Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wimpy Catholics

Tim Shipe made an interesting comment on Inside Blog.

I find the lack of contact between faithful Catholics and the culture, the political structures, the media etc.. absolutely inexusable. The one big glaring virtue to the American system is the ability to get on the horn, get on the ballot, get off your butt, and change the world for Christ.

I have spoken to newspaper editors who have admitted to me that they would like to go to bat on this or that topic- ex. taking the palestinian narrative more seriously- but they are pressured by who calls, how many call, and do they request a sit-down meeting. If a tiny minority of pro-Israeli American Jews can shape our Congress, our Presidency, our Media, so soundly with good old fashonied organizing- what is wrong with us?

I have found most Catholic parishes barely interested in shaping the political landscape of which the pastors and faithful moan and groan about all the time. Minorities have to stand up and be counted or they will be overlooked or oppressed- history shows this over and over. Catholics are so bound by the devil with the Pro-Life camps pitted against the Social Justice camps- it is a clear divide/conquer strategy and most Catholics I know are being played like fiddles- Catholic Left- Catholic Right- how about straight Catholic- Dorothy Day/Mother Teresa- One Church- liberal give the conservative his due, conservative give the liberal his- you both make some sense.

If Catholics had their act together, we wouldn't be the butt of so much unholy humor, we wouldn't be destroying Iraqis and creating enraged jihadists at every turn, we wouldn't be killing our offspring and cheering right to choose death for our kids, we wouldn't be fighting a losing cause in standing up to a divorce/gay oversexualized culture, we wouldn't be calling social programs 'the beast", we wouldn't be questioning the value of faith-based organizations, we wouldn't have a global economy built on the backs of Chinese slave laborers and poor, desperate workers trapped in corrupt/failed nations with border guards keeping everyone and everything just in place so that the elites can keep their station secured, Hollywood wouldn't be making Da Vinci Code movies anymore than they are likely to make a Protocols of Zion film...but alas, American Catholics are either too wimpy, or too caught up in the exciting idiocies of party politics, to be of much service to the world for Christ's poor and vulnerable.

The only reason we are so powerless in America is that we are so clueless as to what freedom we have here in America- we are like the cave-dweller in Plato's parable gazing at shadows, missing out on the direct sunlight so easily found.

49 comments:

Rodak said...

Hollywood wouldn't be making Da Vinci Code movies anymore than they are likely to make a Protocols of Zion film.

This is going to go back to the "why do Catholics get such bad press" thread below.
I, as a non-Catholic, found the Catholic reaction to the DaVinci Code--primarily the book, since the movie flopped--to be such a mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, exercise in "Kick me, I'm a Victim!" mentality, that I was very glad when the fad had run its course.
It was a novel. It was based on a medieval legend that is hundreds of years old. It has been used in fiction before. There are probably hundreds of novels, and thousands of non-fiction books that "debunk" Christ's divinity. Ditto for books that are critical of the RC Church, in one way or another.
Why, suddenly, now, does this book so threaten the Catholic mind-set?
It was presented as though it were true. Well, duh. How many lost-world type adventure stories did I read in earlier days which were presented as travel logs, found and published by some scholar? Many. There was absolutely nothing, I repeat nothing, that was really new in the DaVinci Code in terms of content, or format. The whole she-bang was as formulaic as can be.
Yet I heard Catholics saying that people they knew had lost their faith over it. My response to that is--what faith, then, had they to lose?
As long as the Catholic intellect tends to keep itself inside a bubble--Catholic intellectualism being limited to pondering only things Catholic--how can it defend itself against a trivial amusement like The DaVinci Code?
You deploy some clown like Michael Novak to hit all the cable talk shows, sputtering and bouncing up and down in his chair, and practically having a stroke on camera over a NY Times best-seller, and then you wonder why you get bad press. This is part of the reason.

Civis said...

I agree that the reaction to the Da Vinci Code was over the top, (although most of that came from Protestants rather than Catholics--like your comments yesterday, this is the pot calling the kettle black) but don't lose the forest for the trees, my friend.

