So, did your pastor actually talk about the Trinity today?
Looking back on past Trinity Sundays, do you remember any especially good or bad experiences you’d like to share?
Among the objections to the doctrine of the Trinity raised by our Mormon brothers, some may be dealt with quickly. They say that it is nonsense, but that is certainly not true. Substantial unity is logically distinct from personal unity, and the fact that the two are isomorphic for humans does not prove that they must be so for God. That we cannot really imagine what it would mean for a single intelligent being to have three personal “centers” is true but irrelevant. All of the divine attributes are ultimately unimaginable to us, including those we think most self-explanatory–his omniscience (we cannot imagine knowledge that is not limited in being mediated by concepts) and omnipotence (we cannot imagine creating beings out of nothing, so that their entire existence is a participation in one’s own). Nevertheless, we can have some abstract idea what it means to be omnipotent, omniscient, and tripersonal.
A more serious objection, raised multiple times by Bruce Charlton, is that the doctrine is unnecessary to our relationship with God, that it does nothing practically for simple believers but create confusion. We orthodox Christians obviously do not accept this. The dogma of the Trinity we hold to have been revealed to us by God, and when God tells us something, it’s because we need to know it. In fact, the dogma of the Trinity vouchsafes for the orthodox what we think is the proper understanding of God’s greatest and most important promise to us–that through Christ He makes us His own sons. Misunderstanding the nature of God opens one to disastrous misunderstandings of this promise.
Ascension Thursday (celebrated now by most of us on Sunday) would be a good time to talk about the Ascension. The doctrine than Jesus ascended bodily into heaven is less clear to us than it was to the ancients, who tended to assume that heaven lies physically outside of the celestial sphere. Today, we don’t have any such clear idea of where heaven is, although we must still regard it as sufficiently like a physical location (rather than, say, a state of mind) that it can be meaningfully said to hold physical bodies. We don’t know what to make of Jesus floating up into the sky, and understanding the gospel is what homilies are supposed to be for.
Back when I was in New York, I attended a parish that once took a crack at the Ascension, but in its usual modernist way. That is, instead of explaining what the doctrine means, the priest explained to us how it should make us feel–reassured, of course, because God has in some vague way maintained His intimacy with human nature. Much more common, in my experience, is what I got last Sunday, the same homily we always get: Christianity is about sacrificing for other people and sharing God’s love, joy, peace…[insert sugary Church word]…with them. Last Sunday it was the deacon preaching, and he decided to tell us about the movie Pay It Forward.
We often criticize Catholic homilies for reducing the faith to niceness. It’s actually not quite that bad, in that the priests do stress that love of neighbor can require real sacrifices on our part and can make us unpopular, which would not be true of mere niceness. On the other hand, they really do reduce Christianity to morality, i.e. “love of neighbor”. Ironically, this reduction has happened at the same time that the local Churches have become so very vague about the moral law, which tells us what is and is not compatible with love of God and neighbor. (It’s stunning, isn’t it, that 90% of Catholics are committing the mortal sin of contraception, and yet our priests don’t think this issue is worth addressing at all? It’s as if they don’t actually care if their parishioners go to heaven.)
Just beefing up on the specific content of Christian morality, though, wouldn’t solve the basic problem. The basic problem is that Christianity is not fundamentally about morality. Of course, it does have necessary consequences for our moral duties, but the core of the message is God revealed in Jesus Christ.
God must be the main focus of a parish. He is not just a word to be tacked on when talking about how we should love our neighbors. Remember, there are two greatest laws. Love of God is the first. Love of neighbor is the second.
The most painful week of the liturgical year, Trinity Sunday, is coming up. It’s the week that pastors’ refusal to focus on God is most awkward for them. Usually, they’ll start off by saying that the doctrine of the Trinity is “a great mystery”, meaning there’s nothing to be said about it, but the real point of Christianity is loving each other, so let me tell you this story about a little boy who gave his ice cream cone to a homeless man…
I’ll make a separate post when the time comes so we can share stories.
Men are stronger than women. Women thus enter the public sphere from a position of weakness. The sense of helplessness this might inspire is alleviated by customs whereby men appear to cede high status to women, what we now call “chivalry” (which is, of course, distinct from the medieval warrior code of the same name). Our many ritual acts of deference to our ladies, holding the door for them and so forth, wouldn’t make sense except as a corrective to the real power everyone knows men hold. Manosphere writers misunderstand these customs when they imagine them stemming from a view that women are inherently more valuable, while feminists who regard such “benevolent sexism” as a part of the patriarchy are basically correct (but with their moral evaluations reversed, as always with them).
Men want sex more than women. This means women have a stronger bargaining hand in the bedroom. No man wants to beg for sex; that would be humiliating and contemptible. We thus ritually correct the power asymmetry by describing sexual intercourse in terms that flatter the man’s agency: he “took her”, “had his way with her”, and so forth. Feminists misunderstand this language by taking it literally, thinking it reflects a “rape culture” and that men experience their sexual appetite as a strength rather than a weakness. In fact, men often experience lust as perturbability, as weakness, and we are embarrassed by its power over us. Here it is the writers of the manosphere who seem closer to the mark, pointing out that the woman herself prefers to be “conquered” than to be petitioned.
With the new positive consent laws, the state is stripping men of these customary defenses of their dignity, forcing them to explicitly ask for sex and for every stage leading up to it. A man is forced into the role of a supplicant, despising himself as he is despised by his woman.
