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Real Men Love Jesus Print E-mail
By Brad Miner   
Monday, 03 January 2011

Driving down the Boston Post Road the other day, I saw a bumper sticker on the trunk lid of a late-model Toyota: REAL MEN LOVE JESUS. I appreciate the sentiment, although whether we’re talking about quiche-eating or gun-owning or Lord-loving, I’m not sure what “real” means in the context of maleness. Tough guys, I guess. In any case, the man in the Toyota was clearly an evangelist – at least his intent was evangelical.

We’ve lately been seeing TV ads in which various folks look into the camera and boldly say: “I am not ashamed . . . of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” (From Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek.”) The man behind that campaign is Franklin Graham, son of Billy. This has been the Graham family business ever since Billy “received [his] calling on the 18th green of the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club” c. 1940. (Interesting to me, since the 18th is usually where my faith is in tatters.)

If anybody preached the Gospel to more people than Billy Graham it must be (and surely was) John Paul II, and there are plenty of Catholics evangelizing the world using new media in a big way. Catholics Come Home also runs TV spots – ads notable for their complexity and elegant production values, although at over two minutes I’m unsure where they’re running. I’ve only seen them online.

 
St. Paul, evangelizing in the old way 

Fr. Robert Barron’s Word on Fire website mostly features Fr, Barron, which is a good thing, since he is arguably – as some have called him – the greatest Catholic media presence since Fulton J. Sheen. His is very much a new evangelism, not simply because he uses the Internet so effectively, but because he makes comment on popular culture, challenging the way we see it; the way the secular world understands itself. Word on Fire is also now a TV series on WGN America, which is out of Chicago and may be on your cable system. (It’s not on mine and my ISP doesn’t carry it either.) As many already know, Fr, Barron is the driving force and host of the forthcoming ten-part series called simply, “Catholicism,” the trailer for which begins: “The Church is going through a dark period. The Church is under fire . . .” How we’ll see the series is unclear at this point. Perfect for “documentary” networks (PBS, History Channel), it’s also poison to them. We’re some ways down a cultural decline, gaining speed at an alarming rate, and a far distance from where and when Bishop Sheen could host America’s #1-rated prime-time TV series.

Just this past June, the Holy Father established the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization dedicated to combating what the pope called “the process of secularization [that] has produced a serious crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and role of the Church.” This new dicastery is not meant to do missionary work in places where the Church is not established but to reawaken those “countries with deep Christian roots which are now experiencing . . . the ‘eclipse of God’ . . . .”

The efforts of Catholics Come Home, Fr. Barron and, of course, Mother Angelica’s EWTN are unrelated to this Vatican endeavor in that they all preceded it. Few will doubt the need to put defibrillator paddles to the heart of American Catholicism, but I’m skeptical of the need for Vatican assistance. The jury is out on how effectively another Roman bureaucracy can assist in evangelizing Europe, or how it can do better than, say, The Catholic Thing’s partner publication, France Catholique, although the new discastery may certainly assist with funding. The great thing about the new evangelization in America is that it’s home-grown, spontaneous, and idiomatic, and experience suggests that’s the way Catholic outreach to Europe will most effectively succeed.

 
Fr. Robert Barron, evangelizing in the new way 

One thing is certain: these efforts are desperately needed. Franklin Graham said an interesting thing when he launched the “I am not ashamed” campaign: “I believe that a time is fast approaching – I think it will be in my lifetime – when the preaching of the Gospel is referred to as hate speech.” That was literally one year ago. He was right, and he’s getting righter. Evangelical Protestants who heed his call will recognize the importance of evangelism in the lives of every believer. Catholics who get back to basics with Fr. Barron et alii will recognize, as they must, that proclaiming Jesus Christ is again becoming the kind of risky business it was for hundreds of years after the Resurrection.

Christians only seem to be a majority in the Americas and in Europe. We see the persecuted Church in Asia and the Middle East (especially in Vietnam, China, Pakistan, and Iraq), and we do well to support groups such as Aid to the Church in Need. [Disclaimer: I’m a board member of that fine organization.] But let’s not kid ourselves: not only are we increasingly at risk of “offending” our secular brethren in our “Christian” nation, we may soon be as much at risk as believers in those aforementioned countries that have no Christian heritage – the more so the more boldly we push back against the momentum of secularism.

So I guess it is a time for real men – and real women – to love Jesus.

 
Brad Miner, a former literary editor of National Review, is senior editor of The Catholic Thing and author of The Compleat Gentleman.

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Comments (10)Add Comment
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written by Lee Gilbert, January 02, 2011
"One thing is certain: these efforts are desperately needed."

Are they? Absolutely I cannot understand this thrust for evangelization, when we are being *de-evangelized* in our own homes and by our own families. Evangelisation, great, but first stop the rot.

This is happening in several ways.

First, fathers are not doing the overwhelmingly obvious thing they need to do, get the televsion out of the house. And why is that? Because they are addicted to, cannot live with out televised sports, which they prefer to Jesus Christ.

Secondly, virtually every Catholic family now has its share of fallenaways, gays, lesbians, and young people living in fornication. Despite this, all these are welcome at all the family gatherings on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter together with their lovers, who also become "family" over a period of decades, without repentance, conversion or return to the sacaraments. This is killing us, because it is against the faith. See Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons, the essays, "Rebuking Sin" ( on page 412 of the Ignatius Press edition) and "Jewish Zeal, a Pattern to Christians" (on page594) among others.

Third, parents are not being educated in how to pass on the faith, now that Catholic schooling has gotten out of reach for so many families.

