[This is an old liberal Protestant game. Along with the Quest For The Historical Jesus, we have the quest for The Essence of Christianity, which Protestant liberals of the 19th century pared down to the content-less The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. Now, of course, that is revealed to be oppressive patriarchal bias!]
After yet another lapse in my addictive and disheartening perusal of PrayTell, it seems to me that for a goodly chunk of the Catholic commentors, certainly of those who are most vehement and passionate, their working theology is a sentimental and resentful stance of Little People Populism vs the Corrupt Institutional Church. The "assembly of the baptized" vs the "hierarchy of the ordained". The Great Washed, as it were, vs The Temple Priesthood. Almost any issue eventually comes down to this theological narrative. Popular power vs traditional power. So what if "the assembly of the baptized" means twelve middle aged white ladies in Virginia Beach?
I would call that attitude Protestant were it not for the fact that it lacks even the basic theological commitments of classical Protestantism: solus Christus, sola Scriptura, sola Fide, sola Gratia. Instead it is merely warmed over secular humanism of the spiritual, adolescent and therapeutic sort.
Of course, radical inclusivity and Little People Populism are rampant in our dissolving culture as well. Which is where these religious folks got the idea. Certainly neither from the Bible nor the Christian or Catholic tradition. It comes down to little more than a spiritualized version of Occupy Wall Street.
What led to this morning's rant was a thread about the current state of funerals in American Catholicism. A dentist from Palo Alto, one of the LPP's on the site, exploded in self-righteous resentment that anyone should care about things like doctrine or liturgical rightness when people were hurting...We should give them whatever they want. I stupidly opined that his viewpoint made people into little combos of victim and consumer. Is there not a crucial difference between pastoral care and customer service? He interpreted this as an attack both on him and his good friend The Lord Jesus. (You can see what a fruitful exchange this was fated to be.) He was half right.
What I was actually thinking is that I would rather be buried with dignity as Muslim --yes, me-- than subjected to the unmanly sentimental caterwauling and contentless drivel that I witnessed at the death ceremonies of my sister, uncle and father. The Great Traditions provide a ritual shape, a containing form, to life, and to death, to time and to eternity. Each tiny individual's life is set in a cosmic context, in a long line of ancestors, before the awful mystery of God, by the rites of death. What we have achieved instead is the reduction of the cosmos and our ancestors' visions to the cramped confines of our current ego and our feelings of the moment. What an accomplishment. I wonder sometimes if the religious and cultural wonders of the Christian Faith and its Western children are not as Newman suspected about the Dominicans in the 19th century, when he considered joining them and abandoned that path: "A great idea, but extinct."
So I let go. Here is the status quaestionis twixt Ex Cathedra and the Tooth Fixer.
by Ex Cathedra on January 30, 2012 - 11:29 am
I think the only ego in that room was yours.
I need a Twelve Step Program for Compulsive PrayTell Reading.
Update on Jan 31. I am feeling better today. Finding all this kind of funny. But the Tooth Doc is still roiling, not having a good day. Someone else provoked his populist conscience worse than I did. (I did a little editing to translate abbreviations for the non-specialist.)
Typical. You are upset that catholics “disparage” the Latin mother tongue but you have no problem “disparaging” fellow catholics. Then you talk about “lack of charity”. Christ will use the same yardstick you use on others to judge you.
ps go back to the "New Theological Movement", you guys deserve each other.