Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Catholic critique of the '50s and more

  • Jon Kabel brought these to my attention at Rad Trad:
    • Nostalgia vs. tradition. When I've criticized the Orthodox because their reason to exist is to worship their rite, cultures, and politics (emperor, prince, sultan, Comrade First Secretary) over Christ, a Western revert to that church said, "After all, you pretend to live in the '50s. Just saying." My answer: part of my own culture and I don't think it IS the church, which includes the Christian East; the Christian East doesn't really include us so it's not the church, or rather is an estranged part of it. The cult of Greece or Russia doesn't keep ethnic Americans past the third generation. What I'm doing isn't kitsch; it is almost like the Amish (who aren't pretending it's the past; they're only trying to keep their religious community together) in that it's acknowledging that a lot of old things are better. One day I realized I could bring it back, and so I did.
    • American Pie. Criticizing what I call America's golden era, as many deep reactionaries have before, from Fr. Seraphim (Rose), a perennialist in the René Guénon school and a former Beat, to Bishop Williamson. As I like to say, the hippies didn't cause Vatican II (the boomers were just dumb kids buying records); the space age did. "The Pope was the chaplain to the United Nations." Understandable and appealing because modern liberalism is a Christian heresy (much of the UN is benevolent) and all politics are temporary, not doctrine. Catholics can believe in international or world empires like the UN wants to be, even though I, also a Catholic, believe you shouldn't. Pre-conciliar Catholicism isn't the lockstep its enemies say; we're many schools of thought, some of which don't get along. Recommended reading to explain the American '50s: Populuxe. Is "Mad Men" the Jewish Matthew Weiner making fun of the golden era? The way the show's wrapping up, no. It's character-driven. He's smart enough not to preach.
  • Bob Wallace:
  • Orthodox apologists: Pelagian about original sin, Lutheran about the Eucharist, modern about contraception, and sliding into universalism. That'll show us. I feel sorry for Fr. Kimel. By the way, nobody asked me, but Owen White's a brilliant, mercurial tortured soul, which explains his viciousness (I've been one of his targets); I've known for some time that he and the missus have found a kind of peace being as close to normal Greek Orthodox as generic white Americans can get (versus what he used to call überfromm convert Orthodox). I don't agree with where he is right now but OK. God moves in mysterious ways.
  • The well-clad conservative. Actually I look like Kennedy-era liberals, like Jack Webb, who weren't like liberals now; social conservatives with left-wing politics, true believers in the American experiment and the city shining on a hill. (Rule of law: in Webb's world, cops only enforce the law, not create it on the fly; anybody who's arrested is read his rights, etc.)


  1. I'm not sure exactly how Orthodox supposedly worship politics rite and culture. Maybe it's because you perceive the US to be "western" and so anything eastern must be worshiping easternism. But what if it's the other way around? And I've seen 100x worse pope worship that any emperor worship.

    I'm also amazed at the Chutzpah of accusing orthodoxy of creeping liberalism. After all it was the Catholic church that taught there was no salvation outside of communion with the Pope and no beatific vision for the unbaptised (even babies!). Surely I don't have to document that this was once official teaching but is now utterly abandoned in Catholicism.

  2. One should be reminded that the modern Christian tendency toward universalism has been greatly influenced by modern Roman Catholic theologians such as Karl Rahner, Hans von Balthasar, and the currently popular, Fr. Robert Barron, as well as certain statements of John Paul II (e.g. General Audience, July 28, 1999). If the tendency toward universalism has spread to other Churches, one cannot neglect the pivotal influence of the Western Church in this development.


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