BTW, would this comment be in the genre of a "non-combative, non-confrontational, mode of discussion [that] express[es] disagreement without making brother-love problematic." or more along the lines of coming from "a person who doesn't really read the blog, but just skims it looking for buzz words, and when one is found then lets his 'inner [Phil Donahue]' free-associate on it."?

Rodak said...

Civis--
There is no doubt that Maureen is miles ahead of me when it comes to being non-confronttional. That's why I took the time to praise her. I also acknowledge that I was off-topic on this thread. But your mentioning DaVinci, worked so well with my attitude toward the post below that I couldn't let it slide.
As for Protestants and DaVinci, my only memories of the controversy involved much howling on Catholic blogs, and a whole Catholic media blitz on cable TV. There hadn't been so many priests on news shows since the Pope died. There were probably Protestant fundies on that warpath, too. But I tend to turn them off, figuratively, if not literally.
The important question is: in how much of a closed system does an orthodox Catholic live his intellectual life? And how can he translate what he contemplates therein out in the world-at-large? I don't say that he's wrong to stay inside the bubble. But I do say that it makes his forays into politics as an orthodox Catholic counter-productive.

Civis said...

I think Catholics have a pretty good record vis-a-vis intellectual engagement.

Why do you care about this so much? Yous saving up to be Catholic or something?

Rodak said...

It's all wrapped up with my aversion to public orthodoxy.

Civis said...

How is that?

Rodak said...

I just stated "how that is" at April 10, 2008 5:43 PM.

Civis said...

Okay, I'm at a loss. You said that Catholics live in a bubble. How is that a public orthodoxy?

Rodak said...

As long as they stay inside the bubble, it's not a public orthodoxy; it's a private (though communal inside the bubble) one. That's the whole point.

Rodak said...

Read Kyle's explanation in his new post on why people (mistakenly) call Derrida a "relativist." He's making much the same point: when people bring their inside-the-bubble mindsets outside of the bubble they tend to misjudge the nature of the ideas they encounter "out there."

Rodak said...

Here is the relevant paragraph of Kyle's post:

"So why is Derrida so often placed in the camp of relativists? I suspect that many of those who accuse Derrida of relativism interpret his philosophy within the particular hermeneutics of a metaphysical realism or moral absolutism. They juxtapose Derrida's thought with their own philosophical or moral systems of thought—specifically with their own favored philosophical language—and judge the words of Derrida in so far as they match or mesh with their own linguistic concepts. Instead of being read on his own terms, Derrida is translated into the accepted terms of these critics, and much is lost in translation. Derrida clearly was not a realist, so he must have been the alternative in the binary opposition: a relativist."

Civis said...

What do you see in Tim's comment that you belive relates to "public orthodoxy"?

BTW, could you indulge me with a concise definition of what you mean by "public orthodoxy"?

Rodak said...

What Kyle is saying is that when one goes public with his private orthodoxy ("[his] own philosophical or moral systems of thought—specifically with [his] own favored philosophical language"), what happens is that it doesn't mesh with other people's modes of thought.
Now, imagine that, somehow, the WWWtW group, or the Seventh Day Adventists, or the Sunni Muslims--whoever--managed to make adherence to their orthodoxy a must for all public moral/philosophical discourse. As Kyle shows, that "public orthodoxy" would clash with, and would be virtually unintelligible to, the moral/philosophical systems of nearly everybody else. It could therefore be implemented as a "public orthodoxy" only by coercion, such things as book burning, and the institution of some kind of "Thought Police."
To be free, and before they can be "judged" and labeled, people must be able to be understood on their own terms.

Civis said...

I'm not trying to pick on you with my questions, but I still don't see where this post has anything to do with public or even private orthodoxy?

Catholics as good citizens ought to take part in public life. If they don't like the way they or thier beliefs are protrayed they ought to get off their butts. What's your beef with that? Or do you have a beef? It would seem that you would agree with this comment.

BTW, you still haven't told me what a public orthodoxy is.

So you buy into all of that deconstruction stuff?

Rodak said...

BTW, you still haven't told me what a public orthodoxy is.

