The Amazing Catholic BS generator


This is the kind of article one writes with Kinky Friedman blasting in the background, and that’s how it is meant to be read. Otherwise, the experience might prove a little too painful. So crank up “Homo Erectus,” grab a bourbon, and I’ll explain to you the workings of The Catholic Bullshit Generator™.

The Generator was invented in the ‘60s, but it didn’t come from Ronco, the folks who brought millions of bloodshot, white-knuckled insomniacs the joys of the Pocket Fisherman. In fact, there’s no single tinkerer who can claim sole credit for The Generator. Like eugenics and the A-bomb, it was developed by a team. Its function is to take the complex and deeply-considered doctrines of a 2,000-year-old, divinely-revealed religion and turn them into dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Like chunks of squirrel, they taste a little like… chicken.

Our Generator is distinct in structure, design and output from its competitors that serve other faiths. The Evangelical Balderdash Engine helps divorced pastors of megachurches churn out press releases supporting reckless wars and the rape of Nature (since the devil planted them T-Rex fossils and Jaysus is comin’ soon!). The B’nai B’rith Drek Fabrik produces whole magazines devoted to proving how heterosexual marriage laws caused the Holocaust. The Mormons…. Okay, that’s just not fair.

But I’m kind of partial to our own papist device. It does my Catholic heart proud to see what we’ve come up with. It whirs at every level of American Catholic discourse, from the bloviations of certain bishops, down through some Catholic columnists, to ordinary bloggers and local pastors in the pulpit. Large sections of those helpful documents produced by America’s bishops in the 1970s and 80s on economics and military policy were clearly squeezed out of The Generator, along with much of what the bishops say today on immigration.

In The Faithful Departed, Catholic journalist Philip Lawler shows how The Generator enabled various bishops to write earnest thank you notes to pedophile priests, praising them for their “ministry,” and vague reassuring letters to anguished parents that spoke of “compassion,” “therapy” and “legitimate concerns.” The pastoral letters of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, which appear in his paper The Tidings, seem to have been entirely produced by The Generator—which must be running day and night in the basement of his extraordinary new cathedral.

Here’s how The Generator works: Presented with a complicated problem that requires balancing the interests of groups with competing claims, it will draw selectively on Biblical references and Church documents to churn out rhetoric that simultaneously:

1) Clouds essential distinctions in a pink, emotive haze.
2) Suits the user’s political sympathies, institutional interests, or unspoken emotional needs (e.g., socialism, cover-up, or envy).
3) Presents the speaker as a gentle, vulnerable soul who’s acting only out of compassion, whose motives it would be wantonly cruel to question.
4) Casts his opponents as blind, cruel, or hypocritical.
5) Pretends it is not attacking anyone, but gently and bravely pointing to “deeper truths.” Hence any polemical reply amounts to beating up on Jesus.

To see the Generator operating full throttle, check out this exchange I and a group of other frustrated commentors had with one Catholic columnist over immigration. In that article and his comments on my own, in cringe-worthy, moralistic prose, the writer excoriates, in turn:

• America for causing poverty in Mexico.
• Europe for causing poverty in Africa.
• All middle-class Americans for living a “sinful lifestyle.” (I guess that includes my sister who works 60-hour-weeks as a nurse treating immigrants who get free medical care from the taxpayers. My sister has cable TV).
• Any American concerned about the social problems caused by immigration.
• All the residents of Scottsdale, Arizona.

When commentors responded to these wild attacks with facts, logical syllogisms, and direct quotations from binding Catholic teaching, the writer responded with the mewl of a wounded bully, “Why are you so hostile? Why are you addressing me as if we are fighting?” Time to grow a pair, pal.

In case you can’t afford to buy your own, I’ll tell you how to build a Catholic Bullshit Generator from ordinary items you’ll find around the house.

All the moving parts are ordinary words, wrenched out of context and used to suit your polemical purpose. When arguing with someone, be sure to use the following terms at regular intervals in your sentences (don’t worry about the grammar): Voiceless. Afflicted. Disadvantaged. Marginalized. Pastoral. Handicapped. Diverse.  Needy. Displaced.

Anything you are defending, characterize with words like these. For instance, tenured homosexuals living in Cambridge, Mass., pouring the money they don’t need to spend on diapers into overseas investments can be presented as “individuals whose personal choices of whom to love have rendered them marginalized and voiceless in a heterosexist world.” A drug lord scheduled for deportation back to Bolivia is really “a displaced Latino business-owner subject to America’s draconian drug laws.” A black guy who’s collecting disability for a minor injury while working side-jobs off the books can come across as “a handicapped African-American struggling to support his needy family.” A pedophile priest who molested your son is really, the bishop explains, “a brother in Christ afflicted by a serious mental handicap with which he struggles prayerfully with the pastoral support of our Christian community.”

