Archive for June 2nd, 2005


I suppose most people who might be reading this blog are at least peripherally aware of the recent and continuing furor occasioned by the departure of Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., as editor of America. It is widely believed that Fr. Reese was forced by the Vatican to resign. Those who lean toward what I’m going to call, with all due recognition of the inadequacy of labels, the ecclesial left are outraged: this protest from Commonweal is representative. Many on the ecclesial right are pleased.

And that’s about all I know, or care to know. If Fr. Reese has been done an injustice, it’s regrettable, perhaps deplorable, but I don’t have the information needed to make that judgment.

So why am I talking about this episode at all? Because it made me ask myself why I have so very little interest in either America or Commonweal. And when I did that the answer came back immediately: because they are boring.

And then I asked myself what makes them boring.They are both thoughtful, well-written, and well-produced. Perhaps I’m just too stupid and boorish to appreciate them, but for the sake of discussion I’ll disregard that possibility.

There was a time when I would have written them off, or at least been suspicious of them, as being unorthodox, without being quite sure wherein lay their unorthodoxy. But I don’t think that’s really fair in general, and in any case (a) I think the seriously unorthodox are losing the battle for the Church and (b) over the years I’ve grown tired, even sick, of constantly being on the lookout for heresy. Let Rome worry about it.

At any rate I doubt that many, if any, editors and writers of these magazines would deny the Creed. And yet I do have a sense that they are somehow of a different party from me. The death of John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI have clarified the situation. These two men represent for me a vision of Christianity that is animated, colorful, passionate, mystical, profound…I could go on that way but you get the idea.

The party which tends to dominate the two magazines is at best unenthusiastic about the two popes.One can’t avoid the feeling that they are pulling in a different direction. The Commonweal article referenced above expresses fear that "the zeal with which then-Cardinal Ratzinger harried theologians while head of the CDF will continue during his papacy." From what I have seen of America over the years it can hardly said to have been enthusiastic about John Paul II. And so on.

It’s not so much that I think these magazines are consistently wrong, it’s that their brand of Christianity strikes me as bland, colorless, and mundane. Boring, in other words.Theirs is not a voice I find of much interest, much less want to follow. I feel that in doing so I would be resigning myself to something much less than what I really want, the ecstacy of seeing God face-to-face.

The offer of that promise to the whole human race, and the possibility of its being refused, is the great drama that seems to animate Benedict as it did John Paul. What could be more intriguing and attractive? Say what you will, brothers and sisters, about the evil of our times, but we must count ourselves blessed to live in the days of these two wise and holy fathers.

Maclin Horton

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