Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sex and violence traditionalism, men not going to church, and the value of acting like a church

  • Sex and violence traditionalism. Andy Nowicki of Alternative Right, from 2010. A valid point that needs repeating occasionally but I wonder just who he's criticizing. Thinking conservative Christians, certainly educated orthodox Catholics, know better. There's not just Flannery O'Connor and the Christian history of Western art but all the sex and violence in the Bible, always tempting to bowdlerlize (as if we're better than God; we can be better than the Israelites), certainly not self-interpreting. Christianity isn't the cult of niceness, of upper-middle-class decorum (political correctness, a ripoff of Christian ethics), etc. I can imagine there are a few well-meaning, naive, uneducated conservative American Christians who think all our art (including TV and movies) should be didactic or sentimental like the Hallmark Channel or "Touched by an Angel." (Educated Catholics know angels aren't feminine; speaking of the pure spirits, cherubim might be the inspiration for gargoyles, the winged babies being pagan Roman.) When your message comes first and your art second, the result stinks. There's valid criticism and then there's buying into the secular world's frame that conservative Christians are idiots.
  • Baptizing "masculinity": the real reason men don't go to church. From a year ago, by an evangelical. Evangelicalism, after all, is a weird, modern, mutant form of Christianity, much as it might like to pretend to be its definitive form. Yes but of course we don't stop there. The feminized religion the writer is accusing his camp of (men don't like sissy religion; they like a challenge, and condescending, shallow marketing to men will flop of course) is logical from Protestantism (even though many classical Protestants were intellectuals; heretics), dumping the church and its transforming grace (logically getting rid of the need to go to church, but that took some time to happen; norms lag behind values) for a feeling and the belief that you're unchanged, covered by Christ's substitutionary atonement (the snow-covered dungheap). Molly Worthen writes... evangelicals “are the children of estranged parents — Pietism and Enlightenment — but behave like orphans.” ... as if it were obvious that the essence of Christianity was the Pietist-style Bible study — a huddle of believers, each clutching their NIVs to their chests and sharing what a particular Psalm “means to me.” The corollary of this attitude, presumably, is that if we want to bring men (or, I suppose, less-people-oriented women) back into the Church, we need to teach them to be more relational. Is it really true that Christ built a Church only capable of appealing to a certain kind of person (mainly women)? That seems unlikely. Same thing that's wrong with Novus Ordo Catholicism as Thomas Day pointed out. A temptation for the very social, which many/most women are; it's a gift. The universal church reduced to your "set" (the "warm," the charming, with upper-middle-class manners, etc.). That's not the church.
  • Perhaps there is no real ordinariate "brand." A cranky Anglican writes of the American ordinariate: I look around and see that Incarnation, Orlando has Knights of Columbus and Monday night bingo, hardly elements of Anglican patrimony. St. Timothy's Catonsville has both male and female altar servers, a guitar-playing cantor who leads the singing up front with a mic, a versus populum celebration, and the general feel of a typical Ordinary Form Catholic mass, except that they use [The Book of Divine Worship]. Every mass is taped and posted on their Facebook page, so you can judge for yourself. Other places, like Bl. John Henry Newman, Irvine are of course of the lace cotta and fiddleback chasuble school. Of course I don't agree about Anglicanism but I see his point. That said, the church has many schools of spirituality and even theological opinion (not to be confused with doctrine) that don't necessarily get along (really, altar girls, after all you've been through?). As long as the doctrine and the text of the rite are sound, we're good; we're not tied down to any one rite or culture. As I've written before, the British ordinariate of course is theologically good but Novus Ordo (which they did when they were still Church of England, because they wanted to be Catholic) that happens to have married priests, but some people have or are reviving the panache of Tridentine Anglo-Papalism; that is, of Anglicans before Vatican II who really wanted to be Catholic (not Anglicanism's rival truth claim), but as a group. (In England you can find high churchmanship if you're looking for it.) I'm glad of course that in this description the lace cottas and fiddlebacks are in the "mix" but, besides married ex-Anglican priests, for which you don't need the ordinariates (there are such in the dioceses under the Pastoral Provision; if you're just going to be run-of-the-mill American Novus, you might as well not be in the ordinariate), I think Pope Benedict wanted the American ordinariate to continue in its non-Sixties, good old-fashioned Anglo-Catholic liturgical roots, hence the new missal now that's at least slightly less Novus than the Anglican Use was. (A showplace for my point that traditional Roman Rite Catholicism doesn't have to be in Latin, although I value Latin as a template and world second language, besides for its beauty.) There seems to be a lot of dancing around, but not quite getting, the idea that maybe you can evangelize lots of people simply by acting like a church. Oh, yes. It doesn't have to be the conservative part of the American ordinariate's way, but that way is definitely a part of it and very welcome here. My parish doesn't use the Prayer Book (and that's fine with me, but people who want a catholicized Prayer Book text should have one and do): 10 years ago Fr. James Mayer decided to make it act like a church; the resemblance flows from that.


  1. The writer whom you describe as "a cranky Anglican" has admitted that he has no particular attachment to Anglicanism, but drifted from Presbyterianism to the Episcopal Church to Continuing Anglicanism to Rome. The way he disparages the Ordinariate liturgy, it seems clear he doesn't have much use for more traditional forms of worship in general; rather, he appears to be looking for an inoffensive Novus Ordo service without any goofiness. May he find it, so that he can stop the cranky pot-stirring.

    1. Sounds like the blogger. I meant the person he was quoting.

    2. Copy that. There is, of course, variety in Anglicanism,just as there is variety in Catholicism, as you note. I will say, though, that the Knights of Columbus are a natural fit for ex-Anglicans. Many older Anglicans are masons, and the Knights are similar enough without being heretical.


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