Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Wages of Monophorism



 “Monophorism” was Blondel's term for a reigning clerical authoritarianism which on principle refused to recognize that grace can be at work from below. 

One of things which you become aware of when you start digging into theology is that some guys foresaw the current apostasy from miles away.  Maurice Blondel was one of these and recognised that the traditional model of "Priests Smart and People dumb" i.e. Monophorism,  devastated the interior spirituality of the laity and facilitated the destruction of the faith.  Now, while many of the laity could be "good" under this model,  it was a goodness of docility and obedience. The layman was not meant to have ideas or internal volition and the faith was to be received and not really thought about and it produced a sort of spiritual infantilism which as able to lapse if the strong parent went missing.

The Catholic Church under this model resembled a typical World War 1/Soviet Era combat formation. Strongly disciplined and led by the general. A battle plan was drawn and the soldier was expected to advance according to the plan;  individual initiative being frowned upon, especially by the lower ranks, since everything had been worked out and co-ordinated by the staff officers.  The innovators of stormtroop tactics immediately recognised  that there was a weak-point with this approach: if you could decapitate the leadership, then the troops would be helpless and easily destroyed. Sure, there would be pockets of strong resistance, but without command from the top many of the troops would simply surrender and walk away. There was no defence-in-depth.

Protestantism, especially in its evangelical versions, avoided this approach and tended to stress the layman's strong personal relationship with Christ and left the individual to their own Christianity. As this blog has mentioned, there are many faults with this approach but it does tend to produce a more autonomous Christian than traditional Catholicism does.

To illustrate what I mean here are two bits of data from Pew Research. The first, graph compares the commitment gap between Catholics and Protestants in South America. The metric of commitment--a reasonable one in my opinion--being attendance at regular Church services and praying daily.  From the table we can see that in every country in South America, Protestants out perform Catholics by this metric.




The second table, looks at approval of same sex "marriage" by religious denomination in the U.S. The data is pretty damning for U.S. Catholics. Mainline Protestant denominations are marginally worse but not by much. However , those "dumb" Evangelical Christians appear to have views which have a far better correlation with Biblical views of homosexuality. What gives?

One of the things about Protestantism is that it a religion strongly associated with the bourgeoisie. And one of the the thing about bourgeois society it the strong emphasis it places on individual act and responsibility. Protestant societies encourage more individual autonomy and internal locus of control. What this means is that although Protestants may think badly--with all the problems that brings-- they think for themselves. Paradoxically, "simplistic" Protestants who take the Bible literally are quite likely to be its strongest adherents as they can't "explain away" Biblical imperatives to conform with contemporary fashions.

In my opinion, Catholics can only provide a strong pushback against the Pozz  only if they are capably led and strongly disciplined. When the leadership is effectively "decapitated" the average Catholic lacks the internal resilience to push back against it. This would--in a way--seem to shore up the arguments of the Traditionalists who see Vatican Two as the great mistake of Catholicism. Vatican II gave the spiritually-infantile freedom........with predictable consequences.

See, the thing to understand is that Catholicism prior to Vatican II, despite all of it's window dressing  and railing against Modernism was actually Modernist itself and was unwittingly encouraging the production of Mass-Man and it's hard to fight the thing when you're the thing itself.

Let me explain by way of uncomfortable analogy.

Life inside the Soviet Union Catholic Church was strongly controlled by the clergy Party. Information was heavily censored filtered, lest the laity workers be corrupted. The Papacy Party was always right and it was the duty of the worker to obey the party and deviation from the party line sent the worker to Hell Siberia.

The underlying principle at play here was the if the Church Party could engineer a society where it could control what the laity workers were exposed to and protect them from bad ideas they could engineer a faithful Catholic Worker through social engineering. Just as the modern degeneracy feels that through appropriate social engineering and censorship it can create the soytopia, traditional Catholicism felt as long as it had the reigns of power it could create its own version of the same.

