What the Church needs/How to keep your child Catholic

If I were a liberal, you’d expect me to say that the Church has a rosy future as soon as she drops her distinctive moral teachings, and that the way to keep the next generation in the Church is to make sure it’s full of warm fuzzy feelings.  As a conservative Catholic, you’re probably expecting me to say that the Church needs saints, holiness, and our prayers and fasting, and that children need to be taught to love Jesus and fear hell.  Those are our canned responses.  Maybe it’s just that I’m a fairly irreligious Catholic, but I’m going to say something different.  Holiness is great.  Prayer is great.  But what the Church is most missing is something much more basic and easy to manufacture.

What Catholicism lacks is tribalism, or, more specifically, the us-versus-them mentality.  This has two pieces.

  1. Identification with the Church.  Catholics must stop thinking that when our enemies criticize the Church, they’re talking about those other Catholics, the ones who are bringing our reputation down.  When they say that Catholics are a bunch of pedophiles, they’re talking about YOU.  When they say that Catholics are ignorant bigots, they’re talking about YOU.
  2. Characterization of outside critics as enemies.  Their criticism must not be taken helpful suggestions offered in good faith.  It must be recognized as the ATTACK that it is.  The default response to attacks from enemies should not be to give their claims credence and beg forgiveness.  The default response should be anger followed as soon as strategically practicable by retaliation in kind.

Here’s what it comes down to.  If the Kasperites, the MSM, the “Founding Fathers”, and the sodomites are right, then the priest-killing Jacobins and Bolsheviks were basically right.  That proposition should be psychologically intolerable to anyone who truly identifies with Catholicism.  The idea of siding with the Church’s persecutors, to admit that Voltaire, Garibaldi, and Lenin were actually right all along, should be so hateful to a Catholic that he dismisses arguments for it out of hand.

But isn’t tribalism inferior to holiness?  Isn’t loving a people inferior to loving the Triune God?  To this, I say that grace perfects nature rather than overriding it.  Human attachment to the corporate body of Christ is a more fertile ground for supernatural attachment to that body than human alienation from it.  To the liberals going on about “We are Church”, I say, if that were really true, you would respond to attacks on Catholicism as attacks on yourselves, and you would recognize the Church’s enemies as your own.  If any liberal thinks that he’s just above tribal attachments of any kind, try gently criticizing the Democratic Party or the civil rights movement, and see how he responds.

Another worry one might have about us-versus-them is that it’s dangerous, because you miss out on valid criticism from outsiders.  People have gone so far with this that openness to criticism is now considered a strength.  Poppycock.  Natural selection proves it.  There are many associations in the world.  Would you say that openness to demotivational criticism from outsiders is common or uncommon among them?  Clearly such openness is maladaptive (something so obvious to me I have trouble arguing it), and the groups that survive and prosper teach their members not to give credence to enemies.  Again, if a liberal argues against this, try suggesting that an organization he truly cares about follow this advice.  No, once again it is only the Catholic Church that is expected to follow policies that guarantee her own destruction.

One shouldn’t imagine that a tribalist refuses to consider any criticism of the tribe.  If you’ve ever been around they, you know that’s not the case.  There are some types of criticism that come easily to the tribalist: that the tribe’s leaders are insufficiently chauvinist, that they compromise too readily. Liberal Catholics are open to this sort of criticism of the Democratic party and the civil rights racket, those groups for whom they genuinely care.  I am enraged by John Paul II’s apologies to outgroups.

The best part:  us-versus-them is easy to learn.  You’re never too young!  A mere choice of pronouns can make a world of difference.  When speaking of Americans, do you ever call them “we” or “us”?  Stop this immediately.  Abortion and sodomy are in the Constitution; its official interpreters say so.  Its elected officials insist there is “no place” in their realm for beliefs like ours.  Believe them.  Anyone who feels himself an American will feel psychologically compelled to follow the American herd like Jody Bottum.  We are not Americans.  Americans are Other.  Love them as your enemies, but recognize them as your enemies.  You don’t teach your children to hate Americans, just to fear them in a diffuse sort of way.  They’re mostly nice people, you say, but they don’t believe the Gospel or follow our ways, and when they find out someone does, sometimes they get angry.  We are Catholics.  Once we had countries, but now we are exiles.  Some among the Protestants are loyal to God over liberalism, and whether they know it or not, they are not Americans, but our allies.

Do I say that Catholics should be willing to die rather than betray the Church to the enemy?  That would be nice, but it’s more than is really necessary.  Courage is difficult and rare.  Identification is easy.  If a man would give in to the liberal establishment under pressure, but burn with shame and resentment, he is still ours.

