The Thinking Housewife gets patriarchy

One of the best reactionary weblogs out there is The Thinking Housewife.  Check out her recent observations on one of my favorite topics:

Patriarchy is taken to mean the rule of men when what it really refers to is the rule of fathers. In traditional Western society, the father is the earthly representative of divine love and authority. The father is part of something larger in the way the mother never is. Only in him do the personal and cultural find some workable harmony. A matriarchal society such as ours is destined to sink into the swamp. It cannot obey natural law because it is subsumed by the personal.

The first sentence makes an elementary point, but how often have you heard it made?  Think of how many misunderstandings would be cleared up if everyone understood that this is the heart of the institution–the connection between authority and the paternal role.  Then it gets better by linking authority to symbolism, something else I’m always emphasizing.  As I wrote in my defense of patriarchy, the father must represent the outside world and the absolute demands of morality to his children.

The author makes another interesting point:

Fatherhood is all but erased as an institution if it is evil for white men to care about their people and to actively protect the interests of their people. To expect the father to see only personal love as his work is to emasculate him at the very core of his being. He has larger tasks. White men will remain emasculated and feminism will flourish as long as white culture is denied the same rights of self-assertion other cultures possess.

She claims that fatherhood has lost its prestige because our culture has lost its will to perpetuate itself.  (I think it’s a bit unfortunate that she uses a biological descriptor, “white”, to label our culture, but that’s just nitpicking.)  I myself would say that the loss of respect for fathers and the loss of respect for culture/tradition are two aspects of the decline of piety, which is part of liberalism’s project to eliminate the third level of being.

Schillebeeckx gets what’s coming to him

Apostate Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx is dead at age 95.  The man misspent his entire professional life attacking and subverting the docrines and traditions of the Church that foolishly gave him his livelihood.  He rejected the Church’s authority and sacramental structures; he eviscerated the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Resurrection; in the end, he dismissed even the idea of a supernatural order.  If Schillebeeckx rejected his lifetime of treachery at the moment of death, let us praise God for His mercy that surpasses all human understanding.  If he went to his judgement unrepentent and defiant, let us praise God for His justice that no one–however great his worldly success–can escape.

Do I seem bitter?  Try to see things from the point of view of a Catholic in his mid-thirties.  There used to be a Catholic culture, a whole big beautiful mental universe and way of life.  Its mysteries, dogmas, rituals, and rules permeated every aspect of the lives of Catholics, down to what they ate, when they fasted, and which saint they prayed to when they lost their car keys.  Every ritual and every rule was a contact between daily life and the sacred; every sign of the cross and every hamburger deferred till 12:01am Saturday connected the humblest Catholic to two millenia of saints and martyrs.

When I was old enough, I came to realize the beauty of Catholicism, both as a set of supernaturally revealed doctrines and as a living social organism.  I thought there could be no finer thing than to dedicate myself to its defense.  But I was born too late.  Ten years before I was born, traitors like Schillebeeckx, Kueng, Chenu, Curran, and Rahner had obliterated my birthright.  Of course, the Catholic faith still exists as a set of ideas, but the community of common belief and practice is dead.  Wherever I go to Mass on Sunday, I can expect that most of the people in the pews with me vote for pro-abortion politicians and think the doctrine of the Trinity is either false or meaningless.  Nearly all of them use birth control and never go to confession.  It’s quite difficult to find a church where one can avoid sermons about how Jesus’ “rising from the dead” just means that the Apostles had some nice memories about Him.  Most nuns woship pagan goddesses, and the jesuits have become a club for aging communist sodomites.  Before Vatican II, the atheists already controlled the West outside of the Church.  Why couldn’t they leave me that one refuge?  What’s left of the Catholic Church is the punchline to a joke: “What do you get when a religion has a clergy that doesn’t believe any of its theological doctrines and a laity that ignores all of its moral doctrines?”  You get post-Vatican II Catholicism, of course!  Ha, ha, ha.

You’re God damn right I’m bitter.

Ex opere operato in the bedroom

In the last post, I expressed my preference for “rule-based” sexual ethics over the more popular “feeling/intention-based” systems of today.  The former I called the “Catholic” view, because I thought the popular image of Catholic legalism actually helped get my point across.  There are deeper reasons, though, for this identification.  At the heart of it is the sacramental worldview.

The common view is that words and actions are less meaningful than feelings and intentions.  The sacramental view affirms the opposite, at least in some special cases.  The best known example is the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist.  The sacramental churches claim that this sacrament is the heart of Christian life, that it makes the sacrifice on Calvary present to the communicants and incorporates them into Christ’s self-offering to the Father, and that it unites all members of the Church and draws them into Christ’s mystical body.  What gives the sacrament this potency?  Is the personal holiness of the priest or the congregation so great as to imply this meaning?  Heaven help us if that’s what’s needed for the sacrament to be effective!  Is it that the thoughts and feelings of the congregation at the Mass are so purely Christ-like as to establish an identification with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross?  What could be more absurd or impertinant?  Half the congregation isn’t even paying attention, and even the half that is can hardly be said to be doing something heroic like Christ was.  No, our thoughts and feelings could never bear these sorts of meaning.  It’s the priest’s words and actions themselves that point to Calvary and identify the present congregation with the action that took place there.

