Monday, August 31, 2015

The death of discussion and more

  • The death of discussion.
  • No, cupcake, there is no right not to be offended.
  • Individualism and alienation in popular love songs, 1930-1999.
  • A consecrated virgin. Like being an oblate or tertiary in a religious order but one step closer to the full members, being celibate, but consecrated virgins don't necessarily belong to orders. I think traditionally nuns do the bride thing at their professions (initiation ceremony) too. Not everybody's called to marry or be in a religious order; the church is really for everyone. She's pretty; what a big offering to God.
  • Priest bails on church; joins secular world under guise of Anglicanism. Two questions naturally come up: "What's her name?" and if not that, "Are you gay?" The Tablet, a.k.a. the Pill, is only one jump removed from this, not really Catholic.
  • Pope Francis, allegedly: Self-consciously orthodox Catholics are a self-righteous nuisance. Spiritual pride's a problem but with "friends" like these, who needs enemies? Reminds me of the '70s and '80s, when the victorious left was on board with homosexuality and almost OK with sex with kids, so when the long-suffering Wanderer-reading Catholics noticed Father acting funny with the altar boys and told the bishop, like Pope Juan Perón he told them to get over themselves and mind their own business. Anyway, let's turn this argument on its users: the self-consciously fake-friendly, formally informal "faith community" is only celebrating upper-middle-class decorum, including political correctness, and is really cleverly designed to weed out misfits ("people are offended"), as opposed to traditional Catholicism, which is not really a bragfest or cultural snobbery but truly for everyone. Same teachings, same ritual, no matter who you are.
  • Law and gospel. Evangelicalism explained. I'll guess that the Catholic understanding of the gospel and the law isn't that different. (Of course any theory of Christianity that comes up centuries after Christ and the early church is suspect. If it goes against past teaching, don't believe it.) Like evangelicals, we don't believe the law saves us; we can't fulfill it. (Bad religion: fulfill the law and/or do the ceremony correctly and God or the god owes you one, like a contract.) The difference between us and them is we believe the sacraments actually do what they stand for and that man is actually changed by them, through the grace given through Christ, not unchanged but with Christ covering for you. The church is the means of grace; it's not salvation through works.
  • Remembering American Anglo-Catholicism: Resurrection, New York, in the '50s and '60s.
  • Why I don't hate St. Gregory's, San Francisco, even though they're wrong. Links. Well done and well meant, but without the church or even small-o orthodoxy, who or what are they really celebrating? Themselves; same problem as with less talented Catholic liberals. Traditional Anglo-Catholicism, on the other hand, like traditional Catholicism, tried to obey something bigger than a priest's or congregation's fancy, instead of trying for novelty; humbling.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The history of Catholic/Anglo-Catholic relations

From here:
As for the Anglo-Papalists, once somebody realizes the Catholic Church is true, I am highly skeptical of them staying outside the Church for any reason. Corporate reunion? Please. A love of Chardonnay, canapés, and Cranmerian English are not reasons to stay outside the Church.
The history of relations between Catholics (Catholicism) and Anglo-Catholics makes a good academic paper. Were Anglo-Papalists extreme Anglo-Catholics, what the English Protestant mainstream suspected all along about A-Cism, or the opposite of Anglo-Catholics? Anglo-Papalists were a tiny minority in both England and America, as Anglo-Catholics were, but they defined A-Cism in England last century.

Anglo-Catholicism at its start, like the high churchmanship that launched it, was NOT about wanting to come into the church (as we believe Catholicism is) but a RIVAL true-church claim, claiming a divine foundation and authority, and even a spiritual independence from the state, just like we do, but for King Henry's and Queen Elizabeth's "church," to OPPOSE us as well as the dissenting (non-Anglican, "free-church") Protestants such as Congregationalists (the extreme Calvinists who walked out of Anglicanism) and the Methodists (well-meaning John Wesley's movement, which likewise left Anglicanism). The A-C movement started in 1833 not at all a movement to copy our traditional ceremonial and bring England back into the fold; rather, it started as a protest against the British government acknowledging an effect of Catholic emancipation by considering suppressing four dioceses of the Anglican Church of Ireland, which of course next to no Irish belong to.

The 19th-century high churchman thought his church kept and would always keep the conservative, patristic line as he understood it, while the Pope had overstepped his bounds and was setting the dangerous precedent of innovating in doctrine. (The Pope having the final say in a diocese, Mary being all-holy, and the Pope sharing in the church's infallibility of course aren't innovations.) It would be fair to say they could well imagine the 21st-century Catholic Church ordaining women and having same-sex marriages while the godly Anglican Church stayed the course.

The Western world's scholars read each other's books and wrote to each other, so some high-church Anglicans knew a number of Catholics, yet there was also a belief that to be publicly too close to Catholics was disloyal, giving into a church they still believed was in error. Yet F.G. Lee's biographer writes that as early as the mid-1800s there were Anglo-Catholics of their time (not outwardly would-be Catholics) quietly doing exactly what the Protestant English hated and feared, writing among themselves and to friendly Catholics about a "reconciliation with honor with Rome" as some would call it now.

By the end of the 1800s, men such as Lee (even though Lee by then was an outlier, an "oddball," withdrawn from A-Cism, arguably having become its opposite, convinced of Catholicism) had changed the movement to what in England it often was and, among Episcopalians, what it was often taken to be: would-be Catholics imitating our rite and trying to steer Anglicanism into Catholicism. Betrayers of Cranmer et al.? You bet. Cranmer et al. were heretics. (American Anglo-Catholics copied our style too but believed in what they thought was Anglicanism; Hooker minus the Erastianism.)

The church says if you become convinced of Catholicism you must convert, but God is patient.

Reactions from Catholics were either privately supportive, encouraging this movement toward the church, or attacking those who "ape the true faith." I imagine the knowledgeable among the latter Catholics remembered the high churchmen's original intent, a rival true church still Protestant. (The English Church as the only lawful church in the realm, and some high-church Episcopalians believed the same in America; "the Roman Church" being "the Italian Mission to the Irish.") The former included Cardinal Mercier and the informal Malines Conversations in the 1920s at Anglo-Catholicism's height. (I guess Viscount Halifax was an Anglo-Papalist.) For naught because the A-Cs never spoke officially for Anglicanism nor for all Anglicans, many of whom are liberals/Modernists or Evangelicals.

You had the confusing situation when I was born into the Anglican scene. A-Cs had high-churched Episcopalianism in enough places that you could learn or infer a kind of pre-Vatican II Catholic spirituality from it. Vatican II had both the effect of encouraging would-be Catholics thanks to then very fashionable ecumenism, which was also why some Episcopalians who weren't really A-C outwardly high-churched themselves ("high church" originally referred to a high view of church authority, not high ceremonial), AND protestantizing/low-churching Catholics throughout the Western world so, thanks to Episcopal semi-congregationalism, Anglo-Catholic parishes sometimes remained conservative and pre-Vatican II vs. the local Catholic liberals/Modernists. Yet one could grab onto the hope that thanks to ecumenism, if we weren't already Catholics (which a number of Anglicans believed), we were on our way home to the church.

