Friday, April 25, 2014

Jimmy Carter and the Bat Christians

Bat Christians Unite!

Pope Francis has made a habit of regularly insulting a large segment of Catholics, those with a more traditional view of the Church. When the Bear noted the Pope called us "hypocrites" every other week during Lent, he thought this was perhaps a verbal tic, or some South American cultural thing he didn't get.

Then came "Bat Christian." The Pope called us Bat Christians on April 24th. Seriously? Bat Christians?

Bats are creatures who flee the light. By analogy, Catholics who go around upset and joyless ("sourpusses") flee the "light" of Franciscan happiness, and are thus "bats," or creatures of the night. (It could also be that people who are verbally abused and forced to watch helplessly as something dearer to them than life itself is demolished before their eyes tend to not radiate giddy bliss all the time.)

Since Christ is the Light, and St. Paul uses the darkness to symbolize the works of sin, it is no small thing to call Catholics "Bat Christians." This reminded the Bear of something, someone from the past. Then he realized that this is a deliberate tactic.

"You don't like me so there must be something wrong with you."

Pius Babies will remember President Jimmy Carter's infamous 1979 "Malaise Speech."

The Cold War was at its height. Iran was holding the hostages, Three Mile Island had ramped up fears about nuclear power, and there were long lines at the gas pumps. Carter's approval ratings were at an all time low. So he went on television and scolded America for the problems of his (one) term. You don't like me, so there must be something wrong with you, was how Americans heard the speech.

Pope Francis is relentlessly marginalizing anyone who is not on board the Franciscan Magical Mystery Tour bus. Pelagians, Rosary counters, hypocrites and many, many other insults have been flicked our way. The Bear must reluctantly conclude it is a deliberate campaign to demoralize and ridicule traditional Catholics, and marginalize them so that anyone who does not offer Peronist adulation to Francis, breathlessly awaiting his phone call like Mildred in Farenheit 451 awaits her "role" in the parlor screen soap opera, can be ignored.

Call it a kinder, gentler excommunication.

Is this what the Church has come to? Intelligent people with responsible jobs going paranoid and talking about Bat Christians in the octave of Easter? (Wow, that works perfectly both ways, the Bear realizes.)

By the way, the poem that so disturbs the superficial happiness in Fahrenheit 451 is Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

The Sea is not in sight. Night is falling, and the diurnal creatures of the woodland are asleep. Only the bats are awake. And a solitary Bear.

No melancholy, long withdrawing roar from this bear! Rugiemus quasi ursi omnes!


  1. ....and a solitary fox.

  2. The Bear approves of readers adopting Totem Animals, in the spirit of the LA Religious Ed conference Wicca Mass. It will help diffuse allegations of Pelagianism and ideology. You are encouraged to pick your own animal as a little game, to further the metanarrative of the blog. Otherwise one just might possibly be assigned (bat, warthog... best you choose your own, no?)

  3. Ferret? We need to get our in-house art department working on a portrait of the woodland creatures.I know we have a badger somewhere. I don't know what Jane and Pete are. I think Terry is a Redbird :-)

  4. Maybe I could be Petey the dog from Little Rascals...but I hate dogs. I am a Phoenix. I will rise again. I take it from Dan Fogelberg's tune I was into in those days.

  5. ...a COUPLE of badgers...the Mr. would like that appellative :)

    'course perhaps maybe skunk would be more accurate, but that's usually only after he rips into the dumpster behind the Mexican Restaurant at the edge of the forest. Let's stay with badger....and don't mention this to him, eh?, ah?, no?

  6. The question is, is he a Promethean Pelagian rosary-counting museum mummy skunk with an unhealthy nostalgia for a past that is gone forever? Um? Every day the woodland seems to more alive with discontent. Actually, though, this last week has been a turning point for the Bear. The inner tension has at least resolved. The tottering tree has finally fallen in one particular direction.

  7. ooooh my yes, he is indeed....A card-carrying Promethean Pelagian rosary-counting museum mummy skunk with an unhealthy nostalgia for a past that is gone forever. And a convert at that. And his heart is aching mightily too.

    And seriously, thanks for this great site, and the truly gentle humor and sharp wit & insight. It really does help to laugh a little in the midst of the insanity. Just out of curiosity, how did you come up with the bear theme?...St. Corbinian a particular favorite or patron? You really do have a very VERY hairy back? You've eaten a camper or two?....what?

  8. Thank you for the kind words. I enjoy the fellowship of the woodland creatures (who are actually the invention of our "Jane Chantel"). You have to be able to laugh, although Holy Father Benedict discouraged it. Ridicule can be an effective weapon, I hate to say. (Wasn't it St. Pope Pius X that said Modernists expected to be caressed but needed to be beaten with fists?) St. Corbinian is my oblate patron. Converts make excellent Catholics (I converted from bear). They often know more than cradle Catholics.

    The Bear has eaten plenty of horses, but no campers. The only humans he ate pretty much had it coming, but he hasn't really eaten anybody in a long time. The Bear pretty much sheds his beautiful thick brown bear skin entirely when he transforms into a human. Life is a series of trade-offs for 1300 year-old werebears. (Has Francis called us that, or vampires yet?)

    It is wonderful to have a religiously compatible mate to pray and do lectio divina with. That is a blessing that so few can claim, and I do not take it for granted.

  9. "It is wonderful to have a religiously compatible mate to pray and do lectio divina with. That is a blessing that so few can claim, and I do not take it for granted." are so right; a mighty blessing indeed. Have a wonderful evening, and pray that we wake up to no big headlines tomorrow....don't know how much more I can take.

  10. All I know is thus Rosary Counter isn't a Lemming.

  11. "And as the small, furry animals approached the edge of the cliff, suddenly up flew ones with wings: the bats!"

  12. With that kind of enthusiasm, you might be bear material! But of course you can be whatever you want. We already have Phoenix flying around the tinder dry forest as a fire hazard!


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