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Wake Up and Smell the Catastrophe


(Patheos.Com) You know the theory that a frog put in a pan of water will stay there as the temperature rises and the poor thing doesn’t sense the increase in temperature and eventually boils to death.

The biggest problem with American Catholics is that the majority of them are asleep. Lulled by materialism, the good life and the cares of the world, they’re blind to the real crisis facing America and blind to the real crisis facing the Catholic Church. They’re frogs in a pan of water.

We need to wake up and smell the catastrophe. We need to be aware that the temperature’s rising.

The catastrophe is that certain implicitly modern ways of viewing the world have crept into our society and have undermined a Catholic world view. The first of these is relativism–the idea that there is no such thing as truth, or if there is such a thing as truth you can’t know what it is, you can’t express it, and you certainly cannot attempt to impose it anyone else. Relativism relegates all truth claims to personal opinion. You have your truth. I have my truth. You say po-ta-to. I say po-tah-to. If all truth is relative than anything goes. Think it through. If all truth is relative then you may do what you please and I must tolerate it.

The second poison in modern society which has seeped into the Catholic Church is utilitarianism. This is the belief that what is useful is what is good. We want our technology to work. We want our infrastructure to be efficient and economical, and that’s fine, but when we apply utilitarian principles to moral choices the result is deadly. Suddenly a person’s worth is determined by how useful they are or what ‘quality of life’ they have or whether it is costing us a lot to keep them alive. Utilitarianism has infected the mindset of Catholics so that they choose worship style, marriage choices and most every other choice according to what is useful, economic or practical.

The third thing that poisons modern Catholicism is sentimentalism. This is when people choose only according to what seems nice, compassionate or caring. We must, of course, be nice, compassionate and caring, but there are other criteria for choice as well, and if the only criteria for choice is to be compassionate, caring and nice, then what happens when it seems more “compassionate” to provide abortion for a poor woman or more “caring” to terminate the life of the aged or the infirm or the disabled? Sentimentalism combined with utilitarianism leads to death camps.

American Catholics who don’t think this will happen here are asleep. They’re like the frog in the pan of boiling water–the temperature increases bit by bit until they are boiled to death and all along they just thought it was getting more and more warm and comfy.

It’s Advent. Wake up and smell the catastrophe. Realize where this country is headed. Realize that already our hospitals have complicated “Do not resuscitate procedures” which are similar to England’s “Liverpool Care Pathway”. This euphemistically named procedure was first devised by caring and compassionate doctors to provide a way to care for terminally ill patients. Now it is being used to euthanize the old and even newborns with disabilities.

Wake up and smell the catastrophe. It is all much further along than you think. Remember the Nazis did not start out with thugs in leather boots with swastikas and skulls on their uniforms. They started with legislation by an elected government–legislation put in place by professionals in white coats who quietly began to weed out the mentally disabled, the infirm and the unfit.

Do you think it cannot happen here?

You’re a frog in the cooking pot…and the temperature’s rising.


Fr. Dwight Longenecker/Patheos



  1. Ninth Centurion says:

    Though I more often than not agree with Fr. Longnecker, he’s gravely missed the central issue.

    RE “The biggest problem with American Catholics is that the majority of them are asleep. Lulled by materialism, the good life and the cares of the world, they’re blind to the real crisis facing America and blind to the real crisis facing the Catholic Church.”

    Materialism and the good life are not responsible for lulling to sleep the souls of Catholics. It was the perversions to Vatican II by liberal/humanist/modernist forces within the laity and priesthood, with much responsibility falling squarely on the silence of the priests and bishops, which led to the lulling to sleep of souls.

    The central error, if you will “lull”, is touched upon by two of your points though – relativism and sentimentalism. The fruit of this is seen in a priesthood filled with men who are more interested in being social workers fighting for secular standards of human dignity than priests seeking the salvation of souls. In short, priests more in love with secular Social Justice programs than Holy Sacraments, feelings rather than formation of conscience in Faith, and in the dignity as defined by society than the salvation of souls.

    In the most recent election the bishops found out their pseudo-political social justice endeavors of the past 40 years earned them the respect given a politician; by both politicians and voters. The picture of Cardinal Dolan laughing over dinner with President Obama encapsulates this state of priestly souls; Christ ate with sinners, not the leaders of the Roman occupation forces or the Jewish religious leaders. The question of how the picture would be seen if Obama was replaced by Hitler or Stalin is a very valid one – unless the murder of the un-born is somehow less of an evil.

    No Fr. Longnecker the beginning and end of this slow boil lies upon the lips of 40 years of Judas Priests and Bishops who have turned the Mass from a holy offering of the Lord’s Mass (during which the laity should envision themselves in two moments of the Lord’s Life – the Last Supper and Crucifixion) into a sentimental filled social justice gathering “celebrating” their forgone salvation.

