The Church’s support for Big Government will be its undoing March 1, 2012Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society.
I think Mark Steyn expresses many critical sentiments in this piece:
In the modern era, America has been different. It is the last religious nation in the Western world, the last in which a majority of the population are (kinda) practicing believers and (sorta) regular attenders of church. The “free exercise” — or free market — enabled religion to thrive. Elsewhere, the established church, whether de jure (the Church of England, the Church of Denmark) or de facto (as in Catholic Italy and Spain), did for religion what the state monopoly did for the British car industry. As the Episcopal and Congregational churches degenerated into a bunch of mushy doubt-ridden wimps, Americans went elsewhere. As the Lutheran Church of Sweden underwent similar institutional decay, Swedes gave up on God entirely. [The close association with the Church and various governments has at times been problematic. But the Church has never been a ‘state’ Church, it is a supranational entity, over and ABOVE any government, in spite of what many local churches have done]
Nevertheless, this distinction shouldn’t obscure an important truth — that, in America as in Europe, the mainstream churches were cheerleaders for the rise of their usurper: the Church of Big Government. [As government grows, everything else tends to wither] Instead of the Old World’s state church or the New World’s separation of church and state, most of the West now believes in the state as church — an all-powerful deity who provides day-care for your babies and takes your aged parents off your hands. America’s Catholic hierarchy, in particular, colluded in the redefinition of the tiresome individual obligation to Christian charity as the painless universal guarantee of state welfare. [Yes, YES! This si the heart of the matter. When the Church embraced big government as a replacement for individual charity, I believe it took a step that is onerous to individual spiritual growth and reduced a mighty torrent of Grace to a trickle. I think this is one of the biggest problems with the Church in this country, this “replacement” of individual acts of charity with “charity at the point of a gun.” Barack Obama himself provided the neatest distillation of this convenient transformation when he declared, in a TV infomercial a few days before his election, that his “fundamental belief” was that “I am my brother’s keeper.”
Back in Kenya, his brother lived in a shack on $12 a year. If Barack is his brother’s keeper, why can’t he shove a sawbuck and a couple singles in an envelope and double the guy’s income? Ah, well: When the president claims that “I am my brother’s keeper,” what he means is that the government should be his brother’s keeper. And, for the most part, the Catholic Church agreed. They were gung ho for Obamacare. [Well, not entirely, but the opposition was weak, uncoordinated, and ineffective]. It never seemed to occur to them that, if you agitate for state health care, the state gets to define what health care is. [If I could wave a magic wand and do one thing regarding the institutional nature of the Church, it would be to remove it from its dependence on government funding]
According to that spurious bon mot of Chesterton’s, when men cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing; they believe in anything. But, in practice, the anything most of the West now believes in is government. As Tocqueville saw it, what prevents the “state popular” from declining into a “state despotic” is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. But in the course of the 20th century, the intermediary institutions, the independent pillars of a free society, were gradually chopped away — from church to civic associations to family. Very little now stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why the latter assumes the right to insert himself into every aspect of daily life, including the provisions a Catholic college president makes for his secretary’s IUD.
Seven years ago, George Weigel published a book called “The Cube and the Cathedral,” whose title contrasts two Parisian landmarks — the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the giant modernist cube of La Grande Arche de la Defense, commissioned by President Mitterrand to mark the bicentenary of the French Revolution. As La Grande Arche boasts, the entire cathedral, including its spires and tower, would fit easily inside the cold geometry of Mitterrand’s cube. In Europe, the cube — the state — has swallowed the cathedral — the church. I’ve had conversations with a handful of senior EU officials in recent years in which all five casually deployed the phrase “post-Christian Europe” or “post-Christian future,” and meant both approvingly. These men hold that religious faith is incompatible with progressive society. [And these are the people who design, implement, and lead the state today. Especially on the leftward side, they are invariably opposed to the public practice of the Faith] Or as Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s control-freak spin doctor, once put it, cutting short the prime minister before he could answer an interviewer’s question about his religious faith: “We don’t do God.”
For the moment, American politicians still do God, and indeed not being seen to do him remains something of a disadvantage on the national stage. But in private many Democrats agree with those “post-Christian” Europeans, and in public they legislate that way. [Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kerry, Sebelius, Mikulski, etc] matter, as then-senator Barack Obama informed us in 2008. And, as president, his choice of words has been revealing: He prefers, one notes, the formulation “freedom of worship” to “freedom of religion.” Example: “We’re a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses.” (The president after the Fort Hood murders in 2009.) Er, no, “we’re a nation that guarantees” rather more than that. But Obama’s rhetorical sleight prefigured Commissar Sebelius’s edict, under which “religious liberty” — i.e., the freedom to decline to facilitate condom dispensing, sterilization, and pharmacological abortion — is confined to those institutions engaged in religious instruction for card-carrying believers.
