Thursday, December 16, 2021

Letting the World win again and again

 Over at The American Catholic, Donald McClarey posted this little gem:

Heh.  As one can expect, his claim is false.  Even though it's a favorite scapegoat for leftwing Catholics, we all know the growing demographic of 'former Catholic' is not due to some post-Trump phenomenon.  The Catholic Church has been bleeding numbers for decades.  As have so many historical religions.  Generally, the more religious traditions try to accommodate modern, progressive ideologies, the faster they die.  Ross Douthat pointed that out some years ago.  He noted that every attempt by a monotheistic religion to accommodate modern liberalism results in that religion's demise.  In this helpful little post from a couple years ago, Brandon Vogt goes to the trouble of laying out the numbers. 

Douthat is right.  That's because while we thought we were compromising and accommodating in order to evangelize the World, the World was zealously evangelizing the faithful.  Even when I was in school (c. 1980s), we learned Christianity was a religion started by Jesus, much in the same way Islam was started by Muhammad, or Buddhism by the Buddha.  That is, a secular anthropological spin on religion where religion is inspired, not revealed.  An enormous difference.

This last semester my son took a Classical Mythology course in college.  The same course that was offered when I went to OSU.  Back then, most of the Bible was taught as historically grounded fiction.  That is, no doubt there was a King David, likely an Abraham, and certainly a Jesus of Nazareth.  But the majority of events in their lives were made up fairy tales and fiction just like all religions.  After all, science has debunked the spiritual and miraculous, and scholarship has long shown all religions were simply invented by ancient man in lieu of modern research.  

Today, however, my son learned that most of the Bible likely never happened at all.  Perhaps there were shadowy kings of ancient kingdoms, but no David or Solomon.  Those were fictional creations no different than Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker.  Jesus?  They weren't so radical as to take the new atheist spin that no such  person existed.  Sure there was some obscure religious figure at that time, but later generations invented the whole 'you'll call His name Jesus' story along with all the rest.  Again, pure myth, fairy tales and fiction.  The next step in the World's great mission.   

And this has been in more than our schools and colleges..  Our media and popular culture have been indoctrinating against the teachings of Christianity for decades.  By the time I came along, Christianity usually scored about a .350 in American society.  That is, about one third of the time a pop culture reference would allude to Christianity in at least a non-negative way.  The rest of the time?  Almost exclusively negative. 

Should we be surprised, therefore that, contrary to Mark's silliness above, the main reason people are leaving the Catholic Church is THEY NO LONGER BELIEVE ITS TEACHINGS?  That is, they're apostates.  They're rejecting the Gospel and rejecting the existence of God Almighty.  They say in their hearts now that there is no God.  They have taken the Gospel and rejected it.  They believe the Bible no more than they believe The Hobbit.  They no longer believe there was a baby in a manger, a man walking on water, or a Messiah crucified by Rome.  THEY DON'T BELIEVE IT.  

It has nothing to do with politics.  Look at how little the abuse scandal has to do with their rejection of the Church.  Less so the Church being vaguely 'too political.'  It's because they have been converted by the World, have rejected the Gospel and God, and are now believers in a godless, Christless reality.  That's why. 

I can't help but think a big part of this is because the Church, and Christianity in general, has spent many generations meeting this Wordily evangelism with compromise, acquiesce, retreat or even surrender.  And that has done nothing but affirm what these modern generations have been taught: That all religion is made up stories and rules by people who make it up as they go for their own interests.  

They might be happy to see the Church declare that it's open to nothing but pleasure beneath the waistline where transgenderism or gay sex is concerned.  But they also know the Church isn't doing this because a bunch of Catholic sages just emerged from years of pouring over ancient tomes and concluded a new development in understanding the Scriptures is warranted.  They know it's because the World stood up like a colossus, smacked the Church, the Church immediately soiled itself and then scurried to change yet another teaching or doctrine because the World said so.  That is why they are leaving.  

To sum up: The generations in which Christians have accepted the World as right, and changed the Faith accordingly, haven't worked.  That's because it was never done in some objective vacuum of non-agendas, with the World just innocently seeking the truth.  The World all along (dare I say, Satan) was feverishly working to convert God's children away from Him, using whatever latest tools were available.  Each time the World demanded change and was met with a willingness to do so, it fed into the World's claims that religion has never been anything but made up tales and rules to begin with. 

As one young wag asked, if religions are willing to admit how wrong they have been about everything visible in this world - human nature, sexuality, justice, social ethics - why would any sane person believe what they had to say about some God or Spirit or Afterlife in the invisible other world?  It's a fair question.  And one the Church had best start pondering before it and it alone ushers any more disciples of Christ out the door and into the outer darkness.  

Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils  1 Timothy 4.1  


  1. Dave, there was a recent bit of someone trying to claim Rome itself didn't exist.

    As for Shea, 1) calling Trump a mammon-loving criminal while voting for Biden will always be peak irony and 2) I am willing to bet he's being swayed by his little hugbox. That he's got 3 or 4 people that are all "oh man you're such a good Catholic, I'd almost convert if it wasn't for all THOSE catholics over there" and Shea is assuming it's a broader trend.

    That he keeps steadily losing patrons you'd think would be at least something of a warning. (seemed to have hit a low of 80 backers recently before gaining 1 to hit back up to 81)

    1. Yeah, I posted on that. From what my sons has shown me in his college classes, it's amazing how many things we assumed were simply fact are now challenged. So if that girl was a little ahead of the game by claiming there was no Roman Empire, just wait another generation or so.

      As for Mark, like others who swing Left, I think they must continually insist that no matter what, those on the Right are worse. Whatever it costs them. I remember Bernie Goldberg decades ago wondering why so many news outlets were embracing clearly leftwing political biases even if it cost them revenue and readers. And yet they did.

