Sunday, July 22, 2007

On being like the ritualist slum priests... in 2007
My parish, for example, tends to be made up almost entirely of solidly 'conservative' Republicans, or, at least, the only ones who are willing to speak out seem to be such. There is a limited degree of support for certain causes, such as the local crisis pregnancy center and a nearby children's home, but sympathies seem to run heavily toward big business. This seems to be the case with the overwhelming majority of theologically 'conservative' Christians, whether Catholic or Evangelical.

I find myself nearly alone in my parish in taking a stand against the war and against huge international corporations, as also in condemning the hatred directed toward 'illegal immigrants'. I also find myself alone among my peace movement friends (with whom I will stand in a vigil this evening). I think I stand pretty well in solidarity with those early Slum Fathers, and I revere their memory. Today one is left, if one would 'fit in', with the option of denying one part of their commitment or the other. Their fervent and balanced witness receives even less approval now than it did then.

The Anglo-Catholic Slum Fathers had no illusions as to the ultimate wickedness of humankind, no hesitation to ascribe the nastiness of slum life to the action of sin, sin found not only in the 'oppressors' but just as strongly in the 'oppressed'. They never lost sight of the fact that a godward change of attitude in the poor, while not necessarily solving the problems of poverty, did produce saints.
The problem with modern liberalism:
...often the work is done in such a way as to strengthen wrong and ultimately damaging attitudes. The victim mentality, often institutionalized in such programs, has two profoundly negative effects. On the one hand it sometimes encourages a blaming of others for one's plight to the extent that efforts to improve one's own actions become discouraged, and a dependency on someone else to fix it all. This is paralyzing. On the other hand it sometimes leads to a smouldering internal anger which can easily erupt into violence. (Think gangsta rap.) Treating the symptoms without reaching deep within to treat the causes can sometimes manage to worsen the problem. Give a man a fish and you've fed him a meal. Give him a fish every day and he forgets how to feed himself. Teach a man how to fish, however, and you have fed him for a lifetime.

... presenting the appearance that all problems can be solved at gunpoint. Ultimately that is where a political solution points. Political solutions are enforced by either implied or actual coercion. Scripture does indeed endorse government, consistently treating of it as having the power of the sword. However, though coercion can prevent the worst active manifestations of evil, it cannot bring goodwill to the spirit. Political action, then, though sometimes necessary, often has the side effect of hardening hearts and attitudes.

On moral issues: Well, the secular type of compassion demonstrably tends to weaken the commitment to the austere values that are not comfortable. 'There is a way that seemeth good unto a man', says the Book of Proverbs, 'but the ways thereof are the ways of destruction'. Note where this has led in the treatment of sexual and marital matters. That is a disaster.
[Long story short, the secular approach to sex is a big lie.] Then there is abortion, and the creeping toleration of euthanasia. Morality is costly. If one is not firmly taught to deny his perceived needs and to put the revealed will of God first, one is on a steep downhill slope that leads to utter destruction. Truly Christian compassion knows this and couples deep concern for the soul and for the moral life with all the necessary helop that it gives. Secular compassion tends to waffle and yield to the perceived needs that are not needs at all.

[The faith] starts from the realization that what needs to be fixed is not entirely, or even primarily, what happens to one, but, first and foremost, how one approaches what happens to one. Of course the hungry need to be fed. Matthew 25 makes such endeavor to be a primary element in the judgment. But when money was lavished on something as impractical as pouring oil over Jesus' feet, his response was, 'The poor you have always with you'. The Anglo-Catholic Slum Fathers lavished money and effort on such impractical things as incense and statuary and vestments because their poor needed that as much as they needed practical aid. Man does not live by bread alone.

[On orthodoxy and social justice] the Slum Fathers were very clearly committed to 'both, and', as was Our Lord. [That is, authentically Catholic.]

Most Americans seem to fall into the pattern of 'either, or', and that won't wash.
— Ed Pacht

No comments:

Post a comment

Leave comment