You Didn’t See Nuthin’ – A Pondering of Biblical Justice in a Doritos Commercial

In my usual format of late, I have liked to set forth a lighter fare on Friday evenings as I post. This week though has a twist.

I saw a biblical theme in a Doritos Commercial. In this case though, the theme is not a pleasant one at all. And though the commercial has a certain humor, it is a dark humor to be sure.

In the commercial the family Dog has killed the family cat. And the father of the family who discovers the Dog’s guilt, is bribed by a bag of Doritos to stay quiet an pretend he “didn’t see nuthin.”

And in this brief commercial we see displayed the often sad human condition of the poor (here represented by a murdered cat!), and those who have no voice, or the money and power to be heard, often get no justice, a no one sees “nuthin” of their plight. Scripture says,

  1. This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back [my wrath]. They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. (Amos 2:6-7)
  2. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts. (Amos 5:12)
  3. Your rulers are rebels, companions of thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them (Isaiah 1:23)
  4. They acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent. (Is 5:23)

A couple of scenarios in my life come to mind.

Scenario One: This morning I stood with others outside a fancy breakfast that was held for developers and local politicians here in DC. And as they entered the building we respectfully reminded them of the poor and sought to engage them in a discussion about corporate welfare. For, in tight budget times, while corporate subsidies are being doled out in higher and abundant monies by the DC Government, the budget for affordable housing, shelters and job creation were underfunded, and in some cases wholly unfunded.

DC City Council and the Mayor claim that in lean times, the Neighborhood Investment Act would have to remain unfunded in a belt-tightening measure. Meanwhile subsidies to corporations and developers took no similar hit. In fact the DC convention Center (which should be making money) receives 100 million dollars in city money every year. There were surely no belt-tightening cuts to that subsidy. Other fancy hotels and development projects also receive substantial subsidies.

Thus corporate welfare continues apace, but the social safety net goes underfunded. When will capitalists (and I am a fan of capitalism) start acting like capitalists and stand on their own? Washington DC is second only to New York City in the Hotel Room Revenue Rates and Office Rental revenue. In such a lucrative market, why is corporate welfare necessary?

Talk as you will about the need to reduce the size of government. But why not begin with the huge amounts of corporate welfare that are doled out and start shrinking there? (Pardon a little Tea Party thinking here).

But the answer to this question is clear enough. Corporate subsidies do not get cut because developers and lobbyists for the hotel and tourism industry have money, influence and access to make sure that doesn’t happen. You might say (to use the image in the video) they have the bag of Doritos to push and to compel silence from the political sector. This morning it was a fancy breakfast with local politicians (all Democrats by the way, there are no Republicans in local DC politics). At other times it is threats to take their development elsewhere if they don’t get lots of incentives to stay.

Development is good, but only if it actually benefits local DC residents, which is largely does not. Unemployment rates remain as high as 30% among the poorer residents of this city despite all the development downtown for over twenty years. DC laws to train and hire a certain percentage of DC workers (when subsidies are given) are not enforced.

Scenario Two: Later this month I will stand outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic on 16th Street just up the street front the White House. There too I will speak for those who have (literally) no voice in this world, the unborn. There too, powerful interests (the Planned Parenthood lobby and others in the abortion and contraceptive industry) get their way and the poorest of the poor, infants in the womb, are killed for profit and political advancement.

And to those who run the “clinics” who would have us all say (in the words of the ad below) “you don’t see nuthin,” But I will say I see what you are doing and God sees everything you are doing. And you will answer to Him for what you are doing if you do not repent.

At the end of the commercial below comes the voice of a woman, asking her husband if he has seen the cat. And looking to the dog with another bag of Doritos he says, “Nope.” But her question echoes in his mind, despite his answer. He has seen everything that has happened and his silence, though it brings him rewards now, will bring him trouble later. For the truth will out.

Perhaps we can see the woman in the background in this commercial as Mother Church. And as a son of Mother Church, I often find it necessary to ask the deeper version of the commercial’s question (“Have you seen the cat?”). And the Deeper version is “How is your brother?” (cf Gen 4:9).

The Church doesn’t have a bribe, just a question, How is your brother, your sister? And that question must continue to echo in the hearts and minds of everyone.

Here’s the commercial:

12 Replies to “You Didn’t See Nuthin’ – A Pondering of Biblical Justice in a Doritos Commercial”

  1. I goota hand it to you Msgr great again for al laugh –however true “” how is your brother”” Jaques Brl is alive and well and living in Paris

  2. I appreciate your bold speech to those in power and standing up for the innocent. Thank you. Your call needs a united front with all of us holding ourselves and each other accountable to Love. I pray we all can find in our own neighborhoods those injustices and address them as boldly as you. God bless.

  3. God knows you well, Monsignor. I’m happy you chose to be His friend! Mine is a selfish joy; you are as a bouquet of fresh flowers from Mary Immaculate’s garden. With great gratitude we receive the gift from your heart, penned with the precision of angels in flight on their way to adorn altars at Mass, colored with the golden wisdom of God and get to savor it as a call, please God, to put it to practice. This morning began with the most holy rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary for Fathers everywhere who remind us that God is with us. Thank you. Thank Him for showing us holy proof.

