What do the Kasperites really believe?

Consider this a Grand Inquisitor-style thought experiment.  Most baptized Catholics are to one degree or another Kasperite heretics, and I’m quite sure that I’ve often spotted this spirit just beneath their surface.  Whoever is running the American annulment factory is much more guilty of this type of thinking than Kasper himself.  The arguments that Catholic practice should depart from Catholic doctrine always seem phony.  What do they really believe?

Life is just a jumble of one thing after another, and none of it really means anything because it all ends in oblivion anyway.  Each of us will die, and yet we will each die alone, because my personal extinction is an incommunicable catastrophe.  There is no God, and the universe doesn’t care how you spend the time between now and your final destination.  And yet to make the swift years of life bearable, we must imagine that what we do matters in some ultimate sense.  We must feel as if we are really connected to other people by unbreakable bonds.  Otherwise, the fear and loneliness and despair would be too much.  So we need our vows, our promises of fidelity unto death, those grand gestures of throwing away our lives for love like Jesus did.

And yet, this is playing with fire.  “For better or for worse” means the possibility of having to accept great suffering and loneliness, the very things that vow was supposed to prevent.  What shall we do?  Is not the play-acting of children healthy, perhaps even necessary?  And yet, when the rules of a game or a dare lead to actual danger, is that not the time to remember that the game is in fact a game, and that they would be better off playing a different one?  Again, what shall we do?  Shall we devise new marriage vows with explicit exception clauses, new rules that keep things from ever getting really out of hand?  Heavens no!  This would defeat the point of the game, which must be played as if it were serious to have its effect.  The point of marriage is to feel that you are indissolubly bound to another person, that she/he is totally yours, and you are totally hers/his, even though it’s not true.  People in love always promise “forever”; it would be as cruel to keep them from promising this as it would be to actually hold them to it.

No, the game must continue to be played, because outside of it is darkness and despair.  We must play with fire.  But it must be play.  What is needed is a class of discreet and wise “grown-ups” to keep things from getting out of hand.  The point of marriage is the comfort of personal companionship.  The point of the Eucharist is the comfort of community affirmation.  We must see to it that these sacraments are really offering these things to everyone.  And yet, for them to work. they must maintain the illusion of transcendent purpose and absolute validity.  We must affirm the rules, and we must break them.

Eventually, we will not be satisfied with communion for the remarried.  We will insist that the Church recognize second unions.  We will not criticize indissolubility–oh no!  Let a woman enjoy the comforting glow of vowed-fidelity-unto-death with her husband.  And if that doesn’t work out, let her then enjoy it with her second husband.  And then with her third.  It doesn’t matter if these feelings don’t make sense in some absolute sense if the comfort is real.   Many of the Church’s other moral teachings will have to be practically neutered as well.  However, this is not something the Church is ready to hear yet.

The reasons we give for our policies are, of course, illogical.  They must be, because we can’t give our true reasons without breaking illusions we wish to see maintained.  The integralists say we are a new crop of modernists, but this is not quite right.  The original modernists were interested in theology.  They wanted  to reinterpret Catholic dogma in an immanentist sense, as “expressions of religious consciousness” or suchlike.  We have no interest in such speculative matters.  It is all the same to us if the laity believe in Apostolic Succession or Transubstantiation or other such nonsense.  We are only interested in the practical functioning of the psychological-sacramental system.  We only ask to be allowed to interrupt the game here and there so that most people can go on playing without trouble.  If we must blather on about being “merciful” and “pastoral” based on no principle to be consistently applied, we are certainly willing to do so to achieve our goal.

Some would accuse us of undermining the faith, but if the laity had any faith to undermine they would spurn us.  Instead we are immensely popular.  The people want what we’re giving.  Deep down, they know that marriage and religion are just play-acting.  They just want the play to be kept pleasant.  They do not share that barbarous obsession of the fundamentalists, the integralists, and the new atheists over issues of truth.  Are you surprised that I group these three things together?  You shouldn’t be.  What separates us from the atheists is their residual sense of reverence, their impression that the ideas of God, sacrament, and marriage are too holy to be trifled with even if they don’t correspond to anything real.  Most of us, though, are civilized enough to take a more practical view.

Who wouldn’t want religion as we sell it, all comfort and no judgement?  We take away pitiless rules and troubling truths.  We take away the Cross.

10 Responses

  1. This was thoroughly vile and horrifying to read through…not least because it’s tragically accurate. Well done.

    Deus miserere nobis.

  2. Although most, if not all, of the Kasperites probably engage in intensive rationalisation in order to square away this vile modernist animus which motivates their actions with the Catholicism they are supposed to profess, it may perhaps be more depressing to ask: if they are forced to confront the contradiction between the two, how many would choose Catholicism?

