Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Witchhunter Weigel

George Weigel, who eternally seems disappointed that he is not living in an A. J. Cronin novel, wanks away in an interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez, girl reporter. Weigel:

The only Catholicism with a future is a robustly evangelical Catholicism in which deeply converted disciples are formed for mission and empowered to meet the challenge of that hostile culture. As for its being hard, well, it’s always been hard. But the experience of dynamic, evangelically Catholic parishes, dioceses, campus ministries, seminaries, renewal movements, and religious orders is that, if you preach it and live it, they will come — because it’s true, because it’s compelling, because it’s exhilarating, and because we learn to live the truth of our humanity there by living it in conformity to Christ.
The Catholic Church has managed to survive a couple of thousands of years without Weigel's advice and without becoming celibate Evangelical Protestants. Of course, Weigel does not mean that Catholics should go door-to-door seeking new members. He means Catholics should accelerate their politicization of their duties and he splits Catholics into two groups--real conservative Catholics and fake liberal Catholics.

LOPEZ:You call people “baptized pagans” in this book. Who are they, and isn’t that a wee bit harsh?

WEIGEL: Well, to get down to specific cases, I can think of several members of Congress and senior administration officials who fit the bill. These people self-identify as Catholics, and they may even go to Mass with some regularity. But they are leading lives of such theological and moral incoherence (by, for example, supporting Roe v. Wade or agitating for “gay marriage” or defending the HHS mandate while ignoring its threat to religious freedom) that their communion with the Church is seriously damaged.

The politicos aren’t the only problem here, of course. There are aging, tenured members of theology departments at prestigious Catholic universities whose teaching and writing make clear that they are in a defective state of communion with the Church, because they deny what the Catholic Church teaches to be true. The entire fracas with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is, in fact, about precisely this: Is the LCWR living in communion with the Church, or is it living (and propounding) what amounts to another faith — indeed, another religion? We know that there are schismatics in the 21st-century Church: people who are, in a formal, canonical sense, living outside the legal boundaries of the Church because they have broken communion with the Church by breaking its canon law (think of the Lefebvrists). What I’m suggesting with the, admittedly provocative, term “baptized pagans” is that the Church has a much bigger problem than the tiny and marginal Lefebvrist sect, because there are a lot of people who are still inside the canonical boundaries of the Church but who aren’t in communion with the Church in any other meaningful sense. And it’s the job of all Catholics — but especially the Church’s pastors — to call those “baptized pagans” back to living in the fullness and integrity of Catholic faith.

LOPEZ: “When Catholic public witness fails to persuade on . . . fundamental questions, evangelical Catholics must understand that those failures are not compensated for by modest victories on other fronts.” What do you have in mind here?

WEIGEL: What I have in mind is when a Catholic conference director, having gotten his clock cleaned on a “gay marriage” vote in his legislature or a vote to regulate the abortion industry in his state, announces that, while that’s too bad, he looks forward to working on some social-service project with the people who just cleaned his clock. That kind of, oh-well, what-the-heck, we’ll-try-again-tomorrow attitude is badly mistaken. It assumes that all issues are equal, and they’re not. The right to life, the nature of marriage, and religious freedom are first-principles issues. When we lose on those issues, we risk losing the constitutional order (which is, after all, rooted in the way things are, as that pint-sized political realist James Madison understood), and we should make our unhappiness with those legislators who vote the wrong way very, very clear.

"The way things are." Yes, maintaining things just the way they are sounds like Jesus, doesn't it? It['s not like he was trying to throw over the entire order of the world at that time; rejecting any and every authority, from parent to priest to king, to follow his one true authority.* For most of us,  Roe v. Wade is the way things are and always have been. Why won't he leave that alone?

I have been a longtime supporter of tuition tax credits, vouchers, or some other device to make Catholic schools more available to at-risk kids.

Again, not the way things are. Not constitutional.

 Catholic bishops and lobbyists should be able to work across the aisle on issues like this, where there may even be support among people who are otherwise wrong-headed on core Catholic issues. But we can’t do the wink-and-nod routine on the core issues, for doing so suggests that we’re not really serious about them. Moreover, if we really believe that a legislator is putting his or her soul in peril by supporting the culture of death rather than the culture of life, we ought to make that clear to him or her. Finally, tuition tax credits or other devices to make it possible for more at-risk kids to attend Catholic schools aren’t going to be worth much, over the long haul, if the Leviathan state decides that, for state accreditation purposes, Catholic schools have to teach, let’s say, that “gay marriage” is just the same as any other form of marriage.

Purge the body of its impurity! Burn the heretic!

Weigel does give us a good look at why so many people are so anit-gay in theory when they are not in practice: it is an affront to the hierarchy. Straight men are ranked above gay men. That's just the way it is. Straight is natural and right. Gay is unnatural and wrong. Our authority created a straight world and gays are just men who refuse to obey God for their own selfish, immoral reasons.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who is quite probably the most intellectually accomplished bishop in the history of Catholicism in the United States, put this brilliantly in a January column in his archdiocesan newspaper: “Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race. It was true before the existence of either Church or State, and it will continue to be true when there is no State of Illinois and no United States of America. A proposal to change this truth about marriage in civil law is less a threat to religion than it is an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible. The Legislature might just as well repeal the law of gravity.” Now, in a culture where the idea that some things just are has become severely attenuated, this is, as the disciples once remarked of something Jesus said, a “hard saying.” But it happens to be true. And if the state successfully asserts its capacity to redefine reality in the matter of men, women, and marriage, where does its capacity to redefine reality stop? Why not redefine the parent-child relationship, or the doctor-patient relationship, or the priest-penitent relationship, or the counselor-counselee relationship? Why not redefine citizenship as adherence to the state’s redefinition of reality?