Conversely, if you need to attack someone or something, employ any or all of these pejoratives: Comfortable. Bourgeois. Secure. Smug. Materialistic. Consumerist. Careerist. Racist. Xenophobic. Suburban. Hence a family where both parents work to pay Catholic school tuition so their kids won’t get stabbed by members of Mexican gangs at Martin Luther King Elementary School are really “middle-class suburbanites whose racist attitudes are centered on a fear of diversity.” See how it works? Anyone who has worked hard and built a career, and lives in a city where you can’t afford an apartment can be characterized as “a comfortable materialist engaged in the consumerist pursuit of a worldly lifestyle incompatible with Gospel values.” And so on.

Remember that you, too, are marginalized and disadvantaged by your courageous embrace of the needy and voiceless, uttered in bold defiance of a smug and materialistic society, which cruelly and in plain violation of the commandments of Jesus Christ, won’t give you a stipend so you can sit around all day in your Spiderman PJs writing blogs, in a nice suburban house in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Hijack at 30,000 feet-Alteia

“It’s a Setup”: The Note that Saved a Marriage from Adultery at 30,000 Feet

Marisa Pereira

I was taking the Atlanta to Bentonville, AR flight several weeks ago intending to do business with Wal-Mart. When I got to the gate, my usual people-watching hobby kicked in. I noticed an animated woman who seemed to be doing all she possibly could to get the attention of this man. I noticed they both had wedding rings (hers a whopping diamond) but did not seem to be married to each other.

As fate would have it, when I boarded, I saw them seated in seats 7A and 7B while I was in 7C across the aisle. Soon a lady approached them and the man in 7B offered her his first class ticket, pointed to some papers saying “do you mind, we’re planning on doing some business.” She accepted and the proffered papers promptly disappeared.

Now started my “show.” I found myself in shock at the blatant sexuality this woman (7A) expressed in trying to “capture” the attention of the man (7B). She really didn’t say much of value but was very physical. She had long hair which she tossed making sure it fell on him; she moved the armrest up so there was nothing between them ensuring she was touching him. She had a loose, knit, beach dress and wore a little jacket over it – I guess the “business” touch. She bent down frequently ensuring her neckline gaped open and often hiked her dress up, one time even doing so to point out birthmarks on her thighs.

I noticed 7B, uncomfortable at first and hesitant, even twisting his wedding ring. So I started praying that he would stay strong. Wanting to do something, I tore a piece of paper and wrote the following on it: “Don’t destroy your marriage for someone who doesn’t respect you. Yesterday she was with someone else, today with you, tomorrow with someone else. Your wife and kids deserve better!!” Later I added, “It’s a setup” at the beginning of the note because of the determination with which the woman operated.

As the flight progressed, the man was losing control and soon I saw his hand on her thigh. She said, “I know what we should do tonight – we should go dancing.” My prayers were now in high gear… As God works, here comes some turbulence. With an extra dip, we are all on high alert and I made eye contact with him saying “whoa.” In a couple of minutes, I started the following conversation:

Me: “I noticed your unusual wedding ring, is it silver or platinum?”

7B: “Platinum but it hasn’t been cleaned in a while”

Me: Still looks beautiful. You going to Bentonville on business – with Wal-Mart? (He nodded). Do you go often?

7B: Yes very often – I’m here at least once a week.

Me: So then, you must know the area well. Can you tell me where this is? (At which time I proffered the note I’d written.) 

I thought he might read the first line and turn away or tell me it is none of my business – but he actually drew closer to the note, focused and read the whole thing. When he looked up, he said “Thank You.”

The woman noticed him withdraw, and if looks could kill – I’d be dead by now! When we were getting off the plane, he came back and said to me – “Thank you – I really appreciate it.” I said “no problem – good luck to you” and we went our separate ways.

The setting I described is borne out of lust – of power, control and flesh. Women do not have the corner on the market as predators. In my experience, men can be formidable in their pursuit as well. We have made sex a street sport. Everyone is doing it so it must be right – it must be “normal” and now in order to keep it “fun” we introduce competition – totally disregarding the cost..


In my own life, I have had men, already in relationships, interested in creating the same havoc. But for the grace of God, I could easily have found myself destroyed in a similar mess. Fortunately for me, many moons ago I had a young man who was dying; give me a priceless gift by paying me a compliment that I cherish to date. He likened me to an earthly Mother Mary. While I know that can sound presumptuous and sacrilegious, it blessed me in so many ways. It helped my nonexistent self-esteem at the time and encouraged me to carry myself in a way that was befitting “Our Lady.”

