Nienstedt = Genius

More Freud than friar?

Roman Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt is a genius. Stay with me here.

I’ve been struggling to reconcile the Archbishop’s fervent support of the Marriage Amendment and his intolerance of any form of dissent from his flock including the priestly shepherds that tend his parishes, with the catholic teachings of Jesus Christ I received in Catholic grade school.

My unsuccessful attempts to do so were wearing on me until a recent jog around Lake Harriet took me past the occasional “another catholic voting no” yard sign.  Then it hit me. This guy is a freakin’ genius. Think about it. What is the easiest way to get a Catholic to do something? Tell him he can’t. So what does the Archbishop do? He tells his flock not to oppose the Marriage Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. Brilliant. Tell me adultery is a sin and I want to adult all over the place. I must keep holy the Sabbath? Now you can’t keep me from raking those leaves on Sunday.

But this may not be enough. Catholics aren’t easily roused from their Sunday morning sleepwalk to and from church. So this human behavioral savant goes even further. He tells you that if you are a good Catholic, you will not dissent. You will keep your mouth shut and do as you’re told, or risk eternal damnation. Very clever. We should put this guy on the childhood obesity problem. We’d be losing kids down sewer grates they’d be so skinny.

Of course, you can lead a Catholic to communion, but you can’t make him drink (the wine). We’re going to need more of the Archbishop’s reverse psychology. Or would it be reverse theology? Regardless, this man of God knows he needs to stoke more indignation in these sacramental somnambulists. So he drafts condescending letters read at masses throughout the Archdiocese by priests, some of whom may even secretly oppose the amendment. Genius. Do or say what you will to me, but silence my beloved priest and make him take part in these kabuki sermons and I am just about ready to go out and buy a lawn sign.

Not enough? You’re right. Plant a priest and a married couple in high school auditoriums to address the topic with high school seniors eligible to vote in November. Then, secretly instruct the couple to equate homosexuality with bestiality. See what he’s doing here? If you can’t light a fire under these people, go after their kids. That’ll make them “oppose you.” (wink, wink) And just to be safe, point a reporter in the direction of a two-year-old response to a woman with a gay son and highlight the passage where the Archbishop mentions her eternal salvation is in jeopardy. Wow.

Is this the result of reverse theology at work?

Do you get it now? He is obviously using Jesuit jujitsu to get the Catholic faithful to oppose the amendment. The alternative is just too soulless to even consider.  I realize that by uncovering the Archbishop’s genius, I hazard curtailing his plan’s effectiveness. But I’ve heard so many fellow Catholics wrestling with this, I think it’s worth the risk to give them some peace between now and November. So fear not Minnesota Catholics, Archbishop Nienstedt has a plan, and it’s working. Just maybe not the way most people think.


13 thoughts on “Nienstedt = Genius

  1. Jess Fay says:

    oooh! He’s almost as savvy as the Catholic Clergy here in ME! They were so successful three years ago in overturning Maine’s same sex marriage law, they’ve decided to “sit this one out” Crazy like foxes, they are!

    1. Chris Werle says:

      Yes Jess, I’m sure our Archbishop isn’t the first to employ reverse theology.
      Curious to know if the gay marriage foes in ME used Frank Schubert.

      1. Jess Fay says:

        He’s the NOM guy from CA, right? Yes. This is the third time we’ve been through the same sex marriage issue here. The last time around was a vote to repeal a law that had been passed by the legislature and signed by our past Governor. This time we are voting on a citizen initiative which garnered more than 100,000 signatures (no mean feat in a mostly rural state of 1.3 million people), that would allow same sex marriage but also allow religous institutions that didn’t agree to opt out of performing ceremonies without fear of being called out for discrimination. Win, win, right?
        The Catholic church took a lot of heat (and was really the lead against same sex marriage) last time, and has really mostly stayed out of the fray. If you’ve got time, there was a documentry made about the whole thing called “Question One: The Movie”, which is quite good and doesn’t do the Portland Diocese any favors.
        ME also has some campaign finance disclosure laws that NOM isn’t too keen on…the gift that keeps on giving…

  2. Chris: I think priests are doing more harm than good for the Church overall by inserting themselves so blatantly into all sorts of political issues. Because of that, I can really respect my friend’s father who walks out of the church as soon as the local priest shifts in his sermons from church to politics.

    1. Chris Werle says:

      I must admit Ellen that I haven’t spent a great deal of time in church recently, but I do sense a rise in conservative political activity driven from the top. Of course, I walk a fine line here because I also love it when the nuns hit the capitol to advocate for social justice causes.

      That said, I’m not much of a fan of “the walkout.” It feels like grandstanding and seems a bit narcissistic. It generally doesn’t predispose others to listen to you if you don’t listen to them. Mutual respect and all that.

    1. Chris Werle says:

      Huge knowledge gap for me. I can’t believe I missed these cats. Will soon be learning a great deal more. Thanks Ellen.

  3. Bruce Benidt says:

    Werle, I’m not standing anywhere near you. When the holy lightning hits, you’re on your own, boy.

    The Berrigans, like the liberation theologians and the nuns in Central America, were incredibly brave — actually believing and acting on what Jesus taught. Imagine that.

  4. Becky says:

    Love the angle, Chris.

    A very wise friend/fellow parishioner, told me this about those of us who think we ought to do radical things like care for the poor rather than the current nonsense focus: The answer isn’t to leave. The answer is to sit in the front row. The answer isn’t to cower but rather stand up and remind the church’s leaders that the Sermon on the Mount/Beatitudes wasn’t/weren’t a pep talk to Jesus’ disciples but rather a challenge those in authority.

  5. Joe Loveland says:

    You’re onto something here. When the Catholics denied communion to my old boss Senator Tom Daschle because they didn’t think he was anti-choice enough, I decided to deny it to myself, at least the Catholic flavor.

    And the more the Bishops use the pulpit to bully, the more Catholics support gay marriage. According to Pew, 59% of white Catholics now favor gay marriage and 57% of Hispanic Catholics do.

    When I went to Catholic school in the 70s, it was all about social justice. I don’t think I ever heard the word abortion. I don’t even recognize the Church I grew up in.

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