Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Convert utopianism

The convert hipsterdox have a point: part of Byzantium's potential in the West today is at best it's a Catholic traditionalism without some of our baggage. I like my church culture (traditional Roman Rite with Anglican hymns) but no one culture is perfect or right for everyone; only the faith itself, our doctrine, is. A reason I support the Byzantine Rite by going to it locally once a month. Anyway, a while back, a Presbyterian-turned-Orthodox-turned Catholic friend mentioned some of the convert hipsterdox wanting to live in pacifist communes, etc. Understandable appeal. Some Christians have long been called to something like that: monks and nuns, East and West. Some convert parishes become cults trying to live the ideal she describes. It also comes from a corner of conservative Protestantism, some of which tried to adopt the hippie-commune culture: the Jesus movement in the '70s; "covenant communities." Another chapter in American religious idealism. But what struck me when she mentioned that is no country in Eastern Europe has been like that. Putin's Russia has its very good points (why our establishment hates it: it's a society that says it supports traditionalist Christian principles) but it's obviously not the utopia she says the converts believe in.


  1. Hipsterdox. I like it, and claim it.

    Pity it's 60 years too late, when novbody knows what "hipster" means any more. But I'm sure you do, since it belongs to the era of those cars you post so many pictures of!

    1. I last met such people in person 9 years ago; a small group that was young, charming, and devout, a mix of a few converts and an intense fellow, ethnic, who'd rediscovered his faith. A few couples. I could have tried to join this circle but it was not part of the Catholic Church, simple as that. They're living surrounded by the benefits of Western Christianity, holding the same basic faith as the church (God, Christ, the Trinity, the hypostatic union, the Mother of God, bishops, the Mass, and the option of using images in worship), but denying that we are the church and holding that maybe we're not really Christian. (There is the fun of feeling that one is part of a clique.) I'm not buying it. They think their culture is the church; I don't claim that about mine.

      Again, a Catholic traditionalism without our baggage, something such as the Byzantine Rite, might appeal to people who in another era might have followed the Beats (and the Beats weren't necessarily what people suppose: Jack Kerouac, from a French-Canadian Catholic background in Massachusetts, was a Taft Republican and anti-Communist; a good guy in my reckoning).

      But Eastern-rite churches don't thrive in America after three generations (people assimilate and leave; offering services in English doesn't help for some reason), just as Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore predicted 100 years ago, so what religion if any these people's grandchildren will be is anybody's guess.

      I have one of those cars, a '58 Edsel Ranger sedan.


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