Comments on the November unpleasantness

I have a couple of pieces at Catholic websites that might be of interest. At the Crisis website there’s something about Catholics and Cultural Assimilation, and at Catholic World Report I give some Tardy Reflections on the Election. In the first, I say the culture should assimilate to Catholics rather than the reverse. In the second I talk about the party that believes in nothing and the party that believes in Nothing, instead of talking about the stupid party and the evil party, but it comes to the same thing.

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8 thoughts on “Comments on the November unpleasantness

  1. Nicely done in both cases, Jim. How do you respond to the thesis that the Catholic Church, in America at least, and at the diocesan level, but possibly also all the way to the Pope, has been significantly liberalized? The life of my parish is indistinguishable from the life of any Protestant congregation, and the priest (God bless him) is more or less a liberal-in-cassock. Is it possible for a liberalized Church to come to the defense of tradition in opposition to modern trends?

    • “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” In other words, if there’s a problem the Pope and Church will eventually respond to it.

      From a more sociological perspective, I’d say that an enduring institution motivated by an overall theory of things that different sorts of people have found worthy of devotion century after century has to have a basic nature and way of doing things that’s coherent and functional and keeps on reasserting itself in spite of deviations. If it goes off in some weird direction it will eventually revert to type. The papacy provides a point of reference that facilitates that process.

      In the meantime, We Are Church (as they say), and if the Catechism says social justice is quite different from what the New York Time says it is we have the right and duty to insist on the difference.

  2. Thomas Fleming recently used the phrase “party of greed, party of envy” to describe the difference between the two parties. Or something like that.

  3. The Crisis piece seems to have an odd approach. There is certainly some truth to the claim that American Catholics wanted to Americanize. There is also certainly some truth to the story E Michael Jones tells of an American Establishment setting out to forcibly Americanize us. So, the presentation is one-sided that way. And if it is going to be one-sided, why not make it one-sided the other way?

    Re-building an anti-Americanist communal identity for American Catholics seems like an interesting idea. As you say at the end, after the rubble is done bouncing, people are going to be looking around for a better way to do things, and it would be nice if at least someone is around retailing the truth at that time. But, the proposal is radical and really is for a rejection of Americanism:

    To deal with that situation intelligently we need a realistic understanding of human life that dispenses with platitudes

    Platitudes like “We hold these truths to be self-evident, blah, blah blah.” Truth and John Locke are mutually inconsistent.

    This identity for Catholics, then, has to be, at the present time, oppositional. Do we build oppositional sub-cultures via mea culpas? Don’t there have to be bad guys we are, you know, opposing? The Jews harp on the Shoah for a reason. Southerners used to harp on Sherman’s march and other injustices for a reason. The IRA harped on English injustices against the Irish for a reason. Etc. Mea culpas don’t seem to be a big part of the whole oppositional community building and maintenance process.

    To convince Catholics to de-assimilate, “we was robbed” seems like a better approach than “we made a mistake.”

    • What’s needed is a better way of life. How does “we wuz robbed” lead to a better way of life? If repentance, conversion, and orientation toward something loved can’t give you a Catholic identity I’m not sure why anyone should bother with it.

  4. Very good pieces – I particularly liked the one on the election.

    Things change when the baddies are firmly in charge, and strategically doing bad things for bad reasons – for instance, old style argument from the basis of shared assumptions and a common understanding of the good life becomes counter-productive for those against the government. Genuine, stubborn resistance is all that counts.

    But the nature of Leftism/ Liberalism is that it must continually seek further expansion, and here in the UK it is becoming clear that this is leading Leftists to attack those who until recently were regarded as privileged groups and part of the rainbow coalition.

    The core of Leftism is the sexual revolution (because of the micro-scale and pervasive transcendental destruction of which the sexual revolution is uniquely capable) – and this imperative means that erstwhile ethnic allies – previously tacitly exempted from Leftist demands due to being ‘minorities’, are now being expected to change their attitudes to come into line with the reorganization of society around sexual inversion.

    So the sex warriors, whose bottom line is hedonism, are now taking-on ethnic religious conservatives who they cannot persuade, since their bottom line is supernatural; and who the Left must therefore utterly defeat – or lose to.

    Once this particular genie is out of the bottle, and looking at today’s news it may be emerging, I don’t see that the Left will be able to put it back in.

    This looks like an strategic suicide mission for the Left – but they cannot help themselves. The balance of power could change very quickly from here.

    But the point is that the increasing dominance of the Left, and given the nature of Leftism, inevitably means intrinsic and wholesale *over-reach* and war on all fronts – until, later or sooner, the Lefts comes up against a group that will not be corrupted and cannot be defeated.

    • I agree about the sexual revolution. It’s the door to the abolition of the most necessary human connections and ultimately the very nature of man. It’s beauty’s mirror image-something attractive leads us away from the good and true.

      Is it really hedonism that’s the bottom line though? I’d have said it was more the Triumph of the Will–choice, autonomy, liberation from stereotypes etc. In a sense that’s hedonism, since it means getting what you want, but the word “hedonism” suggests that there’s at least a positive goal and I’m not sure that’s so in the end.

      I also agree that leftism necessarily overreaches. Abolishing reality is a comprehensive project, and the more you succeed the less you’ll understand the trouble you’re getting into so the farther you’ll insist on going.

  5. @JK – “Is it really hedonism that’s the bottom line though?”

    I use ‘hedonism’ as shorthand for the (mainstream secular dominant public) world view which reduces to the pleasure-suffering axis as experienced by human subjectivity within this world.

    The Triumph of the Will is supposedly a means to this end: more happiness/ less misery in this world – especially/ mostly/ exclusively for those who deserve it (the underpivileged, minorities, victims etc).

    Of course the powers and principalities twist this with great facility into its opposite; but typically any genuine potenital for repentance and reform is confronted with the fact that long term happiness is on the other side of a barrier of short term increased suffering.

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