The Atlantic makes the rosary the mark of the deplorables
Is someone trying to get us away from our rosaries?
Sure looks like it, with the Atlantic's out-of-the-blue hit piece on, of all things, the rosary.
Here's the alarm:
Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or "rad trad") Catholics. On this extremist fringe, rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture. These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal.
Their social-media pages are saturated with images of rosaries draped over firearms, warriors in prayer, Deus Vult ("God wills it") crusader memes, and exhortations for men to rise up and become Church Militants.
As someone who regularly says the rosary with my extended family each night via Zoom, and follows rosary news on Twitter, all I can say is that I've never seen any juxtaposition of guns and rosaries of this sort.
And perhaps, neither has The Atlantic's writer. I clicked through all of his links looking for this odd "styling" of guns and rosaries, and there was...nothing.
Zip. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
There was a link to a piece on Milo Yiannopoulos, as an Alt-Right guy who likes guns, who is very old news; a link to a photo spread on some Protestant minister they seem to have a problem with — guarantee you there's no rosary involvement there; links to years-old academic readings of events by hostile academics who've been hostile to Catholicism for years; a link to a campy style site that insults the sacred in the name of fashion, another misfire; a link to allegations of Rome-worshiping Nazis by right-wingers, again with no rosaries; and, of course, a piece on the supposed crazies of January 6, again with no rosaries. There was a "combat" rosary mentioned, which was a partial replication of an old World War I rosary, embellished a bit from the original plain austere design by a vendor to sell more of them, I guess, but no actual talk of guns or gun-worship there.
Was it one person? Where were The Atlantic's links so we could inspect such things? Where was his visual proof of the pudding?
Nothing, and I mean nothing, supported The Atlantic's thesis that the dreaded gun nuts of liberal lore are now attaching themselves to the rosary as a symbol, and zut alors, supposedly creating a new emblem of "extremism."
What the phony hit amounts to is a bid to get people to stop saying the rosary, to get away from it, given its new association with socially unacceptable deplorables. The rosary, all of a sudden, is now the same as the Gadsden flag, symbol of the Tea Party and the Trump deplorables, something no socially acceptable person should ever have contact with. It's dirty; it's the calling card of gun nuts, domestic terrorists, survivalists, people who speak out at school board meetings, extremists who've got to be investigated. It's, heaven forbid, the new Confederate flag.
That's the message seen in this bid to smear the rosary as "extremist."
It's stupid stuff, given that the rosary is a bit bigger, a bit more global, and a bit more elusive than what they think it is.
Now, I suppose there could be someone out there who likes to take Instagram photos of his guns next to his rosaries. If so, big deal. A movement this is not.
The Atlantic's writer did offer a clue as to what really was bothering him — that the saying of the rosary is associated with victory for longstanding problems — such as that of abortion, with Catholics saying that the continuous saying of the rosary is what eventually got Roe v. Wade overturned. He's really upset about that one.
The saying of the rosary is also associated with various battlefield victories through history, and in particular, the fall of communism, where Pope John Paul II urged followers to say the rosary to free the nations of eastern Europe, which eventually happened. There's a reason the Ukrainians asked Goya Foods CEO Bob Unamue a few months ago to send them not just food, but rosaries, too. There are no atheists in foxholes. They pray for victory in embattled Ukraine.
Winning, in other words.
We all know what that brings up to the left.
The saying of the rosary is not the same as the object itself, which is known as a "sacramental" in the Catholic faith, a little object to remind one of the big picture, and which isn't restricted to Catholics alone, as anyone who wants to can say the rosary, even on his fingers. The rosary itself is not so much an object as it is a collection of said Hail Marys, Our Fathers, Glory Bes and an Apostle's Creed that take about 15 to 30 minutes to say, depending on one's speed. It's a deed, not a thing. Pope John Paul II, who was a huge advocate of saying the rosary, called it the most powerful of prayers and once insisted: "Prayer is the only thing that works."
The other thing that bothers The Atlantic's writer is that it seems to be associated with hypermasculinity. In the past, the left used to make fun of the rosary as something for wimps, but today, it's mega-masculine.
There is something to this fury, though the writer didn't mention the big stuff going on.
Saying the rosary these days has indeed become a "guy" thing, except that it's not limited to those dreadful American deplorables, let alone any association with guns.
Here are a few tweets:
Saturday while 250 Catholic men were praying the Rosary outside Sydney St Mary's Cathedral, one of the newly ordained priest Ben Saliba came out and blessed them. pic.twitter.com/siiSj6p02b— Sachin Jose (@Sachinettiyil) August 7, 2022
Catholic men's Rosary rally yesterday in Carlingford, Ireland. pic.twitter.com/JNuIW8JRRl— Sachin Jose (@Sachinettiyil) August 7, 2022
Today's Men's Rosary Rally was our 10th! Come and join us next in Somerville NJ on 9/25/22! #MensRosary #PrayforPeace #PrayTogether #ANF #Catholic #Rosary #Catholic #MensRosary @AmericaNFatima @Sachinettiyil @UgonnaMario @diocesemetuchen @ATXRosaryTeam @RosaryTeam @JackPosobiec pic.twitter.com/SEGKKwGCqI— Men's Rosary (@mensrosary) August 15, 2022
Almost as if something like that was needed — it's definitely a "guy" thing.
Well, all of this does bring out the umbrage from The Atlantic. The rosary is now dirty, socially unacceptable, something deplorables like. It's now associated with guns, making it the height of hypocrisy, a nasty marriage of the sacred and the profane.
But if the sacred and the profane is what upsets them, let's look a little closer at the hypocrisy at the other end of the bony finger.
Where the hell were they when Madonna was desecrating the rosary with her sleazy message of promiscuity in the 1980s? Where the hell were they when Billy Joel was mocking "Virginia" for saying her rosary in his obnoxious song, "Only the Good Die Young"?
Where have they been with mafiosos wearing rosaries like jewelry for "protection," even as Pope Francis warned them they were headed for hell? (Memo to mobsters: It's not "protection" if you're out killing people.)
Where the heck have they been as Central American illegal alien gangs have inundated the border, wearing rosaries as jewelry?
Haven't heard a thing from them.
The point is, the rosary is so much bigger than the pinched little world of some invisible gun nut with an invisible rosary we are all supposed to be outraged about. A Mara Salvatrucha member wearing a rosary as bling jewelry is a heckuva lot more common and easily located picture than this weird cult they are warning about. That doesn't bother them, but a gun nut does? The rosary has all sorts of uses and misuses, but only one of them, and it might not even be misuse, as Stephen Kruiser notes in his piece "So What Caliber Rosary Are You Packing?," gets their dander up.
Let's just say The Atlantic's hypocrisy is showing.
Image: Monica Showalter.