    O how even the princes of the Church have fallen…

  3. Very well written, Bonald! There are two reasons why I think that you really did understand the Kasperite spirit and translated them well into the language of the Grand Inquisitor.
    First, it makes sense that someone who isn’t a 100% conscious nihilist/Satanist nor adheres 100% to the Christian ethos would try to use religion for humanist purposes, humanism being the incoherent middle road between Christianity and nihilism. This Inquisitor of yours believes that we are nothing more than apes, and yet because of the cultural leftovers of Christianity he still cares for their well-being and society. His desire for justice makes him a redeemable atheist, but he is an atheist nevertheless. In short, you’ve translated Ivan Karamazov’s solution to the problem of evil in your character very precisely.
    Second, this reminds me of a story I’ve heard from an acquaintance. Especially when I read the passage “We must see to it that these sacraments are really offering these things to everyone. And yet, for them to work, they must maintain the illusion of transcendent purpose and absolute validity.” My acquaintance is a Satanist-turned-Christian. He became a LaVeyan Satanist because he hated the Islam of some of his family members so much that he wanted to invert almost every belief it had. Then, while reading LaVey, he saw that humans need ritual – but decided that the Black mass isn’t an ancient one, and that one of the most ancient and still practised rites in Syria (one of his countries of origin) was the Antiochian rite. So he decided that he’d behave as it is most natural and “empowering” to him – he’ll revere his ancestors and join them by worshipping as they have worshipped – in an Antiochian church. And with time he found out that this same reverence that he had was also natural to him if directed towards God. He told me that as a Satanist, he couldn’t stand the modernised Protestant services and that Vatican II was the greatest crime against Catholics because it took away from them their liturgy. It is power, vitality, the sublime, and not happiness, that we humans need – as Nietzsche said: “Mankind does not strive for happiness; only the Englishman does that.” Later I had a discussion with a Satanist transhumanist who agreed with me that we (humans) need real, ancient rite and that its humanistic version cannot fit us psychologically; he also thought classical music superior to contemporary Western music.

    It seems more and more obvious to me that modernism wouldn’t be able to keep people from becoming atheists, and yet modernists are so deeply influenced by the modernist ethos that they stop reasoning in the manner of making Christianity “sell better”. Their “Christianity”, like humanism, is simply not a coherent alternative to nihilism.
    I think that Cardinal Kasper is probably a Catholic who isn’t at all as far away from Catholic faith as your atheist Grand Inquisitor. It seems to me that he simply is too influenced by the ethos of Modernity, and probably not conscious enough of that.

  4. To understand the rival positions, we need to ask ourselves some very simple questions.

    (1) “I think I have broken my leg” makes sense; (2) “I thing I have toothache” does not. Why is that?

    Consider “I am married to x”? Is it like (1) or like (2) or is it a third kind of statement

  5. This post is a masterpiece.

  6. Thanks!

  7. Only God knows for certain, but I suspect a lot of clergymen perjured themselves back when they all had to take the Anti-Modernist Oath.

    This post inspired me to take a closer look at Modernism since, as our host said, almost all baptized Catholics in the 21st century are Kasperites to one degree or another. Reading Pascendi was like reviewing my old seminary’s curriculum, heh.

  8. Beefy Levinson
    All tests, including the Anti-Modernist Oath suffer from the defect pointed out by Bl John Henry Newman that, if someone subscribes a test, one cannot enquire in what sense he subscribes it without, in effect, imposing a second test and so on ad infinitum. As the author of Tract XC and the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman knew of what he spoke.
    As he said of condemnations, “As to the condemnation of propositions all she [the Church] tells us is, that the thesis condemned when taken as a whole, or, again, when viewed in its context, is heretical, or blasphemous, or impious, or whatever like epithet she affixes to it. We have only to trust her so far as to allow ourselves to be warned against the thesis, or the work containing it. Theologians employ themselves in determining what precisely it is that is condemned in that thesis or treatise; and doubtless in most cases they do so with success; but that determination is not de fide; all that is of faith is that there is in that thesis itself, which is noted, heresy or error, or other like peccant matter, as the case may be, such, that the censure is a peremptory command to theologians, preachers, students, and all other whom it concerns, to keep clear of it. But so light is this obligation, that instances frequently occur, when it is successfully maintained by some new writer, that the Pope’s act does not imply what it has seemed to imply, and questions which seemed to be closed, are after a course of years re-opened. In discussions such as these, there is a real exercise of private judgment and an allowable one; the act of faith, which cannot be superseded or trifled with, being, I repeat, the unreserved acceptance that the thesis in question is heretical, or the like, as the Pope or the Church has spoken of it.”
    A good example, from the highest authority, occurs in the 8th canon of the 5th ecumenical council, in which those are anathematized who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word” [Μία φυσις του θεου λογου σεσαρκωμενε], unless they “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected.” Thus, the very watch-word of the Monophysites may bear an orthodox sense.

  9. […] Kasperism:  Religion exists to validate our emotional impressions and make us happy.  The foulest, most degrading form of heresy, far worse than honest atheism.  “Phenomenological” impression–e.g. feeling that one’s marriage is dead, whatever the hell that means–must inform doctrinal “ideas”.  Because these phenomenal states are basically feelings and desires, and therefore neither logical nor universal, theology itself must jettison logic and embrace a sentimentalism in which the one who hypocritically poses as the most “humble” and “merciful” carries the day.  Thus, the Church’s teaching and discipline are not officially rescinded, but they cease to have any connection to anyone’s actual life, bound as the latter is in its phenomenal bubble. […]

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