Monday, September 10, 2018

Atheist Service Notice

Over the next few posts I plan to post on religious themes so I thought I'd give a few of my atheist readers a heads up in case they wanted to avoid the posts.

As I've said before, it is my opinion that the collapse of religion is THE fundamental problem of Western Civilisation and without the restoration of religion we're going nowhere.  However unlike the Trads it is my opinion that an attempt to turn the clock back, and practice religion like it was practiced in the 1650's is not going to work. Rather, the Christian religion is going to have to transform itself in someway if it is to successfully combat Modernity.

As for Christianity, Western Civilisation is really the civilisation built on basis of the Protestant and Catholic religions. Eastern Orthodoxy, while Christian is not of the West, and I would advise the Trads, those looking to turn the clock back to look at it, as it lacks the ability to change: It's all tradition.

With regard to Protestantism, I see it as a dying religion. Not because I want it to be so, rather it's how I interpret the facts. It seems to have completed it's divinely ordained purpose--more on that later--and is now in terminal decline.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that without the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church would have shared the same fate of either Protestantism or Orthodoxy. It is the only organisation which has the capacity to drag out out of this mess, unfortunately it's own house is currently not in order. The problem with the Catholic Church is that while the Council gave it a mandate to change the institutional cultural mindset of the Catholic Church ensured that the changes done after Vatican Two were botched.

I know it's hard to believe for many, but this is why the current crisis within the Catholic Church is vital for the future of Western Civilisation,  If it goes down so does Western Civ, and what's going on is a three way fight, between the Trads, the Liberals, and the Reformists.

In one corner you have the Trads, who are increasingly trying to return to the old pre-V2 Church. Let me explain the problem here in military terms. What these guys want is return to the old frontal infantry assaults of WW1 against an enemy who wants to use blitzkrieg tactics.  Their idea is that strict discipline in the face of withering fire will eventually triumph, no matter what the cost. That strategy worked great in Ireland and Spain.

In the other corner you have the Liberals, who much like the Vichy French, want to "fight" for their country but secretly admire the enemy and want to come to an accommodation with him. If they win, it's all over.

Finally you have the reformers, who seem to want to reform the Church and recognise it has problems but don't really know how to reform or what to reform to. Francis is of this group and illustrates its problems. Francis, sees that frontal attacks are stupid and counterproductive, and he hates the generals who can't see this, however his own vision of seeing the Church as a field hospital, places the Church in a passive position and neglects the "offensive" aspect of the Christian religion. The job of Christianity is not to take a beating but to proclaim the truth and overwhelm the enemies of Christ.

Massimo Faggioli, a self-proclaimed theological liberal, gets a lot of heat from the conservative side of the religious divide but in my opinion he has penned the best analysis of the current situation that I've seen around and it's well worth a read. I don't agree with a lot of what Massimo says but he has a more nuanced understanding the Church than many of his critics have.
The rift within U.S. Catholicism, and between traditionalist Catholics and Francis, cannot be understood apart from the political polarization of America. The first phase of the problem was the growing identification of the U.S. bishops with the Republican Party, largely because of a few social issues. As the Republican Party has been radicalized in the past decade, so have more than a few bishops. During the same period, some prominent conservative intellectuals have embraced Catholicism for reasons that seem purely political. This is not a new phenomenon. It has much in common with Charles Maurras’ Action Fran├žaise, a nationalist movement condemned by Pius XI in 1926.* Maurras had no time for the Gospel but saw Catholicism as a useful tool for the creation of an antidemocratic social order. The new enthusiasm for an older version of Catholicism on the part of conservative intellectuals with no interest in theology also mirrors the rise of Ultramontanism in the first half of the nineteenth century. The Jesuit John O’Malley’s latest book on the theological movements that set the stage for Vatican I helps us see the many similarities between nineteenth-century Ultramontanism and early-twenty-first-century traditionalist Catholic Americanism. In both movements, the game is played mostly by journalists and other lay intellectuals whose understanding of the church is essentially political rather than spiritual. They celebrate the church as an institution that can withstand modernity, and especially the modern state. They have little or no interest in ecclesiology or sacramental theology—or anything else that cannot be easily weaponized against their political enemies.
*Massimo doesn't give the complete story here. Action Francaise was initially supported by the Pope, then condemned and when the threat of Communism loomed again in the 1930's,  supported again.


