Friday, 4/8/16

  1. Better than nuthin’
  2. Pope could profess himself Muslim today
  3. Economic and Democratic Collapse?

1

I have spoken harshly of Mormonism (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) in the past. Richard Mouw, an Evangelical who is no rube, in the upcoming May First Things magazine, speaks much more irenically, while acknowledging that his optimism is unpopular in some quarters.

I have trouble squaring Mouw’s optimism with stuff like this, but then again, as an Evangelical, Mouw’s probably got a weak ecclesiology for which such near-blasphemy (it postulates that Christ pretty much abandoned his Church for 1700 years; Mouw would probably peg it at more like 1450) is semi-plausible.

Most of all, I need to remember that the possibility of Mormons turning into mainstream Evangelicals is not likely to produce all that much rejoicing in heaven (more like, “Well. Better than nothing, I guess.”). Now if they actually became Orthodox, as Mouw’s title equivocally supports, that would be an entirely different matter.

2

So, journalists and news consumers, how do you feel about newspaper headlines published before major events that pivot on the word “could”?

As the clock ticks toward the family synods document by Pope Francis, journalists are rushing – in what are often billed as news stories, as opposed to editorial commentary – to tell readers all about the blockbuster doctrinal revelations that COULD be in the document.

(New York Times pre-thumbsucker on Francis and family COULD be … what?)

When I saw the Times article the morning before this GetReligion commentary, and saw that the document wasn’t yet released and that no “Vatican sources say” quasi-attribution was in the opening, I stopped reading for substantially the reasons hinted at by GetReligion.

But I had another feeling, too: The family synods document is likely to be a bitter disappointment to the NYT bien pensants who write such speculation, and the NYT analysis after release will probably include something like “In a document that fell far short of what [bien pensants like us] had hoped ….”

UPDATE from Friday’s Your Friday Briefing: “Some liberal Catholics might think the pope didn’t go far enough in his call for change.”

I don’t think Popes are indefectible, and Francis seems more defectible than John Paul II or Benedict XVI, but he’s unlikely to satisfy the liberationist arc of history assumed in the NYT news and editorial rooms.

3

I genuinely doubt that the American experiment as we’ve known it can survive precisely because of the extent to which it has been built on selfishness, materialism, individualism, extravagance, and animalistic comfort-seeking. We are beginning, I fear, to reap our whirlwind.

That’s not necessarily to say that democracy will die, too, despite the ever-present likelihood that the demos will vote itself IOUs that the future can’t honor. My bigger worry for democracy, a secondary good, is that there’s “something in our system of electing candidates that makes inevitable the rise of the mediocre and even the exaltation of the vulgar?” If democracy can survive economic collapse, I’m not sure it can survive that.

Nevertheless, Alan Jacobs has been penning a multi-part “Dialogue on Democracy,” which you might care to check out.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.