    2. You DID post on that! I swore you did but I could not find it! Otherwise I was going to post that rebuttal there. My apologies, man.

      Evan Sayat had a thing about the news abandoning objectivity for neutrality. He liked to use a football game. If you have two teams and you're being objective, then a blowout of 60 to 0 proves that one team is better than another. If, however, you were being neutral - and that no team can be better than another - then you have to start inventing reasons for why one team scored 60 points but the other one none. Why it must have been cheating! Which the refs were in on! In fact the whole system of football is set up to discriminate against the losing team! etc etc.

    3. To be brutally honest, we are starting to wonder with some of the out-there calls we're seeing. Not to mention the growing tendency of seeing various games or even championships that fit nicely into media narrative (team from devastated area wins the championship this year - again!).

      But yeah, I get your point. My son says scholarship today has long ago set aside an obligation for following a set of principles to arrive at conclusions. They begin with conclusions, and then work backwards, changing rules and principles that get in the way.

  2. When Shea talks about people being "turned away" from the Church he doesn't mean faithful Catholics leaving. He's talking about his liberal friends who SURELY would join the Church if it wasn't for all those nasty conservatives.

    He's been framing things in this way since at least when Pope Francis became pope. He would respond to any statement from a leftist celebrity along the lines of "Pope Francis seems nicer than mean old Benedict XVI" by talking about this is the sign of someone just on the cusp of being a Catholic, and how we should do all we can to not scare them off. He would dismiss any notes of their not following Catholic teaching, such as being enthusiastic abortion supporters or outright mocking God, by saying that their hearts are in the right place but they don't know any better. What is essential is to not scare them off, so they can actually join the Church and fix all their mistakes afterwards.

    These posts were usually nestled in between posts where he tore into traditionalists for being fake Catholics due to some minor slight. At one point this frequently happened when traditionalists said the death penalty could be licit (even though, at least at that point, Mark Shea ALSO agreed that the death penalty was not intrinsically against Church teaching; he just got mad when people stated that out loud.) It wasn't even "they agree with 99% of Church teaching, but they disagree on 1%, so they should be condemned totally" it was more "I can't find ANY teaching they disagree on but I'm mad about their attitudes and what they choose to emphasize, so they can't count as Catholics." All nestled in between posts saying "Sure this leftist atheist Hollywood celebrity only agrees with 1% of Church teaching, but his heart is surely in the right place so no one be mean to him."

    1. For a recent example of what I'm talking about, look at this article (all 4 parts):

      It is Shea writing in response to a liberal who says that Jesus was just a man seeking social reform and attacking religious hierarchies, and who was completely unrelated from the Christianity that followed Him. THIS is what Shea is classifying as a "nearly right take on Jesus." And he makes it clear why he thinks that the reader is "completely" right on Jesus. It's NOT that he bought into a subversive view of Christ pushed by atheist scholars to delegitimize Christianity. Instead he says in the intro:

      The usurpation of the gospel by the MAGA antichrist freak show has, among other things, provoked responses from people with genuine hearts for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, as well as courageous practitioners of precisely that love for the least of these that Jesus commanded and blessed.

      and in the conclusion:

      So by all means, don’t let MAGA fake piety turn Jesus into a lap dog for greed, racism, or nihilist power grabs. But likewise don’t let it blind you to the genuinely supernatural dimension of the gospel: a dimension that inevitably confronts us with Jesus’ love for and union with Church of sinners he has called to be saints and chosen to stick with to the end.

      So the reader, who never once mentioned Trump but instead parroted atheist talking points on Jesus, was only prevented from believing Christ's divinity because of Trump supporters.

      That's what he's talking about. He's looking at people who are firmly outside of the Church, and who obviously have no desire to join the Church unless she changes all her essential teachings, and he always thinks "It's the MAGA lunatics/rad trads/evil republicans that are preventing them from joining the Church!"

    2. Mark is a boon nor those who wish to indulge in the manifold sins of the Left. You could be forgiven for reading Mark and concluding that a baby aborting Satanist who indulges in nightly orgies while sacrificing virgins on a heathen altar are off to heaven as long as they conform to leftwing political agendas. I'm not saying Mark means that, but you certainly could be forgiven for thinking he does. What's worse is that Mark is beyond all ability to reach out to him and reason with him.

    3. Mark has certainly mastered the method of "speaking two ways." (Which the news is VERY good at - once you see it, you won't be able to watch the news again because you can't NOT see it in every headline.) Where he'll express things which clearly imply or give the impression of X - but as soon as you challenge him on X he'll play the legalistic technical game of what words really man which proves he actually said Y - it's your fault you thought he meant X.

      And then of course, he'll accuse everybody else of doing it, where you try to talk to him about X and he'll go off accusing you of meaning and talking about Y. See that perfect example Rudolph posted.

    4. I noticed that with him some years ago. His 'get right up to the edge of explicitly making a point, but back off an inch or two, just to allow for wiggle room and plausible denials.' Never a good way to be. But with Mark, it was his hypocrisy, visible very, very early on, that was the first sign of problems. His 'that damned sinner is a damned sinner because he calls people damned sinners' appeared almost second nature, and that's a sure way to end up where he has ended up now.

  3. It's hard to ignore the reality that by embracing a thrice married, twice divorced serial adulterer (that he himself not only admits to but brags about) with a long history of swindling contractors, business partners and consumers, the far right wing of the church is doing damage to what is supposed to be an institution espousing love of Christ, love of our neighbors, kindness, meekness, humility and piety.

    1. When you are in a war, you need a good general - the best. Now if you start worrying about how many times said general cusses or has an affair, well then you just lost the war over nothing - and Satan is quite pleased. Trump did more for the anti-abortion movement than any President in history, and yet....he was a "bad man".


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