Of course Articles XIX and XXI gave away the ending centuries ago so history went in another direction from what we imagined.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The WDBJ-TV story, F.G. Lee, and more

  • Black gay ex-TV reporter murders white straight reporter and white straight cameraman during broadcast; media blame gun. Exactly; it doesn't fit the narrative like "Law & Order" plots do. (Unconstitutionally abusive cops going after New York's most dangerous on average: white men. As silly as "Batman" vs. the Joker, etc.) Alison Parker of course was pretty thus on camera; she and Adam Ward seemed nice. RIP.
  • Reading: Dr. Lee of Lambeth. I "met" F.G. Lee in the library of one of those mainstream American institutions of weird self-hating "Vatican II" Catholics, one of their successful, sports-y "universities," 30 years ago. I think it was his Glossary of Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Terms. What a contrast to the school: charming (well-spoken) and not only believing in and defending everything the church teaches (one of the first Anglo-Papalists) but in love with the church and its culture, yet for most of his life he technically wasn't Catholic. Lee's life covered the stages and contradictions of the first century of Anglo-Catholicism as one of its second generation (he knew the Tractarians personally but came later than them), from high-and-dry (outwardly Protestant, conforming) in early 19th-century England (he came of age in the mid-1800s) to wordplay with the Anglican authorities defending disobeying them to bring back Catholic practices, and defending Anglican orders to Catholics, to being a successful slum priest, to realizing that Anglican "ritualism" has no ground to stand on (disobedience, which is un-Catholic), to (actually starting fairly early on) becoming what many assumed Anglo-Catholicism was (but actually its opposite), convinced of Catholicism but wanting to bring all the Anglicans in corporately (he and a number of Catholic clergy understandably were friendly — his biographer says the Pope was sympathetic — but of course some Catholic authorities suspected him, for remaining outside the church: his Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom was wronged), to, some say, secretly becoming a Catholic bishop, to, unsurprisingly, at the very end, officially becoming a Catholic (layman), dying in 1902. (His wife, who predeceased him, converted years earlier, and stayed with him.) From embattled young priest to slum-ministry success serving thousands, impressing other Victorians, to, in the end, back to only a couple dozen people in a church built for over a thousand, to losing his little parish in a merger. He had failings: his biographer speculates he bought a fake doctorate. (Later he only had a doctorate of divinity, which I think is honorary.) A failure and folly in the world's eyes but not God's. Better still: unlike most other Anglo-Catholics, he was a Tory.
  • Tom Lehrer. Eccentric genius still with us but out of the spotlight by choice. About 55 years ago, even the liberal smartasses were better. My favorite: "Folk Song Army."
  • "Sister Wives" cite gay marriage ruling in polygamy case. They have a point. The question for us is what social ills from polygamy should make us keep a ban. Not everything that's a sin, shameful, etc., should be illegal. I know that fundamentalist Mormon groups are abusive, kicking out excess boys so the leaders can help themselves to the girls. Are the actual Mormons dangerous? (Polygamy really is part of their doctrine; they've compromised to obey the law.) By the way, they're not really conservative; they started pretending to be, years ago, in order to blend in, the image they still have and are made fun of for. I understand there are lots of them in the FBI and CIA now, jobs that Irish Catholic cops used to have.
  • Pat Buchanan was right.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Real Christian community vs. pseudo-intimacy

In his second book, Where Have You Gone, Michelangelo? The Loss of Soul in Catholic Culture, the great Thomas Day (the explainer of American Catholicism, old and new, good and bad, to Anglo-Catholic alumni) nails why I don't like the new religion:
The trouble is, "intimacy" (for the intimate ones) and "corporate worship" (for everybody) repel one another.
Eureka! An epiphany. Not only is the new putative Catholicism from 45 years ago protestantized, hiding or denying parts of the faith (it's about God's presence in the community, not bread or wine), but actually all its seeming "warmth" (low churchmanship, church in the round, "the sign of peace") the studied informality, the fake friendliness trying to recapture a utopian "early church" (which historically it isn't, as even the New Testament says), is only creating a club, even a clique, reducing the church to the people you like. (Not just liberalized parishes but "small groups" and "intentional communities"; remember those?) Of course it's great when church people are friendly, but this is different, self-congratulatory. The real inclusivity, for people who don't get invited to parties, with problems that aren't fun to be around to make you feel good for trying to help (showing off fake charity, from political correctness to transcript and résumé-polishing), real "Christian community," is in the traditional rites as they evolved historically, just like for everybody else. "The Catholic Church: here comes everybody," people who know they're sinners and go to confession, not "My friends and I are living saints, working for justice and peace, not like YOU."

No wonder people left the church. Plus, normal people have real "community" with family, friends, etc., so they don't need or want the hokey, pseudo-religious kind. The churchy "cool kids" aren't really cool.

So if the church isn't an "in crowd" of the self-styled "cool kids," why be proud of being Catholic, as Day describes in the first chapter, in 1964? (The siege aspect and "the church will never change its essentials" were right; the trouble is when they become the only thing, which anybody acquainted with traditional Catholicism knows they're not: the love of Jesus, mysterious devotions, etc.) Isn't that a club too? Anybody can abuse religion (good old spiritual pride or Tartuffery), but the answer here is "elementary": being Catholic is submitting to something bigger than yourself. God, history, ceremony. The new religion is really mirror worship, narcissism. All about how nice supposedly the priest (facing the congregation like a performer), the congregation, the music group, et al. are. (So I guess the socially impaired aren't among the elect; they're among the damned.) Which is really why liberals didn't like the old religion (past tense; they're all old now), including the teachings of the church, which Vatican II upheld; the old religion distracted from that: "get out of my light." They sort of know the traditional music and ceremonial are better, so they attack it as "elitist."

The old religion ISN'T "elitist"; it doesn't talk down to the downtrodden. Rather, if it's good enough for the king and the bishop in his cathedral, it's good enough for you. Even if you're uncool, you too can share in great things. Such as the life of the world to come.

By the way, Day mentions a late liturgist from Notre Dame, Mark Searle, who liked the Melkite parish in town: another romanticized small parish, plus "East good, West bad" hypocrisy (evil when we do it; cool when the Byzantines do it — a mentality that turned me off trying to live in the Christian East).

Photo: Sometime after Middle America lost in 1973. Ironically, being Episcopalian at the time spared me most of this: eastward-facing early Communion service with thous and thees.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday rituals, the Dutch touch, and classic cars

  • Mass: Respice, Domine, in testamentum tuam. Should that be "testamentum tuum"? Almighty and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command. To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
  • My other Sunday-morning ritual. Before Mass, a local radio station plays Elvis for hours so I listen in with my '56 NordMende lit up. I'm not a mad Elvis fan; he was a tremendous raw talent but unschooled as a singer. His early recordings are amazing. The girls screamed because of his sex appeal as they did for Sinatra but he wasn't culturally destructive like the Beatles. Naughty, a typical struggling Southern sinner who knew he was convicted before God, not a subversive.
  • Does Fr. Hunwicke believe in the Dutch touch? The thread of hope that made Anglo-Papalism plausible after Apostolicae Curae. (Anglo-Papalists: what most assumed Anglo-Catholics were but in a way the opposite of A-Cs: not "Anglicanism, as is, is Catholic" but "we want to come into the church.") As the church seemed to say when conditionally ordaining Fr. John Jay Hughes (now retired in the Archdiocese of St. Louis) and Msgr. Graham Leonard (who didn't want an ordinariate)? Fr. Hughes for a personal reason (failed attempt to reconcile with his father, an Episcopal priest who thought Catholic converts were sacrilegious for denying Anglican orders); Msgr. Leonard for a post-Vatican II ecumenical one (being an ex-Anglican bishop). Of course I'm with the church on this (we never really accept such claims; conditional ordination does the same thing absolute ordination does so no harm done) but, having benefited from Anglo-Catholicism (its semi-congregationalism and, in its American version, liturgical conservatism introduced me to pre-conciliar Catholic practice and thus its thought; pretty ironic for a liberal denomination, but hey, the English like irony), I'm not offended if he believes somehow the men who formed him were bishops and priests. I'd say sure, God created valid orders but isn't limited to them, so grace was possible but it wasn't really orders. So no, they're not really bishops, etc., but "Fakedty-fake!" isn't appropriate. "Bishop" and "Father" as courtesy titles to honor their good faith? No problem. By the way, through their Episcopal tie, the liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (who aren't American evangelicals; Evangelische is an old German label for Lutheran) now claims that touch (though apostolic succession isn't considered necessary in Lutheranism). Seems to push the Western view of holy orders outside the church to the limit. But we say from the Anglicans on there are no orders.
  • Old cars in an old town. Flemington, NJ's monthly summer classic-car shows. The photo above is actually of their Methodist church, built in the 1880s when Gothic became fashionable among low-church Protestants. Donna snapped this fine portrait of Nellie the border collie, whom we met a year ago just rescued from a shelter. She's still wary as you can see but sweet. The area's best General Lee clone was there, signed by show cast members. More on the appeal of the Southern cause.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The way it used to be, and more

