Sed Contra: The Slumbering Giant

Deal W. Hudson
October 1, 1997

Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb of Mobile recently told a story that should be treated as a parable for Catholics in America. His Excellency attended a local banquet as a guest of honor and, appropriately, was seated in everyone’s view on the dais. As the jokes of the after-dinner speakers grew more and more vulgar, he found himself in an embarrassing position. He asked himself: Should I stay or leave?

In respect for his hosts, the archbishop chose to stay. But he regretted his decision later on and had the courage to share his regret with the citizens of Mobile through his weekly column in the diocesan newspaper. I was visiting Mobile just after the column was published—the archbishop’s honesty was the talk of the town.

The archbishop’s parable contains two lessons for Catholics in this country. First, there is a warning against worldliness. Catholics have so successfully assimilated themselves into American culture that they are assumed too worldly to object to the vulgarity and violence that mark our cultural landscape.

The Catholics who came to this country worked hard to enter the fabric of its society. In doing so, they kept a low profile among a citizenry suspicious of those so-called idol-worshippers. Catholics have so successfully stayed out of the line of fire, that they have made themselves passive and unsure of their vocation in the public arena.

But, secondly, the parable contains a kind of warning. The archbishop, like many Catholics in this country, has decided this period of dormancy, so to speak, is over. No longer will Catholics sit silently and imply their approval of the increasing coarseness of our public life.

Does this mean that the slumbering giant that is this country’s huge Catholic population is beginning to wake up? I think so. This nation has already witnessed the moral-political clout of its Protestant evangelicals through the leadership of James Dobson, Gary Bauer, and Ralph Reed. The day is quickly approaching when Catholics, like Archbishop Lipscomb, will declare an end to their implicit approval and complicity.

It won’t take many more incidents like the airing of the TV show Nothing Sacred to completely rouse the slumbering giant. No doubt new insults will come. The media elite have grown so used to the open season on Catholics they will hardly notice the change in wind direction. As Brent Bozell recently put it on my WEWN radio show, the entertainment moguls of New York and Los Angeles hardly seem to notice the America that lies in between, the America that believes in God, the family, and traditional values.

One hopeful sign is the success of the Catholic League for Civil Rights in getting a genuine national petition drive started in protest to the airing of Nothing Sacred on ABC. By the time you read this column, the first few episodes, barring a miracle, will have been broadcast. Michael Eisner, president of Disney, which owns ABC, tried to dismiss Bill Donohue’s heroic efforts by calling him “non-big time.” How much is revealed in this choice of words! Eisner and his fellow executives clearly consider themselves occupying the big time, well above the heads of the 300,000 members of the Catholic League, or any other disagreeable Catholic group for that matter.

It’s too bad that Jesuit America provided ABC the smokescreen of its Catholic imprimatur. But, of course, a Jesuit was the screenwriter of the pilot episode as well as several of those that will follow. I suppose that is also why the president of Georgetown University, Leo O’Donovan, S.J, found the original episode “promising.” Having watched that episode closely, I must say the only promising thing about it was Father Ray, the main character, resists the insistence of the feminist nun who wants to call God “mother.” But no doubt future episodes of Nothing Sacred will find Father Ray receiving enlightenment on this matter along with the rest of the dissident agenda.

Eisner may well rue the day that he so grossly underestimated the discontent among many of this nation’s 60 million Catholics. Even by Disney’s exalted standard, that’s a sizable market share! I hardly need to point out the tragic, and sad, irony of this entertainment giant that is gradually alienating its audience—the traditional family. The company that used to affirm the best for our families is now, apparently, fully invested in promoting a social outlook at odds with the wisdom and teaching of the Catholic faith. Like Archbishop Lipscomb, none of us can sit smiling at the cultural table while our guests require us to endure cruel jokes at the expense of our humanity and all those around us. Let’s hope the joke of Nothing Sacred gets us up out of our comfortable seats.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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