Astute observers will note that this is the Leftist project in a nutshell. Once you start looking into it, the similarities in social structure and command between Communism and Pre-Vatican II Catholicism are uncomfortably close.

So, in a sense, the critics of Vatican Two are right: "relaxing the system"  bought the whole house down in the same way that Perestroika eventually destroyed the Soviet Union.  The old System only worked under strong social control.  The problem for the wistful trads is that although they may dream for a return of the pre-Vatican II Church, the social and cultural contingencies that shored up the authoritarian societies of the past have been undercut by the phenomenon of modernity. As Franco's Spain, De Valera's Ireland and Salazar's Portugal have shown, Integralist societies rapidly collapse into "Modernity" as soon as the thumbscrews are taken off. Years of integralism did not produce the internal resilience to protect against the Pozz, and paradoxically may have created the preconditions for its rapid adoption.

On the other hand, despite the being exposed to the cultural sewer that is the contemporary West, Evangelical Protestants tend to be holding firm.

It is my opinion that the Vatican Two would have been far more successful if the Church gradually relaxed its rules and "softly" Protestantised the Church but this is just speculation and beyond the scope of this current post.

16 comments:

Bruce Charlton said...

Seems a fair analysis. A comparison with Eastern Orthodoxy might be helpful, as this was resilient to decapitation in the Soviet Bloc, and survived more than 1000 years of Islam in the Middle East etc.

Protestant evangelical conservatives and Mormons have been the most resistant to secular leftism in the West, but now are in retreat and can't win enough converts among the native Westerners. So it was just a quantitative difference from the RCC and mainstream Protestants.

All institutions are now converged or converging. That's the scale of the problem.

Ingemar said...

Slumlord,

I broadly agree with your analysis. It is so frustrating to watch the Catholic tradosphere navigate this crisis because they act as if a Pius V/X/XII or Leo XIII is currently the sitting pontiff when in reality it is a man who is clearly embarrassed to be a Catholic. They act as if the Papacy is the armor of the deposit of the Faith when realistically it is the Church's Achilles heel.

MK said...

See, the thing to understand is that Catholicism prior to Vatican II, despite all of it's window dressing and railing against Modernism was actually Modernist itself.

This is true.

I find your thinking to be very much in line with the "top-down" approach, complaining/blaming and looking to the hierarchy to solve all the problems. Myself, I think of the Church hierarchy as providing a service, one that, at a RC, I get to take from what I will. Free Eucharist! Free mass! Free confession! I don't need my clergy to do anything for my spiritual guidance; that's my soul, my job, my children to raise. If I choose to do nothing, that's my problem. If I choose to invest heavily, say like your vision of Protestant does, I can do that too (and without the compromised theology). The Church is reliable on theology - they give very clear explanations of the "minimum" standard of belief required and sacramental requirements/options. What I do with that is My Problem. Or better said, My Opportunity.

Chent said...

Roman Catholic, here. Of course, you are right. I have experienced it in my daily life . I am from Spain, where the faith is practically dead (I have seen it dying during my lifetime while priests did nothing to oppose this death). But, I have lived in Central America for the last 20 years. Here the faith is still alive but getting weaker and weaker. It is the same process as in Spain but we are a bit delayed here.

Some years ago, I realized that nobody in the Church was doing anything against this de-Christianization process and we were going to end up like Spain. I tried to give some training to the faithful to try to counteract the anti-Christian messages that were floating in the culture, since priests don't do that. Since the path to the faithful goes through priests, I started talking to priests.

I faced opposition, sabotage and endless contempt on behalf of the priests, as if I was a cockroach because I was not one of them. Since being Catholic is being obedient, I gave up. But the entire episode let me a bitter taste. The priests don't do anything but they don't want anybody else to do anything either. It is the temptation of the clergy. The devil attacks priests with the sins of pride and sloth.

I think this is inevitable in any organization that has a hierarchy. It is the iron law of oligarchy (google it).

