ack in the 1980s, when Coca-Cola executives made the colossal blunder of changing their secret formula without adequately testing the market, the maladroit pairing of "new" and "classic" Coke prompted some whimsical musings from a writer at the Wall Street Journal, who made the light-hearted suggestion that Catholicism might try the same sort of marketing techniques. The Church might offer a "new" Catholicism, with guitars and liturgical dance, the writer suggested. Then keep the traditionalists happy with "classic" Catholicism: plenty of Latin and incense. Lackadaisical Catholics might enjoy "Catholicism Lite," and proponents of liberation theology would swing toward "Catholicism Free."

The Journal column was a joke, and a good one. (I'm sorry that the column appeared before the internet era, and I can't provide a link. Maybe some enterprising reader can help us?)

The Church of England, on the other hand-- permission to speak freely?-- risks becoming nothing more than a joke, and no longer even a good one. Believe me, I enjoy a joke, and my Anglican brothers have provided me with plenty over the years. But there's no fun to be had shooting fish in a barrel. Silly Anglicans, pompous Anglicans, fussy and illogical Anglicans: all of these have been legitimate objects of fun for Catholics since the time of Henry VIII. But utterly absurd Anglicans? Anglican leaders who make no pretense at logic? They're no fun at all, and I protest!

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