Public orthodoxy as I understand it (it isn't my term, after all) would be any person's, or any group's orthodoxy, made the societal standard by fiat.

I don't know anything about deconstructionism.

Catholics should not even attempt to bring their specifically Catholic belief into the political arena, for the reason that when they do they bring their faith life down to the level of their political life. It does not, and cannot, work the other way around.
As St. Paul said, Christians must not conform themselves to "the world."

Civis said...

So just let the word go by? Have no influence on culture? Never defend your beliefs or your reputation? Make no effort to be treated fairly? Just huddle in communes?

And then how does this square with your allegation that Catholics live in a bubble?

Rodak said...

What I'm saying is that Catholics qua Catholics should stay "in the bubble." As citizens, they should vote as citizens, not as Catholics per se. E.g.--not vote for a war monger because he says he's pro-life.
You defend your beliefs by living your beliefs, not by trying to force them on your neighbors.

Rodak said...

I think that the unique promblem that Catholics have is that the Church was, at one time, a secular power. Therefore, it had to do all of the kinds of things that governments do, and try to justify them morally.
Jesus and St. Paul were each very clear on this: "My kingdom is not of this world"--Jesus. "Do not conform yourself to the world."--St. Paul. The message: Be in the world without being of the world.
This problem is not unique to Catholics, of course. But the only true solution to it would be a theocracy--i.e., a public orthodoxy.

Civis said...

Who said anything about forcing our beliefs on others?

Why are you talking about ancient history? Popish plots are so 16th century.

I think you're tilting at windmills.

Rodak said...

I think you're tilting at windmills.

Not at all. If orthodox Catholics (and their conservative Prostestant allies) had their way, for instance, all publicly supported family planning clinics would be shut down. And this would be done based on doctrinal beliefs.
The result would be more illegal abortions, more unwanted children going to more under-regulated foster homes, less testing for, and therefore more spread of, STDs of all kinds, etc.
What I am saying is that if you're against abortion, don't get one. If you're against birth control, don't use it. If you want to spread your STD, don't touch my daughter. But, above all, don't force me to live my life according to your sectarian beliefs. Tilting at windmills? I don't think so. What I'm doing is opposing the mechanics of a very real special interest group, on the basis of the U.S. Constitution.

Rodak said...

It must be realized that I used family planning/abortion in the above comment simply as an obvious example of what I'm talking about. When you get down to the "public orthodoxy" that WWWtW is talking about, and their desire to burn books; or their desire expressed in a new post to eliminate all post-modernists from university English departments (if only they could), patterns should begin to form.
You seem to be promoting Russell Kirk, so I guess that you are basically in agreement with the WWWtW agenda, since he is certainly their primary contemporary guru.
Here is the first of his "Six Canons of Conservative Thought":

Belief in a transcendent order, or body of natural law, which rules society as well as conscience. Political problems, at bottom, are religious and moral problems. A narrow rationality, what Coleridge calle the Understanding, cannot of itself satisfy human needs. "Every Tory is a realist," says Keith Feiling: "he know that there are great forces in heaven and earth that man's philosophy cannot plumb or fathom." True politics is the art of apprehending and applying the Justice which ought to prevail in a community of souls.

That might be all well and good; but to the extent that it would "rule society" in a formal way, it would scrap the U.S. Constitution, and it would be coercive of those people who don't believe in a "transcendent order" or a "body of natural law." (Nobody has yet shown me where that body is buried, so that I can dig it up and study it.)
The above excerpt is from Kirk's seminal work: The Conservative Mind: from Burke to Eliot.

Civis said...

You're still tilting at windmills and ranting about WWWtW? This is not WWWtW, and your rants are not relevant to this post. Why don't adress the post or the questions I've asked you rather than "free associating." I mean, don't mind chatting about what you are in to, but you ought to try to talk about the topic of a person's post now and then--try including other people's interests and not just your own. I'm beginning to wonder if it is you that has ADD-if not Tourette's.

Oh well.

Hey is that "canon" from Russell Kirk? I thought he said that conservatism is the negation of ideology.

Rodak said...

You're still tilting at windmills and ranting about WWWtW?

