We don't get many comments here at mwbh. At least two people tell me it's because "you say all that needs to be said." I'm sure they tell me that just to make me feel better. (It works, by the way.) In any case, our recent piece on Archbishop Dolan's remarks in a TV interview about Thanksgiving, and its analysis by Michael Voris on RealCatholicTV, brought this comment from a gentleman named “Stephen” which was of sufficient merit and detail, that it is reproduced here in its entirety.
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FWIW, while I think you're right that the archbishop is clearly speaking off the cuff, and while I agree that it's possible to criticize his choice of words, I think it's worth noting that there is a structure to his comments that suggests a deliberate strategy that is worth noting. Here are Dolan's words as excerpted by Voris:
"[Thanksgiving is] a time of the year when people are open to the Lord, and we don't think about ourselves. We're grateful to God. We're conscious that Somebody -- some call him or her or whatever you want -- Somebody beyond us is in charge, and we are immensely grateful, and it's not about ..." [cut off]
Note the structure of these brief lines. In the first sentence, he says "the Lord" -- a term with clear Judeo-Christian resonances, denoting the God of Israel revealed in Jesus Christ. In the second sentence, he uses the general term "God," a word shared with theists, deists and others. Finally, he goes on to include awareness of a vague "Somebody beyond us."
He's clearly winging it (the parenthesis is somewhat ungrammatical), and if you want to object to the words he chose in that moment, fine. But it seems clear to me that the terminological shift over these three sentences is connected to a progression of thought:
1. He begins by expressing himself in language that is overtly Christian: People are open to the Lord. This is language with roots in the Old and New Testaments, in the liturgy of the Church, in the idiomatic language of "Christian America."
2. He then expands the scope of his language to include also those who stand more or less at a distance from the Christian faith: Even people who do not know the Lord can still be touched at this time of the year by gratitude to God.
3. Finally, he suggests that the meaning of Thanksgiving can even reach those who may not recognize God as such, but may still be aware of our dependence on a higher power. They may not even be comfortable speaking of "him" -- they may say "him" or "her", or whatever they want -- but nevertheless even for them there can be a meaningful awareness of the reality of divine sovereignty and providence, and a corresponding gratitude to Somebody beyond us.
FWIW, similar strategies can be seen in the Good Friday petitions and in the Vatican II decree Lumen Gentium 14ff, i.e., starting with those closest to us and then gradually expanding the scope outward until we reach even those who do not believe in God.
Again, not to say that the archbishop's comments here are above criticism. But I'm disturbed and grieved by Voris's readiness to judge Dolan's heart and motivations as well as giving the worst possible construction to his actions: "knee-jerk pandering" to a "politically correct understanding of the faith," of being unable to "simply and sweetly" affirm the faith (as if Dolan were giving a homily or holding forth of the truth of the Faith, of "shuffling God off" amid "relativistic politically correct diversity," etc.).
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Discuss. (Wow, for once I write that and everybody actually does it. What's up with that?)