With the false pseudo-religion of the Enlightenment, it is the same thing. Britain is an example. The clergy (politicians, intellectuals, journalists) allowed the common people to have a vote about Brexit and the common people didn't vote the way the clergy wanted. There has been a steady campaign of sabotage since then. The clergy thinks that it is better than the common people and the common people has to be quiet and obey "their betters".

Another example is Hillary Clinton calling half of the electorate "deplorable" and then being astonished that these people didn't vote her. Of course, this only means that they are deplorable (talk about a "self-fulfilling" prophecy)

It is difficult to know how to oppose that. As you explain, the Protestants fought against the iron law of the oligarchy by going against hierarchy (the priesthood of all believers). But this opens a new can of worms. Have you got any ideas?

MK said...

Chent: Protestants fought against the iron law of the oligarchy. But this opens a new can of worms...any ideas?

Sure. Instead of second-guessing priests (who have at least taken vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience) why not just seek sainthood for yourself? There should be a lifetime of work right there to keep you busy. And the effect will be massive: virtue speaks for itself.

Speaking as a lifetime American RC, I have never seen a bigger pool of whiners than the members of my local church. I'm not impressed with my clergy. But I do say we get better leadership than we most definitely deserve, being individualistic, egotistic, anti-family types who don't play well with others. All I can say: Thank God I'm not a priest!

John Rockwell said...

God by the currents of history appears to hate micromanagement. And prefers to maximize individual dignity and uniqueness whilst ensuing that hierarchy is improved by not giving into the temptation of control.

For similar reasons God punished the Mongols for going too far in their brutality with the Black Death.

And ensured the end of the Medieval era by massive mortality.

For similar reasons people die as if unjustly by God's hand. But in reality probably keeping the gene pool from deteriorating from the point of no-return.

A livable environment, human actions and human genetic health are all God's responsiblities. Hence his answer to Job summed up as: You are not God and you dont have all my responsibility.

Chent said...

@MK

Instead of second-guessing priests (who have at least taken vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience) why not just seek sainthood for yourself?

Who says that both things are exclusive? Of course, my priority is my own sanctification (as any Catholic). For this sanctification, I need the services provided by priests (they are called sacraments). If I think I could do it all by myself, regardless of priests, I would be a radical Protestant.

Sanctification is going to be harder and harder because the novelties of the hierarchy are going to arrive to my parish (and any other parish in the world). Novus Ordo mass is a bore and doesn't move to prayer, as the Traditional Mass did. However, I assist every week to Novus Ordo mass (the only that is available in my country) because of my duty as a Catholic.

But, where is the point that obeying the hierarchy stops being a duty and starts being collaboration with evil? When Francis allows pagan rituals in the Vatican, is it our duty not to say nothing because he is the Pope? When a hymn worshiping a pagan goddess is sung in the Cathedral of Lima (true story), do we sing along only to obey the priest? Where the duty of obedience conflicts with other duties even more important ("Thou shalt have no other gods before me"), is it good to be obedient or turn a blind eye to it?. A saint of yesteryear (I don't remember the name) said that we had to obey the Pope even if he is Satan. So do we end up worshiping Satan because he is the Pope? Is it the Pope bigger than God?

The innovations that Francis and others are preparing for us are going to arrive to all the parishes in the world. The forces of evil won't rest until we worship Satan in each parish. How will we get sanctified then? When the sacraments are desecrated and have no value? Then, we will regret not having done anything when we had still time.

Yesterday, I was speaking with a Catholic friend of mine about the scandal of the Pachamama. We were commenting the different reactions to this scandal by our devout Catholic friends. Everybody is protesting but each person has a different idea about what to do. Some say that we have to wait, pray and God will solve things (they don't say that when they are looking for a job or a college for their kids: the praying is accompanied by some action). Some say that some bishops should fix the mess (but not us). Some say that this is not our problem, we have to work in our faith life and do nothing more.

I told him: "Nelson, the only common element of all the opinions is that we shouldn't do anything by ourselves. We could do many things. For example, we could organize with some traditional priests to reject the innovations that are coming to us so they don't affect our local parish"

"Nelson, the real truth is that we Catholics are lazy as hell. We don't want to work. When Protestants came to this country (which was 100% Catholic), they went home to home converting people while we were comfy and waited for the priests and the bishops to do something. Now the country is 30% Protestant.

