Friday, August 30, 2013

Chapter 4, Part 3: Tools, continued...

The tools of good works are these...

(23) Not to cultivate a desire for revenge
(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.
(25) Not to make a false peace.
(26) Not to forsake charity.
(27) Not to swear, lest perchance you swear falsely.
(28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue.
(29) Not to return evil for evil.
(30) To do no injury, and even patiently to endure the injuries done to you.
(31) To love your enemies.
(32) Not to curse those that curse you, but rather to bless them.
(33) To bear persecution for the sake of justice.


      A few years ago, some obnoxious idiot made an extremely offensive video mocking the prophet Mohammed.  If you were watching the news (and I don’t necessarily recommend it) you saw video feeds from across the world of angry Muslims burning American flags and rioting in the streets.  I suppose you can’t really blame them.  Or maybe you can.  After all, there were millions of other Muslims across the world who, no doubt, were equally insulted, but who did not riot in the streets.  And to be sure, in America we had our own reactions.  Both the President and the Secretary of State filmed apologies.  The producer of the offending video was apprehended by the F.B.I. and taken in for questioning.  The film itself was publicly condemned by the World Council of Churches.  Even the Jewish Anti-Defamation League disavowed it.

       Interestingly, a very similar video surfaced not long before.  One of my students was the first to show it to me.  This other video started with a procession of monks trudging across the screen before a statue of the Sacred Heart chanting, “The Vatican is B*** S***”  Next, an actor, dressed as the pope, walked on screen holding a cell phone, pretending to talk to god.  Later in the film, they refer to Mother Theresa and her nuns in terms so foul, I can’t even hint at them in writing.  So you see, these two films had a lot in common.
      But here’s the clincher:  the anti-Islamic film was produced by some nobody in his basement and aired on YouTube.  The anti-Catholic film was produced by Showtime (a division of CBS).  You do remember hearing about it, though, right?  Don’t you remember the outrage in the media?  The presidential apology?  The expressions of sympathy from other religious authorities?  No?  Well, you wouldn’t have because they never happened.  In this country, bigotry and hate speech are acceptable—so long as they are directed at the Catholic Church.  Anti-Catholicism is, in the words of Philip Jenkens “the last acceptable prejudice.”  Frankly we’re used to it.
      Still, I’d be lying if I said that part of me didn’t want to storm the corporate headquarters of CBS and burn Matthew Blank’s office to the ground.  But of course, tool number twenty-nine says never to return evil for evil.  So instead, we pray for Mr. Blank.  And we pray for Penn Jillette and we pray for Raymond Joseph Teller.  We bless those who persecute us.  We love our enemies.  And if that doesn’t make us feel better, well…one or two of the cursing psalms couldn’t hurt.