Fair is fair. The devil deserves his due.
PL's spent a lot of time cataloguing Tradzilla's shortcomings, but today he merits our congratulations. Although he hasn't been able (yet) to swallow up Our Lady of the Sun in Arizona, his cult appears to have gained a new satellite — tiny Saint Dominic's in Highland, MI.
It seems this minor acquisition unfolded gradually over the last year. First, Tradzilla and the Clone boldly celebrated there "Bishop" Robert McKenna's Requiem. Next the mercurial Long-Island Jellyfish made a long-overdue "ad limina" pilgrimage to the boggy Swampland in order to participate in the "ordination" of the latest pesthouse completer (click here for the pix, last pages). Sealing the deal (at least in our view) was a notice in the cult's November schedule that the aforementioned completer was slated to say Mass on the 13th at the small Highland chapel.
The little place isn't particularly wealthy, but make no mistake: this is a huge victory for the rector.
"Why a victory?" you may ask. "A welcome boost to his badly bruised ego, yes. But how is it a triumph?"
The answer lies in the history of the contentious establishment of the Michigan mini-cult, which, in the opinion of one frequent visitor, always gave the impression of being organized around a raw and lasting antipathy to the Donster. As different as trads are socially, educationally, and economically, everyone at the splinter-group, including the "sisters," appeared to be on the same page when it came to the rector, the mention of whose name used to elicit wounded glances, furrowed brows, or venomous ridicule. (One witty, well-educated member of the group, a gifted mimic and stage-worthy comedian whose comic timing was impeccable, could induce wild fits of derisive laughter with his spot-on impressions of the loathsome cult kingpin.)
To lend credence our reading of the Highland emotional atmosphere, here's a bit of background.
Back in November 2003, amid talk of closing the "school" and relocating the Detroit-area pesthouse complex to the fetid Swampland, three members of Tradzilla's chapel filed articles of incorporation for St. Dominic Church, Inc. Then in March 2004, the Jellyfish along with a couple of so-called sisters filed paperwork for Saint Dominic Chapel, Inc., with the additional provision that "no laypersons...shall have any authority over, directorship of, management of, or financial control over this corporation."*
As you might guess, Tradzilla wasn't amused when he got hold of both documents a while later. In a February 23, 2005, communication with attachments, he charged the parties involved with hatching and executing a "breakaway plan." Hillary-like, he boo-hooed:
[...] it is deplorable that not a single one of these parishioners, some of whom I had known and served since the 1970's and 1980's, had the decency and forthrightness to come and tell me, face to face, what their grievances or accusations were, thereby permitting me to respond, a courtesy afforded even to common criminals — to face your accusers and to respond to them.The year previous to the above communication had been one of acrimony over the closing and sale of the Detroit-area pesthouse "school," as blistering letters and combative emails bear out. From what we can determine, the harsh exchanges started in late May 2004, when the Donster whined in a letter to parents:
Many of you have recently subjected me to backbiting, insult, and vilification concerning these events, both in word and deed [...] most of you — not all — have displayed to me either insufficient interest, or downright bad attitude [Donnie's emphasis].Taking umbrage, in June one of the lay signatories to articles of incorporation sent Tradzilla a long, allegedly "mortally sinful" letter airing much dirty laundry. After rehearsing a string of grievances and criticisms, he chided:
You have always said that if several people perceive the same faults in you and assess your behavior or personality in the same manner, you should consider it true and work to improve upon it. I can assure you that what I have written here is the nearly universal sentiment of the school families and many of the parish people [....] Up until recently, had you demonstrated the humility and charity to communicate in person with your parishioners, to accept the correction offered you by the elderly, pious Bishop who consecrated you, and to work in charity and justice to restore the confidence of the people in your leadership, you could have salvaged a lot of support. Instead [...] you relied upon hearsay and gossip for information dissemination, wrote increasingly mordacious letters accusing everyone and everything but yourself for all of the problems, and then wondered why you lost the respect and support of the school families and other parishioners.Following up in October, another outspoken advocate for teeny, embattled Highland bitterly admonished Big Don:
Your interest has only been what would please your main benefactor. Does this sound like a hireling rather than a shepard [sic]? One could see that you had no respect for the other parishioners that had no interest in moving to Florida. Those that went appear to be cultists where you control every detail of their life. I feel sorry for the children in Florida, they didn't have a choice. I hope they don't drink the purple kool aid [....] On a personal note, I don't like your dividing families with no moral justification. Your simple mind control technique of taking advantage of a family tragedy. You can't hide poor management decisions behind the catholic [sic] religion. Feel free to contact me with any questions since I don't shun people nor believe that is the way our Lord spread his [sic] word.Then, coming full circle, in response to Tradzilla's February 23, 2005, communication, yet another layman reproached the self-pitying rector for his double standards:
I truly think you should look at the mind of the Church in Her [sic] reaction to the Franciscan reforms, and apologize to Fr. Neville for suggesting he did a Judas-like act. West Highland is not in your back yard, but 50 miles from Fraser [MI]. It is outside of the radius you once set up for confessions, even at Warren [MI]. Hardly the back yard to Fraser. And it is even more ironic to see that when you moved the Armada seminary in the early 80's, out of all the places in the US, you chose to move it to Connecticut, right in the middle of two traditional mass centers in Brewster and Monroe, each about 15 miles away! [...] One can even wonder why you knowingly set up your Florida site about 15 miles from another traditional site, and then advertise in one of your public letters how you would like it to be a "center" for Catholics, thus effectively soliciting Catholics around the country and world to leave the priests they are currently helping to support....but horror that a person from Highland might have "contact" with one of your parishioners and possibly sway him towards another Mass site, so you indiscriminately forbid all St. Dominic parishioners from going to Mass in Fraser....even though the mind of the Church is to allow even heretics, Jews and pagans to attend a public Mass if they wish.We've got lots more material, but that's enough background, we think, for you to get the picture: There was plenty of bad blood between the people of itty-bitty Highland and Big Bad Don. In fact, the animosity struck one observer as so pronounced that he can't conceive how this aggrieved community could countenance the Jellyfish's apparent communion with Tradzilla. From our perspective, it looks as though (1) the Donster didn't even have to make reparation for the hurt and pain over the last decade or so, and ( 2) the Jellyfish made his stunning one-eighty without so much as an eensy-teensy mouse-squeak of protest. (Sorry, folks, but bitter complaints over the telephone, in the car, or at the dinner table don't count as a challenge.)
Vanquishing an overmatched, former subordinate isn't that remarkable — if you know all the players' personalities. The signal triumph here is over the chapel laity. Their non-reaction (other than a presumed private loss of respect and trust) is nothing short of startling. Why did this independent traditionalist coterie, once seemingly bonded together by a shared animus for the Donster, tolerate such abject capitulation? Someone may correct us if we're wrong, but we haven't heard of any resistance to the cynical rapprochement.
Could it be that, like so many other trads, they'll always submit without vocal objection to their "clergy's" shifting positions, no matter how baffling? Could they be unaware that all Tradistani "clergy" come with a sell-by date?
If our speculation is right, then it sheds light on the control the cult masters wield over their prey. And it explains why cult "clerics" manifest so much contempt for the laity who pay their bills. Traddie laymen and -women seem willing to sacrifice their principles whenever their quicksilver "clergy" suffer a change of mind. Like a gullible, simpleminded child, they're willing to follow —with conscience silenced and common sense repressed— to the beckoning edge, notwithstanding the known peril awaiting them at their feet.
Theirs is an absurd noösphere, as bizarre as the word's coiner. In it antitheses dissolve, and impossibilities materialize:
What was black is now white;
Contradictory propositions may be, and are, both true and false and the same time — tertium quidem datur;
The leopard can change its spots.* PL wonders out loud whether someone might successfully challenge the midget corporation by arguing that trad "priests" and "bishops" are laypersons themselves. After all, how can they be bona-fide clergy if they neither belong to, nor have a commission from, an organized ecclesiastical body?