    To assert the Mass has become anything other is to ignore the reality of 50% of the “disciples” in the pews believing they have no right to defend the life of the unborn via political vote as well as feeling comfortable in the heretical rejection of marriage as a Sacrament.

    Wake up Father, it is not the material wealth or good life in America which has lulled American Catholics, it is the lullaby sung by the priests in Mass.


  2. Ignatius, the hermit says:

    Perhaps Catholics want to hear the Gospel of the Cross and Resurrection preached in homilies and practiced in the internal affairs of the Church. The Church falters due to the failure of leadership to announce the coming of the Kingdom: rule of the Lord in hum an affairs. Let them witness to the gifts of the Spirit and cease to relie on a stale moralism.

  3. Angelo says:

    This is a great article. It describes the leaders in the Church after V2 perfectly. Now the Catholics they poisoned are spreading that poison to our Country and the rest of the whole world. This is what Traditionalists have been saying would happen in the Church through the heresy of modernism. And Archbishop Muller has called them “Stupid”. Modernism is “The Mother of all heresies” and it just near completely wrecked the Church. But Traditional Catholicism is making a grand comeback and its taking no hostages. The Church needs very much, what was suggested by a Cardinal in Rome. A list of all the errors that came from the false interpretaion of Vatican Council ll. At the Council Pope Paul Vl officialy declared Mary Mother of the Church. Most Holy Mother Mary, Mother of the Church, Ora Pro Nobis!

  4. Ed Hynes says:

    He is also clueless about what utilitarianism means. It does not mean making moral choices based on what is “useful, economic or practical”.

  5. Peggy says:

    Relax and smell the work of the Holy Spirit. The Church has undergone change in doctrine and praxis throughout its history as theologians reflect of the deeper meaning of Revelation and in dialogue with the hierarchy come up with a different perspective like in Vatican II. Open your mind and get with the program!

    • Angelo says:

      Peggy, The Church has changed no doctrine. “theologians reflect of the deeper meaning…” Of what exactly? As far as getting with the program, the program was put to a halting end right after Vatican ll. Have’nt you heard? there is a severe crisis of faith within the Catholic Church. Certainly not the work of the Holy Ghost.

  6. SJM says:

    Did the author just compare Catholics who promote compassion to Nazis? Wow. By the way, traditionalism is a form of sentimentalism.

    • Ninth Centurion says:

      Traditionalism is a form of sentimentalism? Wow, talk about a poorly formed intellect. Your statement is utterly false. That some people have emotions regarding a principle or set of principles does not mean their emotions become the definition of what it is.

  7. Ed Hynes says:

    “Remember the Nazis did not start out with thugs in leather boots with swastikas and skulls on their uniforms.”
    Actually, the Nazi’s did start out with thugs in leather boots with swastikas on their uniforms–I’m not sure about the skulls. They were known as the SA, informally as the Brown Shirts because of their quasi-military uniform. They had been openly using violence and intimidation for years before they came to power. They came to power for various reasons, but part of their success was due to the belief of many on the German right that they could control them in power and use the Nazis for their own ends. They were wrong. Unfortunately, the rest of the piece is on par with the bad history. Florian gets it right.

    • Ed Hynes says:

      I should say, “…wrong about controlling them”. Many on the non-Nazi German right did benefit from Nazi policies.

    • Ninth Centurion says:

      Ed, your education in history is quite poor. The Nazis did not start out the way you assert. When they achieved national attention, and began to get pushed back against politically they formed the SA – which is where you attempt to define their “start”.

      In short you are factually wrong.

  8. Elinor Melley says:

    Finally….a well put simplified article ….Bravo to the author! Please let us hear more; the silence has been deafening.

  9. m.l. Larson says:

    Thank you, Florian!

  10. Jeff Olsenholler says:

    Please put the false frog analogy to rest. Using it gives implicit permission to folks who know the analogy is false to assume all your arguments are false.

  11. karen says:

    Father L is correct – Pastor Rick Warren said something similar on the CBS morning show Saturday, we have taken tolerance from meanging ‘I have a different opinion, but I respect yours and your right to have it” and turned it into “If you don’t agree with me, you’re intolerant” – THAT is relativism, and it is indeed everywhere. I work in a parish and see it every day.

  12. Florian says:

    Like lots of other Americans, Catholics don’t have much time to sleep these days. Working two or more jobs, raising family, volunteering at parishes or charities, trying to survive, etc. Not much room here for materialism or relativism.

    As for sentimentalism, we do indeed miss the good old days when bishops acted more like spiritual and moral leaders than politicians. That’s the catastrophe, and just hauling away the rubble will take many generations.


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