Democracy in the Church

From that same article, another horrendous idea making the rounds:

That the Church in Germany is what preoccupies the quondam Holy Office today is shown by two new initiatives:  the memorandum signed by the director of the Karl Rahner Academy, Bernd Wacker, and the letter from the Kölner Kercheninitiative…in which they asked the Pope to open the procedure for the election of a bishop to the laity as well.  At Christmas, in fact, the conservative Cardinal, Joachim Meisner, will be 80 years old and soon will retire after five years of postponement.  Gerhard Müller has made clear that to change the rules of the procedure is not possible…

I’ve got a better idea.  Let’s just let the editorial board of the New York Times select bishops.  You know, eliminate the middle man.

Of course, this is what I say about democracy in general.  I seriously would rather that my enemies in the media directly control the government than that they indirectly control it through brainwashing the populace.  I have no problem with the rule of a few per se, and the inevitable devolution of democracy into media rule means that it doesn’t matter whether I have a problem with it or not; it is unavoidable.  However, direct rule is preferable to indirect rule–even if we grant that the brainwashing will continue (and it might slack a bit if it were no longer needed for controlling policy)–for three reasons.  First, unlike being the power behind the throne, being the recognized ruler comes with recognized responsibility.  For decades, we have followed the NYT prescription for social degradation, and it has had many deleterious effects, but no one now thinks to blame our true rulers.  Second, recognized rule can only justify itself by some sort of positive appeal to legitimacy or the common good, while indirect power can rely entirely on resentment toward scapegoats, that is, toward the nominal, powerless establishment.  Third, if the NYT directly ruled, it could impose things like gay marriage without the complicity of a majority of the populace.  Thus, fewer people would damn themselves with the making of each evil law.

The gathering divorce storm

The heretics Marx and Kasper aren’t even pretending that the upcoming Synod on the Family is about better teaching the Catholic theology of marriage, as opposed to overthrowing it.  (Note Cardinal Kasper practically promising that unrepentant adulterers will soon be able to receive the Eucharist.)

On the bright side, it looks like my name choice wasn’t so bad after all.  Divorce is turning into the great Catholic battle of our time.

The new Disney princess equilibrium

My three-year old daughter Julie loves The Princess and the Frog, one of the two or three actual movies she’s seen, and I agree that it’s pretty good.  It’s actually pretty impressive how well many of the Disney animated movies turn out given the restrictions they’re under.  Everybody in the world feels that they have the right not to be offended by Disney movies, and so they’re obsessively scrutinized by interest groups the world over.  Just think about the kind of grief they get.  “Ariel in The Little Mermaid was infatuated and irresponsible.  We need more strong, independent women!”  “Those hyenas in The Lion King sound black.  That’s racist!”  I remember reading these criticisms among many others in newspapers.  With each new movie, the writers must figure out how to accommodate the ever-escalating demands of political correctness.  And yet, they can’t go full-PC nonwhite-lesbian-commune-fighting-America either.  They don’t want to offend ordinary people, and they have to know that the whole attraction of the princess genre is heterosexual, strongly sexually differentiated, and non-democratic.  They’re selling people something they say they (or rather their children) don’t want but obviously do.  The trick in that kind of game is to sell the customer what she wants while giving her some plausible cover to say what she’s bought is really something different.  I suppose Disney could just drop the princess movie line and only write other kinds of stories, but that’s not going to happen while selling princess accessories to toddler girls is such a goldmine.  I’ve tried to mildly discourage it and encourage her in other things, but my daughter has latched onto princess and fairy stuff, and it’s slowly building up in our apartment.

By the way, I think this is the secret of Dora the Explorer’s success.  You want to indulge your toddler daughter’s girlishness a little, without going full Disney Princess.  It doesn’t work.  We’ve tried.

Last aside:  Julie does have some strong non-princess-and-fairy interests.  She’s fascinated by snakes and ceiling fans.  I should tell you stories sometime.

