Gulenism, Opus Dei, and the Mormons

Suppose you were a wise, religious man living a century or two ago.  You see that modernity is here and that it will not be stopped.   You see the walls of civilization bowing, cracking, groaning before it.  You see pitiless, red eyes searching out enemies.  You see its thirst for fire and steel.  You see purity surrendering to its overripe sensuality.  What do you do?

What the Catholic Church did was to rail against it.  First, She fought to stop Modernism taking over the political structures of Europe.  Once that had failed, She tried to make of Herself a fortress against this plague.  The anti-Modernist Popes were apoplectic about what they foresaw and were anxious that the Church be preserved against it.  This head-on resistance failed.  Islam yet soldiers on in head-on resistance.

But, one need not resist head-on.  We can wonder whether all the wise, religious men chose to resist head on.  Could one not resist passively?  Could one not resist by cooperating?  Modernity, after all, has needs.  It needs bright, motivated, knowledgeable, disciplined men to run its machines.  What if we offer up bright, motivated, knowledgeable, disciplined men?  What if we make of those men servants so reliable, so effective, so discreet, and so obedient that Modernity cannot pass up the opportunity to use them?  So useful that, even as Modernity rots its other timbers, these men remain.  So useful that it is these men who are trusted advisers to the King after the moderns themselves are lost to debauchery?  And, what if these men have motives other than “getting ahead?”  Motives their discretion keeps mostly out of sight?

What would such movements look like?  They would be explicitly religious.  They would lionize work.  They would lionize obedience.  They would encourage education, public service, and the accumulation of wealth.  They would serve as networking devices and channels of ideological nepotism.  And they would have their hidden-in-plain-sight religious side.  A side which would have to be rigorist and strange, since only rigorism and strangeness bind tightly.

It is, to me, implausible that Christendom simply disappeared in the 1960s.  On the surface, that is certainly what seems to have happened, though.  Where did it go?

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31 thoughts on “Gulenism, Opus Dei, and the Mormons

  1. Bishop Gomez recently led the full blown disaster at the RE conference in LA. Politically he’s for open borders, that’s what the post communion prayer was about at the RE main mass. He’s been pretty dissapointing otherwise as well. I guess he’d be a prime example for their infiltration, being the first OD bishop in the states (though granted he ceased to be OD upon his consecration). If that’s the kind of infiltration they’re orchestrating, I wont hold by breath for an OD-led restoration. Also, if Opus Dei wanted to infiltrate anything within the church, why are they so focused on laypeople whose power within the church is highly restricted. Heck, they have about 2000 priests, a drop in the ocean.

    • I guess you are not counting Bishop Finn because he is only in the Order of the Holy Cross and is not a “full-up” member of Opus Dei?

  2. Fortress Mormon appears to be slipping:

    In fact, additional studies by Cragun and Phillips show that retention rates of young people (young men especially) raised Mormon have dropped substantially in the last decade: from 92.6% in the 1970s–2000s to 64.4% from 2000–2010. Rising rates of disaffiliation go a long way towards explaining the gap between LDS Church records and the ARIS population estimates.

      • From the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
        Chapter 2: Changes in Americans’ Religious Affiliation

        “The Mormon, Orthodox and Jewish traditions all have retention rates of at least 70%, while the retention rate for Catholics is 68%. [Mormons born in their faith show noticeably higher retention rates than those not born in the faith.] Two of the religious groups with the lowest retention rates are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Buddhists.”

        “Of all of the Protestant families, Baptists, Adventists and Lutherans have the highest retention rates, at roughly 60% each. The Holiness, Anabaptist and Congregationalist families, by contrast, have much lower retention rates, below 40% each.”

        “Among all the major religious traditions, Hindus and Mormons are most likely to have a spouse with the same religion (90% and 83%, respectively). Nearly four-in-five Catholics (78%) and seven-in-ten Jews (69%) are also married to someone with the same religious affiliation.”

        In short Mormons and Catholics have similar retention rates in this survey, with Mormons faring marginally better. Both faith groups are facing the same headwinds. The situation among Protestants is complicated by a lot of switching between Protestant groups, while remaining in the overall Protestant family.

        The thesis of the original post is intriguing. Latter-day Saints do not reject modernity per se. We do not reject democracy or the American founding. Indeed, Mormons generally embrace and often embody the American sense of optimism and progress. However, we are socially very conservative, teaching virtue and purity. Economically we promote habits of thrift and self-reliance. These are time-honored values, once widely, if not universally shared. But the larger culture surrounding us is increasingly hostile to these virtues. How many artists today ever use the word “virtue?”

    • Not that it matters whether their numbers are going up or down anyway. Its rather like Islam conquering the Monophysites its just one heresy over another.

      • “Its rather like Islam conquering the Monophysites its just one heresy over another.”

