Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Sure Sign of Going Rome

Paul T. McCain, executive editor at the Missouri Synod's Concordia Publishing House, out of concern for the Church, one supposes, has issued a warning against Romanist dangers. This warning jumps out at me for any number of reasons, some less important than others. So why not start with one or two of the less important observations to be made.

Jimmy Fallon, as I write this, is interviewing Tommy Lee, and Tommy Lee starts a story by saying that fireworks are illegal in L.A. And as he is saying this, he puts "illegal" in finger quotes. This is a perfect example of an all too common overuse, indeed, abuse, of the quote. McCain, in like manner, is in need of an editor, for at one point in his piece he claims that praising the Tridentine Mass, and frequently quoting the Pope and RC saints are "warning signs" (in quotes) of someone going Rome. This calls into question, logically, whether he thinks that these things are truly warning signs or not. Maybe it is a statement of sarcasm. Maybe he just means that he is not referring to literal physical signs on a street. Yet "warning signs" is used elsewhere in the same blog post without the quotes. Anyway, I found this amusing. I always enjoy a good misuse of quotes. Kind of reminds me of a classic Chris Farley moment from SNL:

That's right, Bennet Brauer here with another commentary. Didn't think the suits would have me back perhaps. Thought they'd have my dairy-air replaced by one of tem store mannequin well maybe I'm not "the norm". I'm not "camera friendly", I don't "wear clothes that fit me", I'm not a "heartbreaker", I haven't had "sex with a woman", I don't know "how that works", I don't "fall in line", I'm not "hygienic", I don't "wipe properly", I lack "style", I don't have "self-esteem", I have no "charisma", I don't "own a toothbrush", I don't "let my scabs heal", I can't "reach all the parts of my body", when I sleep I sweat profusely. But I guess the powers that be will keep signing my pay check until Jack and Jane K. Viewer start to go for the remote so they can get back to commentators who don't "frighten children", who don't "eat their own dandruff", who don't "pop their whiteheads with a compass they used in high school". Thank you, Kevin.

I must observe also, in passing, McCain's use of the term "layperson." Among Confessional Lutherans, the word "layperson" is generally only forgivable when David Scaer uses it. "Layperson" is an offense against the language, and as a brother, I must stand up against such an abuse. Perhaps, though, the Missouri Synod ought to get with the times, and rename its Lutheran Laymen's League the Lutheran Layperson's League.

To be clear, my comments above are essentially humorous, and not all that earnest. But to comment a bit now on the substance of McCain's claims. One of his warning signs that someone is going to Rome is that he quotes Catholic saints. When one man astutely commented that "a Lutheran who is deathly allergic to the writings of anyone the Catholics call a saint...is likely headed toward American Evangelicalism," McCain answered with these words, "I suppose it depends on which Catholic "saint" is quoted. Quoting, for instance, "The Little Flower," spouting fluffy speculative nonsense, is not a good example of quoting a person whom the Catholic Church has declared to be a saint." Unless you know of a lot of other Lutherans who are quoting the Little Flower these days online, McCain is now clearly and maliciously claiming that I am about to go Rome. He even calls me a Judas, saying "what you must do, do quickly."

Now I do not mind if someone prefers not to spend time reading Therese. And it is true, to be sure, that we Lutherans do not agree with every aspect of the theological thinking with which Therese was surrounded her whole short life. What I mind, what is truly outrageous, is McCain's innuendo and lies about me and others. Of course, more important than the fact that I mind it is that it is against the mind of Christ.


Chris Jones said...

I don't always read your quotes from St Thérèse, but after reading Pr McCain's complaint of "fluffy speculative nonsense" I made a point of reading what you quoted from her today.

I wonder if this was the sort of "fluffy speculative nonsense" that Pr McCain had in mind ...

I always feel, however, the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint because I don't count on my merits since I have none, but I trust in Him who is Virtue and Holiness.

... but it sure sounds like justification by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone to me.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Thanks, Chris, for dropping in. At first I thought, tragically, that you had no blog, since your profile lists none, but then I noticed it shows a web site, which turns out to be a fine blog. I'm glad I finally discovered it.

gnesio-lutheran said...

I too find it odd that he has singled your blog out, especially considering that you, to my knowledge, exhibit none of his other 'warning signs' of an impending Tiber swim: i.e. praising the Tridentine Mass, downplaying Roman errors on Justification, and advocating prayers to saints. At worst, you are only guily of quoting catholic saints, something which the Lutheran Confessions themselves sometimes do.

Rev. Shane R. Cota, SSP said...

Knowing Deacon Gaba as I do, I find it laughable that anyone would consider him to be "bound for Rome." Surely Paul McCain is speaking of someone else.

Rev. Shane R. Cota, SSP said...

By the way, if you want the Bennet Brauer in living color, go here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/2331/saturday-night-live-update---bennett-brauer

These Chris Farley skits never get old for me. Man, was he funny. RIP.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I checked your link, Fr. Shane, and it said the video is currently unavailable. I was hoping to find it somewhere online, but I fear that NBC has taken it off youtube, and maybe anywhere else it has found it. Of course, NBC could choose to keep the video available at its own site. That would be a true service to the public.

Rev. Shane R. Cota, SSP said...

I just tried the link again and it worked, so I don't know what's going on. NBC needs to make sure this stuff is available. It brings joy to many! ;-)

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...


I just tried it again, and it worked. Thanks for the link. I put it up at facebook too.

Father Hollywood said...

I have to agree with Fr. Shane.

I have known Br. Latif for many years. He is one of the first friends I made as a first year seminarian. It is my high privilege to call him a dear friend and a beloved brother in Christ.

After all the nonsense Br. Latif has had to put up with in the LCMS, after the manifold ways that he has been mistreated, slandered, and personally attacked (which Pr. McCain simply has no way to know about), if Latif hasn't left yet, he isn't going. A lesser man would have left a long time ago - and maybe even left Christianity all together. Instead, I believe Latif has demonstrated how to humbly carry the cross and continue serving the Lord where he has been placed - in spite of the frustrations and even personal hurt he has had to endure. And his sense of humor and joy in the Lord's service remain intact - as does his sharp intellect and ability to be at ease with every manner of person.

I wish I had the kind of gifts Br. Latif does. They would serve me well in the pastoral ministry. I continue to learn much from my brother who remains in our Synod and firmly as an Evangelical Catholic (Lutheran) Christian.

I mean, there are alternatives - even confessional Lutheran alternatives - besides the LCMS. And yet, Br. Latif remains committed to the LCMS. If anything, one could question his sanity for *not* leaving this synod - though in reality, Br. Latif is one of the truly sane men in our ranks. Those who don't really know him have no grounds to make public comments concerning Latif's character, confession of faith, integrity, or future plans.

If Pr. McCain has someone in mind that is about to join the Roman Church, it is surely and certainly someone other than Br. Latif. That is the best construction regarding Pr. McCain's speculations, and it is the honest truth about our brother in Christ and servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, Deacon Latif Gaba.