Anyway, three things impressed me about The Princess and the Frog.

Continue reading

What is success in blogging?

Continuing my investigation of the relatively greater vigor of the neoreactionaries compared to the orthospherians.

Let us consider how we gauge success in blogging.  Now, you may say truly that it is a greater thing to bring one soul to Christ than having a large following who are not spiritually helped in any significant way by your writings.  But we are talking here about visible blogging success.

The increasing levels of success, as I see them:

  1. People read your posts.
  2. People comment on your posts.
  3. Other bloggers link to your posts.
  4. Your posts trigger conversations among other bloggers.
  5. Your posts introduce new ideas or arguments that are then developed or applied by other bloggers and by online journals.

(As Bruce Charlton has pointed out, the purpose of media is to generate more media.  This applies as much to reactionary media as to any other kind.)  Notice that the three highest levels of success pretty much require one to be part of some sort of blogging community.  I conclude that neoreactionaries are at present a better community for a blogger to belong to than any comparable group in the religious reactionary Right.  It’s easier to make a splash on the internet–that is, to write blog posts that inspire other people to write blog posts–as a neoreactionary speaking to other neoreactionaries.

Not that you can’t have this success as an Orthosphere-style religious reactionary.  See Bruce, whether he likes it or not, achieving this “success” in the previous paragraph.  Another example:  Larry Auster and the concept of unprincipled exceptions.  You can do it, but you have to be very good.

So why then do we generate fewer multi-post, multi-author conversations than some other internet groups?  That I don’t know.

Bonald’s advice for finding a spouse

Lower your standards.

Continue reading

Japan: the white man of the orient

Has anybody else noticed this?  For some reason, Japanese are the only non-Westerners who are supposed to be constantly apologizing, who are never allowed to have a healthy patriotism, who get scolded by major newspapers for not allowing themselves to be ethnically cleansed through mass immigration.

Ukraine falls

The worst-case scenario is now likely.  The overthrow of Ukraine’s legitimate government by naked mob violence sets the country on the path to submission and assimilation to European Union sodomo-tyranny.

Let this be a lesson to legitimate government everywhere.  Don’t negotiate with Western-backed thugs.  You must crush them without delay and without mercy.

The Catholic Perspective IV: Vows

A sacred vow gives form to a life.

Man loves his freedom but finds no happiness in it.  As a miser hordes his gold, so the freedom-lover hordes his options.  Both make the same mistake.  Just as the only joy in money is in spending it, the only joy in freedom is in casting it away in the act of commitment.  This indeed is the ultimate self-mastery, to hold one’s entire life in hand and, in one moment’s vow, to offer it whole to God.  The Church offers man the life-disciplines of marriage, holy orders, or the religious life.   In embracing one, he imposes on his life a unity and definiteness, an overarching project to be completed, a narrative to be lived.  His life becomes an intelligible thing, now that each episode can be related to the primary plot line.

To make one’s life something definite certainly restricts one’s future freedom, and some find this frightening.  It is also true that to see one’s life as a single, definite thing is also to see it as a finite thing; in every ordination or wedding is an intimation of mortality, and many I suspect find this frightening as well.  But what is the alternative?  An uncommitted life, a formless life, the meaningless expanse of years.  Such is the life fashioned by modern man’s miserly freedom-hoarding, the clinging to escape clauses that vitiate even those commitments he does (sort of) make.  Stuck in indeterminacy, he loses the vow’s moment of existential mastery and the subsequent comforts of a meaningful connection to his past and future.

Marriage and ordination are gifts that enlarge the soul.