        Did you mean the ca. 451 AD Monophysites, or the modern-day Monophysites?

        … and, more apropos, do you mean to say that you consider Islam and Monophysitism to be morally interchangeable?

  3. The spiritual punishment we are suffering has been prophesied by several Marian apparitions and in scripture.
    Our Lady of La Salette: “The Church will be in eclipse, the world will be in dismay”

    “When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand.” Matthew 24:15

    The false ecumenism we have witnessed since the 1960s is certainly related to the abomination of desolation.

  4. We’re all losing because modernism’s greatest weapon is atheism backed by media power–in particular, the disbelief in the immortal soul and biblical narrative.

    No soul means no need to save it.
    No judgement of souls means no need to please the Lord.
    No afterlife means no resistance against pure materialism.
    No Jesus Christ means no need to worry about whether you’re in the correct church.
    No rational view of the OT leaves us open to mass confusion.

    If we can’t fight the metaphysical consensus war– then all we are doing is building pseudo-political movements on sand.

  5. Are you hypothesizing that this sort of camouflage is deliberately affected, or just sort of a thoughtless organic response to the challenge of modernity? If you’re saying it’s a deliberate conspiracy, then who orchestrated it and why were, e.g., Abp. Lefebvre et al. not let in on the plan? Reading the writings of the conciliar periti, one gets the impression that a lot of these guys really, sincerely believed what they peddled. Who were the cynical conspirators and who the useful idiots?

    My own suspicion is a lot darker, which is that the currents of history are more often guided by treachery, stupidity, miscalculation, and incompetence than anything else.

    • As camouflage, it doesn’t seem to have been effective, as seen by the hatred and suspicion liberals hold for Mormons and Opus Dei. There’s still the other part of Bill’s speculation–that these groups are making themselves too useful to be attacked. Maybe this will buy them time; the Left has the world’s Jews in the bag, so I doubt it’ll ever lack for high-end servants, but it will still need a lot of lower-level people to reliably run the machines. Still, the Left knows it can ultimately bully and corrupt such people, because any given employee needs his employer more than his employer needs him.

    • I don’t know whether it is deliberate or emergent. As Bonald mentions, it’s not exactly camouflage since the agenda is hidden in plain sight. The UN is not a “secret conspiracy” to be a world government, really. Guys like Maurice Strong are pretty clear about their desire to turn their baby into a world government. OTOH, you are a conspiracy nut if you notice out loud that this is so. Opus Dei benefits from this kind of two-step as well. You are a conspiracy nut if you think Opus Dei is a conspiracy.

  6. The “wise, old men” of old FOUGHT for doctrine, fought for each and every word in the dogma.
    And the wise, old man now will allow for wholesale revision of doctrine and for what?
    Some material success? Some success in social indicators?
    Wasn’t it same in 19C when Protestant North Europe looked at poor backward Catholic South?

    The America-centred view does not get it that even to allow consideration of Mormonism means that we are willing to entertain the thought that the Bible itself was corrupted in past.
    And this is exactly what Mohammedans maintain.

    Is this your notion of piety, to say nothing more. That you are willing to discard your entire patrimony and adopt the view of the ancient enemy, the enemy of your fathers.

    • Well, you tracked down the roots of modernity to Finney, others to Ockham and nominalism etc. All that is very interesting though I disagree with your claims. But why were these people so influential? Why did they not remain unknown obscure thinkers like many others? Was such development somehow inevitable?

      Can history be understood without God as real actor? And Satan for that matter? I don’t think so. Without it explanations like yours sound rather mechanistic.

      Also you see religion merely as means for maintaining public morality. But it is not at all clear why morality should matter if religions are only empty doctrines.

      • Even if God or Satan are the real actors, they are acting through people, so we still learn by observing history. And my hope in explaining the problem isn’t just to be interesting, but to suggest a remedy, namely that Christianity needs to associate more doubt with salvation so that Christians don’t take things for granted and are motivated to study the Bible and behave morally.

        As for your question about why to behave morally, I can’t answer that in a short blog comment. When the Orthosphere gets a forum, I can answer the question.

      • But it is not at all clear why morality should matter if religions are only empty doctrines.

        Because having a small ego leads to better, happier, healthier lives and more harmonious societies. Because living a life driven by desire, greed and vanity we just end up bitter, unfulfilled, or bored and burned out, or having such a huge ego that every tiny amount of disrespect feels like the end of the world. While we have a small ego, and we can see our lives as a mission, a duty, centered on other people, such as family, kin, tribe, and nation, we live better.

        God is not necessary for realizing this. This is basic, simple, beginner-level pagan wisdom.

        Christianity built on TOP of this Aristotelean, pagan wisdom, that there are even higher goals than eudaimonia. Modernity generally falls below this.

