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Have Catholics Found Their Heaven On Earth?

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Tom Monaghan used to be the King of Pizza until he sold his Domino's Pizza empire for about a billion bucks in 1998. So with all that loose change in his pocket, he decided to build his very own town, complete with a big new university opening its doors this week. But this is not just a regular town — it's a Catholic town, a town called Ave Maria, near Naples, Florida, where the streets are named after Catholic saints and popes, and a giant, shiny new Catholic oratory is going up in the center of town.

But you probably won't find any hookers hanging out on the corner of John Paul and St. Peter. This is a Catholic town, so any sinning is strictly forbidden. In fact, Tom's initial idea was to ban abortions, as well as the sale of pornography and contraceptives in his new town. But alas, he learned that just because you own a town doesn't mean you can break the law, so he's had to chalk one up for Satan on that front.

Tom says that you don't really have to be Catholic to buy one of the big new houses in his town. Why, heck, he says you can even be a godless atheist, although for an atheist to plop himself down in the middle of a bunch of self-rightous Catholic do-gooders would be a bit like me going to a Republican convention. I mean, why would you?

Is this the future of America? Does this small village represent a dismantling of the wall that separates church and state, a theocracy where the government is run according to religious principles? Beyond that, are we now going to build towns where we can all live safe in the knowledge that everyone else in town is exactly like us? Are we going to see towns sprouting up for Baptists, Buddhists, or biologists? Are we all so frightened of people who are different than us that we view uniformity as a virtue? It all seems a bit too much like Stepford for me.

I always thought that the strength of America was the idea of the "melting pot," that rich tapestry of people of different races, creeds, and political beliefs living together in peace and harmony. Of course, that isn't always the case, but shouldn't that be the goal? How is America better off if we wall ourselves off from those people and ideas that offend us?

I'm thinking that there may be an opportunity for a developer looking to build some new communities near Ave Maria. I'm thinking maybe he could build a couple of towns with some great casinos, strip joints, and bars, because I have a feeling that there are going to be a lot of frustrated Catholics in Ave Maria when Saturday night rolls around and the most exciting thing to do in town is go bowling.

I'd call the new towns Sodom and Gomorrah. It has a certain ring to it.

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About Doug DeLong

  • Irene Wagner

    Meh. The communal lifestyle is one that suits a lot of people.

    America’s melting pot used to be made up of lots and lots of ethnic neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Chinatown, Haarlem where Jazz was born. They were great places to get authentic cuisine and learn about another culture. Its inhabitants had left “the old country” to find a better life, and they LOVED America. They were Americans through and through! They wanted to maintain the distinctive qualities of the best things about the culture whose ingredients they added to the melting pot!

    I would guess that rather than sharing your concerns, more people are lamenting the homogenization of America, the loss of “local flavors” in the American landscape.

    Now on the other hand, *some* ethnic groups do seem to be plotting to subject the rest of America to their rule. I’m suspicious of the motives of La Raza for example. Catholics are too diverse a group to paint with a broad brush, but any hierarchical religious organization of the RC Church’s size is a target for being controlled by Evil forces. No one can admit that the Roman Catholic Church hasn’t been run by evil popes in its day. To what extent the city of Ave Maria will be controlled by the higher echelons of the Church remains to be seen.

    Hope for the best. Ave Maria might end up being a cool town where you can go to watch a pull-out-all-the-stops elaborate Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, and hear other masses whose lovely music was written by Bach.

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