The sacramental person realizes that some realities are too big for his mind and emotions, and he’s grateful for rituals–physical actions–that can symbolize these things in their fullness.  What’s true for the Eucharist is true also for sex.  It’s not the sublimity of the lovers’ feelings during the act that gives it it’s awesome meaing.  No mere mental state could bear such significance.  Two romantic adulterers might have more intense, and even more “spiritual”, feelings and intentions during intercourse than the average married couple.  That doesn’t change the fact that the former are committing a desecration and the latter a holy act.  What makes this so?  First, that certain words were said at a certain ritual, namely the couple’s wedding, and these words have an awesome meaning in themselves.  Second, that the act itself–the particular place that the seminal fluid goes–has a natural, objective meaning of awesome significance.

Is this a paradox, the idea that material facts can be more deeply significant than spiritual facts?  Perhaps to those who have a higher regard for their spiritual states than I have for mine.  For myself, I’m grateful for the clarity of objective physical facts, and I’ll cling to them.

Catholic sexual morality is easier

One advantage that old-fashioned Catholic sexul morality has over modern sexual ethics is that it’s easier and less demanding.  “How can this be”, you say, “since we always thought the opposite was true–that the Catholic code is strict and the modern code permissive.”  You think that only because nobody really considers what’s involved in the modern code.

Let’s take a concrete example.  Suppose I’m sitting in my chair one evening, thinking reactionary thoughts about how I’m going to oppress my peasants tomorrow.  My wife passes by, and I notice how cute she looks in that nightgown.  I feel a stirring in my loins and realize that, yes, I would really like to engage in the marital embrace.  Is it moral, though?  How can I decide?

Well, that’s what ethical systems are for, right?  Suppose there are two of them in my moral universe.  One is the Catholic system, by which I mean what most people think of as the Catholic system–a bunch of precise rules I have to follow.  This system gives me a checklist.  Are you married to her?  Check.  Is she willing?  Check.  You’re not using birth control, are you?  Check.  You’re going to put your seed in the procreatively correct place, right?  Check.  Her getting pregnant wouldn’t be a disaster, right?  Check.  You don’t have any STDs?  Check.  All the checks are in the correct columns, so I can go for it with an entirely free consciousness.

The other morality available to me is the modern one, the one that insists that my first system is too simplistic, too legalistic.  There are no fixed rules about when sex is or isn’t moral.  The only criteria are that my act must be “respectful, non-exploitative, full of mutuality and self-giving love for the Other”.  (Moderns like to capitalize the “o” in “other”–I kid you not.)  No fixed rules = anything goes, right?  Not if we take this system seriously (which nobody does; that’s why it’s so popular).  Am I sure that it’s respect for my wife as a person, rather than her physical allure, that’s motivating me?  Am I really pursuing her good and not my own pleasure?  In the rule-based system, I can know that I’m properly respecting my wife by looking at my actions.  I provide for her; I show her affection; I’m never abusive; I’ve been faithful, etc.  For the modern view, this doesn’t prove anything.  Acts have no intrinsic meaning; they only mean what our mental states make them mean.  I can kill people out of pity; I can spare their lives out of spite–only the pity and the spite matter, not the act itself.  So the only thing left I have to determine my righteousness is to examine my feelings.  Am I having loving, respectful feelings while my eyes drink in her corporeal charms?  During the act itself, will I be thinking to myself, “What I really admire is her intelligence!”  This might seem unlikely, but I could probably put such thoughts into my head.  Ah, but then it might not be genuine.  How do I know these respectful, loving, unselfish thoughts aren’t just an act I’m putting on to hide my true, carnal motives from myself?  I can’t, of course.  People are very good at disguising their true motivations from themselves.  The fact is, there’s no way that I could ever know that the requirements of the modern ethical system are satisfied.  If people were seriously determined to follow it, the human race would die out.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that when a little while back Pope John Paul II tried to improve Catholic sexual morality by combining the two systems (rules and feelings), the resulting system–his “theology of the body”–turned out to be insanely difficult.  The theology of the body affirms that I can commit adultery with my own wife, even if there’s no contraception and she’s willing and eager, if my motives aren’t sufficiently pure.  Now, ordinarily, a man engaging in coitus isn’t going to be thinking to himself, “What a jolly good metaphor for Christ and His Church this is!”  But even if I do make sure to make a few mental nods to Christ and the Trinity during the conjugal act, that’s never going to have much to do with why I’m doing it.

No, modern rule-free sexual morality is too demanding for me.

Copenhagen

Yet another climate conference ends in nothing definite.

The second worse thing a public figure can do to make himself unpopular is to deny that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are causing a dangerous increase in the greenhouse effect.

The worse thing a public figure can do to make himself unpopulr is to seriously try to take the measures that logically follow from accepting anthropogenic climate change.

The public always gets what it wants:  politicians who are “very concerned” about climate change, cheap gas, and movies about polar bears.

In defense of religion, last chapter

We’ve finally come to the end of this series.  In the next few days, I hope to gather the whole Defense of Religion series into a page or series of pages, like my other “defenses”.  In this chapter, we examine why it is reasonable to think that God might reveal Himself supernaturally to a group of people and found a religion.  This one’s only about one and a half pages.

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In defense of religion, chapter VI

In this chapter, I look at the relationship between God and morality.  First, I consider God’s nature as unqualified goodness.  Then I compare theist and atheist ideas of human dignity, authority, and sex.  This is the next-to-last chapter.

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