"Identity Politics" and "Gang-banging" in Catholicism
#1
Does anyone else see a problem with what amounts to "identity politics" in the Catholic world, as I do?  What I mean by that is that I find that so many Catholics behave like members of gangs more than Catholics who have strong passion about the liturgy and the importance of sound, orthodox (i.e., traditional) Catechesis, with some seeing the liturgy as only a "communal meal" with the focus on community rather than the Sacrifice, and others seeing the Mass as a Sacrifice, etc. -- the point being that the "gang-banging" I refer to is something found all over the Catholic spectrum. I think, though, that it's much more prevalent among trads. Wherever it's found, I see it as a serious problem.

What I mean by "identity politics" in this context is that so much of how people evaluate the goings-on in the Catholic world is affected most of all by their group identities rather than any reasoned analysis of the issues at hand. For ex., talk "too much" about charity, and the person speaking is accused of "feel-goodism" or "liberalism." Talking about the importance of community means risking being called a "liberal."  Speaking against the (Protestant!) Victorian view of women means you're a "feminist." Giving the Pope the benefit of the doubt and finding perfectly reasonable explanations for things that, on the surface, to some people, look troubling means the person doing the defending is a "Papolator" who thinks the Pope can do no wrong. The use of a perfectly good word or phrase that is overused or used incorrectly by "the other side" gets one accused of being (sigh) a "modernist" (this issue came up recently during a discussion of the phrase "homosexual orientation." One person wrote that that phrase is used by "liberals" and, so, he's not OK with using it. I thought of responding that "liberals" are also often heard saying "I'll take a double espresso with sugar," too, but that phrase is still a perfectly good one to use LOL).

I see a lot of problems caused by and reflected in this phenomenon.

First, it's unnecessarily divisive. Obviously, there will always be an "us" and a "them" on a given issue when there are at least two sides folks can take on that issue. But to create division where it doesn't need to be, when it doesn't necessarily follow from the situation itself, be can't please Our Lord at all.

A second problem is that this willingness to jump on a bandwagon and name-call dehumanizes the other person and often reduces his arguments to caricatures of what he is really saying. It's as if some folks listen for certain "buzzwords," and as soon as they hear one, a label comes out, the person's arguments are automatically dismissed, the person is put in the position of having to defend himself against extreme charges -- e,g,m "modernism" or "feminism" or whatever he's being accused of --  and things rarely go well from there.  Ideas are no longer being exchanged; it all devolves into pre-school, sandbox stupidity.

A third problem is that those perfectly good words and phrases mentioned above are then given over to folks who abuse them -- and trads are left using language that makes us sound like pretentious boors. Why should "they" get to "own" words like "community" or "charity"?

Another problem that stems from the third one is that when those perfectly good words are tossed out, ideas get tossed out with them. So, yes, "community" became seen as the very purpose of Church in the post-Vatican II era -- but community is an extremely important thing, something trads need a lot more of, especially given our counter-cultural way of seeing the world. Trust me, the homeschooling Mom of seven would, I am sure, enjoy some support, some adult companionship during the day, acquaintanceship with some children that her own children can play with (and someday marry. Where are the future spouses of all these children-of-trads going to come from anyway?) At the risk of being accused of being a "feminist" and a "socialist" for referring to Hillary Clinton (ahem, see what I mean?), it does take a village.  It doesn't take a government, mind you, but a village (of sorts) is important to the goal of raising kids with rounded, healthy lives.

As I just intimated, even mentioning someone who is persona non grata to The Side of The Angels is enough to be accused of being in cahoots with or agreeing with everything that person says. Yup, I just mentioned Hillary Clinton, but I assure you, Id rather vote for Marta than her for any office. Still, my having mentioned that woman is enough for lots of people to put my name on some mental list:  Vox=gender feminist, socialist, Democrat... (in reality, I'm a paleoconservative who tends to vote Libertarian or Populist, and loathe gender feminism while thinking the early feminists did some good things).