      • If you were convinced God does not exist, do you think some kind of endless pursuit of hedonism or vanity would make you truly fulfilled or happy, or you would still think serving some higher goal is healthier?

        See, this is why I don’t understand the no morality without religion angle … e.g. I don’t need god to tell me to not go to prostitutes – I tried it and it was incredibly boring because the love and connection was missing, I felt like an animal doing it to an object, utterly degraded from my humanity. And hers.

      • Franklin, if we fail to see God (and Satan) acting through people by observing history can we really say we understand it? Also I guess we need more than doubt and studying Bible. We need help.

        Shenpen, you and Franklin think that we can be just fine with morality and God is kind of bonus that can or can’t be added to our happy/eudaimon/moral life.
        My point is exactly the opposite. First we must have God then we are given the rest. If the natural good has priority it is at war with the supernatural good and thus it becomes bad.
        In my view modernity started precisely as preference of natural good over supernatural.

      • Shenpen, Kristor has addressed the “no morality without religion” thought in many of his posts. I won’t try to recap what he has to say, but I will follow up with something you said.

        You report that going to a prostitute was boring and degrading because the love was missing. You also say that working for a higher goal than selfish wants is the route to true happiness. You therefore reject the notion that we are, in Desmond Morris’ words, “naked apes,” and embrace the idea that we are so much more than that.

        This then leads ineluctably to the question of how we got that way. What is it about humans that makes us different from the animals? We have always sought the answer to that through religion, and later, philosophy. We are still left with that question, the one that Darwinism and other physical theories can never answer.

        Physical theories cannot account for the non-physical. Life, consciousness, the good, meaning, free will, love—all are inexplicable without resort to religion, and therefore God.

      • In a long post, I could explain my reasons for morality, but it really is pointless. Let’s just call my reasons X. Since X isn’t Christianity, Christians will disagree with it. That’s fine. From a Christian perspective, I believe in morality for the wrong reasons. But so what? We have a common enemy in liberalism, so we should ally against liberalism in defense of morality. Our reasons for morality aren’t relevant to this point.

        I suggested that more doubt would be helpful to Christianity. Sure, other things may also help. But do you disagree with my premise that modern Christians are too sure of their salvation and that this leads to arrogance, ignorance, liberalism, and immorality?

      • Yes. A Christian who is sure of his salvation has not understood Christianity, and insofarforth is not yet quite Christian. Saint Paul himself felt no such assurance.

      • ‘I don’t need god to tell me to not go to prostitutes – I tried it and it was incredibly boring because the love and connection was missing, I felt like an animal doing it to an object, utterly degraded from my humanity. And hers.’

        Red herring. What you feel has nothing to do with a moral standard. Other people enjoy going to prostitutes. Otherwise prostitution would disappear for lack of customers.

        In absence of a God, what makes your opinion better than theirs? It is a question of tastes. You think they are degraded. They think you are a prudish that are not able to enjoy sex and a smug that feels superior because of different tastes. There is not an objective moral standard. Only opinions.

  7. Dear DrBill,

    This is just too romantic to be true. Basically you just invented the diametrical opposite of the Freemason conspiracy theories. A secret society of succesful men working behind the scenes to change (back) the course of the world. You know what? Call them a Templar secret society fighting Masonic secret soceties behind the scenes and basically you have an Assassin’s Creed videogame.

  8. @WM Lewis (for some reason I cannot reply under your comment)

    This is going a bit too fast…

    1) non-self-centric behavior is not necessarily far removed from the animal kingdom. Perhaps at least a part of our higher goals came from the instinct to sacrifice our life for our offspring if we must. Perhaps kin selection explains it. Perhaps not. I don’t want to take sides either way because I just don’t see a reason to try to explain everything, but it is still pretty much in the open.

    2) We don’t necessarily need to have an answer for everything. Do you feel the need to? There is clearly a spiritual dimension to human life, a higher calling, but we don’t necessarily need to know why or how. Where does this need come from to have a firm position about everything?

    3) Interesting how you say religion or spirituality automatically leads to God. Why does everybody in the Western Civ seem to assume that so fast? To me a personal God – someone who loves, hates, judges, thinks, decides, helps or refuses to – is just about the least likely form of spirituality because even people can be better than that – even people can be selfless “programs” of love and wisdom, radiating warmth on everyone without discrimination and choosing. Not easy, not something for the masses, but this is what certain highly developed souls do. Personality and the above traits are obviously useful for everyday life, as we need a lot of discrimination and judgement to deal with wordly life, but spirituality would be something that goes way beyond into worldy life, into a Oneness Without Difference. To me the immediately logical form of spirituality would be the Force of Star Wars, some kind of Tao – some impersonal force-field of love and wisdom that does not separate anything from anything. It should be something as omnipresent as gravity, not something that says I am this and this and you can talk with me.

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