Friday, August 5, 2011

John Corapi and Why I'm More Anti-Super Hero Than Ever

I found this in my comment section:

As much as I would like to agree with you I can not. The situation with John Corapi is horrible, BUT the response of Fr. Corapi is wrong. He is choosing to not be obedient!He took a vow of obedience. Right, wrong or indifferent he abandoned his priestly life and has turned his back on the Church he proclaimed to love! - By bgualteros on "My Heart Is Saddened, But I Understand: Fr. Corapi Leaving Priesthood"

"bgualteros," I now stand with you.

At first, I (like many others), thought Fr. John Corapi was being deliberately targeted by those who were his fiercest critics. And in my eyes, those were the liberal Catholics who believe in things such as same-sex marriage, abortion, and the ordination of women as priests. When I returned to the Catholic Church, I was appalled by the level of worldly thought in it. Instead of preserving the truth that had been lovingly given to the Church, parts of her now seemed to be selling herself out to the highest bidder; which in the world, ends up being whomever has the power. And to me, the leftists have always been about power.

But back to Fr. Corapi. When I first heard him, I was deeply touched. I thought, "Here's a man who is unapologetically Catholic, who speaks the truth without fear, who encourages Catholics everywhere that we have a purpose and a mission to become saints. And in order to do that, we need our priests to tell us the truth and exhort us to run the race faithfully." I really did think he was an amazing priest.

But then, as we all know, accusations started to fly. We also know that false accusations have been flung at good people ever since Adam committed original sin. The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed God was the moment mankind entered into blame-shifting and false accusations.

Many have compared Fr. Corapi's situation to Padre Pio or even Jesus. They have rightly reminded others that even though someone is falsely accused, the response -- if we are to pursue holiness -- is to accept it as God's will for a higher purpose.

Within a church, there is a hierarchy of leadership. Even the smallest rural church usually has a small board of trustees or group of elders who help the leader with church operations. The pastor is accountable to that group. When a leader falls, it offers an opportunity to that church to either restore him or reject him. Many usually show the pastor the door. But in the Roman Catholic Church, it is a bit more complicated.

When Fr. Corapi was accused, he had the opportunity to be restored within his community. This is how the Catholic Church works. They don't want to laicize a priest but instead, restore him so that he can spiritually, mentally, and emotionally return to the calling upon his life.

However, Fr. Corapi chose not to do that. And that is what made all the difference to many of his followers. I still don't know what is true regarding his circumstances. But I will say that how he has responded in the face of these criticisms has told me more than words ever could.

He opened a blog called "Black Sheep Dog." (Strange title. On one hand he wants to be seen as a shepherd but on the other, an outcast.) He has painted himself as a victim, which to me runs completely counter to his past teachings about suffering and spiritual warfare. Life is tough. It certainly isn't fair. But according to God's word, we are promised that God will judge and bring justice according to His purpose. We can take that to the bank and for me, that is what gives me hope to live out each day.

I think this is what disappointed many of his followers. Instead of embracing suffering, as he has taught in the past -- he rejected it. So in essence, his credibility shattered as his new message became, "When the going gets tough and I can see no way around it, I'm quitting. I'm not ready to lay down and die!"

This mindset troubles me greatly. I emphasized the "I" because it reveals how often we can go off track when we rely solely upon our own perspective of a situation. None of us goes through life alone, even though we may be alone much of the time. If you're a Christian, you're never alone. We have been told by Jesus that He would not leave us orphans and He hasn't. He has given us the Church and the Scripture. Together, they both nourish and strengthen the believer as he makes his journey from birth to death.

Priests and all those who have taken vows may not be married but they still have plenty of support to help them when they need it. Instead of returning to live within his religious community, Fr. Corapi chose to "go it alone." Black Sheep Dog? I'd say he's more of a Lone Wolf. And believe me, I've seen plenty of them within the non-denominational church. In fact, perhaps the reason I empathize with his predicament is because to a certain extent, I'm one, too.

It is easy in our busy lives to isolate ourselves. It takes extra effort to make time to meet with friends and family. However, it is vital we do so if for nothing else than to allow ourselves to be transparent with those who love us and receive counsel and direction.