Along with ideas being thrown out with words, ideas are also caricatured to the point they can't even be discussed. The idea of developing "warm and welcome" parishes and chapels morphs into "something 'lberals' worry about" which morphs into "that's feel-goodism, and that's not what the Faith is about! A person can feel good all day long but still die and go to Hell!" Well, all of that is so. But that doesn't make trying to make our parishes warm and welcoming a "liberal" cause, an "anti-Catholic" cause, or an unimportant cause. On the contrary, doing that is very important! But it can't be discussed without some folks overreacting in a very knee-jerk way against the very words "warm and welcoming." And to have a knee-jerk response against such a phrase as "warm and welcoming" is to practically invite folks to be "cold and unwelcoming," as if the presence of frigid, distant, unfriendly jerks is some mark of a "real Catholic" parish or chapel. It's insane.

When trying to figure out how this stuff works, where it comes from, I come back to the ideas of fear and anomie. Modern life is SO messed-up, so hard, to unnecessarily haphazard socially, so fragmented and, on the surface, meaningless. So people crave to find meaning, a place to fit in, a team to fight for. And religion can provide that. But the true religion is so much more than that -- and some of what I've been talking about is evidence of folks not getting the bigger picture of what our Faith provides. The peace and joy of Christ aren't evident in all that. And the command He gave us to tell all nations and all peoples is complicated -- maybe even made impossible! -- by such fear-based behaviors. How can we bring souls to Jesus if what we show the world is that we're bitter, cold, unfriendly folks who behave in a purposefully contrarian manner just to avoid being seen as having anything whatsoever to do with "them, the misguided --- oh, pardon -- the Wrong People"? I've said before but will say again that so often we Catholics, especially we trads, use the Gospel -- the Good News -- less as just that - -the GOOD NEWS -- than as a battering ram we heave against people's intellects, either trying to score a point in a debate and/or behaving as if its on US, and not the Holy Ghost, to give the gift of faith. We can -- and must -- preach the Gospel and defend the Church's teachings, but we can't give people faith. Something we can do, however, is to make them WANT faith by showing them what it looks like and feels like to LIVE the Faith, showing them what the peace and joy of Christ look like, showing them what charity looks like -- even on the level, yes, of the warm, feel-goody stuff that affects folks on an emotional level. It's the emotions where most folks' sense of motivation is born. People seek when they want, but they're not going to want what we desire for them if what they're being told to seek after appears to them to be a life of bitter, angry, always-has-to-win-an-argument, fearful eggheadedness. We have to reach people's HEARTS. We do that by opening our own, and by remembering that it is our hearts that Christ judges, not our brains, and not the zealousness with which we decry and disassociate ourselves from "The Wrong People," even to the point of allowing buzzwords to kill off the charity we feel toward the people who use them, or tossing aside easily understood English so as to not appear to be "one of them."

I dunno.. I know I talk a lot about the problems in the trad world, and I know that this annoys a lot of people (some of them, just as I've written in this post, accusing me of being a "modernist" for doing so), but I think I have to. I think we have to clean our own house and do what Christ tells us to do, which we can't do if we're turning people away.  On a personal level, the whole point of the FishEaters website is to restore FETradition to the Church Militant, so if I don't talk about this stuff, I'd be failing on my own personal mission. So don't hate me for it. I just want for the trad world to be a beacon of hope. The world needs one real bad.

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#2
thank you for this excellent analysis, vox clamantis.

i think it would go a long way toward solving this problem if we forego ideological, agenda-driven literature and web sites and, instead, read the holy gospels.  better yet, a period of lectio divina with the gospels every day.  use a good resource like haydock's or the catena aurea for answering questions or pursuing an insight. 

knowing jesus christ, encountering him, is the antidote to religion-as-ideology, of which i am sick to death.
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#3
I wrote a bit on this in a comment in another thread, so yes I agree. What's worse in some cases I see the word catholic becoming the modifier as in catholic Liberal or any other. But this has always been with us just not as pronounced. I can remember families in those long ago ghetto parishes that were walled off from the rest of the Catholics because we didn't practice the faith stringently enough. Kids can pick up on this real quick when they climb three flights of stairs and knock on the door and the mom answers the door and the look says "oh no Satan's son is here for my perfect son". Pope Francis would have seen them as bona fide Pelagians, yet  we saw them as shallow and confused believing the letter of the law but frightened by other Catholics.

