Ecumenism and Vatican II for the tribal Catholic

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.

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 VDARE.com 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!

“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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