Saturday, September 25, 2010

‘I will be totally honest: Catholicism is an institutional shell without any real actual mandatory content’
In a thread I linked to yesterday Arturo throws down another of his challenges. He’s not right all the time but at best he’s a rare realistic trad. The theology’s clear: objective validity etc. But in practice of course he’s right. As much a mess with lots of unbelief in a credally orthodox shell as Anglicanism. (And Anglicanism’s shell ultimately isn’t orthodoxy — that’s changeable by vote, unlike Rome — but institutionalism: being invited to Lambeth.) American RCism, unless Pope Benedict pulls off his revival, is well on its way to being the Anglicans’ deep freezer of latitudinarian moralism (moralistic therapeutic deism); witness the funerals that are de facto canonisations for example.

So you’ve got high, low, central and broad churchmanships there too (your self-selected clique). High: consciously Catholic in belief, authority and worship like the Pope; the similar but different trads and R². Low: Charismatics? Central: the muddled majority ranging from nice un-self-consciously pious trads to most who don’t want to be ‘too religious’; it’s always been so. Broad: the illiberal liberals, unlike Anglicans liturgically low too, who’ve been running most things locally for 40 years; AmChurch and the Magic Circle.

Alternatives: non-obnoxious Orthodoxy (lay-level liturgical conservatism, preserved un-self-consciously... My favorite American Orthodox locale in America is the OCA midwest, in part because it feels so Catholic. Like AMM, rustbelt Orthodoxy is my favorite niche corner of our little religious boutique.) or Anglo-Catholic congregationalism, in part understandable but a playhouse in a liberal Protestant denomination as Damian Thompson says. Orthodoxy’s broad churchmen, like in ’50s RCism, are puny and powerless (and without a Vatican trying to keep everybody in line).

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