Tuesday, June 4, 2013


This is from a letter to a friend, and it helps explain my most recent long post - and also my sense that I need a new approach to this blog.

I've been sucked into playing to a very small and irrational audience that has no connection whatsoever to the Church in general or to normal people outside the Church.  The "true believers" who have been so hateful and spiteful over the years and who now reveal what they're really made of in this Dolan situation - these are not the people we need to play to.  For one thing, they are not arguing in good faith; they have no intention of changing, they are not seeking the truth.  They're seeking to win, preferably over our dead bodies.  For another, they're sapping our strength and energies and draining any hint of joy or peace in our souls.
Meanwhile, 94% of Americans think contraception is just fine, thank you - and about half have no problem with abortion.  Most Catholics are clueless about Christ, and the Evangelicals I've met know the Bible, but not in context, and have no greater grasp of the life of Faith than most nominal Catholics do.  Atheism is all the rage, and Mark Shea and I and others like us keep arguing theology with people who hate us and who attack us regularly.  Arguing points that the man on the street - or even the man in the pews - couldn't care less about.
We've been preaching to the choir and the choir have been throwing stones at us.
Does this make any sense?
We've been sowing seed on stony soil and it's time to move on.
So I'm after a new approach.

I'll open up comments again (I had closed them for the last few days).  Let me know what you like and don't like about this blog, and what you think might be better.  Don't waste your time calling me uncharitable; that's somewhat true, but beside the point.  What I'm looking for is constructive criticism and new ideas.  This is a tremendous technology and it's a sin - literally a sin - to waste it by continuing to sow seed onto stony soil, which is what I'm afraid I've spent much of the past few years doing.

Meanwhile, our video online network Grunky will be premiering sometime this summer - with shows such as

  • Sharing with Stanford starring Stanford Nutting
  • Beer and Books with Joseph Pearce
  • Food and Faith with Mark Shea
  • Father Dangerous with Kaiser Johnson
  • From Cave to Grave - and Beyond: Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man" with Kevin O'Brien

... and more.


Benjamin. said...

Oh, I've been waiting a long time for Stanford's show.

Tom Leith said...

OK Brother Kevin, here goes.

What's been done with Stanford (a great CHARACTER) is too much "inside ball" -- snarky fun for sure but not very engaging of so-called seekers. If you're going to have Sharing with Stanford, then someone has to actually share with him rather than express shock or mocking disdain towards him. What is his philosophy? (Whatever. As long as you're nice. Forms don't matter. Matter doesn't matter. Develop a list here.) Then have him and Glad Trad Convert Romie Miriambörg actually share. Put them in situations and see how they talk to each other. We'll have to figure out where the meet.

Something Peter Kreeft said sticks with me: appeal to the reason of the heart. Stanford will understand that, and it is after all what made a convert of Romie in the first place (not that her head didn't come along). One thing the so-called "conservative" approach does is constantly appeal to the reason of the head, which Stanford distrusts and Romie isn't very good at expressing in a systematic way and she has a tendency to trip over technical terms anyway, especially those derived from Latin or Greek. There will be very few Literary Converts for awhile, I think.

One thing both Stanford & Romie should grow together toward: an increasing realization that "human spirit" is something objective -- "human nature" means "human purpose" and that points to "cosmic purpose" which they BOTH want and may even use similar language about. But Stanford's love is sentimental and Romie's has something of a Viking Mother Fierceness about it.

Beer & Books -- a head show for sure. Could well become a "How to Read a Book (or Movie)" show -- media criticism. Maybe we have to drag Joseph into areas I haven't seen him in yet. For example, why is Tom Clancy's character Jack Ryan sympathetic? What's his code? What does he get right & what does he get wrong? The same questions could be asked of another character John Clark. The Incredibles is a very good movie -- why? And why should we take the trouble to read Edwardian literature? (one reason: to get exposure it ideas that lost the political battle). And Flannery O'Connor's great essay found here.