  • The way it used to be. Anne Roche Muggeridge's paean to traditional Catholic culture. It's still here, in my parish by choice, a magnet, for example; perforce different because just like in America before mass Irish, Italian, and Polish immigration, it's small again, and will bottom out smaller. (Hispanics in America: home/family-based and devotional like fellow Latins the Italians, but the Sixties have done their damage to the culture so the Hispanics can't help the church as much, these aren't institution-builders like the Irish were, and many of them become Protestant.)
  • Granite Falls, North Carolina, circa 1941. "You are there" color film, now digital online. These people and those in 1961 could still relate to each other; not people in 1981.
  • The King of Greece goes home. Maybe, even though he's not really Greek (actually part of the Danish royal family), like all good kings he sees himself as the father of his people, an extended family, which a race or ethnos is.
  • The necessity of purgatory. Prayer for the dead presupposes an intermediate state. Hell is final; the notion of praying someone out of it, while functionally the same as purgatory, is illogical and would violate free will. (Much of the Christian East scoffing at Western logic reminds me of "Doing well in school? That's white!") We can hope there are no people in hell; Jesus is clear we can't presume it. Lots of folklore about purgatory (that it's a mini-hell) isn't our doctrine.
  • Slovakia likes being a Christian nation. As is meet and right. It's Catholic. As for the Muslims, let's leave each other alone. No more invade the world, invite the world. We stay out of their countries and their affairs; they stay out of our infidel ones. Only buy oil from them if necessary and stop supporting Israel. There. Their real motive to attack us would be gone. (9/11 wouldn't have happened.) Would they be insane enough to kill paying customers? If they want to go on hating us, fine: at a safe distance. Like we should leave Russia alone: not Communist anymore and not a trade partner; they're among the good guys now. Estranged Catholics who are anti-liberal. (Putin literally saved their lives from freefall under gangsters like Yeltsin after Communism collapsed, and anyway, Russians aren't democratic, liking strongmen.) Again, they may not like us (not in their empire or sphere of influence equals outside the church in their view, really) but that's not our problem.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Derb's mostly right; Hodur was mostly wrong

  • Summing things up in America now: A report from the conservative movement's dustbin. These first years of the twenty-first century have been a sorry time for Americans who favor national sovereignty, demographic stability, restraint in government, traditional culture, and the rule of law. John Derbyshire's not pro-life and he's anti-Catholic but he's right about just about everything else here.
  • The deep thoughts of Franciszek Hodur. Progressivism; Protestantism meets Marxism. Not even counterfeit Catholicism, even though he still dressed like us. I'm halfway through his book Apocalypse, or the Revelation of the XXth Century from 1930. Basically a Protestant screed, even heretical by their standards, denying original sin. Hooray for the primitive church pre-Constantine; the papacy corrupted everything afterwards. Hodur even attacks practices such as statues and the rosary, which his creation, the Polish National Catholic Church, kept. The man was lying to get and keep (culturally conservative Polish ex-Catholic) followers, that is, being more than his own Pope (Popes don't invent or change doctrine) and continuing to look like the traditional Catholic Church even while he slammed "the Roman Church," etc. (My guess is most of his people just wanted neighborhood parishes that looked the same and spoke Polish. The church gave people that after a few early mistakes; most Polish-Americans remained Catholic and many have never heard of the PNCC.) He was even a feminist: The priesthood of the future will not be a cast of men mercenaries growing rich and fat, but rather it will be a free association of individuals dedicating themselves to higher purposes. It will be a brotherhood of men and women chosen by God, prepared and ordained for this purpose … I'm open to a semi-congregationalist traditional folk Catholicism (let's talk; everything that's not doctrine is on the table); this isn't it. I respect principled churchmen who can't quite accept Catholicism ("Rome's a real church with real bishops but we're truer") and aren't simply anti-Western: the Anglican old high churchmen, the Tractarians, Charles Grafton, and relatively conservative Old Catholics ("the true Roman Catholics because Rome got it wrong about the Pope at Vatican I"; how's that working out?). Not Hodur. His isn't even an alternative-Catholic argument. Very much in the "tradition" of "the American religion"; a new religion. (The only theologian they've ever had?) Man! Brother! Do not fear the light, the new, progress! Care only that this light and this progress have their source in Christ Jesus our Lord! ("Get with the program, Catholics!" He could have written this last week, in the National Catholic Reporter.) The thing's true nature, Hodur's theology, explains why for the PNCC's smarter members it was a fast track into the American Protestant mainstream, away from Polish Catholic culture; they left the PNCC behind too. He was like Luther in another way: according to Klaus Gamber, Luther proposed Communion services facing the people but never got around to it, keeping the trappings of the Mass. The PNCC makes zero sense. By the way, the Nats were Old Catholic (they made Hodur a bishop after a few earlier Polish schisms in America including consecrating schismatic bishops) until about 10-15 years ago, breaking over women's ordination and I guess homosexualism, and broke with the Episcopalians in 1977 over women's ordination (that this heretic Hodur sought intercommunion with them says a lot, even back in 1946!). Given barely-a-bishop Hodur's heresy and the PNCC's former Episcopal tie, I'm somewhat surprised that under the only Polish Pope so far, the church stated it recognizes the PNCC's orders. (Makes sense since we recognized other Old Catholics' orders before they ordained women.) There used to be a conservative faction among them who wanted a "reconciliation with honor" with Rome. I understand the PNCC's dying like the Byzantine Rite churches here for the same reason, assimilation by the third generation in America, but they've actually started some parishes in towns whose Catholic parishes closed. Most of their few parishes are little Novus Ordo clones that look just like older Catholic churches, with generational members and a priest who immigrated from Poland and switched to get married.