  4. Monseignor, may I respectfully take exception to your message here. I have a serious issue with clergy getting involved with local political issues. Especially when the vast majority of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence, see the need for Confession as a sacrament, missing Sunday Mass as sinful or even know that artificial contraception is against the teaching of the church. And I have not begun on the issues of pre-marital sex, same sex marriage and the whole host of matters that affect the eternal lives of souls. We hear alot from the social justice and peace issues…but the ones that really matter, Heaven and Hell, eternal life? Nada from the pulpits! I am not accusing you personally of any of this as I am not a member of your parish. But men become priests not to endorse political agenda …but to preach the Gospel to living souls. Jesus did not concern himself so much with the local politics…as he did with individuals hearts, minds and souls, hoping to turn them
    towards God and their neighbor. If our Sunday sermons ( not homilies) were truly about teaching Truth to souls thirsting to know God who knows what kind of world would evolve? Many one where peace and justice reigned
    in hearts on fire for God!
    God bless you Monseignor. You are included in my rosaries for all priests who are on the front line today!

    1. So I shouldn’t pray in front of abortion “clinics” ? I do suppose I live for the day when the lay faithful fully take their role in standing up for life, in fighting for the poor, and renewing the temporal order. But meantime, some still their priest to lead them. I led seven parishioners out on both occasions described.

      As for the preaching schedule you set forth, I follow it quite well here in the parish, what St. Paul calls the “whole counsel of God”

  5. I think you answered your own question or perhapse it was just a rhetorical sermon. Specifically your are refering to crony capitalism which isn’t a science of economy but rather an art of demagoguery. That’s why the founders of our nation crafted the constitution. Cats are independent living under the laws of their constitution and dogs are shaking the human race down for a bag of Doritos and the false promise of a utopian loyalty of interdepndence.

  6. I meant no dis-respect, truly, and if my comments regarding priest(s) who actively involve themselves
    in politics, ruffled afew halos, please accept my apologies. I’ll leave it to the Pope from now on who
    has the authority to speak about such matters ( and has I should recall much more articulately)…no
    pun intended! Goodness! I better leave it at that except to say that abortion is not nor should be
    considered a political issue for Catholics! Of course all who have respect for life should be actively involved,
    both clerigy and laypersons, in it’s abolishment. Politics? Another matter. It is not helpful for the congregation
    so thirsty for His Word to see their Pastor’s political alignment publically. If they see error in his political judgment and support, it might cast doubt upon the matter of his judgment in other areas of far more consequence.

    1. I am not sure why you see either issue as political. Both are moral. Care for the poor is a fundamental biblical principal. Further, as I state in the article there is no republican party here in the District of the Columbia, further still I indicate we were engaging the business community who have stated that Government is bloated and must be reduced in size by issuing a formal letter to that effect. And yet, those same businesses who signed the letter are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies every year from the district they say spends too much money. Fine, the argument about govt spending too much is a worthy one. But lets start the cuts not with funds for poorer residents. Why not start with the 100 million subsidy that the Convention Center gets every year? Why do they need it in the lucrative convention market that DC is? But guess what, the budget for Affordable housing was cut, and the neighborhood investment fund (a fund to help restore facilities and housing in poor neighborhoods) was completely unfunded last 2 years. But the Convention center still got its 100 million, several hundred million also continued to go to local hotels and downtown business. Is there really any doubt what Jesus Christ thinks about that? Is that not a moral issue that the Church should stand on?

      Don’t worry by the way, my people aren’t hungry for the word. Also my halo isn’t ruffled….don’t I have to wait to get to heaven to get one?

  7. Well, Monseignor, maybe that is the problem…No Republicans in DC politics! Perhaps you need an infusion
    of the Party of Life to solve your problem of moral terpitude within the district.
    Happy to hear your people are being fed. Wish the same could be said of our Church at large. I also believe
    that you are feeding through your insightful blogs here many outside your actual parish. God bless and I personally believe all our priests fighting on the front lines of the daily battle with evil have an invisible halo for us to pray they do not lose!

  8. I have been wrestling with this for some time. I’ll do you one better, Msgr. BOTH should be eliminated, though I realize it’s not likely. Corporate welfare for the reasons you note and social welfare because it is the proper sphere of the Church and individual rather than the state. Charity is the obligation of the individual not of the state and when the state takes my money for these programs it is not charity at all. Studies show that those who support entitlements more give less in charitable contributions–in part because they believe “the state is taking care of it.” Further, state entitlements have been a huge factor in the demise of the family in poor and minority populations–something that Senator Daniel Patrick Mponyhan predicted with chilling clarity in the 1960s. It seems to me that the principle of subsidiarity might just mean that we as Christian individuals take the difficult position of saying no to welfare and then really, really take care of the poor ourselves. It’s a hard choice and it may not have the immeidate results–good OR bad–that state programs have, but I am increasingly convinced that charity is not just intended for the good of the poor–it is meant to change me as well and if I am not involved, that can’t happen. And permitting the state to become the major means by which the poor are cared for is one reason for the precipitous decline in marraige among the poor (can’t get welfare benefits if there’s a man in the house) andpermitting insurance to be dictated by the government is one reason the HHS mandate is upon us. A long sober look at the principle of subsidiarity and a realization that there are dreadful effects in off-loading our Christian resposnbilities to a soulless state is probably long overdue.

    Excellent, excellent post!

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