Fr. Corapi's bewildering choice was the beginning of several disappointments I experienced with others I had admired. I love to be around people who are positive and it's no surprise I gravitate toward leaders who seem to emulate that. I like people who are big thinkers, who are risk-takers and reject naysayers who claim something can't be done. Those are the type of people who bring progress to the world and growth to human development.

But too often, such people start to believe their own hype. They begin to expect special treatment -- then demand it from their followers. Just recently, I learned of James Arthur Ray's conviction in a trial that held him responsible for three deaths in a sweat lodge ceremony. Ray, for those unfamiliar with him, was a popular self-help guru who made millions through speaking and selling his books. He was someone many looked up to but in the aftermath of the tragedy, ended up being another flim-flam artist who deliberately preyed on the wealthy, played upon their insecurities, and manipulated them. A woman who worked at his events for years finally became disillusioned enough to write a book about the tragedy in Sedona, Arizona although still tries to salvage her beliefs by claiming she still learned some things.

Well, I've learned some things, too. I've learned to stop focusing on those who seem to be "celebrities" and instead focus on God. I fear that for many, such personalities become an idol of sorts. Instead of looking to the Bible and our Church for guidance and instruction; they follow some charismatic leader, swallowing every word without question.

After my experience with the last non-denominational church I'd ever be involved with; I can say I was disillusioned on a major level. In fact, I was so disillusioned that it would be years before I felt comfortable in a church again. And when I found that comfort, of all places, I found it sitting in a pew attending Mass the day after we buried my mother.

I still admire people, but no longer am in awe of them. I thought I had given that up but yet again, recently, discovered another leader I admired in the business world also proved to be an opportunist. The "authenticity" I thought I was seeing seemed to be a facade. Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist, author, and Apple Fellow, was someone I admired because of his business moxie. He has written several books about start-ups and being an entrepreneur.

I followed him on Twitter. He even responded to a few of my tweets which of course, made me feel good. I thought it was amazing that a man who had so many "followers" was genuinely trying to engage people. Then came Google+ and I received an invite from a co-worker for the newest addition to social media. I started to look for familiar faces to follow and found Guy Kawasaki. I added him to my "circle" and soon my "stream" (a stream of posted updates from people you follow) was filled with Guy's endless promotions.

His recent promotion was to push his latest book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, And Actions. What an ironic title, given that his behavior was soon going to change my mind about him and not in a positive way.

One day, I saw an update from him that featured a cover of Newsweek Magazine with Sarah Palin on it, and under her photo, her quote "I Can Win." He said that the best caption for the cover would win a free copy of his book. Then added his own caption that said something like, "If you do, I'm moving to Canada." The rest of the comment/entries were 97% anti-Palin.

I quickly typed a comment: "I am sorry to see this. I was hoping Google+ would be a place where I'd see big ideas discussed and new opportunities discovered."

Kawasaki's comment? "Well then maybe you shouldn't follow me because with me, nothing is sacred."

Really? Nothing is sacred? At that point I was tempted to say, "Nothing is sacred to you, perhaps, but the almighty dollar." Here was a popular speaker and respected businessman, who just wrote a book about enchanting people; totally going against the concept by deliberately polarizing people, let alone offending those who like Sarah Palin. It was at that moment I realized Guy Kawasaki wasn't that different than any opportunist who takes his gold wherever he can find it.

When someone who claims to "enchant people" uses popular politics to advance their agenda, it's time to say goodbye.

So pray for John Corapi. Pray for those who follow him. In fact, I'd say pray more for those who followed him, that they may discover Who truly is the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Because no matter what the world does, Our precious Lord Jesus Christ is with us, and will never let us down.

1 comment:

Shirley said...

Fr. Corapi, as a priest was dynamic and inspiring. Mr. Corapi, as an entrepreneur is just another person looking to promote his own agenda. I am saddened that he didn't learn the lesson of humility, and when I saw his video of himself, with his black goatee and Harley Davidson leather jacket, I was repulsed by the image. I pray for him to put God first in his life. Sometimes the mighty have to fall hard.