It seems the most well-meaning Catholics cannot avoid ideology. In a post about summer reading at the Anchoress, a side discussion sprouted about the term “orthodoxy.”
I mentioned the problem about the toxic combo of orthodoxy and ideology. Another commentator, Dan, wrote:
I recoil from the word “orthodox” not from any heterodox position I hold, but from the history of it’s use on conservative blogs and the wide set of political opinions it came to embrace that had nothing to do with Catholicism, as well as it’s use as a weapon to castigate folks who failed to embrace a set of conservative doctrines.
And the Anchoress leaped to a defense:
Catholic orthodoxy can be used by some on the right to bludgeon others. But in that case, it’s not really Catholic Orthodoxy at all, is it? It’s just another ideology masquerading in religious clothes. Genuine Catholic Orthodoxy is not a hammer.
And I suggested:
I think “orthodoxy” is a bit too sullied to be fruitfully used in some settings these days.
I think Orthodoxy is too important a word, though, to be discarded. Rather, let it be reclaimed and understood to its depths.
The skeptic in me thinks we’re too far gone for that. Ms Scalia is optimistic in a way I’m not. That’s not to say I don’t hope the term can’t or won’t someday be recovered. I’m way too pessimistic this decade. Practically, the word has arrived at a split in its definition. A number of conservatives use it in a different way than even the Anchoress would embrace. It has become a weapon, a sort of hammer-by-exclusion. It sounds nice, coopting a churchy term, and aspiring to transcend the muddy trenches of Catholic ideology. Not so fast, I say.
One problem I’d point out right away: capitalization. Eastern Christians are Orthodox. Please, please do not use the term in the sense of a quality or virtue. It is simply inappropriate to adopt that “O.”
I think I was sufficiently selective in stating that in “some” circles, the term is so misused as to be both fad and corruption, detached in every significant way from the original meaning. Among theologians and Eastern Christians, I have no problem with big- or small-o orthodoxy. But among conservatives? Please!
What do you readers think? Does orthodoxy have hope? Or should it be given an honorable burial with other pc terms of the past decades?