoteps, those faux Afro-centric, faux black nationalist guys who have a severe addiction to inappropriate ankh usage and slamming “uppity” black women, black LGBTs, and anyone else who poses a threat to “black manhood” and they define it. Basically, they’re black MRAs, trying to justify their misogyny and homophobia with “consciousness” and an egregious misuse and misunderstanding of black history. The Visibility Project has a helpful field guide to identifying the Hotep on Twitter:
This upcoming March will be my fourteenth anniversary for being a vegetarian (I’m now vegan, in case anyone in interested in such things). I made the decision when I was a senior in high school after learning about factory farming from the PETA website, a decision that was later solidified after reading Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. It was a major step for me, because up to that point I was a dedicated meat eater who loved barbequed ribs, fried chicken, and all the other staples of Southern cuisine. But once I learned the truth about where meat actually comes from and made the connection between living, breathing animals and the stuff on my plate, I decided that I could do without my former favorites. Research indicates that many people who become vegetarian or vegan later decide to go back to eating meat. Interestingly, the statistics for ex-Catholics are somewhat comparable, with the Pew Research Center stating that 10 percent of all Americans are ex-Catholics and that 1/3 of “cradle Catholics” leave the church (http://www.pewresearch.org/daily-number/americas-former-catholics/). So why did I stick with vegetarianism but not Catholicism?
Note: contains spoilers for the”Revolutionary Girl Utena.” For more information see:
The ending to the anime series “Revolutionary Girl Utena” usually leaves viewers confused and somewhat frustrated, because it’s unclear what happened to the titular character and, on the surface, it appears like nothing has changed for the supporting characters. This was the impression I got when I first saw Utena back in 2004 when I was a junior in college, but after my religious misadventures and some repeated viewings of the series, I now view the ending in a very different way.
Some time ago, I saw a documentary on the Jonestown Massacre and recall hearing a survivor say that he decided to travel to Guyana against his better judgement because he thought that living on the agricultural compound would mold him into a better person, and help him become overcome the shortcomings that he perceived to be present in his life. While Jonestown is an extreme example, I think this general sentiment of putting one’s hope in an outside organization or guru-type figure to help “straighten one out” is common, and is one reason why so many people are attracted to groups, religious or otherwise, that are categorized as “high demand.” In the context of Catholicism, I think that the rigors of monastic life or what I call “high demand lay spirituality” can be attractive for people who are suffering from some kind of mental illness or emotional imbalance.
Sometimes, during my more melancholy moments, I feel like I “failed at religion,” much in the same way I failed at basketball when I was in seventh grade. My inability to continue in religion certainly wasn’t from lack of trying; I went to the most “traditional” parish in the archdiocese (at least until I got blackballed), prayed the rosary every day, did Louis de Monfort’s “Consecration to Jesus through Mary,” read about theology, liturgy, apologetic, and the saints, etc. But in the end, it still wasn’t enough, because nothing I did could resolve the doubts I had accumulated. I had hoped that “finding religion” would help solve some of my existential crises, as well as my ever-present anxiety and depression, but I soon discovered that adding theology to the mix not only gave me new things to be anxious/depressed about.