Friday, July 28, 2006

Personal Asides: The Bells of St. John Cantius…The Wrecking of An Historic Chapel



It is one thing to be the Democratic newspaper of record which the Sun-Times indubitably is…and to allow its version of the late George Tagge, Lynn Sweet, to do commentary that fits snugly with the Democratic party’s objectives (laudable)…but it is another to spur its food editor to write Hispanic-flavored politics and Op Eds, with the same predictably liberal bent. Nothing wrong and everything right for a paper that is uniformly interpretative of the news (as this Blog has repeated dozens of times) to pitch a unified view throughout. But the food editor? Does she know whereof she speaks? What qualifies one Sue Ontiveros to take positions on foreign policy and other things except, of course, on Hispanic matters? After all, she’s an Hispanic woman which means in the hyper-sensitive attention the paper gives special categories (minorities, gays, disabled, the chronically left-handed) grants her a special platform to expound on subjects different from describing how to prepare flank steak so that it is tender. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t paying her enough so she has to represent Hispanics on issues of moment in her off hours away from the stove. But now she has become an oracle on the need of tradition to accommodate gentrified neighborhoods.

Ms. Ontiveros does not write a column that costs much intellectual exertion. Her topic yesterday was the St. John Cantius bells and why they should be silenced at certain times to accommodate a changed neighborhood. It is plain that she is not a traditionalist nor one with a particular affinity for Old World tradition. After 108 years, a church that served principally Polish congregates rang its bells from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. has been ordered to silence them at 9 p.m. to accommodate the upper classes which have condos in the now swiftly economically improving sector. These are people largely, it could be estimated, without either a feeling for church disturbing their sleep or an interest in tradition. Ms. Ontiveros agrees with them. But why is Ms. Ontiveros writing about this? Because those who are disturbed about religious significance penetrating their secular society are disturbed, certainly—thus it is just one more bleat in the uniform orchestration of liberaldom for which her newspaper is so passionately solicitous.

And the same orchestration of the deep-dyed blue newspaper may well have led to the selection of a letter on the same topic—denouncing the bells—from a powerful liberal resident of the neighborhood, one Jonathan Daniel Edelman, scion of the powerful Daniel Edelman who has been the towering figure of political influence in the Democratic party for many years. Reading Jonathan Daniel Edelman’s assault on the church makes clear that he is not only a non-parishioner (which we may have easily assumed anyhow) but that he resents any intrusion of more enduring values than are concerned with developers’ needs and allied commercial expansion. In his letter Edelman is vexed with the fight that the church put up against him and his lawyers who serve his will.

This Blog does not understand Ms. Ontiveros’ motivations other than the laudable one: she wants to keep her job with the Democratic newspaper. But Jonathan Daniel Edelman we can understand. He has a business interest that he may feel is jeopardized if residents are made uncomfortable and spurred to De Profundis by the ringing of the same bells that called immigrants to prayer of more transcendent issues than the making of money. In any event, the Sun-Times has weighed in on what it considers important—just as the slowly improving Tribune in taking Cantius’ side has done more eloquently than its tabloid competitor (to which the presidential-prompted beatification of Barack Obama represents its deepest view on spirituality).


This Blog has written somewhat disparagingly about the Vincentian Order of Catholic priests which has run DePaul University into the ground by sponsoring a minor in Queer Studies and shucking crucifixes from the schoolroom walls so that non-Christians will not be embarrassed by representations of the Christ a billion of the world’s population believes gave His life that redemption should come to all. If the Vincentians, who carry the imprimatur of St. Vincent DePaul don’t want to see people embarrassed by Christ’s sacrifice, that’s their call: just don’t continue mislabeling their near-brothel of dorm decadence and academic sacrilege America’s largest Catholic university. But now there is another nadir of bad taste scooped up from the muck of disrespect by the Order.

As architecture expert and key businessman John Powers, a friend of this Blog, points out that Barat College in Lake Forest, a marvelous old educational institution owned by DePaul didn’t evidently make the requisite profit for its cost accounting clerical leaders so it was sold to the highest bidder to a real estate developer. That Vincent DePaul, founder of the order that bears his name and the Sisters of Charity, established a society that renounced all materialistic gain and be entirely devoted to the poor, would be disgraced by the big businessmen and Democratic party Irish hacks who serve on the board which carries his name is evident.

Not content with failing to put Barat to good use, the Order is sidling up to the most crass evidences of the developer trade by trying to make a quick buck by bowing to the autocratic whim of the developer who has ordained that the ornate and beautiful Chapel of the Convent of the Sacred Heart which is part of Barat must go for him to satisfy the latest whim of his despicably bad taste. John Powers who published an outstanding book showing beautiful churches asks: “Is simony a good enough reason to destroy the sacred architecture?”

A meeting of the Lake Forest city council two days ago was inconclusive but evidently holds out some hope. John has promised to send this Blog photos of the church which we will be happy to post. Godspeed, John and to the Vincentians who has forgotten their mission here and elsewhere: Good God, gentlemen: have you no soul whatsoever?”


  1. What qualifies food columnists to write about politics?


    What qualifies former actors to run for political office?

    State and federal regs and the voters.

  2. I'm not sure what's gained by defending the ringing of the bells. Paul wrote in Romans chapter twelve how we should strive to be at peace with others if at all possible. Stopping the bells at 9 pm instead of 11 pm doesn't seem unreasonable to me. Am I missing something?

  3. If the political columns by the food columnist were to end up being so well received by readers that the paper must continue to print them due to popular demand, then Bob in PF will have a point.