The Conservative Rhetoric

Perhaps if I didn’t read it, I wouldn’t get steamed up about it… Perhaps this applies as much to me as to the conservatives who are hammering on about abortion, euthanasia, same-sex “marriage”, transsexualism, etc.

Going round some of the more active blogs, there are some musings by Monsignor Entwistle who leads the Australian Ordinariate. What strikes me is when we try to dig deep and search out the underlying thought. This is something I have known about for several years. The real bottom line is that such conservative Christians (they are found in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches alike) would like to have some powerful secular power in their pocket so that they can play “Christ the King” over the whole world. Would Trump fit the bill or what? I won’t go any futher down that avenue, because it’s going to become excruciating until the election and inauguration next November in Washington.

I’m not pointing any fingers at the good Monsignor, but I find his reflections typical of a certain tendency. My first question is – You and whose army? How are you going to roll back the permissive laws on homosexuality, abortion and other moral issues? You can do that only with your private Generalissimo Franco who would have the dissidents quietly garrotted in the cellars of the State prisons. All that is no problem when it is the secular arm. This kind of thing has been going on for centuries.

Certainly, abortion, euthanasia and the homosexual caricature version of marriage are not in line with Christian ideals, but very few people are Christians. Why keep banging the drum? It is one thing hearing the confession of one of your own faithful and other to tell secular society what it should be doing, when the clerical Church’s record is far from pure in terms of human rights and freedom. I don’t approve of sin either, but there is a way to winning people’s hearts without banging the anti-“liberal” drum. I think that a part of the cause of the paedophile cover-up accusations is the constant drum-banging. It is now time for us in the Churches to assume what has happened.

I think we have got to understand why things like the French Revolution happened. People were sick and tired of clerical and aristocratic arrogance and callousness in the face of poverty, disease and the lot of the underdogs. I am no Marxist, but I understand why this pent-up energy happened. You can’t say “Let them eat cake” and blame it all on their materialism and ras-le-bol. For every priest who went to the guillotine, others in earlier periods of time were burned at the stake, imprisoned or tortured for matters of belief and conscience.

Of course, the so-called “liberals” are the most intolerant of all, as were Robespierre and the Jacobins in the 1790’s. I don’t approve of their intolerance and obscurantism either.

For me, this state of affairs heralds the end of the Constantinian Church that claims the right to lord it over everyone, whether or not they are Christians. Compulsion is a thing of the past – and fortunately! They go on about relativism, but hardly seem to understand the deepest thought of Joseph Ratzinger. Secularism is a fact of life in general society, and that is the way it is.

I have heard all the stuff about counter-revolutions here in France, the Grand Monarch, the Grand Pope and the Marquis de la Franquerie until it came out of my ears. They hanker for their secular arm and their inquisition, but those things are in the past – and never had anything to do with the message of Christ. The banging goes on, but the idea is completely academic and illusory. I have also read about restoring Christian culture, setting up intentional communities based on Hilaire Belloc’s distributism. Nothing has ever worked or lasted, because human nature got the better of it!

We have to understand that no one cares about what we do in our Sacramental Churches. People can be got to become religious “drug addicts” and the “dealers” make a killing out of it, but the soul is ever left unsatisfied. Humanity is as indifferent as the sea. The difference is that the sea’s judgement is fair even if it is often tragic for those who founder.

There is a glimmer of light at the end of Monsignor Entwistle’s rhetoric. The liturgy has collapsed in the Church and this was a part of the crisis of Catholicism. However, it does not goes back to the 1960’s but many centuries. We will not bring people back – and still less enforce our moral teachings – just by offering a pretty liturgy with nice vestments and a puff of incense smoke. People are beyond caring.

All that sounds depressing and extremely pessimistic. Should we give up? Do ourselves in? What? None of those things. We have first to start being realistic.

Do we ourselves care about the liturgical and spiritual dimensions, or do we just want a platform for political ideologies? Do we really believe in it? Are we hanging onto notions that are totally untenable and which lost all credibility centuries ago – or does Christ speak to a part of us that is deeper and more real? Until we clear up some of these issues, it is pointless for us to go on crusades and empty moralistic rhetoric, laying ourselves open to the consequences of sins committed by our own. The future is up to us.

I can only suggest more humility, a more contemplative approach to our faith, relationship with Christ and our self-knowledge. Perhaps that might be a basis on which the mustard seed can grow and produce fruit long after our own deaths. I don’t wish to offend Mgr Entwistle. I have met him and believe him to be a good and pious priest, but this way of expression got me going. It converges with my posting of yesterday (on fashion) which provoked a comment almost challenging me to choose between political conservatism or the morass that passes for “political correctness” (reference made to Orwell’s 1984). I refuse both political “tendencies” because the truth is in neither. It is above. It transcends and appeals to the spirit, not the psychic soul.

I am afraid of what is now in store for us, be it Orwellian or according to the tenets of jihadist head-choppers. Christians have known worse, whether it was Hitler’s lot or the Roman Empire with their sadistic executions and tortures. Many of us will be small enough to pass under the radar and the net, and may even survive to bear witness of our little way that failed in worldly terms – as did Christ by ending up crucified rather than kicking out Herod and the Romans – and nurturing hope for better days.

I believe that our vocation is inwards and contemplative, finding ourselves and radiating with a joy that the world will never know. Perhaps we might share the gift with pitifully few, but that is unimportant. Perhaps it is because of such an awareness that I most often say The Lord be with you to empty choir stalls. That is another aspect of Pope Benedict’s teaching that gets so easily forgotten. Besides that, here in France, people care only about politics or their personal health problems!

Also, I am not an extrovert and a marketer. Perhaps I should not have become a priest for this reason but rather told to be a Brother in a monastery. Some have said exactly that to me. All the same, something keeps me going, and I’m not about to give up… Pray for me.