We are lazy, Nelson. We want to go to mass, confession, do some prayer and rest. Don't make us work for the Kingdom of God. Even the priests are lazy. When you say to a priest, "we should do X", the most likely response is not "X is not good or convenient" but "I do my masses and confessions and other tasks and I don't have time for X". It is like asking a civil servant to do more. Catholics are lazy, Nelson, and all the rest are excuses, rationalizations and justification to indulge in this laziness"

Anonymous said...

Slumlord:

You constantly return to this theme despite failing to offer any concrete recommendations of how the Catholic Church could reform to avoid these problems. You basically write as if Catholicism is at once true but somehow has an innately inferior ecclesiastical structure to a heretical sect (low-church Protestantism in this case). Perhaps the similarities between Leftism and pre-VII Catholicism you see stem from the common problem: both systems intend to indoctrinate an entire society into a certain complex world-view and way of living, including all the Average Joes who would never be interested if left alone ("Here Comes Everybody").

Comparing Catholicism-as-such to Radical Protestant sects, as you do here, doesn't work because the later consists in small, self-selected, groups of zealots. Radical Protestant sects are more akin to Catholic religious orders. A by the numbers protestant who is "born again" and starts going to tent revivals is like a normie Catholic who realizes he has a vocation and joins a monastery (the Amish and Hasidic Jews are basically heretical monks and nuns with kids).

Also, in America "Catholic" is basically an ethnic marker meaning "Polish/Irish/Italian/Mexican/PR/etc." and/or "went to a Catholic High School". Likewise, secular Jews will say that their religion is "Jewish" in polls. Irreligious Americans from historically Protestant families will never say they are "Protestant" in a poll.

John Rockwell said...

@Chent

"When a hymn worshiping a pagan goddess is sung in the Cathedral of Lima (true story), do we sing along only to obey the priest? Where the duty of obedience conflicts with other duties even more important ("Thou shalt have no other gods before me"), is it good to be obedient or turn a blind eye to it?."

It may not be called worship but veneration. Just as there is a distinction between Latria and Dulia in hymns.

And rather than being called a goddess but a saint. Yet treated as a goddess yet such an act would be called veneration unless the outward indication can be distinguished between veneration and worship.

But if what matters is what is the attitude or the inward heart. Then what would stop that being being posited as veneration since the attitude is veneration?

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks all for the comments.

@Bruce

I'm not that familiar with Orthodoxy but I'm not really sure that they were that resistant to decapitation. Faith in the orthodox countries may not have died out after Communism but it never seemed to be as rebellious as Catholicism was even with its faults.

@Ingemar

They act as if the Papacy is the armor of the deposit of the Faith when realistically it is the Church's Achilles heel.

I wouldn't say that. I think you need a Papacy to avoid the pitfalls of Protestantism but Catholicism's pitfall is the relationship that the clergy has to laity. I don't think that there is any concept of the laity being an originator of sound doctrine, or that the laity may have valid criticisms of the clergy. I think that the defacto attitude is that the laity is there to be led and if they don't like it they can leave.


@MK

I think that Chent's reply is appropriate here.

@John Rockwell

God by the currents of history appears to hate micromanagement. And prefers to maximize individual dignity and uniqueness whilst ensuing that hierarchy is improved by not giving into the temptation of control.

It would appear that way. I also get the impression that He doesn't mind some doctrinal "sloppiness" as long as you do the right thing. I mean the parable of the Good Samaritan is a case in point. The Samaritan got his doctrine wrong but his actions right, and met with God's approval. Which leads me to Chent's point.

I think Catholicism places a lot more emphasis on the redemption of sin rather than acting like you've been redeemed (as Protestantism expects). This, combined with the clerical attitude, kills a lot of the dynamism in the Catholic laity and it ends up being passive. It's interesting that some of the most successful actions of Catholic evangelistion are in areas which there is a scarcity of priests and therefore evanglisation is lay led. More on this later.

