On being a tribal Christian

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.

20 Responses

  1. Yes we should give JPII the new title, the”Great Apologizer” in addition to “The Disaster” and ” The Qur’an Venerator.”

    But of course apologizing to someone even more marginal and despised than us won’t win any popularity.

    Ah but the Conciliar Church as gone out of its way to make sure no group, no matter how small goes un-apologized to. Running the gauntlet from Evangelicals and Pentecostals to liberal Lutherans to the Eastern so-called “orthodox.” All of those groups have taken advantage of the Catholic Church’s auto-demolition.

  2. It also should be pointed out that preaching the sort of absolute universalism which allows one to castigate one’s ancestors without shame will make us appear almost barbaric to third worlders (actual third worlders, not their self- appointed western spokespeople). I’d think we’d have more success with them emphasizing that Christianity is pro-filial piety.

    Also, regarding:

    “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.”

    I’d disagree. We ought to be proud of the good things which our ancestors have brought the world. Of course, others peoples’ ancestors discovered other universal goods, and they can be proud of those things.

  3. […] Source: Throne and Altar […]

  4. Wow, pumping out some seriously good work at the moment.

    The Modern age of globalism and multiculturalism is all about dissolving the innate bonds of tribe that need to explanation. This is why in the West so many are detached from their nation because

    1) The nation is not acknowledged to exist.

    2) The nation has been corrupted to a point where most of our countrymen would take foreigners into their homes before their own. What is left to fight for?

    And so we turn to the tribalism of faith. And those Christians who love heathens more than those who confess the name of Christ are reprobate. Loyalty is to Occident Christendom, and if it is no longer in existence, then the loyalty remains with the cause to revive it on the ash heap of this abomination we walk in today.

  5. Very well put Bonald. The universal aspect of Christianity was never meant to be so absolute that it becomes a solvent of all earthly ties and loyalties.

  6. The wish was for the discipleship of all nations, not the discipleship of one nation that would encompass everybody.

  7. Yes we should give JPII the new title, the”Great Apologizer” in addition to “The Disaster” and ” The Qur’an Venerator.”

    JPII did some very good things, and was a decent enough pope overall, but, yeah, he did some really dumb things too. I’d add his mishandling of the sex abuse scandal, though, to be fair, that is really just a subset of the modern papacy’s refusal to discipline anybody for anything.

  8. JPII did some very good things, and was a decent enough pope overall

    Nah he was one of the worst much more so than Alexander, he is surpassed only by Paul VI and Francis of course. Anything “good” he did like condemning abortion or communism is the bare minimum of what is expected of the Petrine Office. He appointed Francis and his cronies too, so JPII’s decisions are still wrecking destruction to this day. All of the “good” things he did were turned against the Church anyway. JPII helped “free” Poland so it could become just another decadent neo-liberal state in the American orbit. In response to the sexual revolution, JPII accorded too much prominence to the family and carnal issues. And course there were the apologies.

  9. Anything “good” he did like condemning abortion or communism is the bare minimum of what is expected of the Petrine Office.

    This seems to me just a backhanded way of saying that he was a pretty solid pope on the fundamentals. Solid not great.

  10. Good post.

    We don’t need to cower when accused of some past calamity. Violence is a law of this world, and our Christian ancestors were far from being in sacralizing it. We serve Christ the King and His Church, we should expect nothing else but the blade from an infidel soldier, and our soldiers should give back nothing in else in return. There is beauty and honour in this, and if our enemies can’t appreciate this then their sensibilities are dysfunctional. There is something true in de Maistre’s exclamation that “Never, if you look closely, will Christianity appear to you more sublime, more worthy of God, and more made for man than at war.” Wars of religion make sense, but yet there is something sublime in a man giving up his life knowing he’s obeying God in sacrificing himself, and even more terrible is to know that God’s Hand is at work when humans wage war.

    Divine Providence guides our lives, and it is He that decides which persons and which communities He will put in our lives so that we learn to love those. Love is required from us when we meet a stranger, for as a fellow human we can still identify with his sinfulness and his suffering. But social participation and filial piety are just as much required from us as love is in cases such as our family, our ruler, or even our owner. For it is the sin of pride that we commit if we rebel rather than humbly submit.

  11. Solid not great.

    If you’re a protestant I’m sure he was solid.

  12. > Anything “good” he did like condemning abortion or communism is the bare minimum of what is expected of the Petrine Office.

    If Saint Peter’s were overtaken by Islamists, refusing to apostasize and accepting martyrdom would be the bare minimum of what’s expected of the Pope. Sometimes the bare minimum is actually pretty heroic. I’d say holding firm on basic moral principles is a big deal when most of the Church, including the clergy, is in open rebellion against them.

    Also, you forgot to include John XXIII, instigator of the Accursed Council, who was by far the worst of all popes–worse than JPII, Paul VI, and Francis. No matter how much damage Francis causes, it’ll be tiny compared to what John is responsible for, just because there isn’t that much Church left to destroy.

  13. […] Bonald has been on a tear of late, in diverse matters. Whatever points remain in contention between whatever Bonald purports to be politically speaking (Integralist?) and neoreaction are now largely lost to me. He ruminates this week On being a tribal Christian. […]

  14. […] On being a tribal Christian. […]

  15. “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.”

    Amen! I thought I was the only Catholic (well, non-practicing, but it’s in the DNA) who realized to his horror that the nativists were right.

    The treasonous betrayal of the Church in promoting through massive Third World immigrant invasions the destruction of the European and European-descended societies that were once its heart (and pocketbook) and of whose culture she was once a great pillar is a deeply embittering pill. The Camp of the Saints indeed.

  16. […] 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? […]

  17. […] Tribalism.  Obviously, loyalty to Catholics as a people with distinct rituals and history can’t completely substitute for the certainty of faith, but it does give a lot.  It provides a will to resist liberal attacks.  It is itself a principle for resisting liberalism, which rejects loyalty on principle.  It gives a reason for valuing the sacraments, namely their communal binding role, even apart from their supernatural efficacy.  Ironically, tribalism is the only way to make the communal focus that liberal Catholicism wants actually work. […]

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