Monday, November 17, 2008
Personal Asides: Where in the World is Q-T?... Flannery Defends his Chris Matthews Journalistic Style Fr. Robert Barron: Catholicism Reduced to Only Social Justice is Transitory.
Has anyone seen Q-T aka Quick Takes, the witty and very-very Democratic Sun-Times column written by Zay Smith? I liked it even though it skewered lots of my favorites. Hasnt been seen in the paper for days.
Wednesday on a feature hilariously named Truth in Politics on Channel 2, Mike Flannery, the stations political editor the local version of MSNBCs Chris Matthews (who every time he sees Obama feels a tingle up his leg) undertook to defend charges of media bias for Barack Obama that ignored legitimate charges against the candidate. This is the same Flannery who two weeks ago on the Friday night WTTW séance of cross-eyed trained seals (so liberal Democratic they cant see straight) aka Joel Weismans Chicago Week in Review said he was crossing my fingers that no gaffe would be committed by Obama that would interfere with his election. Yes, the very same Flannery who wrote in a paid commercial Chicago advertising supplement to The New York Times that he asked Obama when he was a state senator for a picture with him and his kids when he gets to the White House and an ornament from the White House Christmas tree. The laudatory article could have been written by David Axelrod and maybe was for all we know.
His byline on that article should have gotten Flannery transferred off the Obama beat by any first-rate TV station. Then, his statement that his fingers were crossed in Obamas behalf should also have gotten him permanently axed. But news quality is so low in Chicago that one only has to pass two qualifications to do a standup in front of a camera: be warm with a temperature of at least 98.6 and be cross-eyed (liberal Democrat).
If there were an objective standard to journalism here, a question should be asked of Flannery: how much was he paid for the article booming Obama? Another: Since the article was an in-kind contribution to the Obama presidential campaign, was it listed in their disclosure forms?
Seriously, the disgraceful thing about Flannerys attitude and upfront campaign contribution to the Obama campaign is this: news consumers of CBS 2 Chicago as everywhere else have the right to news that is supposedly objectiveincluding hard news unfavorable as well as favorable about the candidacy of Obama. Chris Matthews is at least a commentator and certifiably so when MSNBC removed him as an election night anchor and all responsibility for coverage in favor of his opining. Hes now reported to be readying himself to run as a Democratic candidate for the U. S. senate from Pennsylvania and has allowed his name to be used in polling opposite Arlen Specter. At least we know where hes coming from. Flannery is reputed to be the stations political editor and carries the responsibility to be objectiveat least in appearance.
Flannery has not hinted his interest in Democratic political office; yet you never knowgood name, good location (Beverly). And he is allowed to masquerade as political editor by acting as a commentator ala Matthews. Flannery and Matthews are almost identical in their viewsMatthews more hyperbolic. Like Matthews, Flannery looks and sounds star-smitten when he refers to Obama.
In Truth in Politics (that they can bill it as thus without being knocked down by a lightening bolt is miraculous in itself) this is what he says:
FLANNERY: We dont speak for the media, only ourselves. The Barack Obama that [sic] we have known for years is patriotic, the same in private as he is in public. Perhaps that made our coverage different.
HUH? Can you parse this logically? Lets see (a) he is patriotic in private as he is in public and (b) that made our coverage different.
FLANNNERY: We largely ignored the uproar over 1960s radical Bill Ayres.
THIS IS THE KEY. OF COURSE YOU DID. Finally getting down to admitting it. Ayres was a radical only in the 1960s? Not now? In his latest TV interview Ayres says hes still radical, that in the 1960s he didnt do enough. Flannery: 1960s radical despite he has never apologized for his bombing the Capitol and Pentagon and has said he only regrets he was not more successful. Plus that he was photographed standing on the American flag a few years ago?
FLANNERY: Obama once worked with Ayres on school issues. So did Mayor Daley and big business leaders. So what?
HUH? Youve been covering Chicago politics here for years and dont know Daley by this time? Unlike his father, Richard M. is INCLUSIVE a giant sucking machine, sucking in everyone regardless of ideology from Bernie Stone to Rick Garcia to Mike Pfleger, asking only that they support him and keep their ideology. Daleyville does them favors and squeezes support out of them in recompense. How do you think Billy Ayres got to be a distinguished professor? And how did he chum with business leaders (notwithstanding his own fathers high standing)? Hes in with the Daleyites. Why do you think Billy Ayres is clam-silent about the Daley machine? Hes in with the Daleyites. Why do you think Mike Pfleger hasnt been canned for violating the canons of the Mass at Saint Sabinas and turning it into a Democratic rally? Hes Big Time with the Daleyites as Jimmy Lago the archdioceses lay chancellor who really runs the Church in Chicago Eddie Vrdolyaks heaviest precinct captain understands with a wink and a nod. Youre Marilyn Katz of the SDS in the 1960s, renounce nothing but play ball with the machine and get juicy p. r. contracts. Do you think shes become more conservative since she has been drawing dough from the city? Talk to her sometime.