In short, the Catholic family has become the primary vector of de-evangelizing itself and the society as a whole. THIS is the problem that needs to be remedied before all else.
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written by ottmar, January 03, 2011
"We’re some ways down a cultural decline" How many ways are there in a "ways"??
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For ottmar
written by Brad Miner, January 03, 2011
ottmar: 'Ways' as in distance, "the length of a course traversed or to be traversed in space, time, range of possibilities, or progress toward a stated or implied objective . . ." -Brad Miner
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written by John, January 03, 2011
Well done, Brad, with a caveat or two. While Lee Gilbert makes a good point that regeneration of the faith should start at home and in the family, evangelization (if that is the right word) is important, too. Internally and externally, we need to be stronger in living our faith.

As long as you used a football analogy, allow me to note that Catholicism is mostly "playing defense" these days. By contrast, Bishop Sheen played mostly offense assertion of the good and lambasting the bad (his condemnation of Communism was classic and scathingly effective, for example). He was indisputably the quarterback of a "team" of believers that would never have used the word "ashamed" in reference to the Gospel. If anything, Catholics were "proud" (in the best sense of the word) of their faith, armed with right on their side.

Today, however, the Church is seriously splintered and many of its teachings ignored by the laity. (i.e. 80% of Catholics believe birth control is OK, and majorities favor divorce, abortion, "gay rights," etc.) Few go to confession any more, and the priesthood is in shambles.

You write, "Few will doubt the need to put defibrillator paddles to the heart of American Catholicism, but I’m skeptical of the need for Vatican assistance."

If this because the Pope's moral authority has been eroded? If the hierarchy of the Church is no longer relevant, who is to lead? Do we let the inmates take over the asylum? In reading Cornwell's "Breaking Faith," I find a constant theme that the Pope and Curia are "not listening" to the people enough. It was published in 2000 when JPII was still alive and highly critical of a centralized Church and the pope's unswerving views on "sexology," as made clear in Humanae Vitae. In the decade since, Rome continues to "lose cred," as they would say on the street. Despite the power of the mass media to effectively distort and misrepresent Catholicism, Benedict needs to be more forceful than ever to spread the Gospel, enunciate what is right and wrong, and stay the course that John Paul II plotted so well, much to Cornwell and other liberals' chagrin.

Of course, let us all proclaim the faith. Have our say, then shake the dust off our feet and move on, remembering Paul's warning nearly 2,000 years ago: "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of god; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." II Timothy 3:1-5,7
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To John
written by Brad Miner, January 03, 2011
John: In no way did I mean to suggest that the Catholic hierarchy should be marginalized in evangelical activity. I meant only that another Roman dicastery (the Holy Father himself has worried about the effectiveness of bureaucracy) may not be as attuned to the media environment and local sensibilities in various countries in the Americas and Europe as are the Americans and Europeans themselves.
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written by Ray Hunkins, January 03, 2011
Well done and thought provoking. I sense we are headed in the right direction. You cite evidence of a vibrancy that is new. And there are more examples. To mention just a few: this endeavor, The Catholic Thing, First Things, the election of Archbishop Dolan to the USCCB,the appointment of outstanding and courageous leaders within the church and an invigorated laity that seems increasingly participatory - much like the "tea party" in the political world. Where these trends will take us is in God's hands but there is much about which we can be encouraged.
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written by Martial Artist, January 03, 2011
Brad,

A most timely and, I suspect, accurate assessment of what may lie ahead.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer
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written by Bill, January 03, 2011
A nice column, Brad. My main reservation on evangelization is which "Catholicism" is the candidate joining? There are many. I just brought a couple from a Novus Ordo parish who were educated converts from Protestantism to the Traditional chapel which I attend. It was as easy as having them attend one Mass and go to Confession. The reason as they explained it to me: "Why would we move from one "Protestant" church(?) to another?" Clarity. They knew the N.O. was "tinny" immediately.
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written by Bruce in Kansas, January 03, 2011
Well said. My own experience tells me the gospel messge has been mis-used so much that many (most?) Catholics and Christians of various sects find it difficult to answer the question, "What is this 'good news' of Jesus Christ that is so important?" And if church-goers can't answer that coherently, then putting a bumper sticker on our car is not going to make much difference.
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written by debby, January 05, 2011
dear brad and all TCT family,
i just wanted to send you a Merry Christmas note- to you and all those God our Loving Father has entrusted your heart with while you journey toward Heaven, for those Jesus Christ True Incarnate God and Man came to redeem, for those whom the Holy Spirit the Paraclete hounds ever so faithfully, for the one soul or the many that you earnestly pray for: may this be the holy year for him or her or them to discover Love and be set truly free.
I also want to take a moment to thank each worker at TCT for the wonderful effort put forth here. You are each Real Men (&Women!) Who Love Jesus and I am most grateful for each talent shared!
I also pray for a change of heart and a deeper love for Christ for each reader/brother/sister. I am grieved at times by the age-old bickering that goes on between human beings who each want to be "the one who really knows" as so unfortunately evidenced by the lack of Faith & Agape demonstrated in the "which Catholic Church" comments often found here. I mostly find them uncharitable, Pharisaical, and quite telling: the authors remind me of the Jews (even the disciples before the Passion) who did not want Samaritans, prostitutes, tax-collectors, let alone any other gentile included in the plan of Salvation. What a shame! May our stingy love, contrition for our own sins which crucified Him, and gratitude for so great a gift of eternal life grow to a greatness, so as to long for each soul to know Him while trusting that GOD KNOWS exactly how to lead each one of His beloved. Joy (not condemnation)is the net by which souls are captured for the Kingdom. St Paul reminds us, "It's Your kindness that leads to repentance, Lord."
May Love permeate our being this year and grow us up into His likeness. Peace of Christ be with you.

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