No Italian should have supported the Risorgimento.  There is absolutely no excuse for that.  Loyalty to Church comes first, way before aspiration to being a cheap imitation of England and France via Piedmontese conquest.  I don’t care what you think about the temporal power of the Popes.

There’s talk among Catholics about conceding defeat in the Culture Wars.  There is a right and a wrong way to do this.  Bowing out of the culture wars means washing our hands of this country altogether.  What the Church must never do is what that rat Bottum wants her to do–agree to shut up about sex so that she can parrot establishment thinking on capital punishment or other secondary issues.  What message could that send but that the patriarchal family isn’t really important and that the secular state is a reliable advocate of the common good.  No, if the world will not hear what we have to say about the family, then we have nothing to say to it whatsoever.  Any other evils in the nation we will simply use as further evidence for its wickedness and illegitimacy.  Let us call other peoples out of their degradation into our completely different and utterly inimical way of life.

Our tribe has been brought low and humiliated.  If you’re a Catholic and don’t feel the sting of that, there’s something wrong with you.

54 Responses

  1. Bonald,

    This was an excellent post, reminiscent of the great traditionalist Brent Bozell’s call for a Confessional Tribe

    I disagree here however:

    Some among the Protestants are loyal to God over liberalism, and whether they know it or not, they are not Americans, but our allies.

    It makes no more sense to say we are allies with Protestants than it does to say we are allies with Jews, Mormons or Scientologists. As David Mills recently pointed out, conservative Protestants are more likely to agree with liberal Catholics on issues ranging from contraception to the political order.

  2. I can personally attest that tribalism works in maintaining the faith. My father raised my siblings and I on stories of the Crusades and the struggles of the Byzantines against the Moslems to the East, together with obscure prophecies of Armageddon and clashes of religions – I now realise that the us vs them mentality this inculcated made Catholicism the core of my identity in my youth. The idea of contradicting the dogma of the faith or doing anything against Holy Mother Church is abhorrent to us, and even the idea of attacking heretical clergy still produces a degree of visceral discomfort. This tribalism was what spurred me to learn theology to defend the faith, and led me to explore this very site instead of dismissing Bonald as a misogynistic crackpot like a good little modern, thus resulting in my present reactionary stance.

  3. @Bonald – Well argued and well expressed.

    We each of us need to find a group to which we can give this kind of allegiance.

    However, I think that you (personally) cannot give this kind of allegiance to the RCC as a whole.

    Therefore, your task is to find a smaller unit within the RCC, which evokes in you this kind of allegiance (I am thinking of something *analogous* to a particular religious order, or SSPX).

    I think this is a version of the modern condition as it apples to most institutions – the institution *as a whole* ought not to be accorded this necessary kind of allegiance – because large and powerful modern institutions are typically so corrupted as to be *net evil* (i.e. overall destructive of The Good) in actual practice- therefore tribally-supporting the *whole* institution would be to support evil in practice.

  4. This is not as irreligious as you might think. The idea of solidarity is essential to Catholic social justice doctrine. Social justice/liberation theology types tend to make it universal (skewed more toward globalism than tribalism) but this confuses solidarity with charity. Charity should be universal, but solidarity is particular. I would say that solidarity exists wherever charity is reciprocated, but nowhere does it exist more naturally or deeply than in the family and in a true community (where community is understood, by definition, as a group that holds something in common).

  5. Once we had countries, but now we are exiles. Some among the Protestants are loyal to God over liberalism, and whether they know it or not, they are not Americans, but our allies

    CCC2240 (my bold):

    –Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

    [Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . . So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it–

  6. Let me try to put Bonald’s good post right into practice by saying that Bruce Charlton’s attacks on the Catholic Church make me angry. An institution is how she sees herself regardless of the times we live in.

  7. Your point #1 above shamed me (probably for the best). It’s no secret that a portion, maybe even a substantial one, of the clergy and hierarchy are perverts, or defenders of/apologists for the same. I can’t argue with that. All I can say, when someone points this out, is something like “they don’t speak for me.” Problematically, since they are the hierarchy, they kind of do speak for me. I’m stuck with them; we all are. In other words, I already live by a kind of hyper-tribalism that excludes substantial portions of Catholics, even ones technically in good standing with the Church, as a “them” to be looked at with (at best) distrust. But what else can I do?