And this role we hate. Folk wisdom has it that when a boy pulls a girl’s pigtails, it probably means he likes her. I’m sure this is true. When a man becomes attracted to a girl, he feels a paradoxical urge to tease and offend her. Girl’s are cute when they’re shocked and offended–no doubt about that. If you can amuse and shock a girl all at once–get her to exclaim “I can’t believe you just said that!” in between suppressed giggles, it feels like, like victory. You’re not some beggar pleading for sex. No! It feels like you’re in charge.
When I was first dating the woman who would become my wife, I tried really hard to be friendly and polite, and I felt stifled all the time. Then I decided to just start treating her like one of my younger sisters, amusing myself by throwing one outrageous lie at her after another. She didn’t get teased much as a kid, so it took her a while to catch on, but since she did we’ve gotten along splendidly.
I don’t blame women for being annoyed with us. I wouldn’t like it if they were that way to us! But the asymmetry here is rational, in that it exists to correct another, unavoidable asymmetry. Any man would rather be a little obnoxious than feel himself in the position of a little boy begging his mother for a cookie.
Is there any evidence either way?
I hope Beefy Levinson actually as more than five loyal readers. Here’s a peak at the inner workings of a parish and its youth program:
The youth minister does what he does for a living, though he’s clear he doesn’t want to do it forever. I don’t blame him one bit. As is the case with most Catholic parishes these days, the employees of the parish are 90% women. A woman holds the position of Director of Religious Education. As the title says, she’s a clip haired, mean faced broad in a pantsuit as Michael Savage would put it. My sources tell me that she’s untouchable and she strongly dislikes the YM. Of course she does; he’s a confident man who cares about ensuring the kids receive a good formation in the Catholic faith and wants them to go to heaven.
The pastor believes in the YM but at the same time, he’s terrified of confrontation like most priests usually are. If he gets uppity with his female employees, they might all walk out and complain to the bishop. Father would then get called onto the carpet and get scolded for not being paaaaastoral and having a problem with women. Both YM and myself, in contrast, love confrontation. If I were in his position, I would tell the DRE, “Fuck you and your progressive bullshit.” YM cannot do that as he has a wife and infant daughter to take care of.
I’m thinking I’d like to involve myself in the religious education program at whatever parish I end up in. (It seemed silly to bother infiltrating my current one when I don’t have tenure.) I have no relevant expertise to teach, but I can volunteer to make copies and babysit. The point is to be able to follow what’s going on in the program and check material for orthodoxy. My oldest girl will soon be old enough for religion class, which they usually make children take if they want to receive the sacraments (otherwise I wouldn’t even consider accepting the spiritual dangers of a post-Vatican II religion class), and I’ll definitely want to be able to spy on them.
Almost simultaneous to my Chesterton post, Dalrock posted a wonderful essay on the state’s enthusiasm for ejecting fathers from their families: Debtors prisons are an essential tool of our new public policy. A few highlights to give you the main points:
Earlier this month Christopher Mathias at Huffington Post connected the Walter Scott case to our new family model in: One-Eighth Of South Carolina Inmates Were Jailed Over Child Support Payments. Walter Scott Was One Of Them.
…Men caught in this system do not have basic due process rights:
Turner’s case ended up in front of the Supreme Court, which ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2011 that the right to counsel only applied to criminal cases, not to people in civil or family court proceedings.
As capricious as this all sounds, there is a method to the madness here. These men are being imprisoned to sustain a very recent and profound social revolution. They are being imprisoned to facilitate the destruction of traditional marriage so that a new family structure, one instead based on child support, can take the place of marriage…
The aim of our new child support based family model is to enable women to destroy their families but still receive the benefits which previously only came with marriage. Child support (and the threats of imprisonment which sustain it) is designed to allow women to have children with men who are unfit to be husbands, and/or to eject a husband from the home. South Carolina divorce attorney Gregory S. Forman explains that in cases where the couple is married the child support process generally can’t start until the wife ejects the husband from the home in Five Ways to Get a Spouse Out of the House:..
Forman goes on to describe the legal strategies wives most commonly use to get their husbands out of the home so the whole process can begin. Number one on his list of legal strategies is for the wife to claim domestic abuse. This both ejects the father from the home and converts him from (nominal) head of household to child support payer:..Not surprisingly, this process is frequently manipulated by wives in exactly the way it is designed to be used:…Note that men are guilty until proven innocent in this case, and that it is well known that wives will commonly act as aggressors in order to claim victim-hood.
Fortunately, a minority of priests are determined to hold the line that remarriage=adultery. However, we need to be clear that adultery isn’t the only thing wrong with divorce. Otherwise, priests will think they’re holding the line if they tell a woman it’s okay to abandon her husband, kick him out of the house, and steal his money and kids, just so long as she doesn’t also cheat on him.
Actually, they’re already doing this. From Father Z:
From a reader…
A local, newly Ordained, Priest has told my wife that it is NOT a sin to divorce me so long as she does not remarry. I believe that it is a sin to divorce since there is no abuse, physical or emotional, no addictions on my end, etc… Should I confront this priest or is he correct?
Just to show you how deep the rot goes, here’s Father Z’s response:
Instead of “confronting” the priest, who allegedly told your wife that it’s not sinful to divorce, perhaps the best thing to do would be to seek out some spiritual guidance for yourself. Seek some objective feedback about your situation. Pray for your wife! Pray for your whole family if you have children. Ask the intervention of the Holy Family. Trust the Lord.
That’s right, don’t confront the son of a bitch who’s trying to destroy your family. Just pray and maybe find a priest who can tell you why it is you deserve it.
Mark my words. God is just. Priests who encourage divorce will burn in hell.