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PR Instead of Proclamation

In 1990 Saul Bellow, Pulitzer and Noble Prize winning author made this observation:

“In today’s Chicago Tribune I learn that the American Catholic bishops have hired, at a fee of five million dollars, a public relations firm to direct their anti-abortion campaign… to ‘practice paid persuasion,’ says the writer of this Tribune article.  Evidently the Church itself is unable to preach against mortal sin and is forced to turn to experts who better understand mass culture and the mind of the public.  The company hired by the American bishops successfully conducted one of Ronald Regan’s campaigns for the presidency.  So the doctrines on which the Church stands are apparently considered intransmissible.  You must persuade or hypnotize the public, or influence it by symbolic manipulations, by magical substitutes for fact and thought.  Obviously – to turn again to George Orwell and the duty of civilized men to restate the obvious – the Church, too, must bow to the power of television” ( It All Adds Up,159; emphasis added)


Bellow’s criticism is correct for too much of the church today.  Let it not be true of us.  Let us speak clearly and confidently the Word of God, knowing that it is transmissible and powerful.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants  for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Cor 4:1-6)

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