Christianity is certainly a thing distinct from the traditional civilization of Europe. While Christianity was integral to our now dead civilization, it is meant for the entire human race. Our faith is ultimately in Christ, not in Christians, not even those Christians who are our ancestors and who built Christendom. And yet I do find it unseemly how our modern Christians try to prove our faith in Christ through our faithlessness to each other.
Hence the constant apologies. Apologies to the Muslims. Apologies to the Third World heathen. Endless abject groveling before the Jews. One should, I suppose, admire the faith of a man like Pope John Paul II who, in order to carry the Gospel unto all nations unencumbered by the sins of past faithful, was so thoroughly merciless in throwing his fellow Catholics under the proverbial bus. “Yes, we Catholics have all always been greedy sadistic bigots. But the Gospel is about Jesus Christ, not us! You don’t have to give up your contempt and hatred of us to embrace Him!” I suppose it might be true that a particular religion holds the ultimate truth about God and morality even though all its followers have been complete scoundrels, but I doubt many hearers will find this plausible. And yet even if it did work in winning converts, the whole thing would leave a bad taste in my mouth.
It would be one thing if Catholics were to apologize to someone genuinely powerless. I could see something magnanimous in the American Church apologizing to nineteenth century nativists for changing their country beyond recognition, just as the nativists had feared we would. But of course apologizing to someone even more marginal and despised than us won’t win any popularity.
Instead, we apologize to the powerful. John Paul II apologized to the Chinese Communists for the colonialist sins of the Church, thus betraying millions of loyal Chinese Catholics by handing the moral high ground to their persecutors. Ah well, he did it for Jesus.
In the West, we apologize to the Jews, condemning our ancestors over and over and over again. It makes sense. The Jews have enormous power over the media, and they’re utterly ruthless in using it to socially destroy anyone who doesn’t proclaim the Judeo-Manichean narrative. We’re not supposed to care about claiming the moral high ground–we happily throw it away “for the sake of argument” or in a futile attempt to win good will. But to everyone other than white Christians, the argument over moral status is the only one that matters.
If saving souls is the only thing, it makes sense to benefit from Catholics resisting Jewish cultural power while it was still possible to resist it, and then to discard them as anti-semites after they lose. Just like it was handy to have white Europeans to carry forward the faith for a millennium and then to discard them when they become so unpopular they start dragging down the Gospel brand. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters…” Is this what our Lord meant?
Nowadays, “tribalism” is a term of abuse. Loyalty is seen as an emotional defect that interferes with justice. Our ideal would be man who would judge a case between his father and an enemy of the family with complete impartiality, a man who would weigh criticism from an enemy exactly the same as if it had come from a proven friend and ally, a man who esteems his people and other peoples according to an impartial standard of merit. Such a man is indeed admirable in a way, but who would want him for a friend, a brother, or a son?
I am that thing that nobody wants to admit being–a tribal Christian. That is, I have a sense of loyalty to my groups of people–Catholics, Christians, Westerners–and not just to God and doctrines about Him. I feel most intensely protective toward Catholic Christendom of course, but I also feel a strong connection to the Protestants and even the pagan Romans, for the edges of my civilization are hazily drawn.
A want to talk about my loyalty now, rather than my faith. The truth of the Catholic faith is, of course, a claim of objective epistemic superiority. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t love my people for being right. I just love them. I wasn’t reasoned into it, and can’t be reasoned out. I’m sure that if I got into a debate with a Jew over the proposition that my people are nothing but criminals, I’d lose badly. So much the worse for his moral system; my loyalty to my people is not something I’m willing to reconsider.
Love shines forth more clearly when claims of objective superiority aren’t even made. When I think of Western civilization, I don’t think about any particular grand principle, scientific theory, technology, artistic masterpiece, or organizational form we’ve given the world. To the extent these really have objective merit, they don’t really belong to us, but to all peoples. When I think of Western civilization, I’m thinking of the charming quirks of our cultural landscape: brides in white dresses, haunted cemeteries, golden-haired princesses in need of rescue, that sort of thing. There’s nothing better about our dress, our folklore, or the beauty of our women that others should copy; that’s what makes these things ours.
I admit to have prejudged my people’s case. I did not calmly withhold judgment while the Culture of Critique made its case against them, the better to render an impartial verdict. Non-tribal Christians will call me a bigot, and I’ll call them filthy traitors.
Filed under: Loyalty to the particular |