06/13/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Thomas Merton, Rock Stars, and the Enablers that Serve Them

Yes, we are a world packed with rock stars. But they appear in many forms these days. Examples: Thomas Merton, Tiger Woods, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, baseball player Mark McGuire, and the Pope.

What an interesting group! All have worn masks at times, or still wear them. Each has attempted, or still attempts, to hoodwink those who worship their very beings, especially those who act as enablers on a daily basis.

Let's start our "rock star" list with Merton, still promoted as one of the most famous Catholic monks in history due to his having written more than 70 books and advocating what he calls the "contemplative life." Despite a sordid pre-monastic past filled with sinful deeds including fathering an illegitimate child and adultery, and illicit behavior during his monastic years that included womanizing and finally a forbidden love affair with a nurse half his age, the Catholic Church and the Merton Legacy Trust continue to insist he is something akin to a plastic saint. His autobiography, promoted as true, isn't, yet the enablers don't care. Insist that the book be recalled? You have to be kidding.

Next up, Mr. Woods, the hypocritical, adulterous rock star golfer who masqueraded as a goody-two-shoes, holier-than-thou, perfect human being and devoted family man who cheated on his wife and two young children with a vast array of beauties including a porn star. Supposedly devoted to his father, Woods was squeezing a sexy young lass between the sheets in California when he received the call that the elder Woods had died. Afterward, Tiger finally was hit upside the head when he hit a fire hydrant, and the scandal ensued, his poor wife was left embarrassed and brokenhearted.

Woods' enablers, including his agent who had counseled women Tiger seduced, tried to cover up the mess and the famous golfer told the world he was sorry. Last weekend a legend of fans cheered as Tiger fought to win the Masters. Enablers by the thousands whose speech was controlled, each adding to Wood's mindset that while he was a bad boy, the world had forgiven him -- Woods was once again a god-like figure. Fortunately, the gods of golf did not permit Tiger to win, and instead turned to Phil Mickelson, a man who has shown true devotion to his ailing wife and loving children. Thank you Lord.

Continuing just for a moment in the dastardly world of sports, where a different misdeed by a rock star occurs on a daily basis, let us visit the world of Mark McGuire. This hulk of a baseball player certainly reaped the benefits of breaking the home run record years ago only to finally admit he cheated by using performance-enhancing drugs. Certainly managers, coaches and a general manager looked the other way when he resembled the Michelin Man, since his superman exploits helped his clubs win championships and boost box office numbers. Instead of letting him suffer in the bowels of disgrace where he belonged, an enabler manager named Tony LaRussa hired McGuire as batting coach for the Cardinals. On Monday, fans cheered his return, which I'm certain, like Woods, caused him to believe that all is forgiven.

If anyone deserves to be added to the list of rock stars these days, it is Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Each day millions of people turn to these two talkers and eat up all they are fed in the form of fear of anything that is progressive in nature. They call the President a racist and worse, they portray nearly every member of Congress as a dunderhead, and they do their best to be negative about anything and everything in their right-or-wrong-according-to-them world. And who are the enablers here? Those same people who are duped by these entertainers, those people who tune in every day somehow not realizing that Limbaugh and Beck are laughing at them while becoming multi-millionaires since the listeners or viewers can't see that they are being used. By wearing a mask as some sort of authority on all subjects important to mankind, Limbaugh and Beck continue to flourish, when in fact they know little about the true workings of government, and frankly, don't give a damn. Ratings are all that matters, and when they are high, sponsors join the listeners as enablers.

How about the Pope, Benedict? Is he a rock star? His position as head of the Catholic Church certainly qualifies him for that status due to the devotion and hero-worship of millions. When he is on stage, or peeking out the window, there is a God-like feeling among those who listen, but enablers they are, since this Pope has one mission in mind like no other: cover-up as much as possible -- any scent of sexual abuse by priests who prey on little boys and girls and ruin their lives forever. Talk about wearing a mask, talk about hypocrisy. Benedict preaches love and caring and yet permits sexual abuse to run rampant. To gain a glimpse of how much this Pope has been in the dark world of denial, he finally decided this week, after decades of misconduct, to issue an edict encouraging his minions at churches around the world to report sexual abuse to the authorities. Amazing! Sad!

Of course, the list could go on. Is Sarah Palin a rock star or a true heart who wants to save the country as branded by her enablers? David Letterman: is he the warm, fuzzy host of a late-night talk program or just another bad guy who cheated on his wife and had a band of enablers who helped cover it up? And the President, God love him, what about him? Is he a masquerading rock star or a man who may have been akin to a rock star when he was elected but who may be shedding that status as he attempts to move the country forward when so many want to move it backward. That reminds me of two governors, one from Virginia, and one from Mississippi. Each feels slavery may have not been so bad. Let's see who the enablers are, and who those are who stand up and condemn their words.

Mark Shaw is the author of twenty books, including Beneath the Mask of Holiness: Thomas Merton and the Forbidden Love Affair that Set Him Free. His website is