Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Traditionless conservatives and churchmen

  • From Ita Scripta Est:
    • The incoherence of the American right’s civil theology. Covenant and social responsibility vs. radical individualism/selfishness, the conservative objection to libertarianism. Granted, the liberals are a mutation of the former, but point taken. By the way, I've never met a conservative Christian who took Fred Phelps seriously (in the '70s, conservative born-agains taught me it was wrong to pick on homosexuals) and, once a renowned civil-rights lawyer, he may well have been a false-flag operation.
    • Standard paleocon objection: what are American conservatives conserving? Francis Fukuyama: In no way do the neoconservatives want to defend the order of things such as they are, i.e. founded on hierarchy, tradition and a pessimistic view of human nature.
    • Brent Bozell. Sound Catholic but also a nut. Still: “Bozell’s evangelizing zeal is uncomfortable to comfortable capitalists who do not like to be lectured on their failure to fully address the needs of the poor.” This may explain why Bozell has been practically forgotten by the conservative movement. This could be twisted to be something a mainstream conservative would say to be liked and get votes (keeping the socialist status quo), but duly noted. I don't have the answer. Then again, is there any one answer? Politics is not doctrine.
  • A study commissioned by a Protestant organization has found that Christian youth groups, with an infantile approach to the faith and a focus heavily on being “hip” to this fallen culture, are a predominate factor in driving many young people from Christianity. I believe it. As a teenager one of my earliest contacts with the church was with a post-conciliar junior version of Cursillo, Search. Felt sort of like being in a production of "Godspell," in many ways a beautiful show. It was good in several ways, socially and religiously, but like everything post-conciliar it had its wires crossed, much of it not being particularly Catholic. (You don't have to push Catholic distinctives all the time but you probably get my meaning.) Cognitive dissonance with the pre-conciliar high churchmanship the Episcopalians showed me. (Around the same time, I had my "Russians in Hagia Sophia" experience, wowed by seeing an old-fashioned fully Anglo-Catholic parish church for the first time.) The good in that program and that traditional theology and style of course shouldn't be mutually exclusive. Search was low-church, protestantized Catholics, and, as the kids were arriving, a group with guitars was doing a cover of the Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout." A little thing, you might say, but with the blogger I can articulate what I sensed then: a dangerous sign of a church that had lost its nerve in the culture war (the Sixties won). At least it didn't preach dissent like the "Catholic college" retreat I went on nearly two years later. (Search was a multi-parish/diocesan program. Catholic colleges are really private schools, not church ones, so they get away with a lot.) I imagine such programs are either changing or going away now that the few religious kids are more likely to be traditionalists or conservatives, something the liberals in charge 30 years ago never imagined. (The charismatics used to be a conservative/liberal compromise, conservative on fundamentals but anti-ecclesiastical and liturgically low.)
  • 4 comments:

    1. "I imagine such programs are either changing or going away now that the few religious kids are more likely to be traditionalists or conservatives".


      These days, teenagers don't start those groups; middle-aged busybodies start them and twist young peoples' arms into joining. The point isn't really to hand on the faith, it's to give the "kids" a way to socialize that doesn't involve the usual high-risk teenage entertainments of alcohol, sex, fighting, or fast-moving cars.

      King of the Hill did a great takedown once, in the episode "Reborn to be Wild"- after forbidding Bobby from a Christian rock concert, Hank shows his son a box of his old discarded fad toys, and says " I don't want the Lord to end up in this box". I said more or less the same thing when I used to teach Catechism to teenagers. The middle-aged program heads (both women, naturally) were blathering on and on about how to make it more appealing to the young people. Being only a few years older than my students at the time, I pointed out that "They're not going to be young for very much longer- shouldn't we be teaching them how to live the faith as adults?" One of them looked at me like I had two heads, then sarcastically asked "Should we be hosting cocktail parties for them, then?" Frankly, I've learnt more at cocktail parties over the years than anybody ever learnt in one of her waste-of-time classes.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. These days, teenagers don't start those groups; middle-aged busybodies start them and twist young peoples' arms into joining. The point isn't really to hand on the faith, it's to give the "kids" a way to socialize that doesn't involve the usual high-risk teenage entertainments of alcohol, sex, fighting, or fast-moving cars.

        Probably the same 30 years ago.

        Great episode from a good series.

        Delete
    2. In my own youth when I started going to what was misleadingly called CCD (1976-1988 when I was finally confirmed at the shockingly late age of 18, which was tragically the norm for the diocese where I was living at the time), the youth group was a very, very bad joke. The kids were with two exceptions (me not being one of them) basically not devout, not pious, not interested in what was going on, but interest just going through the motions. For some reason, I picked up an interest in the Bible and basically educated myself with a copy of the (horrible) New American Bible translation and a (fantastic) New Testament introduction written by Msgr. Ronald Knox that I checked out long-term from the parish library. But that didn't happen until I was forced to take the excretible confirmation course that lasted for 3 months. Meanwhile, years later, I am the only one of the high school classmates that I know of who still practices Catholicism, our main teacher has since left the Church to join a native American religious movement. There's renewal for you!

      ReplyDelete
    3. And there was just as much dope and fooling around in that CCD group as there was at the local middle school and high school.

      ReplyDelete

    Leave comment