Anonymous said...

How is protestantism dying or in decline when it's exploding in latin america and china?

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - I'll be very interested to see where you go with this.

I agree with your basic assumption of The Problem; and that that Orthodoxy is not (now) Western, and that the apparent growth of (specifcially) Conservative Evangelical Protestant churches is not growth among native Westerners.

But I can't see a way that the RCC can change such that it can remain what it is and also grow - it seems a very brittle institution to me: as soon as it tried to refrom, it broke.

(eg The celibate secualr priesthood - introducing this in the Middle Ages was a mistake - Eastern Catholicism got it right to have [mostly] married priests, and celibate-monk-Bishops - but the attempt to discard it *now* will be seen as a triumph of secualrism, and will have that effect.)

I believe these are the End Times and that probably all sizeable churches will become corrupt; and either will either die or become assimilated to evil, or both.

Christians will presumably be individuals, or small groups affilated by family ties or close personal relationships (Gemeinschaft not Gessellschaft -

In other words - we are not going to be *led* anywhere Good - all leadership and organisation will be evil-tending (overtly demonic, or Antichrist deceptions).

Of course I can't prove any of this - and have no intention of trying to do so! It's my conviction, nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

I would say that is dying because it has the roots that will kill it -- subjectvism in religion. That's true, evagelicalism is rising in Latin America, but they are accenting the secularization process. Well, in Brazil they even have a political influence, but, you know,they all have no unity.

Avitus said...

"In one corner you have the Trads, who are increasingly trying to return to the old pre-V2 Church. Let me explain the problem here in military terms. What these guys want is return to the old frontal infantry assaults of WW1 against an enemy who wants to use blitzkrieg tactics."

This is a very useful analogy. The important thing to remember is that human nature and human genetics have not changed much since the establishment of Mosaic law. What has changed is the technology. This means that tactics affected by the technology indeed must change.

What must not change are the *goals*. The way to sniff out heretics and distinguish them from reformers is by forcing them to pin down exactly what technological change has necessitated a change in tactics. The heretics will be unable to do this, and will eventually reveal that they have changed their goals.

Anonymous said...

The pentecostals flaring up in latin america are far from a step removed from secularism. And as i posted before one of the leading reasons people are leaving the Catholic church in south america is because it isn't strict enough, these are not people after a softer church. What use is a well polished rule book that no one follows? If the catholic church produces more sexually liberal, less evangelizing, less attending, less charitable, less scripture reading, christians than a splintered group of "unled" and divided protestants then what exactly is the rcc doing so badly to lose to fatally weak scattered churches, protestants should be underperforming by a large margin. If by your fruits you shall know them, why should i believe that what you think are key strengths are valid when they produce weaker church members. Latin america is the source of 40% of catholics, catholics bleeding members to protestants there, who think the church is weak on sin, is not something you can handwave away.

I've yet to be convinced when people say catholics are stricter or stronger than protestants. The catholic church always seemed to be ground zero for cultural christianity just get baptized and make the holidays. And it seems members of latin america churches see the same thing i do.

MK said...

Eastern Orthodoxy...lacks the ability to change: It's all tradition.

Yep. It's worse that that, though - no pope, they became reactionary against unity. My favorite line? EO is the Marines of Christianity: the FEW and the PROUD. And they will become fewer and fewer as anger and reaction is never a way to grow organically.

With regard to Protestantism, I see it as a dying now in terminal decline.

Yep. This is an astute observation as well. It is dying from within the family, especially within the female part. Women need tradition. It's really sad though.

