Sunday, March 2, 2008

What the Church can (and should) Learn from Mickey D's

Prior to the 1950's, when traveling across these United States, there was no way of predicting the quality and level of service for food or accomodations. At the same time, innovators like Kemmons Wilson and Ray Croc founders of Holiday Inn and McDonalds respectively, built huge empires based on the simple principle of consistency of service and product.

The concept was simple. People had really just begun traveling by automobile all over the country around that time, and Croc, for example knew that those people wanted to know that no matter where they went, when the walked in to a McDonald's, the burger and fries would be exactly the same as the ones they would get at any other McDonalds, any where. Similarly, Wilson knew that people looking for a place to lay their heads in a strange town wanted to know that the facility would be just the same any where.

These men were right. They became wildly successful as a result. And their methodology has been copied successfully over and over. That is because the fundamental principle is dead-on right. People want, or better yet NEED, to know that they can count on things.

Once upon a time, the Catholic Church was that way, too. One could walk into a Sunday Mass anywhere in the world, and know with very reasonable certainty what they would see and experience. Whether it was Seoul Korea or Seattle Washington, Warsaw, Poland or Wausau, Wisconsin - the mass was the same. This fact provided comfort to millions over the years. The Mass was The Mass.

Now, however, in our "enlightened" post Vatican II world, the mass in not only never, ever the same, it is often doubtful if it qualifies as a Mass at all! Priests feel "empowered" to change the words, the rubrics, even the theology according to their own personal whims. The result is that even in a modest sized city, one can find masses ranging from wide open Liberal Kumbaya-fests to pretty orthodox, by the book Novus Ordo celebrations. Here in my home City of Greensboro, NC we range from pretty much by-the-book Masses (two parishes), pretty good but some clapping and hand-holding (one parish), to no kneeling wide open Jesus Loves Me Can't We all Get Along Roman Protestantism.

Even architecturally, the Church is a mish-mash at best. Again in my city we have two older churches, one with the still awesome High Altar, the other much plainer and smaller, but still with the altar rail (but sadly the High Altar is history). Then there is one that is newer, but still looks like a church (albeit a Southern Baptist one). Then there is the other which is "in the round" with the most awful 1970's "mod" design. Looks like a standing rib roast on the outside, FWIW.

I think that it is no accident that the liturgical practices at the churches more or less mimic their appearance. But that is a subject for another post.

The whole thing is so so sad. A Catholic should be able to go to mass anywhere and know what to expect and how to behave. A Church should feel like a church, the Priest should act like a priest, and the doctrine should be strictly by-the-book doctrine. If you are Catholic, be Catholic. If you don't want to be, don't be, but don't expect all of the others who DO want to be to change because you like to feel like they need to be inclusive or sensitive or "in touch" or "speak to your needs" or what the hell ever. That's why there are protestant churches. Shop around, find one that "fits" you. No hard feelings, they're good people too.

The point is, that if you don't stand up and provide a stable, proven product, that offers your "customers" something that they can believe in, then you are doomed to extinction. For this reason, without a doubt, Rome needs to issue forthwith a strict set of rubrics and standards to be used world wide, without exception, if a Bishop or Priest doesn't like that, they MUST BE shown the door. A ship can have may may engineers, boilermen, cooks, etc. but it can only have ONE navigator if its to ever get anywhere. And this particular ship is hauling a lot of souls to heaven. It would be the ultimate shame if they were to wind up instead at a ... less desirable destination.

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