Reading: Bloom's "The American Religion" with a side of Kinsman's "Reveries of a Hermit"

Harold Bloom's observations from 1992: I believe his premise that the Protestant heresies, which Frederick Kinsman, an ex-Episcopal bishop of Delaware who became a Catholic (Reveries of a Hermit is a series of talks he gave at Notre Dame University in the '30s), rightly said began with emotion-driven, inconsistent, partially Catholic Luther's appeal to private judgment, have turned into the American religion; they ultimately mean self-worship. (Reinventing yourself, a distortion of being born again, fits into that, so Bruce Jenner still claims to be a good Christian, God's giving him XY chromosomes notwithstanding. America thinks it makes all things new.) Feel-good pietism (Bloom notes that real Christian writers, as in old Europe, warn against confusing feeling with truth or grace); the Inner Light; Jesus and me; I don't need a church. Related: moralistic therapeutic deism, except unlike deism, in the American religion God definitely loves you, peer to peer, a distortion of a couple of truths, including the Incarnation (Jesus is true God and true man). (Me: liberal high church, Episcopalianism, really says the trappings of the church are nice and fun but ultimately not necessary.) But the Mormons, whom he respects partly for their founders' genius and sees as quintessentially part of the American religion (a home-grown new religion), are a strong community (me: people convert and stay for that, not the theology). But while all Protestantism lends itself to the American religion, I don't buy Bloom's argument that the Southern Baptist Convention, while non-credal and individualistic, is full-on American like the Mormons and New Agers in believing that man is eternal, part of an eternal universe and thus every man is really a god. (He considers fundamentalism, which he doesn't like, part of the American religion just like New Age.) In the tradition of Mark Twain, who rubbished the Mormons, Bloom also takes fun swipes at Christian Science and Seventh-Day Adventism (cults started by boring, rather dim women). Bloom's also a fan of Ronald Knox's Enthusiasm. He agrees with the line that Europeans know what Christianity is and most now definitely reject it; most Americans are still religious, thinking they're Christian but they really aren't anymore. (Unspoken belief: Universalism? Of course! I'm a god!)

Also from Kinsman: Calvin's Geneva, where disobedient children were beheaded, was the ISIS of its day. Reminds me of the idea I read somewhere that in the event of a Muslim conquest, the evangelicals could be flipped into being good Muslims, like the Bosnian Bogomils were. Interesting, though it may just be a liberal Protestant and secular (sons of Protestantism) putdown of their conservative brethren against whom they're fighting the culture war. Bloom: Mormonism in its true form from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young et al., is as different from Christianity as Islam is, neither Christian nor conservative. I'm fascinated by Bloom's noting how much Smith's new religion resembles not only Gnosticism but Kabbalah; either Smith had unlikely, unknown access to books hard to find then or he was so smart he managed to parallel those things on his own. There really is nothing new under the sun.

I think in Bloom's overview of America, the Eastern Orthodox theologically and sociologically would be what they are, Catholics without the Pope, but you can argue that the self-reinvention of the convertodox (consumer religion, religion as lifestyle accessory) fits into the American religion, which often appropriates Christian trappings (why the Mormons have you thinking they're just a kind of conservative Protestant, a mask they adopted to fit in). Franciszek Hodur (really a liberal who'd have been at home in liberation theology and Call to Action) and his Polish National Catholics were/are definitely part of the American religion (lots of their clergy are Masons, like Protestant ministers), even if many parishioners don't know it (at the parish level, at its best it's congregational Tridentine Catholicism); like the Mormons, hiding behind a cultural conservatism (the trappings of Polish Catholicism).

Bloom: in the American spiritual hothouse, in which the first big religious revival was orgiastic and like the Pentecostals many years later, Catholicism is relatively sedate!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why I like Trump, Catholic pushback against the Sixties, and Poles in Britain

  • Sailer on Trump: Stumbling upon a worthy cause.
  • Trump: awakening the American dream. A mixed metaphor? But like a Yogi Berraism, from the heart, instantly understandable.
  • Mandatory conciliarism: the sad case of Msgr. Manns. A true story of American Catholic pushback against the Sixties with a Schadenfreude "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?" ending. Not conciliarism in the old theological sense of a council outranking a Pope. Apparently Msgr. Manns didn't implement the changes after Vatican II fast enough for Cardinal Shehan's liking. Unsurprisingly, apparently there was a purge of old priests. (Don't forget: unsung church hero Cardinal McIntyre never implemented the changes in L.A. throughout the '60s. Cardinal Spellman hated the changes but did what he was told.) Predictably, instead of lively Christian communities loving God, serving others, and keeping the kids in the fold, the liberalized bishops ended up with empty, closing churches. The irony, which the liberals have taken full advantage of, is traditionally Catholics don't do such lay protests, but to defend Catholicism, as opposed to mere disobedience, it's commendable, an example of the Holy Spirit at work, a lay version of the patron saint of such, Athanasius.
  • The British et al. should like being British et al. but hooray for hardworking, Catholic legal immigrants, the Polish in Britain.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The loss of American neighborliness and more

  • Face to Face calls another one: Gen X and Millennials don't say "Hi" around the neighborhood. People from the old America were taught to at least fake being nice. These people weren't. Neighborliness from when we were actually closer to equal (postwar boom: midcentury, the '50s; including what Steve Sailer calls diversity before "diversity"), before striving and cocooning, as well as the Sixties, turned people into psychopaths. (Not sociopaths: they're charming; watch your back.)
  • Ugly facts about Communist Cuba. Often a liberal establishment pulpit like the Onion, here Cracked is sort of conservative for a change.
  • Jack Webb, cultural Catholic. Good Cold War liberal, a social conservative. If he had the technology, he would have made "Cops," not settled for dramatization.
  • Gabriel Sanchez: Preparedness. The American Orthodox handled the Sixties just right, by not really engaging, just translating their entirely traditional Catholic services into English, not writing new ones. That said, I don't think they're better prepared for a real persecution. Not only do they disappear in three generations in America, but religious and ethnic folklore, while good, aren't substitutes for real theology and the church. Also, historically they accommodate the state after a round of persecution, since such comes naturally to them from Byzantium. Gabriel's point is a reason I'd love it if American Catholicism were Byzantine but it's not and never will be. (Same vanishing in three generations; assimilation.) The Southern Baptist Convention is better prepped than most Catholics (religious Catholics are ready); they rode out the Sixties and can ride this out too. But they're still not the church.
  • Manosphere criticism. Bob Wallace, in his criticism of the social hierarchy the manosphere posits, even seems to disparage Rob Fedders' better map with the true alphas as natural leaders, assets to society, not sociopaths (who do get girls short-term but not quality ones and they destroy communities and themselves). Good point: while sports and sexual prowess are measures, they aren't everything; not the only measures. Our cultural obsession with sports (which I don't share) blinds us; the best athlete or cheerleader (hackneyed examples he says manospherians buy into) isn't necessarily the brightest or most attractive, nor bound for later, long-term success. He may just be an average-looking, dumb kid who can throw a football. Manosphere truth: looks don't matter as much for men; attitude matters. (For women, looks matter, for reproduction.) Wallace's point: you can't make girls like you by approaching them cold (a.k.a. harassing girls). Manosphere counterpoint: when you have the right attitude, real or assumed, they are more likely to like you, dropping a hint of interest, the way it really works. MGTOW point, echoing the world's great religions, such as Buddhism and Christianity: giving yourself up to try to please the other sex makes you a slave (to women and to your desires), not a real man. Counter-counterpoint: Christian self-sacrifice (betas are normal; not every man is a leader; nice beta providers are the backbone of civilization whom normal women are grateful to have) and of course naturally men and women want to be with each other (kids). A real man is about 'αρετη (excellence), "being all that you can be." (Why work is a spiritual experience for men, even if we know that work isn't family like girls sometimes pretend it is.) If it happens to please the other sex (and it's more likely to), great; if not, so what? Either way you're answering God's calling for you.
  • Commercial for '58 Plymouths' Forward Look. With Betty White.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Goldwater, Catholic and trans, cars, and more

