Friday, 10/17/14

  1. The Grammar of Creation
  2. Mapping the Slippery Slope
  3. What is the Church Ultimately For?
  4. Eyewitness at the back of the bus
  5. Sola scriptura revisits the letters to the editor

1

Christ is the grammar of all creation – all of creation “speaks” Christ.

The experience of the faith as an embodied whole is almost impossible to describe to those outside. For the experience of non-Orthodox Christianity has become so accustomed to the grammar of secularism that their perceptions are deaf and blind to the Orthodox witness. “We believe the Scriptures!” is doubtlessly true. But you believe them in a manner that is contrary to the faith. Your Christ looks like a fox and not a king. Where are your saints and images? Why do you smell like that? Where is the altar? Why do you not face East when you pray? Why don’t you cross yourself when you pray? Why do you say such terrible things about the Mother of God? What did you do with Holy Week? Where are the holy monks and the nuns? Who will teach you how to pray?

For those who think such things are “adiafora,” I say: “Apparently so.”

(Fr. Stephen Freeman)

2

I critiqued a Brian Howey comment Tuesday, but omitted something too rarely commented.

Howey described “a future movement … advocating polygamy” as a bogeyman. One of the reasons I dissed him was that such a movement already exists and that it has won a judicial victory of a sort in Utah: not compelling issuance of marriage licenses for polygamy, but decriminalizing concurrent cohabitation with one legal spouse and additional sexual partners.

The Plaintiffs were the “stars” of some reality TV show called “Sister Wives.” There’s another called “Big Love.” I probably missed some copycats. We’re being consciously conditioned by Hollywood to accept polygamy.

All that said, in terms of slippery slope metaphors, polygamy is historically somewhere near the top of the slope, not at the bottom. Old Testament heroes were not infrequently polygamous, though that’s not the source of their glory. But same-sex “marriage” is something truly novel.

The resurgent fear of polygamy in the context of the same-sex marriage debates is strange indeed, given the fact that same-sex marriage is by far the more radical aberration. To most of our forebears and to most societies beyond the orbit of W.E.I.R.D. sexual and marital values, expressing a concern that same-sex marriage might lead to polygamy would be akin to worry on our part that mainlining heroin might lead to experimentation with marijuana.

(Alastair Roberts) Or fornication might lead to dancing, I might add.

It’s a mark of how far we’ve lost our way that both same-sex marriage supporter Howey and the patrons of “social conservative” groups opposed to same-sex marriage – heck, maybe almost everyone in the West – think Polygamy’s the bottom of the slippery slope.

3

I should have known better than to even start an item based on the Relatio post disceptationem from the Roman Catholic Synod on the Family one day after its release. Things were too much in flux, the spinmeisters jousting too hard. I just erased it all. There seemed to be no wisdom in it, just gossip.

Instead, here’s something, though, that I think will stand the test of time if it’s remembered:

Here’s a deeper question arising out of this controversy, a question that both liberals and conservatives within the Church are reckoning with, whether they’re aware of it or not: What is the Church ultimately for? That is, what is its ultimate purpose? If the answer is “to do good works” or “to promote social solidarity,” that’s not true. To be clear, if the Church is being the Church, it will do good works, and it will promote social solidarity. But these are not its ultimate purpose.

The ultimate purpose has to be to unite souls with God, through Christ. I think it is a legitimate pastoral question as to whether or not the best way to do this is through strict proclamation of and adherence to doctrine, or through merciful toleration of those who fall short. In fact, I strongly believe both approaches are required, depending on the situation. The mistake some conservatives make is believing that following the Law will save you; the mistake some liberals make is believing that the Law is irrelevant — that is, that God doesn’t really care how you behave (at least in terms of your sex life, which in the US is the great point of division between the Christian left and the Christian right).

Mercy and welcome to sinners is absolutely required of Christian churches. The problem, as I see it, is that more than a few Christians, pastors as well as laity, don’t expect people to change once they get in the door. To them, the Church is a destination, an end, not the ordinary means by which individuals deepen their conversion and grow in holiness. You welcome the sinner — and all of us are sinners — to let them know that God loves them, and to love them yourself, but you also must teach that because God loves them, He wants them (he wants us) to repent, because sin is a real thing, and eternal life is at stake.

(Rod Dreher)

4

Cardinal Kasper (from the home of the Third Reich) has ordered Africans and Asians to the back of the Church bus.

Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.

We have this exclusive eyewitness quote from a fly on the wall of the back of the bus:

Secularizing Europe is totally different from the increasingly Christian global south. Also the United States, they’re very different, especially about sodomy. You can’t speak about this with WEIRD countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo, they’re so compromised on all things sexual and especially homosexual. For us, we say we ought not to suppress the truth; for them, they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings – unless it’s Untermenschen like us.

As Matthew Schmitz put it, “When it comes to matters that matter, the past is a foreign country, as is Africa, and Kasper has no intention of listening to either.”

Of Cardinal Kasper’s German flock, by the way, some 13% (which may be inflated) attend Mass on Sunday. “Kasper represents a church that is dying not from martyrdom, but from boredom. He ought to be a lot more humble.” (Rod Dreher)

PRE-PUBLICATION UPDATE: The Cardinal heaped mendacity atop haughty insularity and crypto-racism by denying that he said what he said. Fortunately, the reporter has, and has published, the “smoking gun.”

Meanwhile, though, two Catholic journalists, David Gibson and Grant Gallicho, had shrugged off and defended the Cardinal’s remarks, respectively, and Matthew Schmitz caught criticism for not shutting up about it – shutting up about scandals being a strategy that proved so stellar on the topic of pedophile Priests.

Schmitz juxtaposes things tellingly: “It requires an exceedingly partisan mind to spin as insightful comments so offensive that even their speaker won’t stand behind them.”

5

It started off with an ipse dixit that religious denomination that preach against same-sex marriage are wrong. Now we’ve got a daily back-and-forth in the letters to the editor, with writer B saying the ipse dixit was wrong (proof texts omitted), writer C saying that lots of Scripture on marriage is now obsolete (Levitical code citation omitted), and now, I wait breathlessly for further confirmation that The Thing That Used To Be Sola Scriptura doesn’t work.

(For what it’s worth, this is one issue where I think one of the two opposing “scriptural” cases isn’t bona fide, but that’s a rarity. Usually, misinterpretations arise in good faith.)

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.