I’m going to keep going with my tribal Christianity theme for a while. If only I could get it to catch on, it might do some good. After fleshing things out here, I’ll put up an article at the Orthosphere, which has somewhat higher traffic than this blog.
I’ve just added a review of Carl Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political to my book reviews. It relates to this discussion, because tribal Christianity is about the legitimacy of the friend-enemy distinction as applied to the Church. Christian intellectuals seem to pride themselves on not thinking in these terms. External faiths and internal heresies are treated according to truth/orthodoxy categories as errors containing more or less impressive admixtures of truth. Protestants, communists, and Kasperites are presumed to be well-meaning but slightly mistaken. (Indeed, orthodox Catholics make so much of their supposed good intentions that those who don’t fall into their errors are morally suspect. Thus, if people become Marxists because they care so much for the poor, then a burden of proof always falls onto non-Marxists to show that we don’t hate poor people.) Alternatively, rival denominations may be treated under sacerdotal categories–the validity or invalidity of their rites, lack or presence of a valid apostolic succession, and the like. Or errors may be treated according to moral categories, according to which sodomites are no greater concern than fornicators or masturbators, because each of these are sexual sins of comparable magnitude. However, as this example shows, the apolitical categories leave out the most important thing. The sodomite activist is not objectionable primarily because of his private errors, sins, or sacramental irregularities; he is a concern because he is the ENEMY. He is a threat. He means to persecute the Church, corrupt our children, to destroy us utterly. In debating with him, we are not co-participants in a search for truth and virtue; it is warfare by other means. The goal is not to convert an earnest seeker, but to neutralize a threat.
The accursed council, Vatican II, was not a dogmatic council or a pastoral council (it’s documents are pedagogically useless, i.e. far less easy to understand than the Baltimore Catechism) but a political council. Its purpose was to designate friends and enemies. Before the council, Protestantism and liberalism were regarded as enemies. Vatican II decided that they were to be regarded as friends. Because Vatican II could not change dogma, it could do nothing to reduce our disagreements with the world, but it could declare these to be friendly disagreements. No dogma is involved in such decisions, but no infallibility attaches to it either. Any Catholic may disagree, and tribal Catholics do strongly disagree with the decision to psychologically disarm before liberalism–a one-sided disarmament, because liberals continue to treat us as an enemy. We condemn the council fathers according to our own particular category. We don’t question their morals or their orthodoxy (although the influential periti were certainly heretics). WE QUESTION THEIR LOYALTY.
Tribal Catholics don’t like ecumenism, because it’s usually just an excuse for Catholic-bashing from those who are supposed to be our leaders. From liberal Catholic theologians, we hear about how much more enlightened the mainline Protestants are (although even they pale before the glory of atheists, Jews, and Muslims). From conservative Catholic theologians, we hear about how much more enlightened the Eastern Orthodox are (although they again are not nearly as wonderful as the Jews). I’m sick of it. If the heretics and schismatics are so wonderful, go join them.
Ecumenism is pointless. The traitors of Vatican II gutted the liturgy, gutted the churches, gutted catechesis, did everything they could to downplay the distinctively Catholic, all to no avail. We’re no closer to unity with the Lutherans or anyone else than we were in 1959. After all, Lutherans aren’t stupid. Given that we teach that the Mass is a sacrifice, it doesn’t matter to them whether we say it often or seldom. Their objection is that we believe it at all, since they think it false. The only resolution is for them to change their minds, or for us to change ours. But this would not be any kind of Catholic-Lutheran reunion; it would be mass conversion one way or the other. Eastern Orthodox claim the filioque is heretical. Either they’re wrong or we are. There can be no reunion, ever. Trying to force the issue just breeds resentment.
But there can be an alliance.
Tribal Catholics will have a generally positive attitude toward conservative Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Mormons. We can afford to be much warmer toward them than non-tribalists, who must judge them according to their orthodoxy or sacramental status. We, however, can recognize them as allies, but only because we see that liberalism is the sole great enemy of the Catholic Church in this age. The Evangelicals and Mormons stood by us in the contraceptive mandate debate (far better than our own laity, I might add), even though they weren’t themselves involved. That means a lot to a tribalist. It seems to me a matter of honor that our bishops stick up for them when the liberals go after their bakers and florists. Have our bishops done this? Not that I’ve heard. The Church’s “religious liberty” witness is in practice devoted to herself (and not even to Catholics as private individuals), and our bishops’ “bravo” rhetoric clearly signals that they want nothing to do with persecuted Christians. A tribal Catholic recognizes this as a stain on the American Church’s honor. Being a faithful ally matters a great deal to a Catholic tribalist.