Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, May 01, 2015

The spiritual "superiority" of digging with a spoon.

My pal, the lovely and gracious Kate O'Hare, blogged on the matter the intelligent application of technology to the task of outreach by the Catholic church. She asked me what I thought, and I -- not one to mince words -- told her:

“Of the current realities to which companies and other institutions must adapt — all of which involve the wise application of entrepreneurial principles — possibly the most crucial one is that of ‘branding.’

“To this end, technology, such as MasterChannel’s platform, is to be embraced intelligently, and not feared, shunned or left to ‘the other guys’ out of a stuntedly earnest sense of nobility-of-purpose; this is the same sort of thinking that supposes it’s more virtuous to dig with a spoon than with a bulldozer.”

Of course, one of the Usual Suspects took exception and posted comment which struck me as jejune and disjointed, a casual collation of Vaticanese doublespeak, filled with sound and fury and signifying nothing-ish.

There is an unfortunate mindset among some Catholics that entrepreneurship is, by its very nature...suspect. As if there were something not-quite-right about it, something with a faint whiff of, oh, I dunno, Calvinism or WASPism or something.

In my estimation, and I deeply regret I cannot phrase this more charitably, this is absolute, 100% organic USDA Prime drivel. (Were that MY blog my response would have been: "Nurse! He's out of bed again!")

My abbreviated translation of the unfortunate comment runs along these lines: The Catholic Church has the fullness of truth, etc. and "we don' need no stinkin' marketin' or any of your other kinds of witchcraft. "

This comment is PRECISELY the sort of thinking I had in mind when I made my comment which Kate quoted. The commenter is trying to silence opposition to that curious and quaint neo-obscurantist view.

The comment gets going from the first salvo, the "Are we the XYZ brand, are we?" Which is nothing Kate mentioned. To say you should use a hammer is not the same as claiming/desiring to be a carpenter. It claims that Kate is proposing a "push the ads" analogy. (Huh? What?) Then the commenter further throws in useless jargon, ascribing the Labor Theory of Value to "the Enlightenment," when it's Marx who proposed it.

While the commenter is right about what the Catholic Church has/is (mystical body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, the Sacraments, etc.), it's also spectacularly besides the point. ALL of what this commenter states will come to nothing unless the Catholic Church can get bodies in the pews.

The commenter also fails to understand that we're talking about tools to use in Evangelization, no different that Gutenberg's printing press. I'm sure that someone in the 15th Century complained that Bibles should be copied by hand and only by monks.

The commenter is saying, in essence, "Forget all this pagan 'business-y' stuff, that's what got us in trouble in the first place."

Which is, naturally, wrong.

God, at Pentecost, gave the Apostles the first of the many tools useful and necessary for evangelization: the gift of speaking other languages. At no point did, say, Phillip pipe up and say "Why do we need to speak these other languages? Let's just carry on in Aramaic and God will fix everything." He didn't because they all knew that God prefers to allow us the tools to fulfill His purpose and the tasks He has entrusted to us.

This is why St. Jerome translated the Bible, why Gutenberg printed it, Fr. Daniel Lord, SJ used pamphlets, why Bp. Sheen used television and why the last three popes have used the Internet.

There is no nobility, or merit, or reward or viable reason, to do something the most backward way possible.

Put down that spoon, and let's dig.