I'm increasingly of the opinion that without the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church would have shared the same fate of either Protestantism or Orthodoxy.

I fully agree. Basically, VII was the tide going out and catching all the boomers swimming naked.

In one corner you have the Trads, who are increasingly trying to return to the old pre-V2 Church.

I don't experience this. I find most trads somewhere in the middle. They won't bend on doctrine nor HV, but most can do a NO mass without freaking out. Most importantly, most are growing, their kids are also growing, and that's all that matters to the future. Prots, EO, and liberal RC are are in collapse.

But trads can't help but change with the times due to the new blood, and VII has a deeper effect than people realize. For example, trads are big-time into Scripture (VII) and telling pastors to screw themselves (this is new), and of course church-hopping. VII has done its work with trads.

Avitus said...

Protestants that can trace their lineage through Luther have the huge problem that Luther was terribly corrupt, likely with demonic influence. People with sufficient training in the Teaching can tell this right away by reading his work.

These Protestants have thus had to operate without apostolic succession -- to the extent they are okay they would have to reverse-engineer the Teaching, which is very difficult.

Some Thoughts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Social Pathologist said...


But I can't see a way that the RCC can change such that it can remain what it is and also grow - it seems a very brittle institution to me: as soon as it tried to refrom, it broke.

I think the brittleness of the RCC is largely self imposed, particularly by trads. Who see any change as a concession or refutation of the past. I mean take the whole issue of usury. The Church did change its teach on usury but only insofar as it changed it teaching of what it considered usurious. Usury is still wrong but acts which were previously considered usurious were later shown not to be. Of course, there are still Trads out there who fail to recognise the distinction.

There is flexibility if you probe these issues more deeply, the problem is that the Trads conflate habit with truth and thus ossify the Church. If the celibacy rule were to be ditched, then the Trads would certainly see it as a concession to secularism and yet it is only a regulation of the church and based on a doctrinal foundation.


I would say that is dying because it has the roots that will kill it -- subjectvism in religion. That's true, evagelicalism is rising in Latin America, but they are accenting the secularization process

Yep, it's the core problem, and while Protestantism doesn't guarantee secularisation, in practice it opens the door wide open to it. I mean a Protestant faction which allows divorce, abortion, homosexual "marriage" etc., is fairly indistinguishable from secularism.

Still I, like Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, believe there are "sound" elements of Protestantism which, because of the Protestant "system" are always at risk of being diluted and destroyed within it because of the subjectivity component of the system.

I think you've made some very good points about the failures of Catholicism, particularly in South America. The Church in these countries has essentially become a feature of the landscape and not a transformative force. And I think this is one of the reasons people are leaving the Church in droves. The Church tends to have an acceptance of the human condition and what this means is that social ills, the ills that affect the human condition directly never get fixed.

I think one of the strong advantages of Protestantism is its insistence of the believer actually behaving like a Christian when he takes on the faith. I think that the Catholic Church lets corruption and hypocrisy flourish, in practice if not in intent, by using the confessional and "mercy" as a get out of jail card.

Protestantism contains far more of a transformative zeal and it's no wonder that the Protestant countries tend to be more honest, richer and better governed than Catholic ones. I think that the average man sees this and evaluates Protestantism positively. Still the problem of Protestantism is that it tends to self destruct.

As for Protestant strictness, belonging to a religion that allows divorce and contraception is less of a burden than the load Catholics are supposed to carry.

The Social Pathologist said...


They won't bend on doctrine nor HV, but most can do a NO mass without freaking out.

The problem is that we must bend to the Truth. HV, for instance, makes factual assertions which are incorrect. (I've gone over this before) Aesthetics and habit are meant to be subordinate to it. The Trads turn this notion on its head.

The thing that really blew me away about the Francis papacy is seeing the hypocrisy of the Trads. The same guys who we telling me that in order to be a good Catholic I had to obey the Pope, even in teachings that I disagree with, are the same guys trying to undercut the Pope and call him a heretic when he stops being "their guy." I mean where is the logical consistency?