I have grave fear that Father Dangerous will be a grave disaster. But maybe he could go this way: around a table populated by Williamus and some of his closest friends yesterday, there was expressed a great groan over the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) decision to permit same-sex attracted boys to participate in Scouting even if their difficulty had become known. Of course, it wasn't expressed this way. For my part, I think what they're doing (as far as it goes) is COMPLETELY consonant with the Catechism. But it is dangerous! 1) The BSA says "No Scout should engage in venereal activities anyway, so this isn't a problem". For the moment, they're teaching that sodomy is wrong by refusal to permit "gay" (cf "Same Sex Attracted") adults as leaders. But can this be maintained? Can the Scouts continue to exclude "gay" leaders, and can they tell the boys why they do so? Orthodoxy puts us on a tightrope without a net, over an infamous pit. That's the danger. The reason I can't write a series like this is I don't know how to make a story about this that doesn't get all preachy or fall back on technical/theological language. The trick is to show that Orthodoxy is Common Sense, Dangerous, and Rewarding.

If anyone cares, have a look at this essay right here to see more about what I think works and why (not that I'm an expert or anything).

This is all I got for now, I gotta go see a man about a car. But I'll pray for you. Oh, sorry...

Joey Higgins said...

I appreciate the blog. I don't really have any feedback for you except thanks and that I don't always comment but usually read your blog, fairly religiously :P

Anonymous said...

Dear Kevin,

I have only just this past week chanced upon your blog but would like to communicate my sincere hopes that you continue to post regular updates. I have found your posts intellectually insightful and spiritually beneficial. I have also come up with a few homily ideas from you entirely Catholic reasonings. I would not wish that you should change a thing, but instead please be assured of my prayers in support of your continual efforts.

In Christ,
Fr. Maximilian C.R.

ck said...

I think I may have referred you to my story in Catholic Answers magazine before about how 12 years of Catholic school didn’t catechize me:


You, Brian, are on my short list of people on the internet that have their heads screwed on right when it comes to the faith. You are right in the lying argument, but I think you are straining at gnats. Is there a bit of pride involved here where the goal is to have someone admit you are right and they are wrong, rather than presenting the truth in its fullness and then letting the Holy Spirit do his job of convicting people? I say this only because I know I am guilty of that. Often.

I have nothing but sympathy for the young people you profile on your blog. They can’t love and serve a God they don’t know. I have, for perhaps a decade now, dreamed of finding a way to get the basics of the Catholic faith to the masses in systematic, yet not overwhelming way - something that goes after the camels rather than the gnats. I am willing, but not able, to do this myself. I made a stab at trying to prove that reason support the Church with this blog:


But that by itself took me two years to complete. It took a year for me to create this simple presentation:


and as well received as presentations have been by the groups I talk to, these are just snippets of the Faith, and I’m really not competent to say, yes, every word I say there deserves an Imprimatur.

EWTN and Catholic Answers were vital in my finding of the fullness of the Faith, but I already knew and loved God, was VERY motivated to listen every moment I could, and even then I needed to buy several books to fill in the gaps. Just as a completely random example, all the blog reading and EWTN watching in the world was not going to tell me the getting drunk is a mortal sin.

There are so many absolutely fantastic websites out there – Catholics Come Home, the Catholic Education Resource Center, etc. but none of them actually FORM an understanding of the Faith. Catholic media typically offers a do-it-yourself patchwork quilt for the highly motivated to learn the Faith.

I envisioned a website that offers the substance of the Baltimore Catechism, but with the realistic goal of getting the typical lazy-minded modern to at least get the basics, which would whet their appetite to learn more, kind of putting layer upon layer. Even I have never read the Catechism of the Catholic Church from cover to cover, and even when I do read it, it’s hard to digest.

There are several resources that I have been using in real life with my friends to achieve what I have been hoping to do online. One is the Faith and Life series. This series is offered as an online course:


but I envisioned something free and where the depth is layered on. With my friends I start by giving them the 1st grade Faith and Life book (which contains more depth than 12 years of Catholic school had for me) and then move on to Grade 2, interspersed with their personal questions and discussion. Kind like you are climbing a mountain - something systematic and beautiful. Something that covers all the topics covered in RCIA formats like these:


You’re going to think I’m a kook but this has been my plan this summer: win the Pillsbury Bake-Off, win a butt-ton of money, then contact you, Catholic Answers, Catholic Culture and anyone else with their head screwed on right if they could make this website happen.

Kevin O'Brien said...

CK, I certainly don't have any more resources than you, but I think we should talk. Email me - kevin at thewordinc.org