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.
French socialists — still pretty weird:
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.”
If only someone had warned us years ago!
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.
After my last post on voting, I discovered that our friend Zippy Catholic has recently had an excellent series of very compelling posts on what he sees as the moral duty to refrain from voting. I give a brief overview of his arguments and a number of links below the break.
In accordance with our mission of rousing the broad masses and uniting them behind the black flag of reaction, here are a couple of pieces just published denouncing ’60s liberation as techno-servitude and noting that the state is always sacred, so why not have Christ the King?
At What’s Wrong With the World, Lydia McGrew (justifiably, in my view) takes Reformed theologian and professor Carl Trueman to task: An evangelical parachurch outfit called The Gospel Coalition (“TGC”) has taken a strong public stand in support of “complementarianism,” the highfalutin’ name for the Christian view that men and women are different by nature, and the Bible means what it says, and therefore, inter alia, women must not be pastors or elders. As McGrew aptly points out, the opposite view, officially dubbed “egalitarianism,” might just as well be called “feminism,” and is causing serious damage to the church and society.
But Trueman, who identifies himself as a complementarian, responds to TGC’s stand by saying that a parachurch organization ought not to be focusing on issues such as this, ones that (he says) are peripheral to the real business of the church, which is primarily proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Trueman’s view, TGC should not take a public stand in favor of complementarianism.
McGrew is rightly puzzled that a complementarian such as Dr. Trueman would publicly oppose the promotion of a doctrine he supports. Continue reading
Those convinced that the postconciliar Church has repudiated its own moral-theological tradition often point to its apparent reversal on ecumenism or religious liberty as proof of their claims. Personally, I see its incoherence on the issue of capital punishment far more damning in this regard.
Here are two useful articles from my favorite modern apologist, Edward Feser, on the topic. In the first, he defends the moral liceity of the death penalty in terms of natural law. In the second, he blasts the ambiguity and equivocation of those clergy eager to chuck the Church’s historical teachings in their zeal to align themselves with the leftist zeitgeist. In the latter article, Feser ultimately concludes that the Church’s supposed opposition to the death penalty in the present age has been badly exaggerated; but it’s telling that the Church is quick to speak in terms that can be so easily misconstrued and slow to correct those misconstructions.
Which reminds me of a conversation I had with a Franciscan on the topic not long ago. I voiced my dislike of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is bulky, difficult, terminologically ham-handed, obscurantist, and peppered with passages plucked out of badly-needed context from papal encyclicals. Too many Catholics have read, for instance, its treatment of “conscience” and walked away from it with the impression that the Church gives us free license to dissent willy-nilly from teachings held since the dawn of the faith — and then proceeded to do exactly that. The exasperated Franciscan rolled his eyes and said, “That’s because the Catechism isn’t for the laity. It’s for the theologians!” Which is rather the problem, isn’t it?
The first two parts of this essay have made use of T. S. Eliot’s little book Notes towards a Definition of Culture (1949) as a guide to thinking about transformations over the last half-century in both the institutions of higher education and the larger society, especially the American society, in which these institutions find their context. The Notes add up to a deceptive text, from its seeming plainness of prose and its quiet gentlemanliness in respect of Eliot’s rhetorical opponents (always Mr. Laski and Mr. Mannheim) to its reticence in actually achieving the definition towards which its title makes a hopeful promise. The explanation of the last is that culture, as Eliot sees it, is experientially always a particular culture, rooted in a particular foundation, invariably in some way religious although religion might fade into the background as a culture develops. Nevertheless, as Eliot affirms with Arnold Toynbee, “no culture has appeared or developed except together with religion.” Eliot deliberately equivocates about the difference, if any, between culture and civilization, rejecting Oswald Spengler’s idiosyncratic distinction of those two terms in The Decline of the West, and supposing that a consensus, surviving in his day, could meld or separate them competently. One might speak, for example, about the original Gothic-Christian culture of the early Middle Ages and of the Western Civilization stemming from that prototype. With such continuities the Notes concern themselves most emphatically, with Eliot diagnosing post-war European – and by extension North American – civilization as having come to a point of fractiousness and disintegration. In particular, Eliot saw the alienation of the elites of society from one another and from the society at large. Part two of the present essay argued that Eliot was mistaken in the first of those two propositions but that he was quite correct in the second.