  8. One more point about solidarity: I would say that the doctrine of solidarity is subject to the doctrine of subsidiarity (“a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good,” to use the language of the catechism). This seems to support the idea that solidarity is not the globalism of liberation theology or the “dignity of man.” It even supports Bruce Charlton’s idea that Catholics will find their deepest solidarity not in the Church as a whole but in a particular community or parish within the Church.

  9. Like most of the previous commenters, I think this was a very good post. Charity does not require us to pretend our enemies are our friends, or to pretend that people who hate us do not really mean what they say. It may be that we’ve taken the admonition to “turn the other cheek” too far. Nowadays, when a heathen begins to slap one Christian’s face, another Christian steps up and says, “Please, my friend, allow me to slap him for you.”

    I would like to say that we should all become more irascible and prickly, but this would really be based on the same old false assumption that the world will accept us if we only adjust our behavior. But the world will be no more accommodating of cantankerous Christians than it is of simpering Christians. Our instructions are, “gentle as doves and wise as serpents,” brothers. Martyrdom is something to be accepted, not sought.

    When I read your arresting line that abortion and sodomy are now enshrined in the Constitution, I remembered a young man, recently commissioned in the U.S. military, who proudly told me that he had pledged to defend the Constitution. I must admit to a certain uneasiness when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at my children’s school and sporting events. What, exactly, am I pledging allegiance to? Am I lying?

    The old latitudinarian position on the Christian creeds was that one could affirm them if one could affirm any possible construction of the words in the creeds. Our allegiance to the “American creed” has been sustained by a similar latitudinarian fudging, but I sense that this is no longer possible for some of us. The definitions of words like “freedom” and “equality” have become too disparate, the advocates of those definitions too detached, and the implementations of those words too dishonest.

  10. I should clarify that tribalism doesn’t mean refusing to criticize the tribe. There are some types of criticism that come easily to the tribalist: that the tribe’s leaders are insufficiently chauvinist, that they compromise too readily. Liberal Catholics are open to this sort of criticism of the Democratic party and the civil rights racket, those groups for whom they genuinely care.

    This is an important enough point that I’m going to stick it in the main text.

  11. > It’s no secret that a portion, maybe even a substantial one, of the clergy and hierarchy are perverts…But what else can I do?

    The tribalist response is to yearn for the day when we hold the cultural power and can throw the shortcomings of secularists, Jews, and freemasons in their faces every day, to visit on them the humiliation we’ve suffered. And, of course, the tribalist naturally hates members of the tribe he regards as traitors.

    “But Bonald, that’s not a Christian response!”

    I didn’t say it was. Sometimes, you even have to fight your tribal instincts on moral principle, but they should be there for you to fight. I’m not in the business of getting people into heaven. I’m in the business of punching back. Lots of people much holier than me have defected to the Protestants or the Eastern Orthodox.

    An emotional Catholic who loves Jesus but doesn’t have loyalty is one scandal away from apostasy.

    A intellectual Catholic who accepts Thomism but doesn’t have loyalty is one lost argument away from apostasy.

  12. JM Smith,
    Are abortion and sodomy enshrined in the constitution or in an (mis)interpretation of the constitution? There was no abortion or sodomy amendment passed.
    BTW, when I used to say the pledge of allegiance, I always consciously omitted the “indivisible” part since I think the country can and should be divided.
    All,
    We’re called to practice selfless love, right? Not turning the other cheek when others we have responsibility to (family, parish, Church) is not selfish love. It’s defending those we have natural and supernatural connections to. It’s charity.

  13. I’m not in the business of getting people into heaven. I’m in the business of punching back.

    I don’t buy it, and I think you’re just being modest. What good is any of this if heaven is not the goal? If warm, fuzzy, in-group tribal feelings are what is ultimately at stake, one can obtain these also as an atheist.

  14. Seeing the Church the way she is today makes me wonder if this is what it feels like to see your parents descend into alcoholism. You tell them they’re drunks and you urge them to clean up their lives, but you still love them and will defend them from attacks from outside the family.

  15. As ISE said. Protestants are not allies, not even the conservative ones. Or, they are no more allies than Americans are. We know exactly who is in the Church and who is not. Baptized Catholics are in. Infidels, heretics, and schismatics are out. Catechism 101. Everything in your post is great, but is undercut by misidentifying the tribe, or at least the suggestion of misidentifying it.

    Putative Catholics who aren’t with the program are generally heretics also. They are in the same position as the Protestants. If any of these are sympathetic, then let them convert.