Marriage and ordination are great blessings, but it would be wrong to think that, just because the free vow lies at their heart, they are blessings we bestow upon ourselves by sheer force of will.  A mere private act of will, such as a decision by a man to be faithful to a particular woman, could never order an entire life like a marriage vow can, because one moment’s decision can be overturned by any future moment’s regret.  Why should his will then have authority over his will now?  Even to promise himself to the woman is not enough, because she would then be the holder of the promise and could at any moment release him.  In marriage, through its power of sacramental signification, God lends the couple His own voice, empowering them to make a sacred vow with a moral force beyond their or anyone else’s reach.  There is a promise, but God Himself is its holder.  It is an act of freedom, yes, but a supernatural freedom bestowed by our Father in Heaven.

What’s more, if vocation were a mere act of will, its content could be nothing more than what was consciously willed; whatever was in one’s head at that moment becomes the guiding light to one’s life.  If that were the case, then the Church’s enemies would be right to see this as a diminishment of a man.  The vow would constrict his spirit, never allowing him to grow beyond the vision of that moment when he calcified his soul.  In fact, the three particular Christian vocations, although chosen by us, are not made by us.  Each is a great suprapersonal mystery, something larger than the soul that chooses it, something into which one grows.  To choose one of these paths is to expand one’s soul, opening previously inaccessible spiritual vistas, not to contract it.

Marriage and the wisdom of recklessness

Marriage is the most lowly vocation, but it is nevertheless more beautiful than anything in the profane world.  In this station the family, one’s role as mother or father, is the main organizing principle of one’s life.  Reduced to its essence, the marriage contract is a public agreement a particular man shall be recognized as father to a particular woman’s offspring, with all the duties to each other that this implies.  Contrary to what is often said today, the love of the spouses is not the contract’s defining feature.  Marriage is, however, the natural fulfillment of romantic love.  The Church didn’t invent the idea that a man and woman should promise each other exclusivity and permanence–lovers have always promised each other that; love carries with it the impulse to make such vows.  The Church is unique only in allowing these vows to mean precisely what they say.

Would any lover be content to make the marriage vows to his beloved while replacing the promise “till death” with “unless I become unhappy”?  Surely not.  True love scorns such timidity.  Even heretics and heathen, who admit divorce in principle, would think it base not to at least pretend to marry in the Catholic way.  They call the Catholic way cruel, because it traps spouses in “unhappy” and “failed” marriages.  But the vow’s “cruelty”–the depth of self-sacrifice it may potentially demand–is inseparable from its grandeur.  Moderns are never trapped in unhappy marriages at the cost that to be married now just means to be accidentally not yet divorced.  Like soldiers, married Catholics know that their honor is tied to the magnitude of sacrifice they may have to make.  Who would be so reckless as to take such a vow?  Anyone who has been in love.

For all its sentimentality, the world does not respect romantic love nearly as much as the Church does.  Modernity indulges lovers, but it doesn’t respect them.  It treats them like drunks whose car keys need to be taken away.  Yes, lovers feel compelled to promise each other undying love, but this is a sort of madness, and it would be cruel to hold them to it after they’ve sobered up.  The Catholic Church, on the other hand, sees love–and especially the urge to make of one’s life a gift to another in contempt for one’s future freedom or ease–as a special lucidity of mind, and she grants to lovers her supernatural binding power.  What modernity calls wisdom, the prioritizing of personal happiness over marital duty as if life were long and eternity short, is where we see a clouding and enfeeblement of the mind.

Career as modernity’s replacement for marriage

It is sad to think of a person looking back on a life of hopping from spouse to spouse and family to family.  (Like Saint Paul, I suspect that even widowers would be happier not remarrying, although there is no sin in them doing so.)  What would such a life be about?  Where would be the unity to it?  The modern world, which celebrates divorce, does have an answer to this, though more often implied than stated.  For the modern man, career is supposed to be the focus of one’s life.  Career is the ultimate substantive good in the world’s dominant ideologies of liberalism, capitalism, and feminism.  Career is what liberalism means by freedom and what feminism means by self-actualization.  Looking back on his life, modern man on his deathbed can recollect how well he climbed up the corporate ladder.  That is what his life was about.  That is the freedom that the destruction of Catholic patriarchy delivers.