Today it's way worse because our society has learned to slice and dice into tiny sub groups. In fact many of the raging debates here are political and not really religious.The Libertarians see the distributists as commies and socialists. The free trader neo-cons see them as socialists. The liberals avoid the truth and believe they all lack charity, and on and on. I mean we had Fr. Neuhaus with access to "W" spouting neo-con dogmas on EWTN, and now we have Fr. Sirico of the Lord Acton Institute spouting all manner of nonsense, and this is key ignoring that free traders are one and all useful idiots for the Dynastic Families. (read satanists)

Next we have the Saul Alinsky wing of the church, note small c, the liberals have no idea how this one satanist has changed the church into another NGO. They don't know Msgr Egan from Chicago in Mundelein Seminary was known as Alinsky's disciple. These liberals were never taught that Catholics can not be part of these politics because it's utopian, denying original sin and by extension Our Lord Jesus Christ's  passion and death on the Cross.

Some have asked why I don't describe myself as a trad or such. Because when I was formed there was no need for that word, and I believe in future when this goes away it won't be necessary anymore. The TLM is the best catechesis one can get, then imagine kids that go daily 6 days a week for eight years. That's about a trillion times better than reading councils and encyclicals etc.Catholicism isn't as complicated as trads make it out to be. Jesus came at a time almost as evil as now, and he taught in parables not in Universities. He went to the unwashed and uneducated, and they got it. It was the educated that reasoned that couldn't get over themselves which did not and became Talmudists. There is a real lesson in there somewhere.

tim
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#4
One question:  did we have these divisions before Vatican II?  Because although a simplistic response, I do believe that the division in our Church stems from Vatican II.

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#5
(08-08-2013, 08:35 AM)2Vermont Wrote: One question:  did we have these divisions before Vatican II?  Because although a simplistic response, I do believe that the division in our Church stems from Vatican II.

sweetheart, there have been divisions in the church since the first century.  have you read the epistles of st. paul?  the acts of the apostles?

most recently, the gallicans v. the ultramontanes.  a bit earlier, jesuits v. jansenists.  and so on, and so forth.
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#6
(08-08-2013, 08:02 AM)Tim Wrote: It was the educated that reasoned that couldn't get over themselves which did not and became Talmudists.

well, at least we got jaynek!  (even though she's a smarty pants.)  :cheers:
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#7
(08-08-2013, 08:47 AM)guacamole Wrote:
(08-08-2013, 08:35 AM)2Vermont Wrote: One question:  did we have these divisions before Vatican II?  Because although a simplistic response, I do believe that the division in our Church stems from Vatican II.

sweetheart, there have been divisions in the church since the first century.  have you read the epistles of st. paul?  the acts of the apostles?

most recently, the gallicans v. the ultramontanes.  a bit earlier, jesuits v. jansenists.  and so on, and so forth.

Sure, but not like today.  No way. Did you see the list of various Catholics in the other thread?  When has that ever been the case?
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#8
(08-08-2013, 08:35 AM)2Vermont Wrote: One question:  did we have these divisions before Vatican II?  Because although a simplistic response, I do believe that the division in our Church stems from Vatican II.

In the post above this one of yours I wrote how it was similar before Vatican II.
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#9
(08-08-2013, 08:35 AM)2Vermont Wrote: One question:  did we have these divisions before Vatican II?  Because although a simplistic response, I do believe that the division in our Church stems from Vatican II.

The problems we face today that you rightly grieve about can be traced back to The French Revolution
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#10
(08-08-2013, 08:58 AM)2Vermont Wrote: Sure, but not like today.  No way. Did you see the list of various Catholics in the other thread?  When has that ever been the case?

there have always been, and will always be, divisions in the church because man is fallen.  i would advise you not to romanticize the past.  do not be a sentimentalist.  look to the past in the sense recommended by st. vincent of lerins in his commonitorium, but don't idealize it.  an ideal situation never existed -- even at the last supper.

st. vincent of lerins:

Quote:What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in various times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation.

this counsel keeps my faith alive amidst all the confusion and flux.  i even have an icon of st. vincent of lerins in my home.
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