  • From 2012: A choice not an echo. I have this campaign pin, on my desk next to a Nixon '60 matchbook. Goldwater should have been president in '64 (he sold out later) — heck, Nixon should have been in '60 — but of course Johnson rode Kennedy's celebrity (decades of his family's self-promotion as the dad had wanted to be president; cortisone-created good looks from treatment for his Addison's disease — arguably he was too sick to be president; and "martyrdom") to an easy win. Johnson was a mixed bag; a well-meaning liberal but of the good, old America. He wanted to treat the poor and blacks decently. (So did Nixon. Trouble was much of the civil-rights stuff was unconstitutional; why all principled conservatives opposed it. Freedom of association.) Vietnam made sense (good old liberals like Kennedy and Johnson were anti-Communist to the bone) but fight to win. MacArthur opposed the war as it was being conducted: without a real coalition of allies to win, get out, he told Johnson as he was dying, in '64. If it really wasn't strategically important (losing seemed not to hurt our security), then yes, stay out. (The John Birch Society was split on Vietnam.)
  • Catholic and trans. I'm slightly acquainted with someone like this. Aoife Hart has returned to the church, is singly chaste (celibate only implies being so, simply meaning "not married"), and doesn't claim to be an actual woman. He's open-minded enough to criticize some trans stuff. So what is the sin in what he's doing? Self-harm, as in hormonal and surgical damage? Self-indulgence, that is, still denying biological and spiritual reality? Parallel to homosexuals: be honest with yourself about your orientation but if you don't sin, then no problem. There are homosexuals who don't attack the church's teachings. Reminds me of longtime blogger Huw Richardson: he's Orthodox first, and secondly, honest about being gay, but don't try to sell him on "gay Orthodoxy." "Maybe I'm wrong." As far as I know, the church teaches what Hart's confessor told him after a suicide attempt: reality is; bear your cross. And there's the regret literature (paralleling ex-gays) that says "transitioning" doesn't solve the underlying unhappiness, etc.
  • Too soon? A little Catholic humor as I listen to the King on the radio in the hours before Mass. Contrary to popular belief, today in 1977 Elvis Presley wasn't assumed into heaven. A Southerner through and through: "I'm not the King, honey. Jesus Christ is the King. I'm just a singer." Actually today is the feast of St. Rocco (a French nobleman who gave up his riches and worked with plague victims in Italy); some Italian parishes and neighborhoods are celebrating. I think it's outranked by the Sunday, Deus, in adjutorium meum intende, in our '62 missal (traditionally outranked by Jesus' grandfather, St. Joachim?).
  • Cars: Riverside, NJ. A '57 Dodge Custom Royal (Virgil Exner's Forward Look, thus the Christine family resemblance), a '58 Olds, a '59 Chevy, and a '60 Chevy still being worked on.
  • The picture on my TV. A Philco.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Why was Mary assumed into heaven? And: Reading Klaus Gamber

  • Why was Mary assumed into heaven? Nice Newman post from Fr. Hunwicke, but I think the answer's in the collect to the summer Marian anthem in the office, Salve regina: Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosæ Virginis Matris Mariæ corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante præparasti... Conceived immaculate because redemption by her son isn't limited by the order of time, she's the dwelling place meet for him. True devotion to Mary is devotion to Jesus. He saves; she prays. Happy feast day.
  • Finally reading Klaus Gamber and liking it very much of course: The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background. Great companion read with Dom Bernard Botte's orthodox but liberal-enthused From Silence to Participation, written around the same time, not long after the Novus Ordo came out. I'm not sure about all his facts but of course the overall message is right: the rewriting of the services was a mistake! I'm don't think the Roman Rite is the oldest liturgy, that the Roman Canon is the oldest Eucharistic consecration prayer. Most say the Nestorians' (no institution narrative!) is the oldest anaphora still in use. He's very sympathetic to the Christian East, comparing the traditional Mass favorably to it and not the Novus Ordo. (He doesn't buy the nonsense that adding a modified Eastern anaphora, a descending epiclesis, and vocational deacons make something more Eastern, and he respects rites so he's against mixing them anyway.) He writes as if there were a new missal in 1965 while I've been told it was just instructions modifying 1962's; anyway he says '65 was supposed to be the extent of the changes as many/most Catholics thought.

    Msgr. Gamber blames the Novus Ordo on several things, including estrangement from the Christian East (but I understand our rites still resemble each other not only because they're all Catholic but because the extinct Gallican Rite that was mixed into the Roman Rite had Eastern influence, I think from the Copts) and the rise of individualistic devotional piety as liturgical piety declined (a common complaint of liturgical-movement priests). Very interesting: liberals, modernizers interested in the common good, have tried to co-opt (own) the church before: during the "Enlightenment"! There were rationalists among Catholics who, like the English and early American leaders (the Anglicans), thought the supernatural stories in the Bible weren't true so religion's main purpose is to keep the proles well-behaved, so you had kings, governments, corrupting the national churches by having priests preach mainly on obeying the state (C.S. Lewis: "Christianity and" social causes is not really Christianity anymore) and even with "liturgical reform," cutting up the services (disobeying Rome) and substituting hymns for the church's actual chants, which have scripture, etc. (Gamber says this happened to the Germans.) So Catholic life took a hit at the "Enlightenment" (not as bad as the Anglicans but similar); Vatican II sort of finished the job.

    The liturgical movement before the council started to go off the rails with Pius Parsch's and others' well-meant poor or nonexistent scholarship based on "pastoral reasons": innovations in the services just because people seemed to like them (Gamber blames Catholic youth Masses even back then, in the '30s) and assuming that versus populum was ancient. (Some churches' altars, such as St. Peter's, Rome, accidentally face the people because they literally face east.)

    The changes weren't necessary and were backfiring, making people leave the church rather than producing fervent, well-taught communities Christianizing the world (the reformers' stated aim), even back in the '70s.

    Papal authority has its limits. Most people don't know that about the church! Can the Pope change or abolish a rite going back to antiquity, even being apostolic in origin? (Not saying I believe St. Peter wrote the beginnings of the Roman Canon.) The perennial approach is that the liturgy is just handed down as something you do. (Studying the liturgy is modern but of course good in itself.) Popes historically have acted as if they can't just rewrite the services. (Blessed Pius IX on adding St. Joseph to a list of saints in the Canon: I can't. I'm only the Pope.) Gamber quotes Suárez on abolishing the traditional rites as an example of a Pope being out of bounds. Years ago a friend observed that before Vatican II nobody assumed that the ordinary practice of the Catholic religion in the services could or would ever just be stopped.

    Is the Novus Ordo a new rite, Latin but not Roman? Gamber seems to argue so. Makes sense. After all, the Ambrosian/Milanese services are considered a separate rite, and that uses the Roman Canon!

    Orthodox Catholics have been preaching the strict-constructionist (as Gamber does here), hermeneutic-of-continuity reading of Vatican II for 50 years (in fact it defined no doctrine: we can and should shelve it) but is that what it really meant? Was it really just orthodox-sounding liberal code? Documents at the time: praise an old practice, then make it optional a few lines down, which church liberals everywhere interpreted as abolishing it.

    Gamber rightly goes after rendering pro multis as "for all"; in the '80s you'd be smacked down for questioning that. It's well known among traditionalists. Pope Benedict acknowledged the problem and fixed it in English. Thanks to him, now you can go anywhere in the English-speaking world and actually hear Catholicism at Mass. Just like in 1965. Not perfect, but a huge improvement. Why he's "the Great," and he's not even really a conservative, just Catholic.