Have you got any ideas?

A few but more on this later.

@Anon


You basically write as if Catholicism is at once true but somehow has an innately inferior ecclesiastical structure to a heretical sect (low-church Protestantism in this case).

I don't think that Catholicism has an inferiora ecclesiastical structure in theory, it's in its practice where if fails. The difference between what the Church formally teaches and what is does in reality. For example, Francis's emphasis on Synodality is straight from the Vatican II playbook but its currently "novelty" is an example of how the Church failed to act on what it preached since the sixties.

Perhaps the similarities between Leftism and pre-VII Catholicism you see stem from the common problem:

Or perhaps, more worryingly, they come from the same understanding of the human person. It, once again, illustrates the division what of what the Church teaches and how it acts in reality. Looking at the laity as simply a "receptive passivity", despite what the ecclesiology says shows that the Clergy has internalised the materialist view of man, despite preaching the contrary.

Radical Protestant sects are more akin to Catholic religious orders

I disagree with you there, they have far more autonomy.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - "I'm not that familiar with Orthodoxy but I'm not really sure that they were that resistant to decapitation. Faith in the orthodox countries may not have died out after Communism but it never seemed to be as rebellious as Catholicism was even with its faults."

In an important sense, the entirety of Eastern Orthodoxy is decapitated - since the 'system' depends on a patriarchal monarch who is analogous to an apostle, and intermediary bewteen God and his family.

There are no such monarchs now - the key moment was the Russian Revolution of 1917, since Moscow has long been (since Ivan the Terrible, following Constaninople's fall and via Ivan's Byzantine Princess grandmother) "the third Rome" and centre of Orthodoxy. In a strict sense, mainstream Orthodoxy - handed on by tradition, person to person, ended in 1917.

The nation is run by an ideal of undivided harmony between the Patriarch and the monarch - the monarch appoints the Patriarch and can depose him; and the Patriarch anoints the monarch - and Patriarchs can, and did, excommunicate the monarch which usually led to his demise. In general they worked together and religion ideally permeated the whole of everyday life - both political and church-related, indeed there is no division.

Anyway, Orthodoxy Continues, and is aimed-at the restoration of Orthodox monarchy, nationhood, totality life in each nation. The prospect seems impossible in The West (where Orthodoxy has never taken root - except, in a way, briefly in England after Henry VIII unintentionally made himself something much like an Orthodox Monarch, albeit a very bad one!) - although it may happen in Russia, Romania and some other places.

By resilience to decapitation, I mean that after 70 years of probably the most sustained and sincere religious suppression even known anywhere (much bigger in scale and duration than the brief Nazi Jewish extermination scheme) with essentially all official Bishops, priests and nuns killed and churches destroyed... very quickly the church arose from its KGB administerd ashes and hundreds, thousands of new churchs and monasteries were built; and the elites again became observent (eg Putin). Incidentally I got this confirmed from an insider eye witness - not only the media.

During the 70 years the church operated underground - sometimes literally in catacombs, hence the nickname.

One big difference in practice which helps the Orthodox, is that for them Mass is much less frequent and important. This relates to a higher status for the (celibate) monks than for the (married) priests (most Orthodox monks are not priests - although Bishops must be both monk and priest - if he is already married he and his wife must become celibate and live separately).

Some of the Church Fathers and wonder-working saints of holiness did not receive mass for decades, it seems. (Because there were no priests nearby or avaiable in the deserts, for example.)

Whereas the Roman Church - in recent centuries - based the devout life around frequent, ideally daily, mass - which requires many priests, spead out wherever there are laity. This makes the RCC uniquely vulnerable to a shortage of priests and bad priests.

Another difference is that Orthodox priests were not usually expected to teach, to give sermons or homilies - they run the liturgies, which are very long and arduous (deliberately). And many priests had other jobs - farming or whatever.