FLANNERY: There were times when Chicago reporters pressed then-candidate Obama hard.
HUH? Hard? Were you one of them, Mr. Flannery? Didnt see much of it from you on your station.
FLANNERY: For months we wanted more answers about his former friend, Tony Rezko than Obama was willing to give.
HUH? He got away with not giving you answers didnt he while your adulation continued. Did you go on the air and demand answers? We never heard much about it from you on your station. In the face of this stonewalling why did you cross your fingers while on WTTW hoping he would get elected? Why is it that it took a blogger, Fran Eaton, to go to Jeremiah Wrights church and get the DVDs that were for sale why neither you nor anyone else locally made a move to buy them? Why was it following Eatons disclosure it took an ABC national correspondent to do the same thing while Chicago pro-Obama media masseurs like you, Flannery, looked the other way?
FLANNERY: Reporters had another judgment to make when Obamas critics called him inexperienced. Obama was a U.S. senator with more national experience than either George W. Bush or Bill Clinton had as candidates.
HUH? With that p. r. puff you really deserve the 3rd string slot in the Obama White House press operation you might get from Axelrod, Flannery. Or a shot at running for the House from local Dem slate-makers which old WBBM geezer John Madigan always wanted and never got despite his pandering service to the Democratic party in the `60s equal to yours now. If you think sitting at a senatorial desk for a few months confers national experience which tops running a major state or even heading up its energy resources panel, youre a hopeless naïf.
Fr. Robert Barron.
One of the most hopeful signs of renaissance in the Chicago Catholic archdiocese is the emergence of a first-rate scholar and speaker Fr. Robert Barron who has the communication skills equivalent to a latter day Fulton Sheen without the dated histrionics. He is the holder of the Francis Cardinal George professorship of Faith and Culture at Mundelein seminary. For a short time many years ago he was stationed at St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge where in his early formative years we heard him and were mightily impressed. Cardinal George has seen to it laudably that Fr. Barron has a megaphone for the cogent expression of philosophy and theology. In the latest edition of the archdiocesan newspaper, The Chicago New World, he has a column and faith and culture. Last week his topic was the intertwining of Catholicism with social justice.
He was reviewing a book by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel, entitled Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning. You should get a copy of it. Fr. Barron points up two these that come up with regularity in the Kennedy book. The first is the favoring of the faith or spirituality over the institutional church and the second is the reduction of Catholicism to the works of social justice.
On Kennedys attempt to distinguish faith from the institutional church, Fr. Barron says: [T]his acknowledgment should never lead one to conclude that the faith is divorceable from the hierarchical structure of the church as though the Catholic faith could float free of the pesky interference of priests and bishops. The church is neither a philosophical debating society nor a political party but rather a mystical body, hierarchically ordered in such a way that authentic teaching and sacraments come thropugh the ministrations of the ordained.
Kerry Kennedy related how her mother, if offended by a homily, would get up and lead her brood of children out of church. Barron: That image appears to be Donatism of the left. In the 4th century, St. Augustine battled the Donatist heresy which held that only morally praiseworthy priests could legitimately administer the sacraments and preach. The great saint insisted that the power of word and sacrament does not come (thank God) from the personal worthiness of the minister but from Christ who works through them.
He adds: The second theme that disturbed me could be found in almost every essay in the book. In reflection after reflection, we hear that Catholicism amounts to a passion for service to the poor and the marginalized. Again and again, the contributors said that what they prized the most in their Catholic formation was the inculcation of the principles of inclusivity, equality and social justice.
The churchs social teaching comes in for a great deal of praise throughout the book. But in the vast majority of the pieces, no mention is made of distinctively Catholic doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, redemption, original sin, creation of grace. For the most part it would be difficult to distinguish the social commitments of the contributors from those of a dedicated humanist of any or no religious affiliation.
The problem here is that the social teaching of the church flows necessarily from and is subordinated to the doctrinal convictions of classical Christianity. We care for the poor precisely because we are all connected to one another through the acts of creation and redemption We worry about the marginalized precisely because all of us are cells, molecules and organs in a mystical body whose head is Christ risen from the dead. And our work on behalf of social justice is nourished by the Eucharist which fully realizes and expresses the living dynamics of the mystical communion
My fear is that a Catholicism reduced to social justice will, in short order, perhaps a generation or two, wither away.
Thats about as good as Sheen and Dorothy Day on their best days.