Monday, September 22, 2014

The greatest threat since Arianism

Is modern secular liberalism.  It turns the biblical model of reality on its head, calls good evil and evil good, and challenges the faith at its most fundamental levels.  Ross Douthat rightly pointed out that no Western theistic religion has attempted to compromise with this and come out ahead.  That's because you can't bake kosher ham.  You just can't.  A viewpoint that assumes humans are but mere animals who invented religion as a way to cope, and who will either all go to some other dimension or rot in the ground, can't really be compromised with.  

Neither, it should be clear, can many of the assumptions that arise from this.  The main assumption is that I am pretty much a superstar of my own story, and nothing has a right to supersede that, nor do I owe anything to anyone but for my choosing.  Therefore nothing I want or want to do should be hindered by anything, since nothing is greater than me.  Or at least nothing that matters. 

Square peg. Round hole. Despite the rather dismal track record of this view - the civilization that gave birth to it is dying, and in only a century of being driven by its ideals we've had more death and destruction than  at any time in history - despite all of this, compromise will be attempted.  And right now, this is no more apparent than in the Church's attempts to walk that fine line between 2000 years of pretty clear traditional teachings, and the latest, hippest by this new phenomenon that will only be content once challengers to its assumptions have been eradicated from the human story.  

So all is buzzing about how the Church seeks to compromise with the divorce culture, one of the more recent benefits of this new ideal.  Of course the whole Annulment process and the Church's dance with tradition vs. modernity has been one of the more convoluted dramas in Western religion over the last few decades.  And yet, as many see that compromising with the Culture of Me and its love for no fault divorce is a fool's hope, many in the Church apparently feel taking a step toward compromise will accomplish something good. 

Granted, this is a complex issue, and I won't pretend to be an expert who should be listened to about the details.  I can, however, notice the trends.  And right now, the trend is a Church trying desperately to keep one foot, however precariously, in the side of Tradition, while hoping that by somehow accepting at least some presumptions of the secular Left, it will appeal to a new generation without being changed beyond recognition by that generation.  If it can do this, it will be a miracle.  It will also be a first.


  1. As a conservative Protestant (PCA) who reads a lot of Catholic blogs, I particularly find it amusing how often I see Catholics of a liberal bent attacking more traditional Catholics who express their skepticism at more recent "developments" as being Protestants at heart for supposedly not being sufficiently trusting of the Magisterium.

    I find it amusing because these "developments" are so obviously attempts to chase after and accomodate the more radical "innovations" of mostly liberal Protestants, all of who's denominations are themselves rapidly falling apart as a result of them. And this goes for divorce culture, for feminism, for Biblical criticism (I've seen multiple ignoramuses tell me that the deconstructionism and authorial conspiracy theories present throughout the NAB and certain "Catholic" commentaries is the "Catholic" approach to the Bible, apparently unaware that in fact they are uncritically regurgitating a bunch of kooky theories that were actually developed by 19-century liberal Protestants and resisted by the Catholic church until about 50 years ago), and more.

  2. And yet, as many see that compromising with the Culture of Me and its love for no fault divorce is a fool's hope, many in the Church apparently feel taking a step toward compromise will accomplish something good.

    Honestly, I don't believe they honestly feel that at all. I don't think any minimally informed and literate person can possibly believe that. It's immediately obvious to anyone with functioning eyesight how the liberal Protestant churches are dying, how the Catholic church has lost tons of active members and influence as a result of its previous accommodations, and how secular progressives never keep promises and only smell blood and look even harder for opportunities to destroy the Catholic Church after each compromise.

    I think Catholics who advocate further compromise are either A) secular progressives at heart themselves, and simply want people to be more secular and progressive in general because that's where true actual loyalties lie, and the idea that it will "keep the Church relevant" a mere rationalization, or B) they are simply weak and suggestible and tend go along with things that intellectually they know are a bad idea because they can't handle pressure.

  3. I think there is a third. I think since liberalism has dominated the narrative for so long, and as conservative resistance crumbles, there are those who simply want to look awesome by saying 'I'm not like those losers over there, so what do you have?' Some, of course, keep going along with the flow. Others no doubt have their agendas. Plus some may not want to believe the Church is going there, and so just get loud in their denouncing of those who don't want to go there themselves. Perhaps a combination.

    But even in my Protestant days, many leaders (even liberal ones) were lamenting the churches that dropped the ball over the divorce culture. Which is why I'm shocked that anyone would want to go back and try to get anything salvaged from it.


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