My penance is pretty much coming to a close. I've chosen to endure that Lenten obligation through the actual Easter Week. When most are finally getting their chocolate, coffee, Sports Illustrated Swim Suit editions, or whatever they gave up, I'm still plugging through.
Granted, the last week's worth of posts haven't been what they are sometimes capable of. That happens around major holidays. But this post illustrates the chasm between CAEI, the direction of the Church, and me.
It is a post answering a person who is clearly more sympathetic to the LGBT worldview than I am. Not that I believe gays should be hated or murdered. But I don't think it natural, normal, or right. Nor do I think that as long as there is no physical penetration, anything gays do is therefore completely morally neutral or without side effects. One of my understandings of sin has always been that the commands against sin isn't some weird, fickle thing on God's part. Sin actually is something that tears apart the created order one way or another. To paraphrase Merlin, when a man sins, he murders some part of the world. Hence God's commands against the sins.
Now Mark answers the individual with respect and even high fives, despite the individual's confession that he/she and the Church part company regarding this supposedly mortal sin. No problem. As the possibility of universalism has been entertained there and across the Catholic blogosphere, things like mortal sin and sexuality seem to diminish in importance. Like secular liberalism, things that directly impact me - war, death penalty, poverty, torture - those are the things we go crazy about. Things that I can potentially enjoy or get something from - sex - become less important, if not just fine altogether. When the hereafter is a sure thing, it becomes an unimportant thing. And this life suddenly becomes the sole focus of what I, and by extension the Church, should care about.
If it was just CAEI, it wouldn't be a big deal. But it isn't. As I've said, I think the tension with CAEI, it's claim to be the blog of a 'conservative Catholic', and the clear and obvious fact that it respectfully disagrees with all but a couple of the sins of liberalism, while dismissing almost anything to do with traditional and conservative values, is due to the Church's obvious lurching to the Left of center regarding a growing number of issues and teachings.
From homosexuality, to war and capital punishment, to evolution, to climate change, to immigration, to education, to the role of women, to economics, to scholarship (biblical and otherwise), to general behavioral issues and individual ethics, the Church and the latest product of liberal and secular thought are increasingly sounding one and the same.
Yes, Jesus still really lived and really died and raised from the dead. Mary is still Immaculately conceived. Only men can still be priests. And gays can't get married. And God made evolution happen. But apart from that, the differences between the Church's approach to a host of topics and the general assumptions of a liberal, European socialist thinker, are increasingly few and far between.
So a conservative blogger who has stated his undying loyalty to the Church is in a pickle. When the Church is increasingly modifying how it interprets itself in light of increasingly progressive, liberal, and even secular perspectives, what is the loyal Catholic blogger to do? You can just admit what the Church is doing and change your moniker. Or you can insist you are ever and always conservative, and when properly understood, there is no difference between being so and being loyal to the Church. No matter how obviously skewered the outcome is.
And so you get numbers of Mark's readers, the majority being to the left of center, coming in to put various spins on this. Some defending homosexuality. Some attacking the Indiana law. A few giving thumbs up to the post (it was well written and many parts were good at unpacking what the Church teaches about disordered appetites). But there is a general respect and willingness to agree to disagree. And even against more confrontational support for the LGBT viewpoint, Mark is restrained and leaves his rebuttals succinct and without vitriol.
Imagine it being a post dealing with conservatives, conservative views and readers defending conservative interpretations of the Faith or its teachings. You don't have to. There are legions of posts doing that. Read and notice the difference.
Again, what is a person to do who wishes to be 100% loyal to the Church without admitting that the Church is changing how it approaches its practice of the Faith? But I've come to find out it's what Catholics have always had to do. Because contrary to the image that many have, the Church does in fact change. And it always has. In fact, if you want a tradition that doesn't change, you'd have to look east. The Orthodox Church, even admitted to by Evangelical scholars from my ministry days, is about the only tradition close to what the Faith was centuries ago. With a few modern conveniences aside, its teachings and its practice and the approach some 1500 years ago are still pretty close to the same. But the Roman Church? Go into a time machine and go back a thousand years, and you would be a lost as you could hope to be. That is, if you survived long enough to point out the differences. And that, to me at least, explains the tension and the contradictions that you find, not only on CAEI, but a growing number of Catholic outlets as well.