Tuesday, September 14, 2010

They've Got a Book to Sell: About Pope Benedict XVI

I spent a decade writing advertising copy and creating mailing packages for a small publishing firms, so when I hear buzzwords like "unprecedented" "award-winning," or "elegantly bound," I wince a little. ("Buzzwords!," Apathetic Lemming of the North (August 30, 2010))

Not that there's anything wrong with being unprecedented (provided that you're right), or winning awards, or having books that are bound elegantly. I've got a few books with rather nice binding - and many more with the sort of cardboard or paper binding that's more in my price range. That's another topic.

The problem with buzzwords is that they've been used before. A lot. Sometimes without any apparent connection between the dictionary definition of the word and the reality of what was being hawked.

Which brings me to something I saw in the news today.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is releasing a book next week, and they'd like you to buy a copy.

  • Unprecedented
  • Elegantly bound
  • In the style of another award-winning book from the USCCB
I might buy a copy, anyway.

An excerpt from the USCCB press release:
"USCCB Announces New Book about Pope Benedict XVI to Be Released September 19"
USCCB press release (September 13, 2010)

"The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), with Sheed & Ward, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, will release September 19 Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy, an unprecedented look into the first five years of Benedict's reign. Edited by Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the USCCB, it features forewords by King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Shimon Peres of Israel, and articles by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, USCCB president, and John Thavis, Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.

"Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy will be in bookstores in late September. Special promotions with Borders and Barnes & Noble will take place in late September and early October. The book will also be available from online booksellers such as Amazon.com and directly from the USCCB (www.usccbpublishing.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=1475).

Elegantly designed and produced in the style of the USCCB's award-winning tribute to Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II: A Light for the World, the new book features more than 100 full-color photographs. Images range from formal public appearances and meetings with world leaders and lay Catholics around the globe, to quiet moments of personal study or contemplation....

Selling Books: Isn't That Worldly Or Something?

Last week I pointed out that threatening to burn Qurans made good business sense for an "Outreach Center" pastor. (September 8, 2010) He had T-shirts and books to sell - and you can't buy the sort of publicity he got.

Cynical? Maybe. But if somebody started preaching an impending watery apocalypse - and just happened to be selling a line of Noah's Ark Houseboats - I'd have to work hard to not see the possibility of the 'prophecy' being more marketing than spirit-filled.

Entrepreneurial spirit, maybe.

So, why am I not ranting about the worldly bishops and their wicked book sales?

Elvis? Space Aliens? No

For starters, I'd have to go into full 'conspiracy theory' mode to start assuming that the USCCB has somehow engineered Pope Benedict XVI's papacy as a means to sell books here in America. It could be done: Give me a running start and I think I could work in space aliens and Elvis.1

Blind Faith? Not Really

I'm not of the opinion that what Catholic bishops do is right because they're Catholic bishops.

One of the reasons I converted to Catholicism is that I majored in history. I know what sort of regrettable bishops the Catholic Church had over the millennia. I also knew that there's been a continuous, unbroken line of popes going straight back to Peter the fisherman.

With the rabble that's been running parts of the Church from time to time, I couldn't figure out why it was still here. It should have disappeared long ago. Several times.

Something was holding the Catholic Church up.

The least-unlikely explanation was that the Church's claim that they were working under orders of the Holy Spirit, had been founded by God the Son, and led by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - was true. I've written about my conversion before.

Poverty is Okay: So is Wealth

I've discussed poverty, wealth, and the Catholic Church before: and listed some of the posts near the end of this one.

Priests - unless they're also part of a religious order that requires a vow of poverty - are allowed to have as much or as little wealth as they've got. It's not an issue. Bishops are also free to be rich - or poor.

As for the USCCB? They've got operating expenses, just like everybody else, and I don't see any problem with their picking up a few bucks on the sale of books.

Bottom line? It's not money that's bad: it's the love of money. That's not just my opinion:
"For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains."
(1 Timothy 6:10)

"4 5 Barter not a friend for money, nor a dear brother for the gold of Ophir."
(Sirach 7:18)

"The covetous man is never satisfied with money, and the lover of wealth reaps no fruit from it; so this too is vanity."
(Ecclesiastes 5:9)

"The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods:
"When the Law says, 'You shall not covet,' these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: 'He who loves money never has money enough.'321"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2536)

"Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, 'You cannot serve God and mammon.'44 Many martyrs died for not adoring 'the Beast'45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.46"
(Catechism, 2113)
There's more about money in the Catechism: You could check out the Index, under M (one of the few pages in the Index without links, to date - frustrating); or do a Google search for money site:http://www.usccb.org/catechism.

But, as I've said before, no pressure. My job's over when I've said what's so. What you do with it is strictly up to you.

Not-completely-unrelated posts:
1 A couple years ago, strictly for laughs, I pointed out how the Montauk Monster, Elvis, and space aliens could be connected. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (July 30, 2008))

Or, maybe not strictly for laughs. Now and then I have fun with oddities in the news, partly in the hope that somebody reading my discussion of what's fact, what's speculation, and where speculation could go, will start panning for nuggets of fact in the streams of news and editorials.


Brigid said...

"The least-likely explanation was that the Church's claim" I think you mean unlikely.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


So I do. So I do.

Oops. That's sort of like the 'go and sin now' typo. Thanks for catching that.

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.