This is a very Euro-secularist view of religion: It’s tolerated as a private members’ club for consenting adults. But don’t confuse “freedom to worship” for an hour or so on Sunday morning with any kind of license to carry on the rest of the week. You can be a practicing Godomite just so long as you don’t (per Mrs. Patrick Campbell) do it in the street and frighten the horses. The American bishops are not the most impressive body of men even if one discounts the explicitly Obamaphile rubes among them, and they have unwittingly endorsed this attenuated view of religious “liberty.” [And there has been a tragic surrendering of much ground in refusing to address the core issue, which is that contraception is immoral and contrary to God’s Law, while instead attempting to argue for an “inoffensive” religious liberty. There are of course good reasons for arguing as they have, but I think ultimately it will work against the liberty of the Church]
The Catholic Church is the oldest continuously operating entity in the Western world. The earliest recorded use of the brand first appears in Saint Ignatius’s letter to the Smyrnaeans of circa a.d. 110 — that’s 1,902 years ago: “Wherever Jesus Christ is,” wrote Ignatius, “there is the Catholic Church,” a usage that suggests his readers were already familiar with the term. Obama’s “freedom to worship” inverts Ignatius: Wherever there is a Catholic church, there Jesus Christ is — in a quaint-looking building with a bit of choral music, a psalm or two, and a light homily on the need for “social justice” and action on “climate change.” The bishops plead, No, no, don’t forget our colleges and hospitals, too. In a garden of sexual Eden, the last guys not chowing down on once-forbidden fruits are the ones begging for the fig leaf. But neither is a definition of “religion” that Ignatius would have recognized. “Katholikos” means “universal”: The Church cannot agree to the confines Obama wishes to impose and still be, in any sense, catholic. [We were once a Church of martyrs that died by thousands instead of burning a pinch of incense for the emperor, or endured almost certain death to proselytize Asia and many other lands. Now, we beg for ‘liberty’, as opposed to demanding our God-given rights]
If you think a Catholic owner of a sawmill or software business should be as free of state coercion as a Catholic college, the term “freedom of conscience” is more relevant than “freedom of religion.” For one thing, it makes it less easy for a secular media to present the issue as one of a recalcitrant institution out of step with popular progressivism. NPR dispatched its reporter Allison Keyes to a “typical” Catholic church in Washington, D.C., where she found congregants disinclined to follow their bishops. To a man (or, more often, woman), they disliked “the way the Church injects itself into political debates.” But, if contraceptives and abortion and conception and birth and chastity and fidelity and sexual morality are now “politics,” then what’s left for religion? Back in the late first century, Ignatius injected himself into enough “political debates” that he wound up getting eaten by lions at the Coliseum. But no doubt tut-tutting NPR listeners would have deplored the way the Church had injected itself into live theater.
not accept that this is just one of those areas where one has to render under Caesar? Especially when Caesar sees “health care” as a state-funded toga party.
But once government starts (in Commissar Sebelius’s phrase) “striking a balance,” it never stops. What’s next? How about a religious test for public office? In the old days, England’s Test Acts required holders of office to forswear Catholic teaching on matters such as transubstantiation and the invocation of saints. Today in the European Union holders of office are required to forswear Catholic teaching on more pressing matters such as abortion and homosexuality. Rocco Buttiglione’s views on these subjects would have been utterly unremarkable for an Italian Catholic of half a century ago. By 2004, they were enough to render him ineligible to serve as a European commissioner. To the college of Eurocardinals, a man such as Signor Buttiglione can have no place in public life. The Catholic hierarchy’s fawning indulgence of the Beltway’s abortion zealots and serial annullers is not reciprocated: The Church of Government punishes apostasy ever more zealously. [And Madame Richelieu and all the rest receive the Blessed Sacrament in their blood stained hands whenever they present themselves at Mass. Is discipline only a club with which to beat down the orthodox?]
The state no longer criminalizes a belief in transubstantiation, mainly because most people have no idea what that is. But they know what sex is, and, if the price of Pierre Trudeau’s assertion that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation” is that the state has to take an ever larger place in the churches and colleges and hospitals and insurance agencies and small businesses of the nation, they’re cool with that. The developed world’s massive expansion of sexual liberty has provided a useful cover for the shriveling of almost every other kind. Free speech, property rights, economic liberty, and the right to self-defense are under continuous assault by Big Government. In New York and California and many other places, sexual license is about the only thing you don’t need a license for. [This is brilliant. I have been having similar thoughts, but could not express them so well. We’ve had a massive cultural sleight of hand – while the government has allowed and even encouraged more and more sexual license and immorality, it has used that license as a cover for its power grabs in all other areas of life. That is the leftist core operating principle – encourage sexual “freedom” while taking it everywhere else, while the population is distracted enjoying their sexual thrills]
“conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality,” the objectification of women, and governments’ “imposing upon their peoples” state-approved methods of contraception, or even if you think he was pretty much on the money but that the collective damage they have done does not outweigh the individual freedom they have brought to many, it ought to bother you that in the cause of delegitimizing two millennia of moral teaching the state is willing to intrude on core rights — rights to property, rights of association, even rights to private conversation. In 2009, David Booker was suspended from his job at a hostel for the homeless run by the Church of England’s Society of St James after a late-night chit-chat with a colleague, Fiona Vardy, in which he chanced to mention that he did not believe that vicars should be allowed to wed their gay partners. Miss Vardy raised no objection at the time, but the following day mentioned the private conversation to her superiors. They recognized the gravity of the situation and acted immediately, suspending Mr. Booker from his job and announcing that “action has been taken to safeguard both residents and staff.” If you let private citizens run around engaging in free exercise of religion in private conversation, there’s no telling where it might end.
Paul VI was nothing but prophetic. Everything he predicted has come to pass.
We’re in a heckuva mess. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!