Tuesday, May 18, 2004

From Samer al-Batal in Beirut
From The American Conservative:
Forgotten Christians
Not all displaced Palestinians are Muslims

And two from Touchstone:
Please me, O Lord
S.M. Hutchens on the roots of romantic worship
S. al-B.: The Evangelical Protestant religious forecast: imbibing the feminine and infantile.

How Evangelicalism, once cut loose from Catholic, objective, liturgical worship including common prayer, has degenerated into sentimentality and finally, well, at least unintentional erotic entertainment.

A former friend once told me a story very like this article's first one. There was an American college chapel that consisted of an unholy alliance between the quisling liberal RCs of the chaplaincy and the charismatic, would-be Protestant evangelical group that recruited kids on campus for its 'covenant community' cult nearby. (The former were political liberals; the latter quite socially conservative in the gauche, nasty way evangelicals can be. It was an odd marriage, as were the ones arranged between cult members.) Anyway, one day one of the girls in the latter who also worked in the office of the former (that happened a lot) did some 'liturgical dance' in the chapel - a nubile young lady of Italian heritage wearing a leotard and no foundation garments. One can assume some of the young men (and the not-young men of the chaplaincy itself) at the performance experienced some, er, spiritual growth. Yeah, baby - praise Jesus!

Men don't like sissy religion. Some forms of Christianity - the rigorism and unsentimentality of many Eastern Orthodox, especially the monks, or the basic, no-nonsense Mass-and-office approach of some Anglicans - are masculine, and I think the former may attract men for the challenge much like the US Marine Corps, the toughest, least watered-down service in the American military, has no problem recruiting. (Perhaps a reason why Princes Philip and Charles like staying on Mount Athos.) The sentimentality and even misplaced sexuality described have infected some Roman Catholics historically though - the unliturgical devotional stuff like 1890s novena hymns (really rewarmed saloon ballads as Thomas Day said) could get gooey and some of the art and prayers make it seem like Jesus is one's boyfriend! He stares out of some holy cards as if on the cover of a Harlequin romance.

To be fair, the Romantic movement historically was a healthy reaction to the Industrial Revolution and helped fuel the Anglo-Catholic movement, itself partly a reaction too. (Pre-Raphaelite painting, mediævalism in architecture, etc.) And even the hippies, a kind of later romantic revolution, had a similar point reacting against the coldness of 1950s-style modernity, for all their failings (perhaps from forgetting or never learning that human nature, while still good, is fallen). And Catholic worship of course uses the senses and is, in a holy sense, entertaining.

I'm not big on the 'headship' thing alluded to - seems like a Protestant thing. The sexes are equal but complementary, just like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and I are equal in worth before God but have different strengths and different duties. God made strong women and they're great, but will agree that in a relationship, even one of such equals, somebody's in charge, and for the happiness of all it should be the man. Forget feminism - I think most healthy women will agree when they're being honest. They want a strong, not abusive man who can take care of them when the going gets tough.

Samer didn't think this was blogworthy, but I disagree. Here's an interesting look at both the history and recent developments in the Old Catholic communion based in Utrecht, The Netherlands. I had no idea the Polish National Catholic Church is no longer in the communion. (So now there are no Old Catholics in the US, and the European ones are crazy.) Ironically the PNCC, begun as an immigrant schism in the 1890s led by a freethinking priest, originally was the most liberal of the lot. (I think in practice this was balanced out by the innate conservatism of the Polish immigrants in the parishes.) Franciszek Hodur denied an eternal hell (apocatastasis, an opinion of some church fathers rejected by the church Catholic), considered baptism and confirmation one sacrament, numbered the hearing of the Word among the seven sacraments and made Confession optional for adults. (To quote an old friend regarding Hodur, 'he didn't believe in a lot of things'.) Some of the 'Nats' also did some dodgy things liturgically - specifically Mass facing the people. Liturgically they're nothing to write home about today - they eventually just copied the Novus Ordo - but they're now quite Catholic, achieving a kind of rapprochement with their Roman Catholic parent church (that there is a Polish Pope now didn't hurt that!). One difference from other Catholic churches that perhaps dates back to their former Episcopal ties is that priests, and bishops, can marry after ordination.

Disunion of Utrecht
Old Catholics fall out

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