    Of note to Anglo-Catholic alumni (weird; God's funny sometimes: we ended up learning pre-conciliar Catholicism after the council because we were, for the moment, outside the church):
    A reaction to the cold reason brought by the Enlightenment was the Restoration period of the nineteenth century with its Neo-Romanticism and its Neo-Gothic art movement. Typically, the Neo-Romantics saw the spiritual ideas of the Middle Ages as the great model to follow and attempted to graft a new cutting from them onto the devastated old tree of liturgy.
    When this Romanticism (such as the Gothic Revival in England) got together with the old high churchmen's (high and dry; no Romantics they) and Tractarians' "high" claims of authority for the Anglican Church (much like Catholicism's for itself; at first this Anglican movement wasn't about liturgy or art), you had second-generation Anglo-Catholicism. (The third generation split between the new high-church Modernists, like the Episcopalians now, and exactly what the Protestant English feared and hated about A-Cism, would-be Catholics, "papalists.") They claimed their old tree was still alive. (Newman converted when he realized it wasn't.) Like John Wesley (whose Arminianism was a step back Catholicwards, preparatory to this?) and William Booth, standing athwart history trying to win the English back for Christ.

    P.S. A note on the evil of war: before he was a priest, Gamber was a German soldier all during World War II, a supposed "bad guy."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Signum magnum

Blessed be Mary's glorious Assumption. High Mass at our cathedral; this time not by St. Clement's Jr. (now at St. Edmond's) but a regional celebration for all traditionalists in the official church, by Fr. Pasley and the crew from Mater Ecclesiae. Choir and orchestra doing a classical setting, by Luigi Gatti based on Haydn. Possibly the first time I've seen and heard the full baroque splendor of the church actually in the church, in a setting that was built for it. As you can see, the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul is a small 19th-century imitation of St. Peter's, Rome (Vatican City). My pictures of the Mass aren't so good because the church was packed! People from three dioceses, Philadelphia, Camden, and Trenton. The Knights of Columbus and TFP, which apparently includes some friars. A Greek Catholic priest, clean-shaven, in his riassa (big cassock) and wearing a Russian cross, was with the other priests in their choir stalls.

Answering an article by an Episcopalian

An Episcopal priest in good standing, the Rev. Laurie Brock, writes: 10 things I wish everyone knew about the Episcopal Church.

OK, this post picks on the Episcopal Church. Because the article asked for it.

"We don’t all love 'Downton Abbey.'" Episcopalianism's extremely ethnic; it's English! Funny thing is, the more liberal and "diverse" they try to be, the smaller, whiter, and richer they get. They think real Catholics are bigots. Blue-collar conservatives "just don't fit in." ("Nice but not our class, dear.") "We were not formed because Henry VIII wanted a divorce." You were formed because he wanted an annulment he didn't deserve. "For more than 500 years, residents of the British Isles practiced a particular expression of Christian worship, broadly called Celtic Christianity (which isn’t an exact term). When the Roman practice of the faith became official in the seventh century, the deep roots of centuries of faith were not abandoned or eradicated." The myth of ancient non-Catholic British Christianity; oh, please. The English "reformers" thought they were returning to the church of the early fathers, before Catholics evangelized Ireland; I think the non-Catholic Celtic church myth is only a couple of centuries old.
Isn't "Downton Abbey" a women's show?
I've only seen part of one episode. Michelle Dockery, an actress on it, is very pretty. I wonder if having lived in the mother country and not following this show are connected. But you could be right; it might be mostly for women.
The Episcopal Church Does Not Welcome Me, It Does Not Welcome You. Run far, run fast. Don't get involved with it.
Indeed. By a historical accident it taught me some basics of traditional Catholicism when I was growing up, but that's not its true nature. Stay away.
It taught me some basics of traditional Protestantism when I was growing up. Stay away!
It has the Bible, the creeds, and liturgical worship, and promotes community, all of which Miss Brock mentions, but Erastianism is a feature, not a bug. It was invented to serve the state, and it pretty much lost its faith at the "Enlightenment."
The "Celtic Christianity" canard... Chortle. Yawn.

The Book of Common Prayer and the Reformation have nothing to do with ancient "Celtic Christianity" whether in terms of dogma, liturgy, or custom. And certainly not in Celtic folk religious customs which they were keen on stamping out. Positing a Celtic Christianity juxtaposed to an officialy imposed Romanism starting in the 7th century has to account for the fact that Roman primacy was recognized by the British Church before Augustine, and, among other things, the visitation of St. Germanus, which make no sense apart from British recognition of the primacy of the Roman Church. The differences between "Celt" and "Roman" were differences in liturgy and custom; not doctrine.
That's what I was trying to say. The "reformers" didn't claim to.
The other theory you hear sometimes is the "nasty Norman" thesis.


They are a bunch of phonies. The "welcome" is only for those who share their left-wing views. Do you really think that an outspoken conservative like myself would be embraced by your average Episcopal parish?
Exactly. Folks in flyover country who love Jesus aren't their market. They have few kids, many of whom leave, and they skim a few ex-Catholics and ex-evangelicals. Actually, demographically, sociologically, the Catholic and Episcopal churches don't compete. The Episcopalians' biggest rivals are other English Protestants, the United Church of Christ (what the Puritans turned into) and their non-Christian offshoot the Unitarians.
Well, I wouldn't say that, particularly of people who were born and raised in TEC.
It's becoming more and more so as conservative born Episcopalians die or leave.
In the old days, they certainly attracted a lot of Catholic priests, or those who wanted to be priests, who wished to marry. The outward structure and ritual of the two churches seemed similar, especially after Vatican II. Now not so much. It looks as if they still get traction from some people, mainly their more conservative Hispanic parishes. Alberto Cutié.
Did they? I don't think so. Only a few, then and now. Fr. Cutié is a rarity. As Peter Robinson says, ex-Catholics there are a small but noisy minority. By the way, the Episcopal Church has long supported schisms in American Catholicism, from Italian neighborhood ones to the Polish National Catholics to the Ruthenians' defections to the Orthodox. They've wanted to absorb us, Americanize us. Their few Hispanic converts aren't conservative.
No but an outspoken conservative would be welcome at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas.
Yeah, that semi-congregationalism and even semi-conservative dioceses such as Dallas. But logically if you're still in the Episcopal Church, you're on board with women priests and gay weddings, on top of bad old Protestantism. We have the right to enforce our teachings among our people; they do with theirs.
On other hand, the bit about alcohol this woman discusses is interesting. Maybe it's because I am from the South, but alcohol was rarely ever served in my parish church (apart from the Communion wine of course). It was coffee (and lemonade in the spring and summer). The church simply had no bearing on drinks one way or the other in my experience.
The Anglicans drink, like Catholics and German Lutherans. But I understand that back when safe drinking water was rare, the Puritans drank beer too, just like other English people.

Anglicanism is like if the Masons ran the Catholic Church. Because they sort of do run the Anglican Church.
And they sort of do run the Catholic Church...
Churchmen might be Masons, breaking our rules, but nobody can own the Catholic Church like the British government and the liberal elite in America own Anglicanism.
Masonry is passé. We've got bigger fish to fry.


Well, that woman doesn't speak for me; I love "Downton Abbey," am proud of Anglicanism's links to the Monarchy, am fiercely attached to English choral music, couldn't care less about "diversity," and wear black on July 4. God save the Queen.
Monarchy's good, the ethnic English should like being so, and the American Revolution wasn't justified.
Being English Canadian, when I was denomination-shopping I wanted to be Anglican really bad, but female priests were a deal-breaker right out the gate, even the breakaway groups ordain them.
The Continuers don't; the Realigners do but are reconsidering it. The Continuers: as the late Fr. Serge (Keleher) said, "The Protestant Episcopal Church fell apart so let's re-create it so it can fall apart again."

