Today’s Whiskey Talk interview is with Father Dwight Longenecker, author of the highly successful Catholic Blog “Standing on My Head.” Father Longenecker is one of the key voices of the new Catholic south and has spent over ten years writing everything from apologetics to short fiction. Father Longenecker is a convert to the Catholic Church, loves his motorcycle, and frequently visits Benedictine monasteries. We knew we had to interview him for this blog.
As a pastor of a church in South Carolina can you talk a little about the success of the Church in traditional protestant strong-holds? Why do you think Catholicism is growing so rapidly in southern states?
Catholicism is growing in the Bible Belt for three reasons: 1. Northern Catholics moving south 2. Southern Catholics moving North 3. Converts. The interesting thing is that when Northern “cultural Catholics” move South they find a vibrant church in mission territory. They soon realize they are in a minority, and that they have to know how to defend their faith. Baptists here are as thick on the ground as Catholics up in Buffalo, and they soon find this minority mentality to be invigorating and they either become more committed in their Catholic faith or they quit altogether.
2. What is the parish priest’s role in forming the Catholic Gentleman? Can you give our readers any examples of chivalrous behavior that you would like to see more frequently around the parish?
Join the Knights of Columbus! How much more chivalrous can you get than wearing a cape, a plumed hat, and carrying a sword? They should also get involved in “militant” Catholicism–leading mission trips, praying at the abortion clinic, manning the soup kitchen. In these ways they are good examples to the young men on how to be manly and Catholic.
Your book The Gargoyle Code was inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind the book and how the book builds upon Lewis’ classic work?
I’m a great fan of C.S.Lewis, and first tried my hand at impersonating the devil through some blog posts during Lent a few years ago. They went pretty well, so I thought I’d bring the conceit up to date, make it Catholic and write one letter for each day in Lent. It’s been very popular. I’m working now on a sequel to come out next Lent called Slubgrip Instructs, and I’m recording Gargoyle Code as an audio book. Readers can get the book here in hard copy or as an e-book for their Kindle.
My feraiola gets caught in the spokes. Seriously, the kids at the parish school cry out with delight when I roar up to church on the bike, and you get a few double takes when you pull into an eatery in your helmet, leathers and clerical collar. I ride with a hefty truck driver Baptist convert. He and I are planning a trip across the American south to three monasteries–stopping at truck stops on the way to evangelize. Truck stops can be very heathen places. They need the light of Christ. What better way than for me and him to set out on the open road and spread the good news? I’m thinking we’d be a bit like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
If you had to pick a patron saint for the Catholic Gentleman who would it be and why?
He’d have to be from a noble family, so it could be St. Francis DeSales or St. Francis Xavier, or St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Thomas More, but my choice is St. Benedict. He was educated, noble, gentle and bookish. A phrase from his famous rule sums it up. He says about the rules of the monastery that there should be “nothing harsh–nothing burdensome.” His rule offers a wise and gentlemanly way to live a balanced life of holiness. My book Listen My Son contains the whole rule of St Benedict with daily readings applying his wisdom to modern family life.
What is your favorite whiskey?
It’s Lent. I’ve given up booze. But when it’s not Lent I drink bourbon: Maker’s Mark.
Thanks so much for your time Father. Have a great Lent!