The National Catholic Review

A good friend sent me a link to this video—he included no descriptive comments that could have biased my opinion.  In fact, I had no idea what it was about prior to viewing.  As it began, I immediately thought this was either a trailer for the next mediocre Marvel Comics film (think: "Thor II"), or a parody from late-night television.  The ominous music is way over the top (cue scary sounding movie trailer announcer guy: “In a world beyond all space and time…”) and the blacksmith looks like a cross between Burgess Meredith and George “the Animal” Steele from the World Wrestling Federation.

My next thought was, to what group is this made to appeal?  The “typical” American portrayed walking to the voting booth as stylish and composed as a Parisian model-actress on the red carpet at Cannes, is a well-coifed, serious-looking white woman who could have skipped off the set of "The Matrix II".  I expect her to whip out a sawed-off shotgun and grenade launcher from under that mid-thigh length leather coat. 

Will struggling middle class Americans viewing this take it seriously?  Will they really set aside their immediate concerns about family finances, job creation and rising fuel prices and adopt the issues of life, marriage and religious freedom?  Undoubtedly, these issues are not mutually exclusive, but it is naïve to posit that concern for the welfare of one’s family is not “non-negotiable.”  I sincerely doubt that the creators of this video have a serious understanding of the typical American family.

Consider this scenario that is all-too-typical of American families in the U.S. right now.  A Catholic married couple in the Midwest is expecting their third child.  The husband was recently laid off from the automobile parts supplier for which he worked for 12 years as a salaried employee and he has only been able to find an hourly wage job that does not include health care benefits.  His wife has been able to pick up some occasional work watching their neighbor’s child to help with expenses.  While they are expecting another child and the prenatal and birthing expenses will be a hardship, this couple would NEVER consider abortion.  They take their marital vows seriously and do their best to communicate with each other and work on their relationship.  Finally, neither work for nor receive health benefits from a Catholic organization, in fact, they have no health care coverage to speak of at all.  Is this video going to persuade this family or the tens of thousands like them that their immediate economic concerns should not be at the forefront of their efforts and political lives?  That’s about as likely as Lady Gaga being honored by the Knights of Columbus.

If a budget is a moral document, that includes a family budget.  Parents need to be good stewards of their money and provide for their children.  I find it difficult to believe that a prudent adult Catholic in the situation I described would think of her family’s economic situation as anything but the most important challenge being faced right now. 

I also found that the declaration about our vote being recorded for eternity to be threatening.  This is a juvenile tactic, no better than the constant stream of pandering political ads to which we have been subjected in recent years.  Can we please raise the level of political discourse above that which we could find on an elementary school playground? 

 

Comments

Ed Highberger | 5/11/2012 - 10:06am
Amy Ho-Ohn's comment is funny stuff.  Although I wonder what Amy hopes to experience on the other side of the current "desert."  The culturally rich and relevant Christianity of the 1970s and 1980s?  
Stanley Kopacz | 5/11/2012 - 5:52am
Obama has been a big disappointment but not a surprise.  But by voting for him in November, there's a chance any supreme court nominations by him will be ones that will reverse Citizens United.  This court is conservative enough to empower the powerful but we still have abortion, don't we?  Another reason I will vote for Obama is because the posters here from the right think there's a difference.  If he's bad enough for you, he's good enough for me.
Carlos Orozco | 5/10/2012 - 9:15pm
Tom, frankly I don't care much about the video. Obama or Romney? Republicans or Democrats? The Gambino or Luciano crime family? Who cares! Why does this Catholic magazine, through articles such as this one, still trying to sell us a biased version of the Presidential reality show?

It ticks me off to witness the persistant defence of a failed presidency by many Catholics, to the point that they are willing to justify sacrificing the autonomy of the Church from the State ("We have no King but Caesar!"). Drunk with arrogance and pride, they now ignore the same evils they so passionately argued their post-modern messiah would put an end to. Those prophetic voices (all Catholics have one because of Baptism) are mute. What have they received in return? A "Health Care" law that President Obama plans to use in the most cowardly, immoral and unjust way: to finance and promote his eugenics agenda. Absolutely disgraceful.
T BLACKBURN | 5/10/2012 - 8:22pm
Carlos, you open up some fronts at which I might be happy to join you. I don't think any of them were covered in the "Test of Fire" video, though. It seems more concerned with the "culture wars" continued this very week by a muddled president who is the one politician in this country farthest removed from playing a role in anything governments do about same-sex marriage. Which, of course, makes it convenient for him. He can talk and never have to deliver, like Republicans talking about abortion.

I would note that most of the things you mention, which we could agree are atrocities, began in a previous administration. I voted for Obama in the firm belief that the one thing I could count on him to do was close Guantanamo. He didn't. Nothing else he can do excuses that failure. We will not see Guantanamo closed in a Romney administration either.

We, you and I, have huge problems. But they are not the kinds of thing the video is marshalling heaven and Earth to fight against. Nor are they being fought against with the kind of pseudotheological claptrap being sold by "Test of Fire." My dispute with Carlos is over the tactics he is summoning up to answer the call of the video.
Carlos Orozco | 5/10/2012 - 7:56pm
Slow dictatorship, Tom?