The Episcopalians accidentally taught me traditional Catholicism when American Catholics were low-churching themselves and trying to be modern liberals so thanks. Catholicism in English speaks to me in the idiom of the old Prayer Book. I like Cary Grant and David Niven in The Bishop's Wife, and almost everybody loves C.S. Lewis. But I wouldn't go back if you paid me or threatened me.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Average Catholics and images in worship

  • New Oxford Review on that "Your Average Catholic" story I linked to back in May (original article). Valid orthodox Catholic o tempora point: catechesis since Vatican II has been abysmal. Then again we have this medium, the greatest library in history. The Catholic Church has fulfilled the Great Commission. There are two traps you can fall into. One is forgetting "the Catholic Church: here comes everybody" and that "it takes all kinds." In short, not everybody is called to be "involved in their parishes" and "avid Catholic media consumers" (is that even necessarily good?) as if the institutional church, though made by God with a purpose, were an end in itself. Priests appreciate lay help, and some people are called to that, one hopes without self-righteousness. (Variants of "church as hobby": spikery, meaning ceremonial for its own sake, and church gossip over coffee or sherry.) Trying to make everybody into a church geek is as wrong, unfair, as trying to turn all introverts into extroverts, as if for one type there is no salvation. It's the well-meant mistake of the first Protestants and of Catholic reformers last century (orthodox ones before Vatican II and heretical ones after): sort of like the assumption that everybody should go to college, it's a kind of clericalism, trying to clericalize the laity ("make everybody into little priests" as a friend puts it). Middle-class arrogance? As my friend says, the church is also for the masses who never read a book again once they're done with school. The church has minimum requirements to remain in the state of grace; all you need to be "practicing." And: it's always been so. Some accuse traditionalists of idealizing the past into something that never really was; no, we have enough "living links" to before Vatican II to keep things real, and the learned among us know that for most of history, most people have been lax and uncatechized. Also: isn't the whole point of being a Catholic layman, lay apostolate, being the best doctor, editor, or bricklayer you can be ("for Christ"), not being "a little priest"? (The point of Opus Dei without necessarily joining Opus Dei.) Let's be realistic about the laity. Sure, the church is supposed to be a community but that includes families, towns, and national cultures, Catholic but not necessarily churchy. The other trap is a distortion of the truth that there are many levels of "participation." (Another level-headed Catholic friend: "participation" means showing up, and a blogger: to eventually be a good Catholic, start by being a bad one.) Liberals like these stories as part of "survey says," dissenting from church teaching (you don't have to go to Mass, you can be divorced and remarried, you can contracept, etc., since "survey says" most Catholics do those things). It's true that "being Catholic isn't so much what you do as what you are." Certain sacraments leave an indelible mark on the soul so the lapsed are still in the church. So Pope Francis is right of course: the divorced and remarried are still Catholic and of course welcome. They just can't receive Communion. The modern(ist) notion that one has a right to Communion is wrong. Food for the imperfect on their journey, not just a reward for good behavior? True but here the distinction between venial and mortal sin (or at least grave matter) comes into play. Communion remits venial sin; if you have grave matter on your conscience, go to confession first.
  • Anglicanism's change from Protestant iconoclasm to agreeing with us on images, accepting the seventh ecumenical council. Fr. Mitchican's Anglican history lesson. You can learn the original view from honestly reading the Thirty-Nine Articles. Liberal high church loves our creeds, our traditional liturgies, and our culture more than Catholic liberals do. How many libcath priests wear cassocks and birettas? Thing is, per Articles XIX and XXI, it's still not the Catholic Church. Taking this iconodulia at face value as a kid, this stuff accidentally taught me traditional Catholicism; then you realize it's not the church.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Russia, political correctness, and movie censorship

  • George Weigel: Taking the "long view" on Russia. Queried about the Holy See’s less-than-vigorous response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, senior Vatican officials are given to saying (often with a dismissive tone, as if the question came from a dim-wit), “We take the long view.” Exactly. What I've been calling the big picture. Being pro-Russian because I'm Catholic. They're not Communist anymore and we don't trade with them, so just keep an eye on them but leave them alone. I hope Putin's another Constantine for them.
  • Political correctness is not just good manners. The temptation to it is understandable; it's a Christian heresy as I like to say. For where niceness is concerned with protecting a social order concerned with community, PC is concerned with protecting a social order that is explicitly anti-community... PC is therefore a direct competitor to mere niceness; both seek the protection of a social order, but the social orders they envision are irreconcilable.
  • My reading: Movie Censorship and American Culture, a collection of essays (mostly liberal, of course) published in the mid-1990s. Interesting points. The culture war partly played out over the movies goes back to the late 1800s (a reaction to industrialization and the start of consumer culture, and Protestant attacks on alcohol and live theater), and the writers note the similarity between the Protestant women moral crusaders trying to "mother the movies" to protect "the children" and political correctness. Progressivism is a Christian heresy and has long appealed to women, from censorship to pacifism to Prohibition to criticizing the free market with its profit motive. (Or the world needs nice ladies to tell it what to do.) "A secularized or 'progressive' version of Protestant values" is American culture. (The writer uses that to describe mainstream Protestant social morality in the '20s.) Jews, latecoming, smart followers of the German "Enlightenment," take to it like a duck to water. One problem with early attempts to censor movies is the Protestants, including the mainline already becoming more liberal, couldn't agree among themselves about standards. The movie industry, of course interested in making money, opposed state censorship, wanting to police itself instead, presenting itself as the best compromise between state oppression and offending public order, the go-between with statism on one hand and small-town prudery on the other, trying to minimize damage from both. (Fearing a backlash from small-town Protestant America.) The movie moguls found an ally in American Catholics, likewise moralistic but, a minority, not wanting state censorship either, realizing it would really be Protestant. Also, because the church has clear teachings, Catholics were easier for them to work with. So, in a sign of the immigrant church's new clout in America (before Vatican II ruined it), Catholics (the Legion of Decency) wrote the Production Code of movie self-censorship in effect from the '30s to the '60s. (An industry largely financed by Protestant bankers, operated by Jewish studio executives, and policed by Catholic bureaucrats.) And in that environment, such as in the Cold War, the church was in a good position to show how much it shared with the best of American culture (the natural law the "Enlightenment" founding fathers believed in) vs. the divided Protestants. So in a way we took to American culture too, without compromising until the Sixties. Moviemakers bent over backwards to be inoffensive about European ethnicities in the '30s because of the international market (make fun of Italians and you get protests at home and lose the market in Italy). The courts ruled that freedom of speech didn't cover a commercial product such as the movies but changed their minds. And of course protests left and right backfire; it's publicity, free advertising, that boosts box-office. Jerry Falwell meant well but a political solution probably isn't the answer. Fallen human nature is too big a problem for a "Clean Up America" campaign. And anything that puts the message first and the art second will be bad art (Christian pop music: "You're not making Christianity better; you're making rock'n'roll worse!"): In the mid-1930s the WCTU produced its own films, with titles such as The Beneficent Reprobate, which purposefully showed the worst results of drinking and smoking to dissuade people from engaging in those activities.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Deus in loco sancto suo

Mass: Deus in loco sancto suo. Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask. Brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand. He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Photos: Most Precious Blood Italian Catholic Church, Hazleton, Pa. (From R.K.)

The coincidentally full church in the first interior photo and the empty one in the second are fitting given recent history.

