I find myself in complete agreement with Phyllis Zagano.
[Those sounds you are hearing are jaws hitting desks, mugs of Mystic Monk coffee dropping to the floor with a crash and splash, astonished readers sliding off chairs in a swoon.]
Yes, you read it right.
Dear Phyllis, columnist of the Fishwrap, and I … well… we haven’t always seen eye to eye. I’ve called her out a few times on this blog (and she deserved it) and poked a little fun at her now and then (and she… well… probably deserved that too). Phyllis, with all the tenderness of Inspector Javert, has retaliated by calling all over the country to create difficulties for me and to call my person into question. Everyone needs a hobby, I guess. It’s sort of like one of those comedies with someone like Dan Aykroid who has an escalating feud with a neighbor.
Seriously, as I have written before, I will always give Ms. Zagano props for her solid pro-life stand. She doesn’t get a pass for her stance on the ordination of women, but her defense of life counts for a lot with me.
And today, I send out sincere Fr. Z kudos to Phyllis for her latest, unexpected bit at Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter). My emphases and comments.
Blasphemy in Oklahoma City [Blasphemy... that outta make some people scratch their heads at Fishwrap, Amerika and Commonwelt.]
The city manager of Oklahoma City has approved a Sept. 21 “black mass” in its Civic Center Music Hall. Maybe the heat’s got him.
The facts: a Satanist group called Dakhma of Angra Mainyu plunked down $420 to rent the 92-seat CitySpace Theatre for a “black mass.” The Catholic archbishop complained. The city manager cited the First Amendment. The archbishop has asked for prayers. The rest of city government is not talking.
The force behind the event, 35-year-old Adam Brian Daniels, is well-known to the Civic Center folks. He’s been involved in two of the three previous Satanist events there. Last year, nobody came. [Good point.]
Daniels is also a lifetime member of the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry.
Yet Oklahoma City authorities defend his right to perform a vile attack on what Christians hold sacred. [I wonder if the city authorities would have allow a ritual desecration of a Koran with pig's fat.] The complete details are too disgusting to repeat, but the event includes stomping on a consecrated host.The action usually takes place between the legs of a naked woman lying on a table with her feet facing east. The actual ritual calls for all manner of strangeness there, but the Satanists say they will not break the law, and the Civic Center promises police attendance. So probably there will be no use of urine, excrement or semen. No nudity or lewdness, either. But they will desecrate the host. [I one story I read that someone had mailed them a host for use at this thing. You can't tell by looking if it is consecrated, but... with Communion in the hand... how hard is it to get one?]
No matter. The city manager has a bunch of old Supreme Court cases in his briefcase, all about the freedom of religion and free speech.
The law has always seemed to be rooted in common sense, but this is off the rails. [I think it was Mr. Bumble who is that, if the law holds that, then "the law is an ass". But wait! There's more! Read on.] Who can think Satanism is a religion? [Do I hear an "Amen!"?] Who thinks a “black mass” is political speech? [Tell it!] Bottom line: The city manager thinks the First Amendment protects blasphemous hate speech. Don’t they know about the 14th Amendment out there in Oklahoma?
[... skipping ...]
What is going on in Oklahoma City? Do they not have the gumption to cancel the contract? They say they do not want to risk an expensive lawsuit, so they spend attorney time defending the Satanists’ rights against those of the rest of the community.
So Oklahoma City is enforcing its interpretation of law so that Catholics — their beliefs, practices, and their very selves — are not protected. Why don’t Catholics get “equal protection of the laws”?
Of course, you can argue that both ways, but the bottom line is that my rights not to be offended or harmed can, or at least should, overtake your rights to offend or harm me. That does not mean discussing Obamacare or even burning the flag. That means public desecration of the Eucharist. That means blasphemy.
You think claiming blasphemy is old-fashioned? Yes, it is. And the word does not seem to appear in any of the “black mass” discussion, pro or con. But the “black mass” organizers claim someone mailed them a consecrated host [there it is] and that they intend to stomp on it. That is blasphemy and harassment and the vandalism of religious property. [I don't know about the property issue, but it is more than blasphemy. Much more. It is another old fashioned sin: sacrilege. More later.]
[This is where it gets good...] Here’s a news flash: Oklahoma has blasphemy laws. [Who knew?] Blasphemy is a misdemeanor. The Oklahoma Statutes state: “Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.” [Still on the books, apparently.]
Also, the Oklahoma City Municipal Code protects against harassment, intimidation, or degradation because of any individual’s religion, and also against vandalism of any religious property.
That sounds pretty 14th Amendment to me. Maybe someone should tell the city manager?
It is a genuine struggle. Who wins?
Does the city of Oklahoma City defend the law by providing public facilities to deride and offend Christians? Or do the Satanists win the day by creating a national hate speech event?
Either way, civility and common sense lose.
Again… good work, Phyllis.
Let’s now make a few distinctions for the benefit of those who may be a little fuzzy about these old fashioned Catholic words.
Blasphemy involves words or gestures, also thoughts, which show contempt for God or dishonor God regardless of whether the person intends that contempt or dishonor or not. Blasphemy is against the virtue of religion and a mortal sin. Blasphemy is direct when it is aimed at God. It is indirect when aimed at Holy Church or the saints or any sacred thing or person or place. It seems to me that what that priest did, whether he intended it or not, by the mere fact of doing it, was a kind of indirect blasphemy. He detracted from God’s honor indirectly by debasing the rite and the people.
As an aside: a deadly sort of blasphemy concerns the Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 12, 31-32). This ghastly sin attributes God’s works to the Enemy and which also concerns the denial of the Holy Spirit the power or will to purify and forgive leading to final impenitence and hardness of heart. That sort of sin cannot be forgiven because the person rejects forgiveness.
Sacrilege, also a sin against the virtue of religion, is the improper or irreverent treatment of something sacred (persons, places, things, etc.). Sacrilege can take various forms including acts of violence, or vandalism, or purposeful harm, such as using something sacred for a sinful purpose or monetary gain. There is nothing more sacred that we have than the Blessed Sacrament, which is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, under the appearance of bread and wine. To do harm to the Eucharist is sure the highest, or rather, lowest kind of sacrilege.
Keep in mind that some single actions can result in more than one sin.
Pray for those involved with this horrid event. We must never wish Hell for anyone, but I fear it for those who would do this thing… and those who, knowing that it’s JUST PLAIN WRONG AND SINFUL to allow it, will give in and let it happen anyway.
Pray in solidarity with Archbp. Coakley and the good people of Oklahoma City.