You are the one who asked me above to explain why I mean by "public orthodoxy."
Since that term comes from WWWtW, how am I to answer your question without reference to the source of the term in question?
Everything that I've said is directly relevant to whether or not Catholics should be involved in politicas as Catholics, and therefore relevant to the topic of your post.

Rodak said...

I thought he said that conservatism is the negation of ideology.

Please explain.

Amy Giglio said...

Following up on what Rodak said about Catholics staying in the bubble (Safari won't let me cut and paste and I don't have the time to retype the whole thing): One's faith should be part of oneself, no matter what that faith is. I would not trust a person who can easily compartmentalize his faith, even if I disagree with the doctrines of that faith. A good Catholic ought to be one whose faith informs all of his decisions, including voting for that warmonger if absolutely necessary if s/he will fix another, more evil problem. Not all evil is created equal. Just as murder is a worse offense than theft, abortion is a worse evil than war.

Civis said...

Rodak,

"You are the one who asked me above to explain why I mean by 'public orthodoxy.'
Since that term comes from WWWtW, how am I to answer your question without reference to the source of the term in question?"

What I'm saying is that, after hearing your explanation, I think you are tilting at windmills.

We'll have to agree to disagree that people should keep thier faith private. I agree with you so far as that I don't care for people who wear their religion on thier sleeves--I say show don't tell. But a faith that does not permeate everying thing you do is not "faith" IMHO--I'm not sure what it is.

Amy,

Thanks for stopping by and weighing in. I agree with you. What good is "faith" if it does not impact your whole life. I think I'm going to do a post on that--or give an idea to Maureen.

Rodak said...

I say show don't tell.

Which is what I'm saying: if you oppose abortion, don't have one. Provide assistance to those who might be tempted to have one. If you oppose a book, write your own book and refute its ideas. But don't oppose that book whose ideas you find to be wrong from being on the library, or the bookstore, shelf.

Rodak said...

What good is "faith" if it does not impact your whole life.

Again, I agree with this. But, in America, you should not insist that YOUR faith must impact MY life.
Amy's statement, for intance, that "abortion is a worse evil than war" is just nonsense to millions and millions of Americans. Even though it should guide Amy's personal decisions,it should not, under current Constitutional law, become public policy.

Amy Giglio said...

If my faith is shared by millions of other Americans and we all vote based on our faith because it informs everything we do, then it can't help but impact the lives of other people. It's part of the democratic process, not an imposition. If some group disagrees there's always another election.

Rodak said...

Amy--
True. But what millions of pro-life voters who chose Bush only because he claimed to be anti-abortion got was a war that many of them probably didn't want then, and certainly don't want now. We had abortion. Now we have abortion, plus war. A net loss for life, no matter how you slice it.

Anonymous said...

Amy is right when she says that according to Catholic teaching, abortion trumps war. However, our Pope has been very vocal about his disapproval of this war, and that nothing good can come out of Iraq.

On another note, if more Catholics had voted for Ron Paul, we would have a candidate who is prolife and against the war. But oh well.

God bless, Maureen

Rodak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rodak said...

I deleted the above comment because my choice of words was at least as bad as that of Barack Obama in 'Frisco.
To rephrase, the fact that for Catholics abortion trumps war is not one of your most endearing traits to many of the rest of us.

Civis said...

"Which is what I'm saying: if you oppose abortion, don't have one. Provide assistance to those who might be tempted to have one......"

Why that's exactly waht we do. What's your beef?

"....If you oppose a book, write your own book and refute its ideas."

Good grief! You began this thread by complainign about people doing just that. Is there any integrity whatsoever in your personal philosophy?

Oh, BTW. You asked about conservatism being the negation of ideaology. Kirk said that in his lecture "Ten conservative books", so I'm curious if the canon you cited was from him.

Rodak said...

Why that's exactly waht we do. What's your beef?

My beef involves any sectarian group lobbying to makes its unique beliefs applicable to the whole society.

Good grief! You began this thread by complainign about people doing just that.

Excuse me? Where did I do that?

I'm curious if the canon you cited was from him.

