QUAKER MEETING HAS BEGUN, NO MORE LAUGHTER, NO MORE FUN. Apparently that's the new rubric for Roman Catholics, according to a Sun-Times story. One priest, Father William Kenneally, is less than impressed: "If I was an actor and some director was insisting that my head should be turned this way, and I was missing my lines, I would just be thinking, 'Don't you understand what's important any more?'" The problem of misbehaving priests arose because headquarters stopped correcting the small mistakes long ago. First you ignore irreverent behavior in the church and ultimately the priests stray. I once read some recollections of a new trainmaster on the Missouri Pacific who learned early on that if he enforced stringent sanctions for small violations, he had very few major violations because even the most independent-minded railroader didn't want to find out what would happen in the case of a large violations. My students hear something similar from me, in a somewhat more modern vein. "Take care of the O-rings, and the Space Shuttle will take care of itself." You have to take care of the tank cladding, too, but there is accumulating evidence that management shrugged off early hints of trouble with that system. From that perspective, returning a sense of reverence to church services is a step toward ensuring that the pastors behave properly. Father Brankin, whose church still offers the Latin Mass at noon (perhaps worth a trip on a Packer bye week?), sees it that way. "If we do that right, then it's an indication that maybe everything will at least follow in some sense. If the act of worship . . . is out of control, is it not possible that everything else could be out of control?" Sounds like a man who could keep his head in a dispatcher's office, or a large class of beginning students.

FOOTNOTE. Via Vodka Pundit, more about the consequences of neglecting that cladding.

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