  16. I think that you and ISE are confusing alliance with communion. Insofar as we have common interests with protestants, we can work with them to promote or defend that interest. Right now, we share an interest in defending religious freedom, meaning our right to be nonconformists in a country in which Liberalism is the established church. If we really, truly don’t want to give a pinch of incense to Caesar (or be eaten by lions), we are going to have to work with other people who don’t want to give a pinch of incense to Caesar. It does not matter if we think their reason for not wanting to do so is false. The orcs are coming for us and we need all the friends we can get.

  17. JMSmith,

    The Diocletian persecuted the Manicheans, Julian the Apostate persecuted Arian bishops. To my knowledge, Catholics back then didn’t join forces with the heretics in the name of “religious freedom” despite having a common oppressor.

    The persecution of governments is a chastisement for sin so in some sense we ought to welcome it, to purge our Church of cowards and degenerates, and to chastise the false sects. See- http://thejosias.com/2015/06/05/the-illegitimate-state-as-chastisement/

    As Bonald points out we challenge liberalism best through our own exclusivist tribe. We would make more headway uniting Catholics.

    @buckyinky

    Charlton is the perfect example of the folly of Protestant “traditionalism.”

  18. @Bonald – By your accounts on this blog – and the account of other traditionalist Roman Catholics – the situations is becoming ever-more analogous to that of Russian Orthodoxy under the Soviets (or indeed The Church of Englandor The Episcopal Church, USA now) – which is that there is a church based around sacraments and the liturgy in which the leadership (nearly all bishops and most priests) have been replaced by CHINOs (Christians-In-Name-Only – i.e. superficially-Christianized secular Leftists).

    This is a really serious problem for any Episcopal church, any church with a real Priesthood, which requires sacraments and depends upon the priesthood for sacraments – it is indeed a highly paradoxical situation. The shepherds are the main problem, the shepherds are wolves.

    Well, not all of them. So what can the laity do? Should they seek out the true shepherds, secretly? Secretly place themselves under their care?

    When secularism is ruling the church bureaucracy, it seems that the choice is either secularism or some version of the ‘Catacomb church’. This means – inter alia – a huge reduction in the frequency of mass; and yet, at present, frequent mass has been for more than a century the backbone of Catholic life.

    I think this is an extremely difficult situation.The choice seems to be either to continue frequent mass, which means belonging to a fake church with CHINO pseudo-priests; or to transfer loyalty to which is regarded as the true church within the fake church – which entails losing most of what is most helpful about church membership (ie infrequent mass, infrequent confession, little guidance, little social support etc.) – a lonely and incomplete spiritual life…

  19. This is what comes from whining so much. Bruce, all of the Priests in my parish are orthodox. I doubt this is highly unusual.

  20. I think Bruce is mostly right about the state of Catholicism. In fact, I would say that we are in even worse shape than mainline Protestants.

  21. Do you believe there is any tribal respect out there to be won by engaging thoughtfully with particular critics, or even just with fairly uncritical non-Catholics (i.e. “swing votes”)?

    If so, then the type of tribalism you prescribe might not be useful in that regard. It gets trickier still, I imagine, if your own children grow up to become those particular critics.

    Then again, I eventually embraced my Jewish background after a lifetime of rejecting it not because of anything that any Jews said to me–and there were plenty who tried to engage me thoughtfully–but (mainly) because I was inspired by the Torah analysis of a certain Christian podcaster. (Tom Bradford, in case anyone’s curious.) That whole situation was made possible because as an adult I became curious to get a deeper understanding of these “myths” I vaguely remembered learning as a kid.

    So, I can’t speak to “what the church needs,” but my experience tells me that patience combined with a return to the divine texts is the most effective way to inspire the next generation to keep and perpetuate the faith of their ancestors.

  22. Tribalists are generally only open to criticism from those they are confident are on the same side, either other clearly loyal members of the tribe or from proven allies. Listening to criticism from a putatively neutral outsider is always going to be a hard sell in this mindset. The very fact that the outsider is critical will be taken as evidence that he’s actually on the other side. This presumption is usually correct. The Jews would certainly be in a sorry shape if their confidence was shaken every time they learned that someone disapproves of them.

  23. Right. So if your kids grow up and start questioning everything you taught them (as kids tend to do while they grow up–I believe a chemical change in their brains causes them to do this if they’re healthy) then you won’t be open to their criticism. While they’d be of the tribe in a familial sense, they wouldn’t be of the tribe in a religious or political sense so long as they’re criticizing it.

    That makes sense. What I realized toward the end of my previous comment is that this ought not to matter in the long run, so long as you’ve given them good exposure to the key divine texts. The messages in, and perceptible perfection of, those texts will stew in them and eventually they are likely to recognize the texts’ divinity and reexamine the gift you gave them in bringing them up under the order of those texts. The tribalism will follow from that.

  24. I have no animus against Bruce Charlton *except* that he is no friend of Holy Mother Church, and I am suspicious at best of any opinion he gives of how the Church could improve itself.

    As mentioned in the OP, it is not a question of his being in “good faith.”

  25. > Right. So if your kids grow up and start questioning everything you taught them (as kids tend to do while they grow up–I believe a chemical change in their brains causes them to do this if they’re healthy) then you won’t be open to their criticism.

    Of course not. Not even non-tribalists take criticism from smart alec kids seriously.

    Let me qualify that. The fact that they’re turning on the tribe worries you greatly, and you may expend any amount of energy trying to bring them back to the right path. But wondering whether their criticisms might have merit? Like I said, nobody does that.

  26. I certainly don’t think we should give credence to Bruce’s critique. While he may be an ally politically, he’s not an ally religiously. As far as religion goes, he’s an apostate. His advice, if given credence, would cause one to lose a major part of one’s Catholic identity, and damn one’s soul to Hell.

    Also, I must take exception to your criticism of intellectual Catholics. While your criticism of emotivists is spot on, it is not applicable to intellectuals, since the intellect is naturally less fickle than the passions.

    >Right. So if your kids grow up and start questioning everything you taught them (as kids tend to do while they grow up–I believe a chemical change in their brains causes them to do this if they’re healthy) then you won’t be open to their criticism.

    I very much doubt that this is a biological norm. If it were, it should have appeared in and been noticed by societies before the modern age. Even in our own, most people follow the religious and political opinions of their parents.

  27. I would say that we are in even worse shape than mainline Protestants.

    Do you really believe that though? It is not just the mainline Churches. The Evangelicals and Mormons have given into modernity and are in one important respect even worse than the mainline branches, as these sects are intent on spreading their errors around the world, in many cases at the end of an American bayonet, and in the process destroying traditional cultures elsewhere.

    Bonald, you still seem to assume a kind of right-liberal American view of religiosity here, where being white and voting for “family values”= “conservative” and “orthodox” Christianity. I’ve had more than enough contact with the Mormon and Evangelical milieu to know that these groups are hyper-modernist in all important respects and that this accounts for their relative success in modernity. At least with the gay-rights advocate, the traditionalist knows the battle lines. As De Maistre argued Protestants are more insidious enemies precisely because they can masquerade as “Christians.”

    Of course I do not think the Catholic Church in this country is healthy, but as far as I can tell it is the only institution that stands against all variations of liberalism, even if its criticisms are nowadays muddled. Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical is a good example of this. Catholics need lebensraum , from the dominate Protestant/liberal culture, we only get that by being exclusivist. I agree with Buckyinky above, that there are still plenty of devout priests and bishops, even among the Novus Ordo.

    @ArkansasReactionary

    While he may be an ally politically, he’s not an ally religiously.

    Can the two be meaningfully separated?

    I will say, that one thing we owe any group- Protestant or otherwise is that the Catholic tribe will never criticize them on liberal grounds. Now whether Protestants would be willing to reciprocate on this matter is another story.

  28. This is without a doubt, the BEST piece written here that I have yet read. Reminiscent of the wonderful essay on true Catholicity and its relation to the sin of Liberalism written by Father Felix Sarda y Salvany.

    A few points.

    1) I would hope that your admirable charity to good-faith Protestants in this piece extends to the Orthodox like myself as well, since we are often in even better agreement with Catholics on many issues, especially in regards to the important duty of the priesthood. When it comes to the political war, our theological differences should be put aside temporarily to focus on the real enemy of all Christianity, Modernism. Let us all remember, Christianity, despite being the LARGEST religion in the world, has not a single state to call its own.

    2) Absolutely in agreement that washing our hands of the Conservative Culture Wars cannot be a surrender to Liberalism, but rather a secession from the country itself (not the nation, which we can never separate ourselves from, if we are indeed part of a nation), we set ourselves as outsiders who are against the foundation of the Liberal state. If Christians reside in a state that is not governed theonomically by the Christian faith, then we are in diaspora, and the country itself can have only our contempt for its desire to persecute us and keep us from creating the Reactionary State.

    3) Bruce – yes, abortion and sodomy are in the Constitution, implicitly rather than explicitly. Take this as a maxim: any government not structurally founded upon Traditional Christian morality will inevitably become opposed to that morality, and will purge it out of civic and legal life regardless of how many people hold it or desire to maintain it.

    Essentially, Bonald, you echo in eloquence what I have written about many times, that Christians have to reject somnambulism and embrace subversion. All faithful Christians have a duty to be against the Liberal state. Any allegiance to it, I would actually view as an act of grand apostasy. Like you say, allegiance to the Liberal state is an affirmation of the Enlightenment revolutions and the men who slaughtered brothers past. It is to side with Christ’s enemies, babykillers and all.

    For all of the theological disputes within Christianity, let this be a call to a great POLITICAL ecumenism. This has occured before. In the Spanish Civil War, Orthodox Reactionaries from Romania traveled abroad to help Franco and our Catholic brothers. Today, in Ukraine Catholic Reactionaries from both Hungary and Poland have fought alongside Orthodox against the encroachment from the atheistic EU.

    The treasonous members of both our churches be damned, we of Traditional mind know the truth, and that is that the enemy of all Christianity, an antiChrist ideology, is Modernity. As I pray for the multitudinal denominations of the persecuted in the Middle East against their Muslim oppressors, I hope they too offer prayers for us against our Liberal oppressors.

  29. >Can the two be meaningfully separated?

    Sure. While he is not one of us in any sense, he’s an ally in the current political fights. Of course, that is relative, if the issues were to change, he might not be an ally.

    >I will say, that one thing we owe any group- Protestant or otherwise is that the Catholic tribe will never criticize them on liberal grounds. Now whether Protestants would be willing to reciprocate on this matter is another story.

    Yep. It pains me whenever I hear the Muslims criticized for “not respecting religious freedom”.

  30. @Bonald:

    Responding to criticism (whether from your kids or whomever else) thoughtfully is a different thing from taking it seriously.

    I picture a thoughtful response as being along the lines of “I understand what you mean/how you feel, but here’s what you’re missing,” while taking it seriously seems to imply something more like “You might be right about that, I’d better do some reflection.”

    It is obviously silly to reply in the latter way to your rebellious kids or outside critics (unless they say something that truly shakes you–hey, it happens). What I was thinking about was whether it’s better, for your long-term goals, to reply to them in the former (thoughtful) way or to say “Shut up, I won’t even dignify that with a response.”

    @ArkansasReactionary:

    I think it is a biological norm. Teenagers’ brains are flooded with a different chemical mixture than those of little kids and adults. It’s meant to make them want to push away from the “nest”. It indeed was noticed in societies before the modern age. This link discusses one notable citation in some depth.

    I agree that most people probably do ultimately fall into the political and religious identities of their parents. (Though I’m not sure the degree to which this is true is stable. It must have wavered a lot after the 1950s for example, producing the Flower generation from the loins of the Golden Generation.) But in any case, my whole point was that this ultimate outcome is typically preceded by a period of rebelliousness and questioning.

  31. @NZ

    The idea that it’s a biological norm wasn’t around in pre-modern societies. And you are correct that that’s the purpose of it in our system, but most societies throughout history had better coming-of-age rituals. So I’ll grant that it might be a norm in the way that fornication is a norm, that it’s what is normative in a corrupt society.

    I’ll also note that, with perhaps a few exceptions, such only happens with respect to those of their parent’s beliefs that are not accepted by society as a whole (e.g. There are plenty of pro-gay marriage people whose parents are against it, but substantially less vice versa). So again, it would seem to be a result of societal pluralism that such would happen around adolescence.

    Also, our society places the delineating age between men and boys much higher than most throughout history. I’m sure this contributes.

  32. Demanding courage from Catholics while being, like “Bonald” (and a fair few of his supporters here), too craven to write under anything except a pseudonym has entertainment value, anyway. Unintended entertainment value, to be sure, but entertainment value nonetheless.

  33. If Bonald and his crew were independently wealthy and surrounded by friends and family who were, to a man, at least sympathetic to the ideas bruited here, then adoption of pseudonyms would be “craven.” Likewise if this were confab at the back of a coffee house or bar. But they aren’t and this isn’t. Facing a danger that is unavoidable takes courage. Inviting unnecessary danger is rashness.

  34. Arnold clearly has no experience in having political orientations that are illegal in various countries, and financially devastating in others. There is a difference between courage and foolishness. Bonald sensibly does not stray into the latter.

  35. “Throne and Altar” demands courage of no one, only reading comprehension. For example, from the above post

    “Courage is difficult and rare. Identification is easy. If a man would give in to the liberal establishment under pressure, but burn with shame and resentment, he is still ours.”

  36. @ArkansasReactionary:

    I said that I think rejecting the ways of one’s parents for a time is a biological norm, caused by temporary changes in brain chemistry. I think you’re right that it hasn’t always been a cultural norm–many other cultures evolved more successful ways of channeling or curbing that tendency in young people of a certain age. In a society where the rebellious ones have already been considered adults for five to ten years, then that society might not associate that tendency with adolescence. Of course, a lot of this is theoretical since we’re talking about pre-modern societies here.

    But anyway, this is kind of a side-track discussion since we have no choice but to live now, in this culture, that being what it is.

    My earlier point was that it might not matter whether you try to thoughtfully talk to your rebellious kids about why their rebellious ideas are wrong, or whether you just tell them to shut up and stop disrespecting you. As long as you’ve exposed them to key divine texts, those will do the heavy lifting and they will come back in search of that light anyway.

    After all, when it comes to why someone should read and do their best to understand the Bible as it was written, I can’t make any argument that’s better than anything in the Bible already. Which makes sense, given the author.

  37. […] of the Week Award☀☀. It goes to Bonald, who at Throne and Altar, has a big piece up: What the Church needs/How to keep your child Catholic. He promotes a much more visceral sort of Catholicism than is widely practiced. “What the […]

  38. Best post ever! Luminous commentary.
    Btw, it’s “…holier than I, have become Prods, etc” not “…than me have become….”
    You’re welcome.
    Glad I could help.

  39. […] The Church needs more tribalism. […]

  40. By all means, circle the wagons and build up the walls. Shun the outside world. Build a castle on a secluded island and stock it with faded tomes of theology and the relics of a rotten and decaying institution. Call anyone outside the fortifications your enemy and pretend you aren’t being left behind. Everyone will realize their mistake and turn to you for salvation any second now. Any second.

    And in a century, when the last feeble old man trying to fan life into the fading embers of a dead dogma keels over, and the halls of your fortress lie dusty and empty and dark, I wonder if anyone will even spare the time to make a headstone. “Here lie the Catholics. They did it to themselves.”

  41. You’re making the argument of liberal Christianity. Protestants have tried it for a century; Catholics for about half as long. It doesn’t work. Its a halfway house on the road to secular humanism; it’s uplift and social reform with candles and crosses (and doves, lots of doves; liberal Christians sure love those doves).

    I think there is a reason for that love of doves. It’s because they subscribe to the old idea of the Three Ages: the ages of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They think that the kind of folks who hang out here–“fundamentalists”–are trapped in the Age of the Son, whereas they have moved on to the Age of the Spirit. Fine. So let’s call us Christians and them Spiritualists.

  42. A fair enough reply. (And a remarkably civil one given how bombastic my initial post was. What can I say? I enjoy poking people and seeing what happens.)

    I suppose my next question is what do you suggest as an alternative? Because from where I’m sitting, it looks like the options are either a withdrawal from society and death by demographics, or liberalization, spiritual capitulation, and slightly slower death by demographics. If I’ve missed a third option here, I’d love to know about it.

    (I’ve noticed the dove thing as well. The Methodist church by my house has about a half dozen doves in each of its stained glass windows. Don’t ask me where the obsession comes from.)

  43. “Withdrawal from society” of the sort anyone here would support was basically what the Church in America practiced from the Revolution until Vatican II, when, noticeably, we did not perish for want of infants to baptize or converted adults to receive (toward the end of that period, in fact, we couldn’t build new churches and seminaries fast enough). We’re not Shakers, after all, and if there’s one thing faithful Catholics like to do, it’s reproduce.

    Moreover there’s this delusion out there that “modern man” (i.e., androgynous liberal technocrats who are more horrified by non-voting than abortion) is the only game in town when it comes to conversion. That’s nonsense. There are plenty of people in the world like I was, people who are horrified by liberal modernity but don’t have the moral or philosophical vocabulary to express their outrage, over whom exactly no one is fighting to win over to the faith, and who seem like a negligibly tiny population precisely because no one pays any attention to them. I don’t know exactly how big that population is but they, unlike the Chris Hitchens of the world (whom everyone was trying soooo hard to convert right up till he died), they actually might convert, if the Church would actually talk to them instead of debasing itself for a shot at being complicit in some of the world’s injustices.

  44. Are there converts to the Church? Absolutely. Are there enough to act as replacement volume for the souls the Church is hemorrhaging every day? Not nearly. At least, not in the west. The absolute number of Catholics in the US has dropped by three million in the last nine years, and it’s not slowing. It’s the same in all the developed nations, and it’s even worse among mellenials.

  45. Yes, there are not enough converts to the Church — again, because the Church focuses almost exclusively on converting the un-convertable (incidentally, the same kinds of people who are now leaving the Church because they want nothing to do with what she actually is and what she actually teaches).

    The Church is in the midst of a great pruning, the sort that happens every 500 years or so, the sort that Christ promised he would do regularly in order to keep the whole tree fruitful. We’ve been trying too long to arrest that process. It is inevitable. The best we can do is manage it, i.e., by not going out of our way to alienate the kinds of people who should be our natural allies.

  46. Quotidian,
    I’m not sure there will be a great revival. I’m not running around shouting “the end is nigh,” but we are taught that the last days (centuries) of secular history will be a time when the Church is in a pretty bad way. Maybe that’s what we are heading into. But setting eschatology aside, I think the “third way” is selective withdrawal from society. This is sort of what the old fundamentalists did with the prohibitions against drink and cards and movies. This took a very different form among Roman Catholics, but serious observation of fasts was (is) a sort of selective withdrawal.

    I don’t think it is enough simply to revive these old disciplines. We need to discern specific activities in modern life that are truly deleterious to a serious religious life, and withdraw from those. My sense is that sexual morality should be tightened, not relaxed. I don’t mean that we should preach that sex is dirty and bad, but we really cannot chase society down the road to Sodom and Gomorrah and expect to remain Christian. I think the Church should revive the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, expanding coverage to the wider media. We all know we shouldn’t watch flagrant pornography, but there are many other movies, television programs and songs that are ebola viruses for the mind. There are certain styles of clothing that we should withdraw from, not only in church, but at all times. And there is no reason that, in doing so, we have to look like dorks or Mennonites.

    Things like this would help to strengthen the religious life among the laity, but all of them threaten to send the young people running for the church doors. To prevent that, we will have to buck the tide of egalitarianism and say we withdraw from these things “because we are better than that,” and we will have to provide really attractive alternatives. This doesn’t have to be a parallel universe along the lines of Christian Rock, only a set of permissions to go along with the prohibitions.

  47. Excellent point by Proph: The Church needs to stop spending all her energy trying to attract the sort of people she can never win over.

    For the time being, I don’t think we should worry about winning converts at all. All our attention needs to go to losing fewer of our children. One key element in this is inculcating the us-versus-them mentality, because it makes defection psychologically difficult.

    Us-versus-them can coexist with various levels of engagement with the world. Just look at the Jews. If things keep going the way they’ve been going, Judaism will outlive Catholicism, and we’ll soon exist only as a villain in their collective memory, like the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

  48. RE Proph’s comment, isn’t this (roughly the post ww2 period) the first mass apostasy in Church history? There have been many heresies, of course. Can’t the V2 period be seen as the Church trying to figure out what to do about history’s first mass apostacy?

  49. The Arian heresy was a pretty widespread mass heresy…I wonder if there was a lot of apostasy once it was rejected. I don’t know enough history about that.

  50. @ Bonald

    “Just look at the Jews. If things keep going the way they’ve been going, Judaism will outlive Catholicism, and we’ll soon exist only as a villain in their collective memory, like the Assyrians and the Babylonians.”

    Christ didn’t die for that to happen. The fact of the matter is that many historians believe that most of the Jews have already converted to Christianity and have melted away into the Middle Eastern and European Christian populations. The modern Jew we see today is the product of an extreme population bottleneck (i.e. lots of inbreeding) and a hateful ideology that went from defining itself as a faith of God to nothing more than a hateful, reactive anti-Christian one (the Talmud is one such reaction). The modern Jew is a part of the Hateful Remnant bent on nothing but destruction of traditional societies in general and Christian ones in particular.

    @ Proph

    I agree. The Church feels the need to convert Atheist sperglords like Hitchens (the man was cowardly pompous scum, good riddance) and effeminate ultraliberals while overlooking the masses of regular folks who are either uncomfortable with liberalism or disillusioned with it.

    “The Church is in the midst of a great pruning, the sort that happens every 500 years or so, the sort that Christ promised he would do regularly in order to keep the whole tree fruitful. We’ve been trying too long to arrest that process. It is inevitable. The best we can do is manage it, i.e., by not going out of our way to alienate the kinds of people who should be our natural allies.”

    What about inside the Church hierarchy? The Church leadership needs a hardcore purging because I am certain most of the cause of the laity falling away is due to the incompetence and stupidity of the clergy.

  51. […] What the Church needs / How to keep your child Catholic […]

  52. […] wrong for them to do so.  As I see it, identity (above the level of family and below the level of baptism) is a matter of pre-moral fact.  It’s just how your society happens to group people. […]

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