Monday, February 06, 2012

Church and State

For leftists --and for liberals in the long run, since liberals are usually just leftists who don't know it or want to admit it-- the State is their Church. Since for leftists there is no higher activity than politics ---politics is their religion, their ultimate totalizing narrative--- politics, the State as its embodiment, must needs dominate all of life.

The Liberal State, which we now have in America in spades, like all great Churches, makes moral demands on believers and unbelievers alike. For us, it is the great moral projects of anti-discrimination with which we live every day. Minorities and Women primarily, and then all the secondary and hanger-on focal points of Progressive Virtue: gays, immigrants, the disabled, the wounded planet, the 99%.

And all the Health and Safety commandments. Michelle Antoinette comes to mind, as well as the great AntiTobacco campaigns.

Every thought, attitude and behavior about these nodes of ethical enlightenment creates a challenge for us, to live up to the values and beliefs clung to and promulgated through the State Church. Without that constant reinforcement through law and the organs of Liberal Culture --media, films and TV, education, the compliant churches, the self-policing of decent people, etc-- who knows but that we would fall back into the sinful ways of our ancestors? Left free, only evil would result. No longer would we make ourselves believe that all ethnic and racial groups are equal or that anything a man can do a woman can do or that the gender of partners in a marriage is irrelevant. That way, as we know, lies the sad reality of History before Enlightenment.

Since the Constitution prohibited Congress from establishing any church as the state church, it eventually took over the role itself.


Anonymous said...

Just an addendum, re the new plan to compel all employers offering medical insurance to fund contraception: Catholics in America had political power because they could deliver votes. The futility of the protest by Catholic bishops against the new plan indicates the obtuseness of the V2 reforms and changes. No way Catholic voters are going to feel it's wrong, or at least not seriously wrong, for employers to pay for contraception etc.

For whatever obtuse reasons, a mensch pope, John 23 (who obediently shut down the worker-priest movement when cardinal archbishop of France) gave the Church over to INT types such as Ex Cathedra -- those with an intellectual aesthetic etc attachment to or concept of Catholic Christianity. No doubt this has been commented on before many times, but the first I saw of it was Andrew Greeley's indignation at the academic theologians for deeming Lent-Easter, not Advent-Christmas, the feast of the Church.

Anyway, all the sacramentals were swept away, also the piety re Purgatory (offering up one's sufferings for the sufferings of dead relatives in purgatory) which provided a way of making suffering meaningful, purposeful -- a main task for any real religion. ... Some conservative nostalgic Catholics have refer'd to the Council's changes as "Protestantisation" -- which is accurate insofar as Calvin was an iconoclast, but not if Protestantism involves faith in Jesus Christ, biblical revelation etc.

The conceptual Church of the V2 theologians was actually, seems to me, an imagery, that is to say, calls for iconoclasm, if icons are wrong. The image of the pilgrim people of God gathering around the sacred feast (in a strip'd down sanctuary) and whatnot, and then meaningfully going forth into the world to stand in solidarity with the oppress'd however uselessly or even ultimately harmfully. All intellectual asceticism -- and no music, which gave Protestantism its psychical endurability. Or if music, then really bad music. Which the assembly were imagined to enjoy meaningfully singing along with, as though they were Welsh Methodists.

So now the American president can throw some social justice raw meat to his base without fear of wrath from any Catholic political machine.

Too bad, really, but the Church's "prophetic" stance, which Aquinas would abhor and Jesus would deem a mere anti-Constantinianism, provides the West in its time of desublimation with dunghill ants (every denomination contributes dunghill ants, so why not the glorious Church of Pius 12?). This is a phrase from Conrad (I think in Heart o' Darkness) -- ants or termites that gradually eat out the moist inner contents of externally dry heaps of elephant dung, until only a dry shell remains, which suddenly collapses under the least stress -- a puff of wind, or I daresay, a whiff of grapeshot.

Iain Paisley must be happy -- if only he can accept the total destiny of desublimation. ... Jesus though isn't happy, I'm sure, with interpretation of his kerygma as a good pharisaical critique of Constantinian Christendom. Yes, as if the kingdoms of the oikoumene offer'd to Jesus by the devil would be unobjectionable if only they didn't bear Christian names. For instance, if the Moral Majority had only been an Islamic majority! In that case, what could a leftwing intellectual do but bow on grounds that protest and scoffing were futile, even though no doubt the policies of an Islamic Moral Majority was not the rich diverse social justice pacifist Islam that Mohammed founded. But against powers and principalities that bear Christian labels, one must protest, one must not claim to be powerless.

Anonymous said...

What I meant was, the V2 reforms blew away the real if variously flaw'd Catholic Church in Anglo-Saxony as well as in Europe.

The replacement - a liturgical, "theologically literate" pilgrim social-justice people of God etc - has remain'd purely the intellectual, aesthetic, imaginar set of images of Catholic academics and diocesan staff, who seem to fancy that founding a new religion is easy and can be done by publications (laity will eagerly read up on popularizations of the academic concepts and implement the new Catholic Christianity in their worship life, family life, work life, citizenship, etc).

I have met Canadian and American "spirit of Vatican 2" Catholics, but they have always seem'd very unconnected with attending mass, or any other prayer life. Admittedly, they still bore that curious 'implicit' Catholic sense that "the" Church is the only church and worshipping at a denomination more in accord with their moral, political and even "liturgical" beliefs just can't make them feel connected to the sacred or whatever.

Compelling all employers offering medical insurance to fund contraception seems an easy way for the president to shore up his social justice credentials. Conservative Catholics didn't vote for him in 2008, and won't vote for him in 2012. Bishops can't deliver the votes of the great majority of Catholics either way, and definitely won't be able to get Catholics to vote for a Republican who might cut some of the "entitlements" that they like.

I wonder how many votes Republicans would get in farm states if they said that farm subsidy entitlements are "unsustainable"?

As for closing all those Catholic hospitals in protest, bishops aren't courageous enough for that. (Doesn't the bishop-selection process _tend_ to weed out courageous men?)

And what would be the rallying substance of imposing such a great sacrifice upon all the employees of those hospitals, and the patients? 99% of them support contraception (Paul 6 managed to re-assert the ban on contraception in Humanae vitae while also using the ban as a level to make most Catholic or 'cafeteria' Catholics. ... Neither he nor his successors excommunicated Poles who rely'd on abortion for birth control.)

The bishops' prophetic dereliction and the academics' outspokenness have made the big Catholic justice issues concerns such as nondocumented workers' rights. The American president is ultimately a better bishop for prophetic Catholics, as well as the vast majority of Catholics who like all other Americans want their "entitlements." ... When have the Catholic bishops ever offer'd a prayer breakfast at which they said that Jesus demands this or that of Americans?

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