On behalf of every person who has gay relatives she loves and hopes will have every happiness, let me say that Weigel can take his hair tonic and hair shirt and stuff them where the sun don't shine. I would no more tell a gay person to stay celibate that I would tell a woman to wear a burqa.

Also, Weigel's advice might not be as successful as he seems to think it will be. You do not tell Catholic priests that they should be more like Evangelical Protestants. They as much as anyone define themselves by whom they are not, and number one on that long list is their old ideological enemy, the Protestants. Anyone who has sat in a parish pew for several decades knows that.

God, what a wanker. If you think that is harsh, read the following:

LOPEZ: What does the state of our culture today have to do with the Cold War? 
WEIGEL: Well, we’re not being sent to prison camps — yet. But the structure of the situation is not dissimilar. Catholicism played a crucial role in the collapse of European Communism because a vibrant Catholic micro-culture maintained its integrity and its tensile strength, and eventually proved more supple and enduring than the ambient public anti-culture of Communism. That’s why a lot of the younger and more evangelically assertive bishops of the United States have looked to the example of the Polish bishops under Communism for their inspiration in challenging the soft totalitarianism of the HHS mandate.

Weigel couldn't brush his teeth without a priest to tell him that it's permitted.

LOPEZ: Why does the modern world need “divine mercy” so much?

WEIGEL: Because of its guilt, often unconscious, but there nonetheless. The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history, by orders of magnitude. Add the new slaughter of the innocents in abortion to the slaughters of the World Wars, the death camps, the Gulag, and all the rest of the politically induced horrors, and you have a world awash in guilt over the cruelty and inhumanity it has visited upon itself. To whom can the sin that produced that guilt be confessed? By whom can it be expiated? By what authority can it be forgiven? The answers to those three questions cannot be Dr. Freud, Amnesty International, or the United Nations. The answer, I believe and the Church proclaims, is the God of the Bible, who comes into the world and into history — first in the people of Israel, and then in his Son — to offer humanity the embrace of the divine love, which alone can heal the brokenness of our lives, our societies, and our cultures. [my bold]

We're quite the sensitive little angels, aren't we, with our collective guilt over stuff that happened before we were born, or happened to people we don't know or care about. Although I seem to remember the God of the Bible, the God of the people of Israel, smoting and killing and ordering his favorites to kill all their enemies, man, woman, child and fetus, in his name. Most of all, it's strange that this collective guilt demands that we persecute gays and subjugate women to clear our souls of sin
Evelyn Waugh once said that the Church looks ever so much bigger from inside than from outside.
And every companion ever said the same thing about the Tardis. However in their case it was true. Inside the box of a church is more and smaller boxes, until the faithful are trapped, unable to move, and frozen in time like a bug in amber.

*Still atheist.


Downpuppy said...

The part that gets me is where he explicitly degrades pretty much everything that Jesus ever said as being namby-pamby trivia:

What I have in mind is when a Catholic conference director, having gotten his clock cleaned on a “gay marriage” vote in his legislature or a vote to regulate the abortion industry in his state, announces that, while that’s too bad, he looks forward to working on some social-service project with the people who just cleaned his clock. That kind of, oh-well, what-the-heck, we’ll-try-again-tomorrow attitude is badly mistaken. It assumes that all issues are equal, and they’re not.

Like wow, man.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm..the last time we had a "robustly evangelical" Catholic Church, we got the Crusades. Ask anyone who got in the way of those Crusaders how well that went.

Tommykey said...

Anonymous, it was even later than that. Look at what they did to the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus in the early 15th century. They tried and burned him at the stake after promising him safe conduct.

Mr. Wonderful said...

I get the feeling that (as with all cults) the source of his certainty is his certainty. It surely isn't a function of anything to be found out in the objective world. No, it's "I know I'm right, because--regardless of history ancient or modern, regardless of the systematic invalidation of two thousand years of mumbo-jumbo by two hundred years of science, and regardless of the obvious connection between religious piety and outright insanity--I FEEL right."

The first time I heard Bill Maher refer to religion as "a thought disorder" I winced and thought, Ooh, kind of harsh. Now I nod with approval.

Susan of Texas said...

God. The ultimate trump card.

spencer said...

Why not redefine the parent-child relationship, or the doctor-patient relationship, or the priest-penitent relationship, or the counselor-counselee relationship?

Why not indeed? I mean, it's not like those are all socially-defined relationships in the first place or anything.

tobymarx said...

Speaking of horrors inflicted by the Catholic Church, it enslaved 30,000 Irish women as forced unpaid labor in Magdalene Laundries until 1996. No apologies or recompense are forthcoming or expected. Of course.

Lurking Canadian said...

I was a practicing Catholic for forty years. Like, I went to Church every Sunday and other holy day of obligation since they first poured the water on my head.

It's [expletive deleted]s like this [expletive deleted] that finally drove me out. I am a baptized pagan no longer. Now I'm an Anglican, dickweed. Congratulations on one more churchgoer driven out of the flock.

It may be a coincidence that my clinical depression of about fifteen years duration seems to have lifted coincident with my change of churches. It may be a coincidence, but I'm thinking maybe not so much.

Susan of Texas said...

My theory is that depression is, in large part, repressed anger turned against one's self. So I can see where one might be less depressed after leaving an oppressive situation.