After all, Genesis tells us we are all “made in His image.” I realize that if I consider myself a “lady” I am less likely to treat sex as a blood sport and more likely to conduct myself in a way that is self-respecting and life giving. I believe it would be the same for men who conduct themselves as gentlemen.

I found myself praying throughout my trip that 7B would not succumb to the mission of destruction that 7A was on. That he would realize that a few minutes of pleasure were not worth the pain that his wife and kids and all those who loved him would have to endure. They trusted him to think beyond his own selfish pleasures – to really love them.

This begs two questions:

First, what is love anyway? Most often it is defined as romance or a feeling or sexual activity. Those of us who consider ourselves more enlightened might say “it is being willing to lay down our life for another” or “love is a decision”. True, but how many times realistically will we be called to “lay down our lives for another”? While it sounds good, it is rather farfetched.

But yes, love is a decision. It is a decision when at two in the morning my friend needs to get to the hospital, or I’m ill myself and I have to clean up my kid’s vomit, or a spouse is hurt and the other spouse must abstain from sex, or I am on my day off and someone needs my help, or I address a difficult truth to help someone overcome an addiction – even if it means being ostracized.

My friend Rich recently recounted a situation where he challenged a young “Catholic” man who was living with his girlfriend. He told him he was surprised that after all his “Catholic” education and upbringing he did not “love” his girlfriend enough to want her to get to Heaven. Wow – so it would seem that along with all that we “do,” when we “love” we need to have included a desire to “get the other person to heaven.”  That makes it more tangible doesn’t it? Real love then, can never be borne amid deceit and disrespect.

Second, am I my brother’s keeper? If I truly want my “brother,” aka “loved one,” to get to Heaven, then the answer is a resounding “yes”, of course.

But what about the stranger on the plane? I thought long and hard and agonized about saying anything. In the end, I realized I’d just have a bruised ego if 7B responded “none of your business.” And if I could save his family pain, by my bruised ego, I figured it would be worth it.

So, I became my brother’s keeper. What were the chances they would be sitting next to me anyway? My friend Rich said the person he challenged was angry at first but a few days later, called him to thank him and let him know they were not living together anymore. Whether we are lay or clergy, I believe God uses us all to fulfill His plan and keep each other on His track. Isn’t it time we put our egos aside and acted in love? Isn’t it time we really listened?

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13.7

Keeping in touch with my…self

I know I have some readers, but much of the reason I write this blog is to keep a journal for myself, and to highlight some of the goings-on of the day.

I haven’t written in a while, and wanted to fill in why.  I work for a company that allows me the grace to attend Mass, and serve, nearly every day since I’ve been here.  During the last several months, since the first of the year, though, we’ve been engaged in a massive data-storage move, which involves very little impact to our customers, who depend on us to be up 24/7, 365.  There have been daily meetings taking up about 25% of the day, sometimes extending into the time envelope in which I go to Mass.  I’ve been able to attend about 40% of the time.  The project will culminate Easter Saturday.  After that, I might be able to write a little more.

I say might, because I’m also going through some health issues.  The last couple winters have been fraught with nagging pains, which tend to go away when the weather warms.  But sometimes they’re a bit concerning.  Last year I thought I had carpal tunnel syndrome, but when the spring came, it disappeared and hasn’t returned.  This year, it was a bit deeper.  I had trouble sitting in some positions very long.  The pain wasn’t bad, it was just nagging.  So I went to the doctor to see if there was something that could be done.  The xrays showed moderate arthritis in spine and hips (some of which can be lessened by losing weight), but they also showed something else…I have a couple of appointments to see an internal medicine surgeon and a urologist.  The first for gall stones, the second for kidney stones.  Thankfully, there’s no stoney heart (LOL…)


Have seen several good/decent Christian movies this Lent…We saw the Son of God in the theater a week or so ago, and liked it alright.  There were a few items-Jesus was so pretty…the words weren’t exact.  But it was better than what I’ve heard about Noah…Saw another “One Night with the King”, about the Story of Esther, queen of Persia.  Very well done! And the classic…Solomon and Sheba…talk about an impressive movie!  I can recommend them all to you.

I’m reading “Heaven is for Real”, and Fr. Don Calloway’s Under the Mantle.  Planning on watching the Story of Ruth, and David and Bathsheba.  And looking forward to the new season of Deadliest Catch.

Public prayer

There is great power when you make the Sign of the Cross and say a blessing before a meal…


A Simple and Public Act of Faith

Family Matters: Faith @ Work Life

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 6:56 AM Comments (10)

Several weeks ago, I had lunch with one of my new clients, a senior human resources executive of an Atlanta-based company. Our working partnership had been very business-focused since the beginning, and I wanted to forge a stronger personal connection, which I enjoy with most of my other clients.

