The Bull Approach

Two faintly related approaches to All That Is Wrong With The World. First, a CMAA thread on Lifeteen harnesses the inner crash-and-burn approach to all things non-chant. Note this initial query:

Question: how many of you have to deal with Lifeteen in your parishes? Have any of you successfully gotten rid of it, if so how? In my 20 years of work for the Catholic Church I’ve never had anything as remotely difficult to deal with as the Lifeteen Movement.

I’m not sure the movement itself is such a bear, but it can be frustrating to deal with the honest challenges of a philosophy that counsels separate liturgy for teens and young adults. When I was in Kansas City, the Kansas side archdiocese promoted LifeTeen heavily. My Missouri side colleagues and I were often asked, “Why can’t we do that here?”

Can it be difficult to talk to youth ministers about the plusses (getting kids involved and a catechetical program in one package) and minuses (the fracturing of families and parish constituencies). Most youth ministers I’ve known are willing to talk about the challenges of getting young people to Mass and keeping them engaged. I’ve been able to do that, so LifeTeen has never really been an issue for me.

Back at CMAA, what seems to be a reasonable request:

Can I just ask before this thread goes any further, that this not turn into a “bash-fest” of LifeTeen, as it usually does. No, it is not perfect, and neither is any group/movement/religious order in the Church; but my goodness it has done some amazing things for the youth of the Church, and brought many to an awakening of their faith, and for that I am thankful.

And a typical CMAA reaction:

My hackles get raised whenever anyone tries to limit discussion on an open forum. If I truly hate what LifeTeen has done to our church, I feel that I should voice that opinion. The founder of this movement has been ostracized from the Church and rightly so. Musically, I am suspicious of it, but mostly have issues with what they are doing catechetically. Yes, many young people may find this to be a gate to meet the Lord, but are they awakening to a Catholic faith? I often wonder.

May I paraphrase? “Nobody can tell me not to act like a boor.” There’s nothing like dealing with difficult parish situations like putting one’s head down, and go charging full speed around the fine china.

In a similar vein, some bishops seem to have gotten noticed for head-down, four-hooves-to-the-floor approach too. Excerpt:

Compromise is not a dirty word in democratic politics, nor is the balancing of conflicting goods foreign to the church’s tradition of casuistic moral reasoning. So why do so many American bishops appear to spurn both in their prolife advocacy? Do they really think the hardest line is always the best one, or the most persuasive?

Maybe it’s the political climate, but I seem to read and see a lot of behavior that aligns with the angry-as-all-get-out even in non-political circles. LifeTeen will never convince the CMAA mainstream, so I’d ask why bother trying to even talk to them? The GIRM was promulgated and LifeTeen across the country said they would implement too. I suspect even the Benedictine arrangement wouldn’t satisfy the self-professed “haters.”

Dale Fushek is a disgraced co-founder, so of course that makes “hate” okay in the same way it would make the Crusades or the Borgias a deal-breaker on papal primacy, right? Or not right.

The Commonweal editors speak of persuasion, and I suspect the angry crowd out there is more interested in tooting its own horn than to attempt to sway (even!) the fencesitters. No quarter must be given! No concession accepted! Sheesh. If this is a culture war (and I very seriously doubt it) the battle is all in their own heads. Deal with your own demons, I would say, before you start looking for the little devils perched on other people’s shoulders.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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9 Responses to The Bull Approach

  1. Liam says:

    It should be noted that Jeffrey Tucker’s comments were not of the no quarter variety.

    And this comment was telling: “Lifeteen enables parishes to get away with not paying for a real credentialed Youth Director.”

  2. Liam says:

    I should say that, had Lifeteen existed in the 1970s, I would have fled it. I nearly always found the corralling of more than a handful of teenaged kids (let’s say somewhere between 5 and 10 max) at a time for religious purposes to be frustrating at best, and I wasn’t alone in that regard. Kids are corralled with kids for many hours a week, and, unless they are in the cool minority, generally don’t benefit as much from more of the same in church as adults condescend to imagine.

    Fortunately, after Confirmation, CCD classes were tiny enough to be held around catechists’ home tables or in their living rooms. That was tolerable.

  3. It’s always interesting, the same people who will complain if you don’t give them room to say anything they want to say on your blog, will say they have a right to silence you on theirs since you are a troll there… case in point, TAC — and now TeresaMerica

  4. We’re going to have to have some cabernet time!
    Not that I disagree with you about your post’s premise, Todd, but again, don’t you see a bit of logical inconsistently by your prefacing the second MSF excerpt with:

    “And a typical CMAA reaction:” ???

    For you, it certainly represents the type. For me, it diminishes the credibility of your argument because your preface injures me, is not charitable to me, a member of CMAA who respects your sensibilities as well as those of the “offending” poster.
    Interesting timing, what what?

  5. inconsistency. Darn it.

  6. Todd says:

    Point taken, Charles. It’s a typical reaction of many internet conservatives these days, and it’s typical of a brisk minority at CMAA. It’s not typical of the membership at large. I apologize.

  7. Jimmy Mac says:

    I have no experience with LifeTeen and have no children. I do think, however, that finding a way that teen/tweens that attract them to church is well worth keeping, no matter how “different” it is from what old folks thinks is the Holy proper Latin way to worship.

  8. No worries, brother. Just doin’ my raison d’etre, apparently.

  9. Bruce in Kansas says:

    My admittedly limited experience with Lifeteen is that it seemed to have no exit into adulthood in the parish. It kept folks until they were thirty.

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