The Catholic "renewal" like in the 1970s; low-church. I understand the intent of the "renewal": streamline the liturgy to teach people about the Bible and its message to make a fervent community winning the world for Christ. But any kind of Protestantism, including liturgical neo-Protestantism, is wrong plus it doesn't work. Lots of people have left the church. I can imagine this place having guitars and a squad of Eucharistic ministers; ugh. Or maybe it's like South Philly, where the Italians had the new religion forced on them like the English "Reformation." As much as I hate this, with Pope Benedict's English Mass (Catholic in spite of local liberals) I could live with it. The church is still the church; we still have our doctrine and the sacraments. All it would take to improve this place is bringing back a traditional "eastward" altar ("the priest has his back to the people") and the altar rail.

Traditional Italian devotional Catholicism. It's fine; it just needs to be put in its proper place to keep things Christ-centered. Of course all true devotion to Mary is devotion to Jesus; he is the reason for devotion to her.
Ugh. I feel sorry for the priest who draws that assignment.
I can imagine a priest in the Pope Benedict mold walking into a '70s nightmare of old National Catholic Reporter-reading parish-council members who are Eucharistic ministers. Or maybe they're well-meaning Italians still following the program forced on them 40 years ago and just need a nudge back in the right direction. If the parish doesn't close first due to the attrition after Vatican II, as you and I know is happening a lot in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
I'm all for the Latin Mass (in both its traditional and post-Vatican II forms) but to refer to the Novus Ordo as "new religion" is a bit much, don't you think? As you noted, even the worst tambourine Mass with liturgical dance is still valid, something that cannot be said about the liturgies celebrated by Anglicans and other Protestant groups (fakedty-fake, etc., etc.). That said, the destruction of churches and their uglification was a terrible thing. Also, the shift in focus away from the Sacrifice of the Cross to what George Carlin once so perceptively called "buddy Jesus" did a lot of damage too. Buddy Jesus isn't going to call on you to practice the faith, he's your pal, he wants to have a beer with you, and then let you into heaven like a guy with an in with the bouncer who runs the rope line at Studio 54 ('70s reference deliberate). Ick. No wonder people stopped going. The Sacrifice of the Cross is at the heart of all liturgy — the Mass, the Office, Benediction, each and every Sacrament. Get away from that, and there's trouble.
I didn't post this to criticize the Anglicans. "I am a Catholic" suffices and I'm thankful they accidentally taught me pre-Vatican II Catholicism.

"The new religion" is a bit of Anglo-Catholic rhetoric that fits. Doctrinally I understand you but culturally it was very much a new religion, and with the spread of heresy starting in the Sixties (and yes, made worse by Vatican II), sadly, locally it was doctrinally so as well.

The early Lutherans and the sincere among the early Anglicans (there were a few: Hooker, for example) were trying to do what Catholic reformers in the 20th century were: change lay Catholics from lax and passive to "on fire for the Lord" in a lively fellowship by turning the liturgy into a teaching tool ("turn them into little priests"), but of course they no longer believed in our doctrine. The Lutherans made the episcopate optional and were wrong about the Mass but kept many of our forms (they're our close cousins, sincere in their love for Christ); the Anglicans went in for long sermons and, with the priest wearing his old choir habit for all services (keeping a liturgy but "this is not a Mass"), church in the round for Communion (the return to eastward celebrations was later), which they ended up doing only once a quarter because English people kept the medieval Catholic practice of only receiving four times a year.
Active participation??? Let's see ... would you call "active participation" that which the 3 Marys and the Apostle John did at the foot of the Cross. The priest celebrates (not just presides at) the Mass and we "assist." This "active participation" stuff is more crapola, a hidden agenda for the liberalism that has crept into all things erstwhile Catholic.
In short, I appreciate what the reformers who still believed in our doctrine were trying to do. They did it wrong. Just have translations of the old services as an option and make a couple of little edits.
The 1965 Missal had the right idea, although the vernacular of the people's parts would need to be redone in the spirit of B16's reform of the Roman Rite's translation style.
I'm fine with just translating the 1962 Missal. By the way, officially there is no 1965 Missal. There was a series of instructions starting in 1965 whittling the 1962 Missal away, until by 1969 it was nearly the Novus Ordo, but officially the Roman Rite still used the 1962 Missal. I think Benedict the Great's reform in English approximates those late '60s Masses in content, but you're right, now the English is better, closer to the Latin. Like the translation in my 1957 hand missal.
More than instructions, though. I've seen hand missal a using the 1965 arrangement — the missals were provisional, but they were there. People's parts in English, priest's parts in Latin. Translating the 1962 Missal is a fine idea too, and arguably that is what should have been done instead of undertaking a wider reform of the order of Mass.
I've seen the new hand missal from '65 too. But the official missal, the altar book, was '62 with new instructions. Rome didn't issue a new missal in '65. Procedurally, the new instructions were like the many other tweaks since St. Pius V.

I think many lay Catholics, seeing the new hand missal, thought that the '65 revision would be the extent of Vatican II's changes.
I remember the 1965 hand missals. Thank God this was after my altar-boy days. Don't like the 1965 interim liturgy. This is when we had a large table placed in the sanctuary and the priest celebrated versus populum. No thanks.
That's pretty much where most of the Roman Rite is now, because of both the disaster of the council and Benedict the Great's recatholicizing reform. Bad ceremonial but orthodox text. So for instance when I'm on vacation in Wildwood for the classic-car show — the cars, the space-age motels, AND going to Mass at liberal St. Ann's (part of the new parish of Notre Dame de la Mer after the closings/merger), it's like 1965: the Sixties didn't really happen. (Despite the all-girl serving crew and, worse, the squad of Eucharistic ministers; write it off as local eccentricity.)

A news story from two months ago about local worship wars: Music chief for Pope’s Philly Mass quits in dispute with Archbishop Chaput.
Romeri is said to have more of a “high church” sensibility in liturgy than Archbishop Chaput, who has expressed a preference for the newer Mass in English and simpler styles of worship. While Chaput is often described as a doctrinal and cultural conservative, in the Catholic Church, that does not necessarily equate with liturgical traditionalism, which is its own distinct — and proud — brand.
'80s American Catholic low churchmanship: ugh. The archdiocese has a reputation as "conservative" but it's really complacent and parochial, and now that it's spent down its financial and social capital from before Vatican II, it's crumbling. My impression is Archbishop Chaput is sound doctrinally but is mainly a retirer of debts. "How's that 'renewal' working out for youse?" (Remember when conservative Catholics were told to turn charismatic, the future of the church?)
You are right about the church in Philadelphia, but as far as church closings, but there is little choice given Mass attendance and $$$. Some beautiful churches have closed, but some are just old and undistinguished.
Some closings are necessary. The Sixties would have hurt the church regardless, but if we hadn't helped the process with Vatican II, we would have been better off. We had the clout among our own people and in the larger American society to ride it out. (By the way, Cardinal McIntyre in Los Angeles never implemented the changes, throughout the decade. They didn't come in until after he was forced to retire in 1970. An unsung hero.) All we needed to do, practically, was say American religious freedom rightly understood is OK, and do what the Russian Orthodox metropolia in America/the OCA did, just offer a translation of the old services as an option with maybe a few edits.

Cars and my Philco TV

The New Hope Automobile Show isn't the area's best classic-car fest. My favorites are Wildwood (partly because of the town itself, partly because of the number of cars), Vineland (so many, in an old town, and it's free), Macungie's Das Awkscht Fescht (again, numbers, and you're with friendly folk basically in a rural area outside of rust-belt Allentown), the fall show and car flea market at Delaware County Community College (numbers and it's free), and Riverside. This one has been waning in recent years but it's old and tony, with the money going to charity.

'58 Dodge Coronet.

'58 Chevy Impala.

'59 Ford Skyliner, a fancy civilian version of Mike Torello's black unmarked cop car.

My 1957 Philco TV.