* * *

I ought also to mention a blog article that I have mulled over the last few days: Religion and Politics (the Two Most Dangerous Words in the English Language).

Although there is a level of caution that ought to be shared among those subsets who clamor for a return to a pre-Constantine Christianity, it is worth acknowledging that for the first three hundred years Christianity operated by working around the dominant political system. After Constantine, Christianity became the dominant political system. Since then, it has found itself unable to conceive of itself outside of the political system, save for perhaps the monasteries and other communities that consciously reject said system. Would it were that those who would politicize Christianity reflected upon this.

* * *

If this following article can be believed, then humanity faces much greater threats against which churches can do nothing. Genetically Modified Organisms: The sterilization of humanity? I don’t know if there is any scientific basis about this effect of GMO’s but it seems conclusive with lab rats. According to the article, some of the world’s elites would find it convenient to reduce the world’s population to a fraction of what it is now. The Church needs to learn to live without elites, and do so quickly!

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5 Responses to The Conservative Rhetoric

  1. J.D. says:

    I for one will not say much Father,other than to say you have my prayers and that I share some of your sentiments. Write and reflect here on this blog if it helps you deal with things, heaven knows a few of us do actually enjoy reading your thoughts and take solace in knowing that— while confessional and continental divides seperate us— we are on the same page somehow.

  2. Stephen K says:

    I thought Msgr Entwhistle’s piece shallow if not actually disingenuous. In citing an author’s argument about the opposition of “the Catholic Religion” and “the New Liberal Secular Religion”, he is merely asserting a tired two-dimensional crusadism against a broad-brush bogey that simply won’t wash under closer scrutiny: the matrix of human values and their manifestation in people and in the political and religious dimension has never been anything but complicated. And as if all good was in one corner and all bad in the other! For every Stasi, one can raise an Inquisition etc. The Roman Catholic hierarchy – which in much discourse amounts to “the Church” – has too often aligned itself with oppressive political regimes to start calling kettles black.

    ….other Christian groups, professions, Indigenous communities, State institutions and family circles in which abuse is prevalent, are not targeted to the same extent.

    A conjuror’s misdirection. (1) The Royal Commission is not charged with probing domestic abuse, but is probing the whole problem of public institutional abuse and many institutions are being examined. The high attention the Roman Catholic Church is getting is a reflection of the preponderance of the numbers of verified complaints; (2) the anger at the Roman Catholic Church is in large part the anger of Roman Catholics, at “Mother Church”, thus, not simply detached horror by outsiders at the many instances of abuse itself but a sense of betrayal by the people in charge – bishops and superiors who could have taken action and didn’t. Thus, the opprobrium in which the Roman Catholic Church is now falling correlates to the perception of the systematic hypocrisy of clerics who preached and imposed high moral behaviours on lay people but are now known to be other than what they presented, the cynicism and contempt behind the policies of concealment, and the cowardice, ignorance, incompetence and blame-shifting that episcopal and other clerical witnesses are revealing about themselves.

    As to Mgr Entwhistle’s complaint that There seems to be no interest in evidence, facts, due process or truth.

    This is unbelievable. A quite monstrous slur, in fact, on the Commission that has now seen, heard and examined the testimony and evidence from hundreds of witnesses and sources. That the ‘strong man’ of the Australian Catholic Church over the last 20 years, and a trenchant Church Militant cleric formed in an assertive conservative political tradition all his life, should now expect to be believed that he did not know about all the abuse and administrative arrangements that assisted in not bringing it to account but within weeks or mere months of being appointed the Archbishop of Melbourne had his own local version of abuse response in place, is, as the Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission indicated, “implausible”. Is Mgr Entwhistle chagrined to discover that the ocean-going ship to which he transferred from his coastal cutter is not the Queen Mary in all its glory but a mortgaged, leaking vessel, and is trying to put a brave face on it all? Or, is it that he thinks it’s all a Communist plot and how dare anyone criticise the Church? Cardinal Pell has blamed, amongst other people, his predecessor, Archbishop Frank Little. But part of the problem that is now haunting him is that his “Melbourne Response” policy has been exposed as a mean, deliberate strategy to limit public exposure and victims’ compensation, and so it was very much a case of too “little” (as well as too late).

    And, finally, The Catholic Church is a beacon of light and hope in a dark world says the commenter.

    Incredible. At the moment, the Royal Commission here in Australia, a secular institution, is shining the light into dark corners of the ‘traditional world’ of the Roman Catholic Church, where priests’ words prevailed over laypersons’ without question, where the fragile hold of the hierarchy’s “moral authority” over its people was dependent on many decades of secrecy [read “Potiphar’s Wife” Kieran Tapsell]. Make no mistake about it, the Roman Catholic Church – and no doubt a similar thing could be said about all the other institutions under the gun – wasn’t ever going to take the initiative and shine the light on itself.

    • Dale says:

      Although I have had strong disagreements with Stephen on many issues, on this one he is spot on. The ramifications of ecclesiastical institutional culture are evident in not only this scandal, but the coming one of finances as well. Where I would disagree, is that it is not a question of conservative verses liberal, it is simply the quest to preserve the institution against any perceived attack, regardless of how correct such attacks might be. And, I think we need to admit that it is not at all limited to the world of Roman Catholicism.

      • Stephen K says:

        ……the quest to preserve the institution against any perceived attack, regardless of how correct such attacks might be………… is not at all limited to the world of Roman Catholicism.

        Yes, Dale, I agree with both these statements.

    • ed pacht says:

      Yes, both comments show a lot of wisdom. It has been said that the Christian walk is a life of repentance, since we are all sinners, constantly seeking forgiveness. If the Church is made up if sinners like me, should it not hear the sane call to constant repentance?

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