A corollary to “things coming to a point”

If things are coming to a point–less ambiguity, with fewer and fewer aspects of life or culture free from a stark choice between Christianity and atheism, then things were less pointy in the past, and we can afford to be more generous toward ambiguous figures in the past than we can be toward prevaricators in the present.

As an example from the last post, I am less hostile toward Renaissance humanism than most traditionalists are. Yes, one can find elements in it that contributed to the West’s later embrace of evil, and these elements do indicate defects in the humanist program, but that doesn’t mean that these defects are the essence of the program, or that humanists like Petrarch were less than sincere in their belief that they were doing the Church a favor.

As another example, growing up in an ultramontanist Church, it was once natural for me to see advocates of imperial or royal power in ecclesial organization as enemies of the Church, antecedents of a later age’s anticlerical totalitarian revolutionaries, while advocates for the autonomy of national Churches against the Papacy remind us in retrospect of post-Vatican II liberal, heresy-infested local Churches. And it is true that support of the temporal power did evolve into the atheist subjugation of the Church, and resentment of papal authority brought much ruin to the Church during Vatican II and afterward. But when judging past figures, we must remember how differently things not only seemed but were when the temporal power in question was a Christian kingdom, and the national Church in question was robustly illiberal. Plenty of Gallicans and Josephists were sincere Catholics. In the light of Vatican I, we can definitely say that their positions were defective, but during their time it was still possible to have such defects without having a fundamentally anti-Christian orientation. Today, those who support secular states or local synods against the universal Church are open in their hatred of the historic Faith. Things have come to a point.

2 Responses

  1. I feel the same about Socialism-Leftism generally. There was a lot more good in it, the further back you go – so that it was at first not necessarily anti-Christian, and many devout Christians were Leftist.

    On the other hand, there were always those who saw what were the fatal problems baked-in right from the start – so it was discernible. But for a while the flaws remained legitimately deniable.

  2. the ambiguity may have been sincere, but it was still there, ruining ever more societies and souls as time went on and the logical conclusions turned into realities.

    besides, the ambiguity came about based on fractions of truth – namely, 19th century peasants (later to be uprooted and turned into urban masses) weren’t doing so well as the industrial bourgeoisie was gaining power, and their traditional defenders (Church, king, nobles) were not doing enough. it should have never gone farther than reform or at most dynastic change.

    also, one must consider that these ambiguous positions sometimes came out of partisanship rather than legit ideological development. for example, Gallicans were influenced by French partisan chauvinism (much like the Orthodox earlier basing themselves on Greek or Russian chauvinisms). another example: V2 was the chance for the Church to offer a desperately needed legit third way between the false postwar dialectic between freemasonic capitalism and marxist communism; instead, the hierarchy was consumed with modernism and went from soft- to radical- left, while the few trads had to seek shelter in the imperfect postwar conservative camp (though then again, definitely the least free-trade, laissez-faire, democratic faction of this camp).

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