Is the little Gulag of Guantamo Bay fiction? Are drone assassinations of American citizens in the Middle East a conspiracy theory? Are not high school dropouts working as TSA personnel with the authority to grope men, women and children? Did not Attorney General Eric Holder sell firearms to the Sinaloa drug cartel through the Fast and Furious operation and then stonewall congressional investigation? Did not Obama administration support "good al-Qaeda" in Libya and is currently exporting those same mujahideen to Syria? When Bush committed similar atrocities he was rightly considered a criminal; but since Obama is the perpetrator, I guess you must consider all the above funny and cute.
T BLACKBURN | 5/10/2012 - 7:02pm
But, Carlos, only the third law you suggest can really be disobeyed, but not yet. I mean, what are you going to do about the Patriot Act, refuse to remove your shoes? Big whoops. And your third item isn't going to be prosecuted for another year. So as of right now, we can't be martyred on the altar of tyranny.

This dictatorship seems to be taking a depressingly - to us zealots - long time to, um, tyrannize us.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 5/10/2012 - 7:01pm
I must admit I kind of like this video, but I am just self-aware enough to recognize that the part of me that likes it is appallingly shallow.

This is the logical consequence of thirty years of aggressively marketing the Church to the fat, pimply, teenage loser demographic, those dorks we went to middle school with, who locked themselves in their bedrooms all weekend, played video games and lived on Cheetos and M&M's. When EWTN, Frodo and World Youth Days replace Dante, Bach and Tolstoy, you end up with Christianity: the movie for teenage weenies. This is the new springtime in the Church.

A few months back, a commenter named Barbara on dotCommonweal just said it all IMHO when she wrote, "Whenever I go to mass these days, I feel like I bought tickets to King Lear but the cast thought they were performing Star Wars."

I am (barely) young enough that I can hope to outlive this trip through the desert. But, I think it must be awful to think one may have to die in a Church that can no longer offer anything better than this kind of spiritual dreck.
ed gleason | 5/10/2012 - 6:20pm
Hey Carlos ..you forgot how  Taco Bell is being persecuted (:
Carlos Orozco | 5/10/2012 - 6:14pm
Tom, not to pile up on the Beloved Leader, but some come to mind:

1. The Bush Patriot Act the current President renewed on May 2011. There is never enough government to defend citizens from CIA/FBI patsies.

2. The National Defense Autorization Act (NDAA), signed without fanfare on New Year's Eve. Who needs a lawyer and a jury when we can count on the dictatorial powers of El Presidente de los Estados Unidos? Extra-judicial assasinations and indefinite detentions will keep us safe.

3. HHS mandate of partial-birth abortion advocate and former-governor Kathleen Sebelius, directed to employers in order to pay for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs, as well as sterilization. Second Amendment? Anachronic, me live in the era of Change You Can Believe In.

T BLACKBURN | 5/10/2012 - 5:40pm
Carlos, do you have any laws now in existence - not just threatened, bruited about, under litigation or bouncing around in Congress to create political ads - that we can emulate Blessed Anacleto by disobeying?
Carlos Orozco | 5/10/2012 - 5:18pm
"What political regime deserves the title of 'dictatorship'? That which imposes unjust laws. And how can it be defeated? By systematically disobeying those laws without fear of the consequences; because fear and undue obedience are the oxygen that maintains tyrannies alive."

-Blessed Anacleto González Flores (1888-1927).
David Pasinski | 5/10/2012 - 4:21pm
I think Lady GaGa might increase interst i  the K of C. I believe she's a parochial highschool graduate to boot.

Between religious liberty issues and now gay marraige, the campaign is in for a lot of craziness. It should be an intersting ride and depending upon those key Court decisions and Latino issues, wide open for more sloganeerig and pandering than we've seen in a few years. 
JIM MCCREA | 5/10/2012 - 3:00pm
Speaking of fighting, watch this sheer "Catholic" insanity from The Stand up for Religious Freedom Rally in Detroit on March 23, 2012 (http://www.tubechop.com/watch/360649) which was attended by and, by his presence, supported and blessed by Bishop Michael Byrnes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NiuKZZJkuo&feature=relmfu).

I am beginning to think that these so-called "Catholic" groups are nothing more than home-grown religious terrorist groups that need to be seriously monitored by government security forces.
Beth Cioffoletti | 5/10/2012 - 2:50pm
I find this video seriously scary, interpreting the Catholic message as a political one.  According to this video, the Catholic challenge is not about the mystery of God-With-Us, changing ourselves and our world through love - but digging in our heals to fight.

The fire was disconcerting, but will appeal to the religious zeal of a certain sect of Catholics.  Don't underestimate this video, even though it is not rational.  Seems to me that it appeals, at an unconscious level, to our worst inclinations. 
Tomas Faranda | 5/28/2012 - 1:49pm
Say what you want, the video has been viewed almost a million and a half times. Its been forwarded to me by at least six people - I guess they're not as bright as some of the commenters on this posting - or the poster himself.
ed gleason | 5/10/2012 - 3:35pm
Is this an example of the USCCB religious liberty pitch? They could use those flames to heat up the burritos to go along with their  Taco Bell liberty pitch. The young will laugh, the oldsters will say WHAT'S This?. I say  "no converts for you'  ... come back in 2016."