I don't know why you're curious, I pretty clearly stated that it was from Kirk, and also named the text from which it came.

Rodak said...

Civis--
If a Catholic writes a book expounding Catholic doctrine, and publishes that book, all of that takes place inside the bubble.
I won't be exposed to the ideas in that book unless I go into the bubble after them. Nobody is going to force me to read that book.
It's when sectarian ideas are forced upon those outside the bubble, that the barriers of individual freedom are breached and coercion begins.

Civis said...

Great, so why do you complain about such books in your first comment? You seem to have conflicting expectations for us Catholics.

So was that "cannon" from Kirk?

Rodak said...

Do you ever actually read what I write?:

I don't know why you're curious, I pretty clearly stated that it was from Kirk, and also named the text from which it came.

[...]

You seem to be promoting Russell Kirk, so I guess that you are basically in agreement with the WWWtW agenda, since he is certainly their primary contemporary guru.
Here is the first of his "Six Canons of Conservative Thought":

[,,,]

The above excerpt is from Kirk's seminal work: The Conservative Mind: from Burke to Eliot.

April 12, 2008 10:47 AM

Do you ever actually read what I write?

Amy Giglio said...

Rodak, isn't one of the things that makes our country so great is that we can have an exchange of ideas. All Catholics, or anyone else really, wants is a fuitful exchange of ideas. Of course an orthodox Catholic is going to be convinced his point is right-that point comes from God's mouth, not his-but an orthodox Jew, Lutheran, or atheist would be just as convinced (well, the atheist wouldn't think his point cam from God's mouth. You know what I mean.). So, is everyone supposed to sit in their ghettos and keep their thoughts to themselves? Isn't that another form of thought policing?

And an orthodox Christian of any stripe wouldn't stay in that ghetto/bubble anyway. Christians are called the preach the Gospel to the world. Using words when necessary.

This is fun!

Civis said...

Amy,

"Isn't that another form of thought policing?"

I've been saying this to Rodak for a while, but somehow he doesn't see it. Maybe he'll listen to you.

Civis said...

Rodak,

RE your April 14, 2008 4:18 PM comment: boy, somebody's got a short fuse. chill out dude! I was asking a simple question and wanting to verify that he used the word "cannon" and that was a quote. There were no quotation marks and I didn't know if that was your interpretation. I think maybe you need to go take a nap or something. ROFL.

Why are you so nasty? This is not the first time I get the impression you don't really enjoy blogging. Have a little fun, man. We can disagree and still be civil.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rodak,

I don't mean this to sound like I am picking on you, because Civis likes you debating with him on the blog and I would welcome you to my blog, too, but if Orthodox Catholicism bothers you, why do you visit orthodox Catholic blogs? It seems like it would be painful for you. Just wondering.

God bless, Maureen

Rodak said...

Christians are called the preach the Gospel to the world. Using words when necessary.

Absolutely, and so Christians should. What Christians shouldn't do (or so I'm arguing) is try to get the doctrine with which they evangelicize the irreligious turned into statute law. Therefore: if Catholics want to be political with regard to abortion rights, what Catholics should do is work--as citizens--towards a Constitutional amendment which would declare the unborn legally "persons"--not doctrinally, but legally.
Once the unborn have constitutional rights, no atheist can claim the right to have a legal abortion. And this will have been accomplished without violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Rodak said...

if Orthodox Catholicism bothers you, why do you visit orthodox Catholic blogs?

I'm trying to convert y'all. ;-P

Rodak said...

Why are you so nasty?

What I am is impatient. I don't like having to answer the same question twice, when it never needed to be asked even once, since the answer was provided from the git-go. Life is too short to spend time spinning one's wheels.

Rodak said...

There were no quotation marks and I didn't know if that was your interpretation.

There are quotation marks, Civis.

Rodak said...

It seems like it would be painful for you. Just wondering.

No pain, no gain, right? What's your URL again, Maureen?

Anonymous said...

Hey Rodak,

My url is maureenmartinblog.blogspot.com

God bless, Maureen

Rodak said...

Thanks, Maureen. Gotcha bookmarked.