Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Thursday, May 5, 2016
CYO Football 2015 2015 Priest Reassignments, Archdiocese of Portland Cardinal Francis George dies Mothering with faith Sisters of the Holy Names, 2015 Live Nativity at St. John the Baptist 2014 Fall CYO results Catholic Charities Donor Lunch 2014 Year of Consecrated Life opening Mass Holy Spirit Sisters Jubilee 2014 Seaside youth conference Mount Angel 125th Northwest Hub Furlow at papal Mass 2014 Rosary Bowl NW Brother André 2014 Fall 40 Days for Life 2014 Inauguration of Fr. Mark Poorman Coffee shop at abbey First day of school, 2014 Regis High School 50th anniversary 2014 Crooked Finger Pilgrimage Mass with migrant farm workers Maronite Ordination Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem — Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Mt Angel Towers 8.13

Home : Arts : Arts and Entertainment News
2/5/2013 10:53:00 AM
Books on Spain's 'Camino' offer little for serious Catholics
These are the covers of
These are the covers of "A Room with a Pew: Sleeping Our Way through Spain's Ancient Monasteries" by Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt and "The Way of the Stars: Journeys on the Camino de Santiago" by Robert C. Sibley.
Catholic News Service

Like early 20th-century anthropologists projecting their own nonsensical theories onto South Pacific islanders, Richard Starks and Miriam Murcott -- authors of "A Room with a Pew" -- descend on Spain's monasteries with their anti-church baggage.

Offering a constant barrage of worn-out sneer, their trite and misinformed observations leave one with the impression that they get their history from Dan Brown novels.

Their unfounded and outdated nonsense on countless aspects of Catholic history, such as the Spanish Inquisition, confuse modern terms with the past: "As often as not, the burnings were preceded by forced confessions, wrung out of hapless victims by water-boarding and other tortures." The authors also echo the Enlightenment's anti-medieval bias, referring to the era of magnificent, religiously inspired cathedrals, artwork and poetry such as Dante's "Divine Comedy" as being ignorant.

Religion thrives only in an ignorant epoch, the authors reason. They then condescend further: "Knowledge, of course, keeps on increasing, while for some, faith remains fixed, locked into the past. Today, knowledge has increased to such an extent that reconciliation with faith is all but impossible."

Ironic words about knowledge given the authors' warped understanding of church history and Catholic spirituality. The writing might harm the church if it weren't so mediocre and cheap. Thus the authors characterize the Council of Trent's aim as "to redeem a Catholic Church that, by the 16th century, had become thoroughly corrupt, exhibiting the sexual mores of a Casanova and the moral probity of a Goldman Sachs." Surely this sort of writing must be embarrassing even to other anti-church folk.

Intellectually and spiritually empty, the book's stream of predictable cliches and cheap comparisons tire: They see nuns "striding down the hill toward us ... (with) their long habits fluttering behind them like Superman capes;" a monk enters the church, "his bald head rising above it (the organ) like the dome of a speckled brown egg"; other monks remind the authors of Humphrey Bogart or the living dead. Not content with the monks and nuns, the authors heartlessly refer to a tired-looking parishioner as "a recovering alcoholic" several times.

The authors make a caricature not out of the Catholic Church as they clearly intend, but out of themselves as cynical, too-smart-for-religion jokesters. When they write that tourists in one monastic gift shop "stare with that glazed-eye expression that comes over people who've spent too much time looking at Virgin Mary fridge magnets," the reader can only wonder who would find such puerility funny.

"The Way of the Stars," journalist Robert C. Sibley's take on El Camino, the medieval pilgrimage route normally followed from southern France over the Pyrenees and then to Spain's Santiago de Compostela, offers a much more respectful view. But he too reflects the thoughts of our modern, post-Christian world and thus offers little to serious Catholics.

His quest -- more New Age self-promotion and self-growth than religious pilgrimage -- makes the book autobiographical rather than religious. Perhaps this self-absorption is what "spiritual" means nowadays. Most sentences seem to start with "I."

He fails to move beyond himself -- the whole point of the Camino and of traditional religion -- and offers meaningless passages exemplified by the following: "I showered and changed and went out looking for food. I wanted fried chicken but settled for a couple of ham bocadillos and a bottle of Estrella Damm at the Bar Chomin. ... I was comfortable and oddly content to listen to the indecipherable chatter of the other patrons and let the memories drift as they pleased. I ordered another beer."

Who cares.

Traditional religion turns us away from the ego and narcissism, and toward fellowship and charity with others as a reflection of a deeper love and fellowship with God. Sibley remains entirely immersed within his ego, though he does offer the usual platitudes about living more in the moment and working through physical and psychological pain and suffering. Yet this self-referentialism shows once again that the pilgrimage, more of a trek in fact, was simply an exercise in psychological gymnastics for the author.

If anything, Sibley shows the boredom of a narcissistic and solipsistic life, just like Starks and Murcott remind us of the nasty humorlessness behind much anti-church wit.


Advanced Search

Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2016 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved