Jew vs. Catholic: contrasting personality types

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
–Matthew 15

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!…I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!
— Romans 11

The message of the Old Testament is that God loves, loves, loves Jews.  In the New Testament, naturally read, God wishes to save only Jews, but like a jilted lover accepts as consolation Gentiles to serve as honorary Jews (and even that perhaps only to make the Jews jealous).  I speak now not of theology but of psychology, not of how the Bible should be interpreted, but how it will be and is.  The Jew’s primal experience of religion is that God loves him and his kin with the ferocity of a tribal god.  To the Jew, God promises descendants, an enduring nation, a collective future.  The Christian’s primal experience of God is His wrath at the Christian’s sinfulness and unworthiness.  The Christian thus knows his soul as loathsome but clings to God for His promise to fashion for the Christian a new and better self, a hope which is not satisfied by his baptismal rebirth but whose fulfillment is postponed until death.

From these basic religious experiences, everything follows.  The Jew is bold, ambitious, with a healthy and virile confidence, sure of his and his people’s righteousness, all but incapable of comprehending opposing views, whose very existence he scorns as “anti-semitism”.  His distinguishing quality is chutzpah, shameless entitlement, making him a natural master over less confident men, the apex parasite.  His unwavering confidence in his people’s moral superiority allows him to be intellectually daring in everything else.  Thus Freud could doubt man’s rationality and Einstein could doubt that spacetime is flat, because beneath it all they never doubted that they were superior to the goyim.  The Jews everywhere set out to demonstrate their moral superiority by attacking the customs of whatever gentiles they live among; this they call “healing the world”.  Their intelligence and aggression has won for them the top moral status for themselves and their odd conception of social justice.  The power of their moral authority makes the Christian admire, love, and fear them all at once.

The Catholic is in every way the opposite.  Paralyzed by morbid guilt, shame, and doubt, he can barely summon the will even to wish for his own people’s survival.  His enemy’s perspective is more real to him than his own.  Thus he routinely condemns his fellow Catholics, his own ancestors and pastors, whether from genuine shame or a pious attempt to absolve God of the discredit of association with us.  He insists that the main reason non-Catholics stay out of the Church is the scandal given by the wickedness of Catholics, by which he primarily means other Catholics, but also himself.  Catholics have not the slightest sense of loyalty.  Does this habitual treachery achieve its effect, convincing outsiders to consider Christ rather than His worthless servants?  I can’t say, but I suspect the main lesson unbelievers take is that becoming a Catholic means nobody having your back, of sitting in pews next to backbiting traitors eager to turn on you at the first sign that you have become bad PR.

Catholics are the one group who don’t take pride in themselves and their history.  In a sense this is admirably Pauline and humble–Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam!–but hardly an effective recruitment or retention tool.  Why then be Catholic?  One common reply is that despite the shame, Catholics have the true faith.  Thus, Catholics of a more intellectual bent subtly come to base their self-worth, what other peoples would have by default from the pride of tribal membership, on having some set of correct beliefs.  They become intellectually timid, far beyond the demands of doctrinal orthodoxy.  Indeed, they seek out profane masters to absolve themselves of the wide intellectual freedom left by orthodoxy, defending every jot and tittle of Aristotle or the Founding Fathers or whoever else.  There have been creative Catholics, but we do nothing to encourage this.

Catholics have a much weaker sense of agency and little concern for their collective future.  Religion is the clergy’s business, and we hate them all the more when we suspect them of taking it seriously.  And the clergy can say that religion is God’s business.  “God will protect His Church!” so we can all just go on with what we are doing.  Forethought and initiative are not considered necessary, so they are never forthcoming.

The Jewish spirit is democratic, egalitarian, cosmopolitan, and everywhere triumphant.  (Then again, when Jews attempt localism and nationalism, they do even that better than us.)  The Catholic spirit is hierarchical, monarchist, ritualistic, and everywhere in retreat.  Are our ideas defeated because they are worse?  I would say that our ideas are perfect, only their champions are unworthy, but that is a very Catholic thing for me to say, isn’t it?

Is there hope for Catholicism?  Certainly, although it is telling that arguments for the survival of the Church nearly always invoke supernatural protection.  The Jews don’t need any miracles to make it through this century.  I admit to being one anti-semite who really is jealous of the Jews–they’re everything I wish I and my people could be:  healthy, brave, loyal, confident, intelligent, and creative.  Unfortunately, all efforts to “reform the Church” move us in the opposite direction, exacerbating our sense of inferiority, sapping any residue of aggression, loyalty, or any other healthy manly virtue.  What little energy we have goes into spying on each other, rote attachment to dead spiritual and intellectual forms (and of all groups, the traditionalists are the least guilty of this–far less than the Vatican II nostalgists!), and a growing tendency to preserve our own moral status by posing as critics of the hierarchy, washing our hands of the Church rather than defending her.  The solution must be a step in the opposite direction:  an embrace of the will to live and the will to fight, an attitude that will surely be called (and perhaps will indeed be) fascism.

23 Responses

  1. Do you really believe or are you just a cultural Catholic? I’m asking because it would be very natural to have a persistent sense of defeat and doom if you were just a cultural Catholic who is forced to live a double life because you are an academic.

    If you really believe in Jesus Christ, then it may help to recall that Christ already conquered a decaying pagan empire once, and that first time with just twelve men. He can do it again. The problem is that maybe only one out of a thousand Catholics have the Faith and therefore believe in the Church Militant and the event horizon of martyrdom. The twelve served their Lord, but eleven of them paid with their lives.

    This is not a supernatural cop out. We are truly God’s people now, but He will not grant us the victory if we won’t follow the battle plan that he laid out for us.

    Jews hate the Faith, by the way, and will crumble once they have to face it directly again. Your weakness is their strength, and vice versa.

  2. I just don’t really think trying to boot pedophiles and heretics is going to destroy the church, if I’m being honest.

    Plus, I think the biggest barrier to people becoming Christians is not hearing the gospel. It’s not like a philosophy or point where argument and reason gets you there although it may help. It’s more like you put it out there and God works on the hearer and takes it from there. I’ve been evangelized by Baptists many times in my life but not really by Catholics. Maybe once, arguably twice. Just saying.

    Finally, despair is more than a sin, it’s a mistake.

  3. There are no cultural Catholics, by which I mean that Catholics don’t set/create the ambient culture anywhere. I call myself a tribal Catholic, implying that there is nothing taken-for-granted about the identification. The existence of rival tribes is quite vividly in my consciousness, as it is with any tribalist or fascist. On the other hand, I’ve found academia to be a friendlier place for Catholics (at least outside of Grievance Studies) than I imagine the corporate world would be.

    I liked the analogy you made here: “He will not grant us the victory if we won’t follow the battle plan that he laid out for us”. Has God given us a battle plan? I would say that He has left that for us to figure out. After all, we are always being told that being a follower of Christ won’t be easy, so perhaps we should not expect it to be intellectually easy, either. The Jews didn’t get where they are by just trusting God. Many of the most valuable in their service didn’t even believe in God, but they were loyal to their people.

  4. > I just don’t really think trying to boot pedophiles and heretics is going to destroy the church

    It certainly will, because there’s no end to it, no point at which we can move on to catechesis, self-defense, or anything else, because “…getting their own house in order first.” The Catholic Church in America has been obsessing over pedophiles for half of my life, and there is no sign it will ever slow down. The more reforms, review boards, policies, background checks, investigations they do, the more all-consuming the obsession grows.

  5. Nearly Amen to that. But there were times when we were more tribal than nowadays. Isn’t that the problem of European-descending people in general ?

    That we white moderns are timid to be tribal?

  6. Starting to sound a little bit like the dispensationalist Evangelicals I he up with, fretting over the inevitability of the church ending with a remnant of 5 or 6 trembling in a basement while the legions of Antichrist plunder.

    “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    “Until the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.”

    Believing these is not optional for followers of Christ. Anxiety about the future is not what carried the church through until Constantine.

  7. Your description of Catholics as being unable to wish their own survival applies better to American secular Jews.

  8. Bonald, most of what you lament about the Catholic Church, I lament about the Protestant Church. Always apologizing for ourselves, paying for the sins and mistakes of our ancestors, downgrading our value to our culture, making concession after concession. It’s sickening.

    Yes, I know we’re both doing the same thing from the other angle, making us consistent with Catholics and Protestants, but I believe we’re seeing more clearly, and calling out the truth, hoping that ours will listen.

  9. @Bonald

    Reading this as a Catholic from outside the modern West (I’m Russian), I have a distinct impression that you are mistaking an historical accident for a proper one.

    You live in the US, a non-Catholic state and culture (plausibly anti-Catholic) that has been dominating the world with impunity for a century, at least in my estimation. But it’s not really a nation-state, it’s an empire with a somewhat Messianic ideology, and the success of such a state cannot fail to appear as also that of the latter.

    Having followed your blog for quite some time, I’m certain the incompatibility of it with Catholicism is obvious to you. However, it probably isn’t so by default, especially given the fact that even without the social conditioning ideas like Equality and Liberty are at the very least not clearly repugnant; indeed, are probably eminently attractive in the abstract and without further consideration. By default, American Catholics as such (even assuming their general orthodoxy and moral rectitude) are inclined to be good Americans and trust their culture and judgements derived from its norms. Now, as I’m sure you realise, especially given the direction the ruling ideology progressed in, Catholicism cannot fail to stand largely condemned by it. The spectacular failure of our grand Ralliement attempted half a century ago highlights the fact.

    And if it so happens that the hierarchy that we’re supposed to look up to visibly fails to live up to our morality in a truly horrible fashion, it’s only natural to blame them (and by the most Christian of extensions, us), as the Faith is spotless, and if one doesn’t share the latter conviction, but clings to Catholicism, even more so.

    I think it would indeed be a mistake to -reduce- today’s abominable state of affairs to our sins, but then I don’t think most Catholics are in truth attempting this. Our sins do invite punishments, but this doesn’t mean that examining the instruments employed by Providence isn’t worthwhile.

  10. As far as I can tell, the Jews, on the other hand, have been allied to the empire and its ideology. Jewish distinctiveness is hence allowed (if not encouraged), both within and without, on many levels and by a variety of means unavailable to everyone else, and Israel is a client-kingdom for the sake of which the US is prepared to wage costly wars.

    I think this difference of status in relation to the empire is large enough to account for this relative prosperity.

    An analogy: the Russian imperial state used to employ the noble elite of mostly Protestant (at least initially) Baltic Germans for centuries in both civil and military administration. They were a privileged minority in their Baltic homeland, and hence dependent on the good graces of the Empire. The ideological alignment was mostly negative: as Protestants, they were no friends of the Catholics, concurring with the Empire; as landowners and burgers, they had few incentives to support subversion against the throne.

    No doubt certain qualities and proficiencies their background lent them were of use to the Empire; however, this alone does not explain the difference between their status and that of, say, Catholics, or the Russian Jews, for that matter.

  11. I think the fact that Western Catholics largely do not realise that their public inheritance has been taken over and turned against them makes loyalty to the hierarchy difficult: adding to what has been said above, the success and omnipresence of the state as a provider of culture or a locus of hope suppreses the need for our hierarchy, or at least the recognition of it.

    And indeed, what do the bishops do? Can they be said to rule their dioceses? Do they dispense rewards and punishments to the laity? Do they police orthodoxy and moral conduct? Do they employ scholars or comission art to show that our religion is something that deserves a triumph? Do they even have an incentive to do all of this that is strong enough to counter-balance the usual pull of the world (to speak nothing of positive treason), the latter in any event favouring the auto-demolition of the Church?

    It appears that they do not. The question then is, then, is preserving the hierarchy in its present state – which, arguably, minimally presupposes civic toleration (if not establishment) of the Faith, real opportunities for an actually Catholic education and endorsement of at the very least sane familial and sexual customs – for the good of the Church? Would you not agree that there’s enough evidence of treason among the episcopacy, and that treason warrants condemnation? I am admittedly unfamiliar with non-Trad criticisms of current events, though.

    If my knowledge of history is anything to go by, we need our bishops to actually rule us (some of the proper acts of such rulership are listed above). My own dream involves a localised mulplication and restoration of episcopal “courts” reminiscent of the Baroque and possibly diocesan commercial investments (is there really any hope of retaining tax-exempt status for much longer, in any event?), an infrastructure on a scale proportionate to a tribe, of you like.

    It seems that some sort of reform of the ranks is certainly necessary, and in a situation where the Church can no longer rely on the prince (the parents?) to refrain from positively corrupting her children, who is to carry it out? The clergy, at least as a medium for, say, a new Cluny.

    Do we have no reason to hope that the scandal of today can serve to rid the hierarchy of the worst/the less intelligent and to force the actual mafiosos to do something legitimately Catholic for a change, if only as means of concealing their criminality?

  12. Major7,

    Yes, I’ve also noticed a sense of inferiority among Protestants, although in their case I usually see it not as a drive to reform (I admire Calvin’s genius in calling his branch of Christendom “Reformed”; the reform has already happened, and one can get on to other things) but in a tendency to ape secular culture as far as possible, as if its superiority were taken for granted.

  13. Hello Ubiquitous Pompon,

    You’re probably right that the larger culture granting high status to one group and low status to another has some effect. On the other hand, Jews have at various times in their history been out of wider favor, and I’ve never heard of them having the same sort of self-loathing. Then again, perhaps they did, and it just didn’t leave any evidence that I’ve run across. I’m no historian.

  14. @Bonald

    Concerning Jewish self-loathing, I think one can some evidence for it in the Jewish Enlightenment; and I seem to recall Zionists like Herzl and his opponents within the movement decrying the complacency of the Jews in accepting their inferior status etc.

    I fear the suboptimal quality of my writing may have obscured a point I consider important: it’s not just that Catholics in the West are granted low status, it’s that Catholics fail to see that they are, in fact, oppressed, not on the basis of their intellectual inferiority or moral failure viewed against an objective standard of truth or goodness, but rather because of what the religion is and what it entails (if not for baser reasons, such as ethnic prejudice) in the mind of a force that is in reality alien to them qua Catholics.

    Jews have a history of inhabiting niches in generally unwelcoming societies (but even then often achieving an understanding with the rulers, as was the case in, say, the Poland, al-Andalus or the Ottoman Empire), but then overt and recognisably alien persecution tends to steel the resolve and pride of Catholics as well, as was the case with Poles in Prussia and Russia after the Partitions (said persecution serving as a unifying factor, at times facilitating conversion of non-Catholics to the Faith) or Recusant and Irish Catholics under British rule.

    I detect no suicidal/paralysis-inducing self-loathing among the subjects of crusading monarchies, say, nor in Spaniards at the end of the Reconquista and during the Conquest, nor in Baroque Catholic monarchies of Germany and Italy; the spirit of reform with a persistent concern about clerical morality (evident in the Cluniac movement and the council of Trent) was, however, theirs.

    On the Continent, at least, it seems to me, one could easily tell if the enemy had taken over, and relatively clear battle lines could be drawn (and/or, as in the Low Countries, segregation achieved), at least before the War and the Council.

    In the US, it would seem that Catholics at large never realised that the culture they viewed as their own had turned on them (or never really accepted them), and to the extent of their agreement with it, they turned on themselves and continue to do so.

  15. And on this analysis, ironically, tracing the sad state of affairs back to some perceived defect in Catholic spirituality and/or Catholics as such is indeed something a modern Western Catholic – quite understandably – will be moved to do by the culture.

    I agree that turning on the hierarchy is dangerous. Let us not, however, turn on ourselves and our worldview.

  16. > In the US, it would seem that Catholics at large never realised that the culture they viewed as their own had turned on them (or never really accepted them)

    Indeed, and I find this especially maddening, since it’s not like the wider culture has kept its feelings toward us a secret.

  17. @Bonald

    But wouldn’t you say the establishment did a lot to draw the Catholics in after WW2 and at the beginning of the Cold War? Then, of course, you had the development of suburbia (defusing Catholic urban immigrant culture), race-relations becoming a national issue (facilitating amalgamation?), not to mention the false hope at redress provided by the two-party system in addition to inherited Democrat voting loyalty (reinforced by JFK’s election?).

    All of this, compounded by human universals such as concupiscence, desire for human respect etc., in the absence of a directed mobilisation (even without the policy change plausibly amounting to a unilateral ceasefire at Vat. II), seems more than sufficient to deceive a population of patriotic law-abiding citizens in a prosperous empire leading the civilised world against the global threat of Communism.

    The least one has to acknowledge is that we have really powerful and persistent enemies that for some reason are not content with mere subjugation. I can’t help but think it’s telling, and also that we should take pride in that.

    Even if these are the end times, our advantage over, say, the Messiah-rejecting Zealots of Masada is that we happy few get to actually win our last stand, greet the Messiah promised to Israel, precisely under the aspect our wayward cousins hope for, I’d add, and conquer the universe at His side.

    I realise that such appeals to divine aegis over us can offer little comfort in a desperate situation, but aping pagans and adopting their gods helped neither our Hebrew ancestors in the Faith nor actual fascists of a Catholic background. Just like in the Old Testament, God sets a high bar for His chosen people.

    I also think there’s a tendency to overestimate Jewish survival prowess.
    In addition to the usual existence of niches for minorities, both Christendom and the umma – notoriously proselytising entities, both – had a theological warrant for toleration, allowing autonomy, including that of education, and forced conversion attempts were rarely sustained, if at all initiated/permitted.
    The fracturing of Christendom didn’t change this (if not, perhaps, to their benefit?) and the overthrow of the ancien regime made urban commercial environments familiar to them more important than ever before since antiquity. They have since then been allied to the winning side which shares the same rivals.

    Jewish history is remarkable, true, but so are the factors, and these, in my opinion, cannot be accounted for by the peculiar qualities of Jewish culture. If I’m right, objectively, they have special reasons to thank Divine Providence for (permitting) their success, so it’s not like us Catholics are the one sorry people with urgent reason to seek help in the name of the Lord who created heathen and earth.


    I apologise for my long-windedness. But then, I’ve let good sense stop me from commenting on your blog far too many times.

  18. “To the Jew, God promises descendants, an enduring nation, a collective future.”

    To Franz Rosenzweig, it is precisely this that distinguishes the Jew from the nations: “Just as every individual must reckon with his eventual death, the peoples of the world foresee their eventual extinction, be it however distant in time. Indeed, the love of the peoples for their own nationhood is sweet and pregnant with the presentiment of death. Love is only surpassing sweet when it is directed toward a mortal object, and the secret of this ultimate sweetness only is defined by the bitterness of death. Thus the peoples of the world foresee a time when their land with its rivers and mountains still lies under heaven as it does today, but other people dwell there; when their language is entombed in books, and their laws and customs have lost their living power.”

  19. You form a consistently negative opinion of Jews based on what are really only post WW2/Holocaust stereotypes. My impression is that the traditional stereotype was that Jews would try to keep their heads down and not attract attention in the broader culture. So for instance Jews were not the leading figures in the Dreyfus affair (except for being the central character of course).

    To compare, suppose someone tried to form his opinion on “The Catholic personality” by trying to understand medieval to early modern Catholicism in light of generalizations about the post V2 Catholicism he knew. It would be very decidedly skewed wouldn’t it?

  20. Sheesh, I didn’t think it was possible to praise them more highly.

  21. Not entirely convinced. Chutzpah is a Jewish thing, but so is neurosis. That is why they invented psychiatry.

    Catholicism used to be confident. I mean, for a religion to call itself universal, it takes some confidence. Belloc said Europe is the Faith and the Faith is Europe. Not a very modest claim. Go back 500 years in history and you see a powerful Spain believing even to the point of arrogance that their faith is correct and the English, the Dutch and so on are damn heretics, and it is Spain’s job to convert the newly discovered people to the one correct faith.

  22. […] Boldness and creativity flow from assurance of moral superiority.  Behold the Jews. […]

  23. […] of self-hatred, and we above all others could learn from the Jews and the blacks.  I’ve said emphatically that we should copy the Jews in every way possible–they are the absolute model of success, […]

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