Preppies Still Don’t Like Messy

Frequent commenter and friend Jimmy Mac sends me interesting emails by the bunches. But this link from the good ol’ American Conservative nearly made me laugh out loud.

The real action does not involve liberal “Catholics” at all. Liberal Catholicism, while well-represented in elite circles of the Democratic Party, qua Catholicism is finished. Liberal Catholicism has no future—like liberal Protestantism, it is fated to become liberalism simpliciter within a generation. The children of liberal Catholics will either want their liberalism unvarnished by incense and holy water, or they will rebel and ask if there’s something more challenging, disobeying their parents by “reverting” to Catholicism. While “liberal” Catholicism will appear to be a force because it will continue to have political representation, as a “project” and a theology, like liberal Protestantism it is doomed to oblivion.

It’s really about two camps of Conservatives now. The mild (including George Weigel) versus the radicals. Because you know, the liberals are all dead in the spiritual water anyway, and their kids will either flock back to Latin Masses or go off crystal gazing, or worse, join the Episcopalians.

And there’s a brief nod to one of the latest Catholic memes to dispense with labeling Catholics as liberals or conservatives. Meh–as if the problem was the particular labels.

Consider those AC guys (and I mean that literally, though women constitute sixty-plus percent of active Catholicism, they rank zero for the Real Thinkers). Their ideological opponents were more often out working in the world than jabbing and deking on the internet. And a lot of them have left behind the old comboxes. (They should look around in the ranks, too.)

Jimmy pasted the whole article and the commentariat into the message he sent. Do you want to know the one and only mention of “evangelization”? Comment #79 in a lament about the “New Evangelization.”

That will clue you that the culturewar Catholics are the ones in stagnant waters. “Go and make disciples” does not mean converting green preppie students in college classrooms to straighten their ties and drink their brandy. Real Catholicism is going to be about getting messy and dirty. That isn’t a novel idea with Pope Francis. It began with the Lord and with his saints.

Real Catholicism is not a debate club. The real action doesn’t involve infighting at all.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Preppies Still Don’t Like Messy

  1. Liam says:

    No, Todd, the Catholic Information Center follows the Opie Dopie strategy of converting the Great and the Few. You know, like, Newt Gingrich (about whose catechumenate I heard second hand in my former parish that, when the lessons on Catholic Social Teaching were on tap, his enthusiasm ran in the direction of “I don’t need to know that [crap].” Well, if he learned it, it has yet to show.)

  2. Mike McG... says:

    “That will clue you that the culturewar Catholics are the ones in stagnant waters.”

    I dunno. Seems to me that few Catholics who engage in the blogosphere for very long escape the descent into stagnant waters of shrill discourse. Seems to me that the contempt of culturewar Catholics is remarkably similar, left and right. Contempt is an equal opportunity affliction. Many of us have come to place where we actually love to loathe one another.

    In a perceptive post on Salon, “The Daily Show Guide to My Enemies,” Michael Rubens observed: “People are complex and can hold different views and still be moral actors…Maybe you already grasp that concept, because you have good friends or loving relatives with beliefs that are wildly divergent from your own. But I tend to think my experience is more typical: I lived in a little bubble surrounded by people who think more or less like me. And when I considered people with opposing viewpoints I would turn into a fabulist, concocting an entire narrative of who they were and what they were like — and what they were like was yucko. Because I was not really interacting with them. I just thought I was…So yes, I love to loathe people, but my ‘Daily Show’ experience complicated all that and sort of spoiled my fun. When I’m exposed to views that I dislike, I try to remind myself of the human being behind those views and to cut that person some slack. I hope that they would do the same. I think we should all fight hard for what we believe in, but I’d like to put in a request for some general slack cutting.”

    The trick is to realize that this advice applies to ‘us,’ not just to ‘them.’

  3. John McGrath says:

    Conservative Catholics would probably not object to a married clergy. And that is the only liberalizing concession that has any hope of ever happening. But it’s not certain. Such a concession would draw a different kind of priest, building up a clergy cohort that could probably hold on to many liberals while not deviating from authoritarian church teachings. I doubt that conservative Catholics would object to a married, conforming clergy. So that one liberalizing change – probably decided by national synods, not Rome – would manage to hold together the house divided against itself that is the Catholic church.

    What most drives liberalizing Catholics out of the church is the snarky, sarcastic, hostile speech of the “real” Catholics. But driving people out of the church is the actual intent of many of the the real Catholics. They are succeeding and will continue to succeed. There is no spiritual sustenance to be had from the culture warriors and Fortnights (how pompous) for Liberty and other such stunts designed to please wealthy donors. The future of the Catholic church is with the wealthy, not the poor or those who serve the poor. Except if there are more priests and they come from a wider background than they do at present. Then service to the poor could continue to flourish within the Catholic church without interfering with the conservative. wealthy grip on the hierarchy. There may be no center but the edges could still be held in the one vessel.

  4. FrMichael says:

    Mr. McGrath:

    “What most drives liberalizing Catholics out of the church is the snarky, sarcastic, hostile speech of the “real” Catholics.” Since I’n now once again in a parish with a good number of liberal Catholics, I get to see the dynamic of liberal Catholicism once again after a several year hiatus. A few will walk away, but most will remain in the pews a fair number of Sundays each year knowing that their conservative pastor will only be there a number of years and things will go back to normal once he leaves. IMNSHO the problem is not so much progressive Catholics being driven out as much as their children. Large numbers of their children will be Christmas and Easter Catholics at best. Many of their children will grow up to be the Nones or evangelicals. As Fr. Pacwa wrote many years ago, progressive Catholics are spiritual geldings. If it wasn’t for their ability to dwell in Catholic academia and corrupt future generations, it would be a short-lived movement.

    “Conservative Catholics would probably not object to a married clergy.” Actually, many of my acquaintance do, especially traditionalists who get upset when a married deacon serves at Mass. I think “conservative Catholics” is too big a group to make any summary judgment with respect to the question of married clergy. I happen to think they could be found on both sides of the question.

    • Todd says:

      Maybe. But I’m not convinced that conservatives are holding on to their kids as much as you think. It didn’t work too well in the 50’s did it?

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