Posted on


I was interviewed twice by the author of this story. I talked about the roots of indulgences in the Old Testament and the New. We discussed the ancient rabbis’ doctrine of the “treasury of merit” and how it applies to the biblical stories. I told her our approach to indulgences is better understood in terms of family life than of civil law or accounting. None of that made it into print, and I’m not really surprised. From the outset, the story seemed to be “Those Crazy Catholics and the Things They Do” (place emoticon with rolling eyes here). So that’s what she wrote. She quoted me once, an inane bit about how many times I do these rain dances and rub the rabbit’s foot in a given year. In the second interview I even clarified for her that the question doesn’t really make sense. It’s like asking how many times I kiss my wife. I told her that since I go to weekly confession and daily Communion, I usually fulfill the requirements, but I tend to do it more deliberately if my business, for example, takes me near a pilgrimage site. But none of that fit the story, which is, please remember: “Those Crazy Catholics and the Things They Do.”

And they wonder why print media are dying. And they talk about how their fact-checking makes their product so much more reliable than what you’ll find on blogs and partisan websites. Uh, yeah, right.

8 thoughts on “Sigh

  1. I’d love to read the substantive summary of your thoughts on the old testament roots of indulgences, and your familial analogies.

    The whole thing about Johann Tetzel and the saying about the “coin in the coffer clings, the soul from purgatory springs” thing was a major plank in my anti-catholicism prior to my conversion.

    The mockery inherent in secular writing about the subject deserves an answer.


  2. Hi Warren. I agree with you, though it’s discouraging when you spend so much time on material that just ends up on the cutting-room floor. In any event, my responses were pale shadows of the beautiful work done by Gary Anderson of Notre Dame in the journal Letter and Spirit.

  3. Yep, our local paper’s religious editor does hit jobs like this — every stinkin’ time.

  4. “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day” (Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, A.D. 1807).

    “I deplore…the putrid state into which our newspapers have passed and the malignity, the vulgarity, and the mendacious spirit of those who write for them…These ordures are rapidly depraving the public taste and lessening its relish for sound food. As vehicles of information and a curb on our functionaries, they have rendered themselves useless by forfeiting all title to belief” (Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, A.D. 1814)

  5. Well, my condolences, Mike. To be misrepresented is to endure a form of martyudom, albeit a minor one. A gander at some other articles that author wrote could give you some perspective. FOCA is a “mythical abortion bill”?

  6. Wow. Perhaps one of the top five most slanted articles on indulgences I’ve read in the past two weeks. God bless you for giving them a coherent soundbite, even if they were able to twist it to our collective disadvantage.

  7. Oh boy, are you ever right about reporters and the state of journalism. I was once interviewed for a story that turned out to be a hit piece on single parents (which I was at the time). Talk about being livid–and believe it or not I was a reporter at the time. That proved to me that many reporters don’t care about the truth or professional ethics. To be used like that is terribly frustrating. When I left journalism I never looked back. Thank goodness your wonderful books and articles speak for themselves.

  8. The Time story was so vapid that the quote they took from you, albeit not the subtantive comments you’d rather they had published, was one of the two bright spots of truth in the article. I have reason to hope, in opposition to the likely inclinations of a nun working in the USCCB, that the Sister’s comments were taken out of context also. The two sentences that they ascribe to her were more than likely uttered at least in different contexts and could have even been about two entirely different subjects.

Comments are closed.