We made small talk about a number of subjects until our food arrived. I said I was going to say a blessing over our meal and that she was welcome to join me. As I made the Sign of the Cross and started to pray, I noticed that she also made the Sign of the Cross. I smiled to myself and said a quiet prayer of thanks for the opportunity I had been given.

Between bites of salad, I asked her which parish she attended. She gave me a funny look before responding with the name, then added, “That’s a long story.” I told her I would love to hear about it, and for the next half hour, we talked about her faith journey, how much she loved her parish, her devotion to the Blessed Mother and her prayer life. The awkward business-focused exchange at the beginning of the meal had been replaced by a warm conversation about our shared Catholic faith. I certainly achieved my goal of a stronger personal connection!

As we were preparing to leave, she shared that she never spoke of her faith in business settings and really enjoyed our discussion. We speculated on why Catholics don’t discuss faith as openly as perhaps our Protestant brethren do. I suggested it may be fear of persecution or lack of confidence in defending the teachings of the Church. She suggested that it all came down to simple courage. I asked her to explain, and her response was, “When you made the Sign of the Cross in a crowded restaurant and said the blessing for all to hear, I realized that I never do that. My fear of saying a simple blessing is a clear reminder to me that I don’t have the courage to share my faith outside of my comfort zone. I am grateful that you don’t have that issue and also for this wonderful conversation.”

Driving back to my office, I reflected on countless other business meals over the last few years that had turned into faith discussions, perhaps because of the simple act of making the Sign of the Cross and blessing the meal.

I don’t know if I see this as courageous as much as following the call of Christ and the teachings of our Church. It is certainly food for thought and worthy of careful reflection.

What would happen if everyone who reads this makes a simple commitment to make the Sign of the Cross and say a blessing over every meal from now on, regardless of our companions? How many incredible faith discussions would occur as a result of this simple and public act of faith? I could easily argue the other side and share the possible negative outcomes, but can we live as faithful Catholics if we are paralyzed by fear?

The answer, I believe, is contained in the words of Jesus: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others I will deny before my heavenly Father” (Matthew 10:32-33).

Randy Hain writes from

Atlanta. Adapted with permission of

the publisher and Randy Hain from

The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for

Integrating Faith and Work (Liguori).

Read more:

Alternatives to Noah

During Lent, we make it a point to deepen our faith.  Sometimes we make an effort to watch movies about saints, and Bible Stories.

A couple of weeks ago, we watched the 3 hour Ignatius Press movie “Padre Pio”.  Very compelling.  It’s amazing to see that even priests do not have a simple life, and that the devil is at work in monasteries as well as in the secular world.

This weekend, we watched one we bought a while back, but hadn’t gotten around to.  It’s a little-known movie based on the Book of Esther, called “One Night with a King”.  It was produced by Sony, and I didn’t really have too much in the way of expectations, but having seen the DVD, and then read the book of Esther,  I would have to say that the movie stays true to the Bible.  All the major elements are there.  Of course, there are things in the movie that aren’t in the Bible, for example, the book says that Esther was prepared for a year, being anointed with oils for 6 months…  The Bible is sometimes short on details, and movies do need to fill in the blanks.

Anyway, I recommend this movie to those who want to see on-screen Bible movies, and to those who want to support Christian efforts to stay in the movie industry…

God and Mary

God chose Mary to be his mother.  If you were God, and could choose your mother, wouldn’t you want her to be the most perfect creature?

The Holy Spirit, God,  is the Spouse of Mary.  If you were God, and could choose your ideal wife, wouldn’t you want her to be the most perfect creature?

Jesus (God) is the son of Mary.  If you were God, and could choose your mother, wouldn’t she be the most perfect creature?


Very simply, God did.  And that’s why we revere Mary, the mother of God, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, most perfect being of the Creator.

Thankful for all Christians

I spend a lot of time judging people’s faith. As we know, being judgmental is a sin. I take that back. I judge, but don’t criticize. More like, I defend my own faith, which, if you don’t know, is Catholicism. On one particular board, it starts like this: Answering someone’s charge that Catholicism is pagan because of some practice. Most recently, Ash Wednesday, and today, the Annunciation. (Where’s that in the Bible???)

So, because I have so many non-Catholics (and even Cafeteria Catholics) around me, I am making a resolution to thank God that people know that Christ is their savior. Regardless of how their faith manifests itself. For the Catholic Church states that every religion on Earth has some truth to it, and of course, Jesus is Truth. So even Buddhists have some truth, and therefore some Christianity. My resolution is to leave it up to God to judge whether someone’s worthy. To be thankful for those who revere Christ.

I also promise to defend the Catholic faith, the one Church Jesus prayed for in John 17. And to live according to the following passage:

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must. Ephesians 6:10-20