Today's Christians Don't Venerate St. Cassandra


(Fr. Bill Mouser) #1

The latest Masculinist has some intriguing ideas, one of which made me think immediately of Sanityville (!). Maybe I should type two exclamation marks, or three (!!!) because Renn was quoting a Roman whose anecdote is the very thing that made me think of this place and its inhabitants (!!!). Without further ado, here’s that quote from the papist:

The first time I ever heard the truth about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., finally exposed as a sexual predator years into his retirement, I thought I was listening to a paranoiac rant.

It was the early 2000s, I was attending some earnest panel on religion, and I was accosted by a type who haunts such events — gaunt, intense, with a litany of esoteric grievances. He was a traditionalist Catholic, a figure from the church’s fringes, and he had a lot to say, as I tried to disentangle from him, about corruption in the Catholic clergy. The scandals in Boston had broken, so some of what he said was familiar, but he kept going, into a rant about Cardinal McCarrick: Did you know he makes seminarians sleep with him? Invites them to his beach house, gets in bed with them …

At this I gave him the brushoff that you give the monomaniacal and slipped out.

That was before I realized that if you wanted the truth about corruption in the Catholic Church, you had to listen to the extreme-seeming types, traditionalists and radicals, because they were the only ones sufficiently alienated from the institution to actually dig into its rot. (This lesson has application well beyond Catholicism.)

That last sentence - This lesson has application well beyond Catholicism - is the one that reaches out to enfold Sanityville. It also made me think (I was in a droll mood, dontcha know) that the ministry headed up by Sanityville’s patriarch could aptly be named the Oratory of St. Cassandra.


(Joseph Bayly) #2

In case anybody else is as dense/uneducated/confused as me about who Saint Cassandra was, I did a quick search and couldn’t find anything about her.

Then I realized @Fr_Bill wasn’t actually talking about a saint.

Cassandra was cursed to utter prophecies that were true but that no one believed.

It all makes sense now. Lol.


(Fr. Bill Mouser) #3

Correct. From the Wikipedia article:

In modern usage her name [i.e. Cassandra] is employed as a rhetorical device to indicate someone whose accurate prophecies are not believed by those around them.

Also, an oratory is the term for a center - originally monastic - from which preachers were sent. Later it also became the name for what we might call an institute, a center for education/research.


(Jeremy Vander Galien) #4

Is it the topic that makes the person seem unbelievable or the person that makes the topic seem unbelievable? I’m sure it can be both. But, for my part, it seems to me that I am reluctant to believe a prophet because my ears don’t like what he says. I then begin to see him in a negative light. The topic angers me and convicts me and so I attack the messenger (and often in my head).


(Fr. Bill Mouser) #5

In the case of someone who disbelieves a Cassandra, this is almost a given. But, beneath the dislike are a number of very different reasons that are generating the dislike.

Let’s take a specific topic - abortion - as an example, and a prolife apologist who experiences Cassandra’s curse, viz. his words against abortion are rejected. Why might someone reject his anti-abortion appeals? Perhaps the rejector:

  1. makes his living at an abortuary.
  2. has had one or more abortions herself.
  3. has a family member included in No. 2 above.
  4. has a reputation for supporting abortion.
  5. has a political investment in approving of abortion.
  6. has a religious investment in approving abortion (yes there are such people; a lot of them!).
  7. thinks the subject is unseemly to discuss in polite conversation.

In all these various scenarios, the Cassandra-rejector cannot give a good and fair hearing to anti-abortion advocate because the potential consequences of doing so threatens the well-being of the one giving careful consideration to the anti-abortion advocate.

Back in the dark ages when I was in university, a man who mentored some of us young bucks worked as head of the pathology department of a large local hospital. This pathologist was also well-versed in young-earth creationist apologetics. He related to us the outcome of conversations he had been having with the president of the hospital, who’d learned that Dr. Pathologist was a Bible-believing Christian.

The conversations went on for many weeks, for Dr. Pathologist kept providing Mr. Hospital President with serious works of theology (he professed to be a Christian himself) and also serious scientific evidence (research by creationist scientists - physicists, astronomers, geologists, biologiest, modern people with earned scientific doctorates who had rejected the current evolutionary dogmas for solid scientific reasons). It took time for Mr. Hospital President to wade through it all and for the two to discuss it.

Eventually, Mr. Hospital President brought the conversation to a close, and he did so with an admission I’ve not run across again in the 50 years since Dr. Pathologist related this to us. He said this to our mentor (paraphrasing from memory): “I understand now why you reject evolution and are convinced of the historicity of Genesis. But, my entire career and all my professional education is based on what you have rejected. I cannot reject it along with you, for I would be rejecting everything that I am.”

As we listened to Dr. Pathology relate this to us, we did not think “Wow! What an amazing moment of honesty. What integrity!”

Why not? Well, Dr. Pathology told us this story a week after that conversation ended so “amicably,” and a couple of days after he had been fired.

Clearly, Mr. President wasn’t going to let Dr. Pathology have any further opportunities - at least within the boundaries of that hospital - to espouse and defend his reactionary religious convictions!

I suspect that whatever was going on in Mr. Hospital President’s mind is similar to what produces a dislike within those who reject what a Cassandra has on offer.


(Alistair Robertson) #6

Oh, so that’s why everyone disagrees with me! I’m suffering like Cassandra!

That’s my excuse from now on :).