The priesthood is not a job.

Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are similar in spirit to marriage, but more elevated in that God is more directly the object of self-offering.  Much of the world’s confusion about the Catholic priesthood stems from failing to realize that the priesthood is a vocation, not a job (or–Heaven forbid!–a career).  Thus, we hear many asinine remarks about how women or married temporary functionaries could perform the same functions as an ordained man.  This is false (no one but an ordained man can confect the Eucharist, the main duty of a priest), and the reason is that a man’s priestly role has to be his core self-identity.

Suppose one were to say that a revolving sequence of babysitters could take care of a child just as well as his mother could.  Of course, the babysitters could do many of the same things as the mother, but the depth of meaning would be lost, because when a mother cares for her child, these acts are the very heart of her life.  Priesthood is spiritual fatherhood; we even call our priests “father”.  What wife and children are to a married man, his parishioners are to a priest.

(This understanding, while somewhat safeguarded by the discipline of celibacy, which deprives the priest of any competing “private life”, has been gravely obscured in recent times by the horrible policy of rotating priests from parish to parish every six years or so.  Evidently, the bishops have begun thinking of their priests as mere employees, who needn’t develop a personal patriarchal relationship with their parish, and the laity have just taking this attitude to its logical conclusion of wanting married/women/pervert priests who can “do the job just as well”.)

When, endowed by God with a special sacramental character, the priest stands on the altar and speaks Christ’s own words in His place, we see the heart of his life.  The perfection of the Eucharistic sacrifice demands that the identity of priest and victim be maintained.  The priest must sacramentally identify as Jesus Christ.  This must be the core of his life and his identity, with his own personality displaced to the periphery.

Religious life:  a deliberate scandal to the worldly

Then there is the religious life, which scandalizes modern men most of all.  Marriage they understand as emotional fulfillment, and a priest they imagine to be a funny kind of therapist, but what could be the point of monks and nuns?  Some indeed perform secularly useful charitable work, but we should be clear that the purpose of most religious orders is not to staff schools, hospitals, and soup kitchens.  It would be closer to the truth to say that their purpose is to give the sort of scandal they give, to present the sort of life that can’t be understood, or even (like marriage and the priesthood) misunderstood by worldly minds.  The religious stand out as a sign that temporal usefulness is not the ultimate measure of value, that what we call “the real world” is a small and transient thing in the light of eternity.  Appreciate why the Church thinks it good that some should devote their lives to prayer, and one can then understand why she thinks it good that others should marry or be priests.

The complete failure of the German Church

Could it be any worse?  No, not really.  The German bishops announce that their flock with near unanimity reject all Catholic teachings on sex while accepting anti-Christian utilitarian morality without the slightest reservation.

The bishops then publicly apologized for so utterly failing German Catholics, and, unable to bear their shame, ritually disemboweled themselves.

Actually, in the real world, they want to change Church teaching and discipline so that unrepentant adulterers don’t feel “discriminated against” and “marginalized”.  What an utter disgrace.

The Catholic Perspective III: the sacramental life

To judge by the lack of feedback, part II of this series was not well received.  I was supposed to be discussing a general thing–the Catholic geist–but now I’ve started marching through doctrines.  I can only say what I say to my students during dry or challenging course material–there will be a payoff!  Systemization of doctrine is itself a very Catholic undertaking.  So I will now complete my march through key Catholic doctrines, coming at last to the Church and her sacraments, subjects that, as any good Protestant will tell you, we Catholics are obsessed with.

How to earn salvation?  You can’t.  The idea of a just God rewarding or punishing each soul according to its individual merits is something one must overcome in order to understand any of the branches of Christianity.  How can it be that the righteousness of Jesus Christ and His own relationship to God the Father are transmitted to other human beings?  Catholics approach these questions with our distinctive attitude toward symbols and the public world; our answer comes from our distinctive doctrines on faith and the Church, grace and the sacraments.

Continue reading