Martin Gregory said...

Respectfully, RR Reno seems better guide, if US is focus, than the gentleman from Villanova, (McCarrick at Villanova ) “Over the last generation it’s been far more fatal to your career to say the Mass in Latin than to groom seminarians as love-boys.” Vigan├▓’s letter underlines that assessment.

Faithful Catholics have been persecuted and our initiatives aborted by 'theological liberals' (who we know are mostly harbouring sexual vice). In the case of titular liberal lords like dissident (#ExCordeEcclesiae) Catholic University figures like Faggioli, they draw honours and salary by doing so. So I'm open to SP helping me understand how Mass. Faggioli is faithful counsel at this time.

Some Thoughts said...

Why did you remove my comment?

The Social Pathologist said...

@Some Thoughts

Apologies, I thought the comment was written by a bot. Unfortunately, I am unable to retrieve it. Please feel free to repost it again.

@Martin Gregory.

I've had a look at the article over at First Things and overall I think he misdiagnoses the problem.

He tries to link dissent due to HV to the homosexualisation of the clergy. This, in my opinion, is tenuous. While HV did engender a culture of dissent, this dissent tended to be generalised across all domains of Church teaching. There's no way that HV legitimised homosexuality.

Secondly, he asserts that the bishops have not had the stomach to root out corruption, especially sexual corruption. I think that this is less a problem of the will of the bishops than a consequence of the revolution in theology which put far more emphasis on mercy and forgiveness to the detriment of justice and prudence. If McCarrick was sorry for his sins then he should have been forgiven, but justice should have also been given to his victims, and his suitability for an authorative position in the Church reviewed. It appears that the Church figures wanted to given him "another chance" repeatedly without any regard for the other dimensions of his actions.

In my opinion the higher up the food chain you go, the less lattitude can be given with regard to prudential matters,especially in light of the potential for scandal. This aspect was totally ignored as McCarrick seems to be viewed as just another "poor sinner".

Thirdly, the traditional authoritarian structure of the Church made eradication of the homo's very difficult. Any pushback by the laity was delegitimised and managerial structure of the Chruch meant that powerful cliques could be formed which served to protect each others interests. The Church was the world's first multinational organisation and suffers from the same problems that affect similar colossal organisations. i.e. managerialism.

The other problem with the analysis here is the assertion that the problems of the Church are a post V2 phenomenon. While it's true that sexual sins are the crimes du jour, it needs to be remembered that in the pre V2 Church there were more than a few Nazi sympathisers among the clergy, and the Papal approval of Action Francaise seems to go without notice. Never mind the horrendous theological implications of it.

His analysis is superficial and typical of trad views.

As for the Gentleman from Villanova, he's strong on diagnostics, not that great on therapy.

Anonymous said...

-You need to cut the trads some slack. Before SP in 2007 (or ED in 1988) the closest TLM for many would have been a 2 hour car ride away, celebrated by a probably schismatic priest in a hotel conference room, at 7am on alternating Fridays. The church they loved constantly told them to get lost. This was not good for their sanity.

-You're correct on Protestantism dying. Given enough historical time, 3rd world protestantism will have zero resemblance to Luther/Calvin/Cramner etc, or any other form of traditional Christianity. Look up the Taiping Rebellion.

Anonymous said...

A lot of dissent on HV in the US was due to wages stagnating for 40 (50?) years. The working class, once the bedrock of the American RCC, collapsed, and relied on having fewer kids and putting their wives to work to avoid welfare/underclass status, though they are sliding to this state anyway. I'm very sympathetic to the arguments in HV but I'm not sure how I would handle it if I were a priest in a less-than well-off parish. You can't replace salt of the earth Polish steelworkers with overeducated rich WASP converts (Adrian Vermuele is perhaps the ur-example) and say the church is better for it.