I have a new piece up at Crisis Magazine about the futility of generic conservatism and the need for Christendom as a goal, and one at Catholic World Report that says that Christendom is always with us, since there is always some scheme of connections, loyalties, and authorities that is in fact authoritative.
“Church and state should be separate” entails that the Church should have no power over the state, but not that the state should have no power over the Church.
I have a piece up at Intercollegiate Review that discusses the Windsor case, which invalidated the federal definition of marriage as natural marriage, gives a zippy sketch of some of the main lines of argument in my new book Against Inclusiveness, and shows how inclusiveness nukes traditional and institutional religion.
The “religious freedom” line of argument employed by the Catholic bishops against the government’s recent intrusions into their affairs fails on many levels. Besides squandering a good teaching opportunity by making it about ourselves and our convictions instead of actually explaining and defending those convictions, there’s the obvious problem that it’s not clear whose vision of “religious freedom” they’re talking about. They obviously don’t mean it in the Dignitatis Humanae sense, which mostly outlines a narrow duty of religious toleration on the part of Catholics toward others in service to the common good, so they must mean it in something like the overly-broad-reading-of-the-First-Amendment sense. What an error in judgment! Now they are tied to the mast of a Constitution which, if it ever meant anything, is constantly being redefined and reinvented to the Church’s detriment. The longer they take to abandon that sinking ship, the more unprincipled and opportunistic they will look when they do so.
Skeggy Thorson points out that the monstrous Aztecs had patriarchy, monarchy, an aristocracy, an ancient, venerable and sophisticated state religion, a highly evolved patrimony of arts and crafts, and I suppose many other characteristics of a traditional society. The same could be said of the formidable and revolting Canaanites, Carthaginians, and Phoenicians.
More than that is needed for a just society, or a good society, and especially for a noble society.
What then, are the de minimis characteristics of a traditional society *that is also good* – and that, therefore, has a shot at nobility?
I claim that’s what Catholics should be going for in my most recent column at Catholic World Report. There’s some to-and-fro in the comments with Mark Brumley, the CEO of the outfit that publishes CWR, who seems to believe in American pluralism more than I do.
At bottom, I think the issue is that he starts his analysis with the current interpretation of Dignitatis Humanae, the Vatican II pronouncement on religious freedom, while I start mine with the normal relation between a political society and the goods those who take part in the society want to further and protect. If the influence of Catholicism on public life grew it seems the two would begin to point in different directions. As I suggest in the discussion, though, it seems to me the interpretation of DH would likely (and legitimately) shift in response to such a change. That’s the function of the expressions like “due limits” and “public morality” that are found in the document.
Conservative commentators from every part of the spectrum right of Obama have recently noticed an ugly turn in the discourse of the Left toward overt hatred of their ideological adversaries. More and more of us have seen that the knives are now suddenly out, the claws no longer sheathed. Leftist politicians forthrightly share their fervent hope that such as we might die, and do not stop either to consider whether it is just, or proper, or polite to say such things, or having said them, to repudiate the evil that perfuses their hearts. Furthermore, with the Obama presidency the cult of personality, of the Dear Leader and his wife, so reminiscent of the Perons in Argentina, has reached a new florescence. The regal appearance of Queen Michelle at the Academy Awards last week, bestowing the regime’s approval on the most popular folks of the Hollywood amen chorus (backed up by members of the Praetorian Guard), was only the most recent instance of this trend. And while we may react with horror to this turn of events, most folks take it in stride, or even rather like it. It makes them feel comfortable.
What’s up? It’s the First Century all over again, that’s what. The old Imperial cult that deified Caesar is back. And orthodox Christians are now in the same relation to the state cult that they were in the days of Nero: unruly, disloyal, seditious, essentially treasonous fanatics, a threat to public order and propriety, insane and wicked sinners against public piety, and in the event of any public disaster the first scapegoats.
A French cabinet member announced that the government will monitor certain groups for “religious pathology,” including a traditionalist Catholic organization, and will shut them down if it is discovered.
“The objective is to identify when it’s suitable to intervene to treat what has become a religious pathology,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls told a conference on the official policy of secularism, according to Reuters.
“The aim is not to combat opinions by force, but to detect and understand when an opinion turns into a potentially violent and criminal excess,” he said at the Dec. 11 conference.
Valls’ remarks come in the wake of President Francois Hollande’s announcement Dec. 9 that he would create the “National Observatory of Secularism” to promote France’s policy and to “formulate propositions for the transmission of ‘public morality,’ giving it a dignified place in schools.”
According to Reuters, Valls offered radicals Islamists, traditionalist Catholics, and ultra-orthodox Jews “who want to live separately from the modern world” as examples of religious extremists.
My favorite part:
“Secularism is not about simple tolerance … it is a set of values that we have to share.”
Over at First Things: At EU Faithful Christians Need Not Apply? I was all set to cheer on a besieged faithful Christian. Then I learned more about him:
Borg was grilled for three hours at a hearing before the European Parliament last Tuesday afternoon. Right out of the box, leftist MEPs demanded to know his position on LGBT rights and abortion. Borg had been accused of saying derogatory things about homosexuals and of denying them basic rights. He disarmed his accusers by outright denying he had ever said anything unkind about homosexuals and asserted that not only did he agree with European laws on non-discrimination, but that they should seek out and put an end to all forms of homophobia anywhere in the European Union.
So, Mr. “faithful Catholic” Tonio Borg promises to launch a merciless persecution to eradicate every religion and culture that embraces the truth about men and women (“homophobia”). He will seek out and obliterate every law and custom that recognizes the patriarchal family as normative (“discrimination”), and he will impose the androgynist utilitarian system everywhere, even though this would mean the extinction of his own putative faith and national culture. Not long ago, we were lamenting this same pathologization of moral sanity by Justin Welby, ArchWeasel of Canterbury, but really the Maltese Catholic Borg is much worse. At least the Anglicans aren’t making tyrannical threats about “seeking out and putting an end to” all non-approved thoughts over an entire continent.
And the outcome?
Through a combination of canniness and capitulation, Tonio Borg was approved last week as the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection. The final vote was 386-281 with 28 abstentions…
Borg joins 26 other “Commissioners” as the rulers of Europe on what is perhaps the least democratic “democratic” body on Earth.
I feel somewhat foolish now for my earlier uncharitable ribbing of our shepherds in the Church, and bad enough that I took it to confession yesterday (and I offer my apologies to any readers scandalized by my gratuitous insults of the Lord’s anointed). Our bishops may often be silly, foolish old men, but we’re lucky to have them, especially in light of the alternative.
Speaking of which, check out Dr. Charlton’s remarks on the new head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby, the “inexperienced mediocrity” who looks like a state-sponsored therapist of questionable sexuality and sounds like a terminally anxious employer being threatened with a hostile work environment suit, whose duplicitous waffling will surely doom a Church that is already in decline and probably cannot survive a long reign by another pallid platitude-peddler.