Yes, we’re in the same boat as the “racists” now

I was going to write a post on this myself, but Deconstructing Leftism has already done it.

You have probably been reading a little about Christians freaking out about gay marriage now being legal and their beliefs now being essentially illegal. Rod Dreher has spurred some discussion with his articles on the “Benedict Option”, in which Christians will withdraw partially from the mainstream culture to protect their own culture and beliefs.

The thing is the system has had the same way of dealing with dissenters for 60 years or so, and most Christians have been perfectly fine with it. I think Rod would applaud if someone was fired from their job for expressing doubts or disagreement with the ideas of racial equality or gender equality.

Of course- of course– we have free speech in the US. It’s the First Amendment! Enshrined in the Constitution! The government cannot penalize you for expressing yourself in speech or writing! However, we also have civil rights laws, and any person not expressing full belief in racial or gender equality- or, over the last few years, gay equality- can’t be in any kind of decision-making position in supervising employees, renting or selling housing, or loaning money, because he may violate these laws. Since his presence may create a “hostile workplace” he can’t even be employed, strictly speaking.

Associating with such a person is a strong indicator you hold such beliefs yourself, so you must not associate with him, and if he is shown to be a racist or sexist you must immediately disassociate yourself. Better yet to make a point of socially condemning and mocking him. And who wants to be associated with an unemployed, broke, weirdo loser anyway?

Again- Rod Dreher is probably perfectly fine with this…

The Civil Rights movement introduced a new paradigm for American politics.  On other issues, even when one side wins, victory cannot be pressed too far; life must be kept bearable for the other side; politics is fundamentally a matter of tradeoffs and balancing conflicting legitimate interests.  Racists and segregationists, on the other hand, deserve no civility.  They have no legitimate interests.  The federal government is designing a vast apparatus to make sure they aren’t even left alone in their own neighborhoods.  The schools teach their own children to hate them.

I have indeed read quite a few laments from Christians that opposition to gay marriage is now being equated with racism, and they always stress that of course racists deserve to be persecuted; it’s just that we’re nothing like them.  But we are.  (And not just people like me, who are explicitly Christian and racist.)  We’re both heretics from liberalism.

As readers know, I have no problem with the idea of a communal consensus, and I affirm the duty to defend it via censorship.  I’m surprised that, rereading my defense of censorship in light of 21st century praxis, it now reads almost like a libertarian document.  I at least never grant communities the right to dictate private opinions, nor do I allow them any reason not to be satisfied with silence as opposed to coerced affirmation.  The main problem with persecuting racists is that they are persecuted not for deviation from Christian orthodoxy, but for deviation from liberalism.  This is even more obvious in the case of persecuting sexists, since Christianity, being a patriarchal religion, obviously doesn’t delegitimate all gender role differences.  And yet mainstream Christians went along with it, even thanking our godless egalitarian fellow citizens for helping us understand the morality of the Gospels better, without thinking that we thereby accepted the principle of our own condemnation.

Resistance has crumbled.  There is no longer any major issue open for debate.  As soon as an issue can be framed as a “civil rights” issue, the illiberal side loses all legitimacy, and indeed all claim to immunity against the persecution of its members.  (Although, in accord with the 1st Amendment, the state is careful to deliver heretics over to the private arm for punishment.)  And–what do you know!–it turns out just about every issue can be framed as a civil rights issue.

Liberalism means tolerance.  Tolerance means no intolerance.  Therefore, to be perfectly tolerant, liberals must eradicate all dissent.

“Critical Theory isn’t a weapon of revolution. It’s a weapon of repression.”

From Paul Gottfried’s latest:

A recent incident in Wallingford, Connecticut, not far from where I grew up, caused Editor Peter Brimelow to comment: “Cultural Marxist totalitarianism is coming to an America near you.” A complaint was lodged with the local police that “hate” merchandise— Nazi and Confederate memorabilia—was being publicly exhibited and sold at a popular flea market. Following a police investigation, an Anti-Defamation League official named Joshua Sayles expressed the view that “It’s unfortunate that under the law people have the right to sell these things; but it doesn’t mean they should sell these things. It’s not a crime but I would call it hate…”[Wallingford police look into complaint about Nazi, Confederate items sold at flea market, by Mary Ellen Godin, Record-Journal, July 10, 2015].

Chillingly, the assistant regional director of the Connecticut ADL thus unmistakably indicated he was deeply disturbed that a “right” to deal in what he considered “hate” was still allowed. Presumably, in a more sensitive world, no one would be allowed to exhibit or sell either Nazi or Confederate memorabilia. Needless to say, no moral distinction was made between Nazi Germany and the Confederate States of America. They both stood, or so the ADL official implied, for pure “hate.”

[According to cultural Marxists], the ominous fascist threat lurked where you least expected it. Middle-class, churchgoing goyim, even those who professed to like Jews and supported women’s rights and labor unions, could not be trusted. Those who did not resolutely break from the existing order slipped easily into such evils as “latent anti-Semitism” and “pseudo-democracy.”

These psychic and social dangers were described by Horkheimer, Adorno, and others in their massive anthology The Authoritarian Personality, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee after the Second World War and published in 1950, as part of a much larger “Studies in Prejudice” project. [American Jewish Committee News, March 15, 1950.] While in the US, Adorno also created the F-Scale (F for “Fascist”) in social psychology testing, supposed to determine someone’s degree of propensity to subscribe to the hated ideology.

It’s important to remember Critical Theory isn’t a weapon of revolution. It’s a weapon of repression. And it was quickly and thoroughly Americanized. It’s ridiculous to treat it as an exotic import: it took root in American society and culture almost immediately after it was introduced.

There has also been a collapse in effective opposition to the Leftist Social Justice Warriors. Recent events in the South indicate even many descendants of Confederate soldiers are unwilling to defend their ancestral heritage against hysterical detractors.

The cultural Left, and no other political force, can put gigantic, screaming crowds into the streets in any American city on the spur of the moment. The official Right, by contrast, stays home watching Fox News.

In the absence of real opposition, the cultural-social Left is free to bully and lie as much as it wants…

Gottfried has written a new book on this topic,  Fascism:  the Career of a Concept.

Russian Orthodox reject council preparatory document on social justice

Gabriel Sanchez writes

Preparations for next year’s “Great and Holy Council” have not been running smoothly as of late, as evidenced by the Russian Orthodox Church’s recent decision to reject one of the Council’s preparatory documents (H/T Byzantine Texas). The document in question, “The Orthodox Church’s Contribution to the Triumph of Peace, Justice, Freedom, Brotherhood and Love among Nations and to the Elimination of Racial and Other Forms of Discrimination,” sounds like a parody of something produced by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (or perhaps it sounds exactly like something produced by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace). Why the Russian Church rejected it remains a mystery. The cynic in me suspects it has something to do with ensuring that the Moscow Patriarchate’s “Blood-and-Soil Ecclesiology” remains unscathed. The optimist hopes that the Russians may have seen such a statement as sowing the seeds of indifferentism and empty headed ecumenism and decided to put a stop to it. [emphasis added]

I’m in favor of a certain amount of blood-and-soil ecclesiology myself–maybe that’s something Catholics could learn from our “separated brothers” to the East–and I’m grateful to the Russians for whatever reason they did it. With a comical name like that, we all know what the content must have been like.

Eastern Orthodox:  look at what aggiornamento did to us.  Learn from our folly.  Save yourselves!

Warrior babes: Must men lie even about what we find sexually attractive?

Many years back, I came across a show on the TV guide channel called something like “The top ten sexiest women in sci fi”, and I decided to watch it to gain some insight on early twenty-first century cultural…oh hell, you know why I was watching it.  Anyway, “science fiction” was defined broadly to include a bunch of science fiction, fantasy, and superhero TV shows.  (In case you’re wondering, yes, ogling women is a bad thing.  Do as I say, not as I did.)

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“No such thing as racism” as a Copernican revolution for anthropology

A “Copernican revolution” happens when the appearance of occupying a special location is shown to be a mere effect of perspective.  Our case is not special; it only appears so because it is necessarily the vantage point of our observations.

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The moral critique of democracy in The Dark Knight

I’ve showed before that movies have been a surprisingly good medium for showing (good movies never argue or explain) the case for monarchy. Let us consider whether they also can be used to show what’s wrong with democracy. On the one hand, there are plenty of movies about the corruptness of the political establishment (e.g. Mr. Smith goes to Washington), but such movies don’t argue that democracy is inherently bad–just that we need more men like Mr. Smith who can resist the corruption that mysteriously comes over every other mortal who goes to Washington.  (Compare, some of the best pro-monarchy movies are about bad kings and good subjects, as I argue in the link above. Democracy claims to remove the ruler/subject distinction and to dispose with personal loyalty, so it can’t make this same dramatic move, but democracy is very good at positing shadowy “special interests” to blame for its inevitable failings.)  One can also point to movies where a courageous individual defies the majority. While these movies show that the voice of the people is certainly not the voice of God, they don’t prove democracy to be worse than any other form of government. Courageous men should defy evil orders from either mobs or kings.

A moral argument against impersonal government like democracy is that no one is ultimately responsible for the actions of the polis.  Representatives are accountable to the people, not God, and the people are accountable to no one.  One sees this critique in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

The message is hidden by an apparent disavowal–namely by putting it first into the mouth of Harvey Dent, who everyone knows is going to become a villain.  Dent can see that Gotham City is sliding into a lawlessness that the elected government lacks the willpower to combat, and he alludes to the Roman practice of appointing a dictator in times of crisis.  His girlfriend retorts that this eventually brought down the Republic (which in turn, as minimally educated viewers will know, inaugurated centuries of prosperity).  At this point, viewers are probably reminded of Star Wars:  Revenge of the Sith.  (“But Anakin, what about democracy!?”  Oh, yeah–feel the stupid.)  What’s more, Dent calls the Joker a “terrorist”, linking him in the audience’s mind with George W. Bush, who everyone knew was the second coming of Hitler.

This exoteric message doesn’t work though.  Dent’s fall is a result of personal misfortune and has nothing to do with the corruptions of power.  More importantly, the movie ends with Commissioner Gordon essentially repeating Dent’s insight that Gotham can only be saved if a single person takes responsibility for it, only he identifies Batman as the person on whom this responsibility has fallen.  Batman is a scapegoat, in that he is only able to take responsibility for the city (in the sense of doing the unpleasant and dangerous things needed to maintain a livable social order) because Gotham has relieved itself of taking responsibility for him.  This forcefully illustrates the corruption of the populace in its general retreat into blind procedure, individualism, and fantasy, so typical of democracies.

The really shocking thing is that Nolan chooses as the climax of the whole movie a thought experiment on the moral inferiority of democracy.  The Joker has placed explosives on two large ferries, both stuck in the water:  one filled with ordinary people, the other with convicted criminals and a handful of guards.  Each learns that it has been given a detonator to the other boat; each thus has the power to save themselves by killing everyone on the other boat before those on the other boat do the same to them.  If neither side detonates the other in a fixed time, the Joker promises to destroy them both.

On the “innocent” boat, one man is clamoring to use the detonator and save themselves at the expense of mere criminals.  The boat’s officers conduct a vote among the passengers to decide what to do.  This is the proper democratic thing to do, and, as always, “the people” feel justified in being collectively selfish, voting to save their skins.  The interesting thing, though, is that no individual is willing to carry out the vote.  The ship’s officers refuse to do such a thing.  Even the very man most insistent on using the detonator finds himself unable to do it when given the chance.  It was one thing to be a member of the mass, even a member loudly advising it.  When the decision actually falls on one’s individual head, things appear in a different light.  One then feels oneself as an individual soul standing before the judgment of God.  One’s sense of personal honor rises to the front.  In fact, we see on the convicts’ ship that even the most hardened criminal may scorn trying to save his life in this way.  Nolan is arguably being romantic in this scene–although I loved it–yet the point stands that a man assumes his full moral stature only by standing apart from a democratic mass.  Here the recurring message of the film shows forth most clearly.  A system must either force someone to take personal responsibility or it will involve everyone in moral corruption.

What this blog is for

This is a Catholic blog, but by one utterly unsuited to promoting the Faith.  I make no pretense to personal holiness.  I do not pray often.  I do not fast often.  I’ve never been to a Latin Mass (not that I’ve ever had the opportunity).  I have little insight into the deep matters of the Faith.  No one should take me as a guide on getting to heaven.

This blog does more preliminary work than that.  While the great theologians have been thinking about how to raise people to the heights of charity and mystical illumination, they haven’t noticed that the masses have lost even the basic natural attitudes that make for a mediocre Catholic.  I have in mind three preliminaries in particular.  The first is a sense of the sacred, the spirit of reverence, coupled to a sense of God’s revelation in the given meanings of the world.  The second is a horror of nihilism, so that a man fears meaninglessness more than he craves license.  The last is basic tribal loyalty to the Church and her members throughout the ages.  The theologians scorn these attitudes because they are after all natural; one finds analogous or even identical things in any vital religion.  But without them, any spiritual quest is bound to begin in pride and end in apostasy.  Time and again, I’ve seen men of much greater virtue and much greater love of Jesus fall into error for lack of a visceral repulsion to blasphemy and disloyalty.

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Can we work for any protection from “hostile environment” firings?

Lots of people are still wasting breath talking about polygamy, but Lydia explains the main danger well:

Yes, yes, we have a First Amendment in the U.S. But that is being continually whittled away by employment law, fraud law, and public accommodations anti-discrimination law, as I have discussed above in this entry and as numerous events in the U.S. attest. (To make it concrete in just one case: If you try not to discriminate and hire an openly homosexual employee, and another employee admits at the water cooler that he doesn’t think the homosexual is really married and that he opposes the homosexual lifestyle, you as the employer will be pressured if not outright coerced to fire the employee who spoke out or else face a “hostile work environment” lawsuit. To say that this sort of government-coerced employer harassment of employees for their free speech is consistent with either the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment is a joke.)

This is what I worry about, much more even than having our Churches taxed out of existence.  Anti-discrimination laws are or easily can be rigged to get anyone who disapproves of homosexuality fired and subsequently unemployable.  This isn’t just bakers and florists–this is everybody.  Fortunately, I don’t think most people would support a law forbidding Christians from holding a job; I’m guessing they don’t realize the far-reaching implications of anti-discrimination laws.  It’s not inevitable that they will be interpreted in this sense, but it will happen if we don’t seriously push against it.

I don’t think Christians and gender essentialists have enough clout to stop homosexuals from becoming an officially privileged class throughout the country.  There’s probably no point in even fighting over that.  Nor do we have the influence to assure that mere disapproval of sodomy (in an “over the water cooler” comment) shall not be a firing offense.  (We should try to fight this, but we’re going to lose.)  I think we might have just enough influence to be able to protect silence.  That is, perhaps we can get some assurance that positive affirmation of homosexuality shall not be required of all employees to ensure a non-hostile work environment.  The negative form of this would merely state that employers shall not be required to demand political statements of faith from employees in order to satisfy anti-discrimination laws.  I think this is an achievable goal.

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Is there a vocation to bachelorhood?

It depends on what one means by “vocation”.  People who speak of a vocation to the single life mean to say that God has a particular plan for each individual, and this includes people who are not called to be married, to be priests, or to be religious.  I don’t have an objection to this.  In fact, this use of the word “vocation” is its most common contemporary meaning.  However, making “vocation” mean “particular life path toward which one is called by God” makes it a less interesting word than it can be.  It is at once too general in meaning and too specific in application.  “Particular life path” is so general, very little can be said about “vocation” that would cover all instances.  And God’s particular path for me presumably includes not just being married, but being married to a particular woman, living in a particular place, working a particular job, and so forth.  If all these are part of my vocation, I lose the sense of marriage having any privileged place in ordering my life.

It used to be that when Catholics spoke of “vocation”, they meant the priesthood and religious orders.  (Protestants used “vocation” to mean “line of work”, as in “vocational training”.  They took this as a sign of having done a better job sanctifying lay life, and we took it as a sign of them being silly heretics.)  Everyone most certainly did not have one of these vocations.  Even today, when we pray for vocations, we’re not asking God to help our young men and women find each other (but please do, Lord!).  Here vocation clearly means a consecration to God.  The man or woman called by God takes a vow to forsake secular life to dedicate him or herself entirely to His service and worship.  The vow was necessarily understood to be lifelong.

Given this understanding of vocation, it was easy to see how marriage for the laity is analogous to holy orders for the priesthood.  In marriage, we once again have a sacrament centered on a lifelong vow.  The celibacy of the clergy in the Latin Rite makes the correspondence even tighter.  One has only one life to dispose, so one only gets to choose one vocation.  One or the other thing, or both, could not be understood to be life-disposing.  Hence, the celibacy of the clergy served to elevate marriage.

The analogy between marriage, the priesthood, and the religious life is so close (much closer than any analogy between the priesthood and secular careers), it makes sense to identify them as three members of a type.  Hence my usual use of the word “vocation” for “sacramental life-structuring vow.”  This seems to me to be a real essence; there is much one can say about such a thing without needing to be more specific.

By this definition, being a bachelor is not a vocation.  There’s no vow, no sacrament, and no fixed positive duties.  Suppose a man gets it into his head that God is “calling” him to “the single life”.  (We’ll take him to be a man because the survey shows I only have two female readers.)  I suppose this happens a lot, mostly to guys who don’t think they’d make good priests and who haven’t had luck finding a girlfriend.  Nothing wrong with wondering about God’s plans.  Now suppose he meets the girl of this dreams, everything he ever wanted in a woman, and she’s desperately in love with him and eager to bear and homeschool a dozen good Catholic children by him.  Should our hypothetical fellow turn down marriage with this girl because of his “vocation to singleness”?  Should he not rather consider that his excellent good fortune is a sign that God is in fact not calling him to “the single life” but to matrimony?

Notice that if a man meets the girl of his dreams and decides to up and change his idea of God’s calling for him…and he happens to already be a priest, a monk, or the husband of another woman, we would call this an obvious self-serving rationalization for betraying his vow.  The existence of a vow makes the cases very different.

One could equally well think of cases where our hypothetical man might decide that he really does have a calling to be a priest or monk after previously thinking that God just wanted him to be a bachelor.  Why shouldn’t he pursue this new idea?  There’s no vow for him to break.

That being said, I’ll repeat that God does have plans of some sort, and opportunities for holiness of some sort, for those who never marry, join the priesthood, or join the religious life.  It may also be the case that there are more than three vocations in my restricted meaning of the word, and that the Church has yet to recognize some of them.  If they do exist, a man living one of these other vocations would currently be categorized as a bachelor.  Nevertheless, bachelorhood per se would not be his vocation in either meaning of the word.  “The single life” has a purely negative meaning, and when the Church lists it among the vocations, I think she’s just using it as a blanket term for “other”.