Teaching was the job of Bishops, and of course in an Orthodox society 'teaching' is everywhere, in every aspect of life; absorbed from childhood.

Bruce Charlton said...

(Continued)...

Anyway, the RCC ought to have the historical resources for dealing with false leadership; from the experiences with the Borgias, and with the two Popes of Roma and Avignon.

But on general principles, and I think this was Benedict XVI's belief (with his Creative Minority), the RCC is now so corrupt and lax - taken as a whole - that it will need shed most bishops, priests and laity, to shrink down to a faithful and active minority, and then regrow from that healthy root.

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks Bruce,

Sorry for the late reply but it's been a busy few days.

since the 'system' depends on a patriarchal monarch who is analogous to an apostle, and intermediary bewteen God and his family.

In my opinion that's a problem since it unifies Church and state and conflates the imperatives of the two domains. It's easy to see how Russian imperialist expansion could be conflated as Christian evangelisation in such a system. Your clever enough to see the other instances where this could go badly wrong.

I understand that the Orthodox Church was ruthlessly persecuted but its my understanding that the heirarchy basically was co-opted by the KGB. The "strength" of the Church remaining in the laity and some "low level" monks and priests.

Anyway, the RCC ought to have the historical resources for dealing with false leadership

It should but it hasn't. Part of it is due to some elements with are corrupt outright, but the other problem is in some of the theological tradition and innovations which many sincere and good priests believe in. I mean, how do you clear corruption when you forgive everyone? Righteousness involves wielding the axe every now and then but how do you do that when you believe in a doctrine of Mercy?

I'm personally not convinced that Benedict's vision of a small minority being a kernel for a new religious age is the right one. His vision assumes that hisunderstanding of what is a "good minority" may not necessarily be God's. I personally think is reformed Christianity is the future and not a trad v2.0.


John Rockwell said...

@Social Pathologist

A good example is that good forgave David his sexual sin and his murder of Uriah. But had to suffer terribly. The Rod of Discipline continued to apply

In the same way. The Sodomite priest who in death row truly repents will be saved. But his sin is unto death having lost his reward.

Anonymous said...

Most differences between American Catholics and Orthodox are explained by the fact that most Orthodox Americans are either 1st or 2nd generation immigrants from Eastern Europe or converts from Conservative Protestantism. Orthodox Americans from older immigration waves--namely the Greeks--are indistinguishable from Catholics from older immigration waves (Italians, Irish) when it comes to political views, religious devotion, and the like. Take Michael Dukakis, nearly the first Orthodox US President, as an example.

The Orthodox Churches also lack the huge "NGO" footprint that the Catholics have, in the US at least. Much of the watering down of the Catholic faith in the US may be a result of certain bureaucrats and administrators viewing Catholicism as a mere pretense for the existence a large network of schools and hospitals (and immigrant resettlement services), which receive millions in funding from the US Government to serve a role any secular institution could. For example: the telos of many Catholic high schools is not educating young people in the faith but rather giving upper middle class parents who live in sub-par school districts an alternative to sending their kids to sub-par public schools or moving to an area with a better school district. The faith is replaced with loyalty to a network of NGOs (the schools and hospitals) loosely tied to whats left of an ethnic identify as Irish/Italian/Polish. I once heard a homily by one of the local auxiliary bishops where all he talked about was the local Catholic high schools, of which most of the parishioners were alumni, and Notre Dame football. This attitude seeps through the whole church.

There isn't one four-year Eastern Orthodox university in the US that isn't a seminary there are no EO hospitals, and there are only a handful of K-12 schools, so they don't have this problem.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Anon

Much of the watering down of the Catholic faith in the US may be a result of certain bureaucrats and administrators ...........

This is certainly true, however, this adds different dimension to the general collapse of Catholicism. I think as soon as the Catholic institutions start thinking about themselves as "service delivery organisations" they've undercut their very reason for being. As for Catholic education, here it really is a joke. Which is a shame, since it could be turned into an apparatus transform the managerial state.