Cons and Trads

Fr. Chad Ripperger (formerly) of the Fraternity of St. Peter has an excellent article up over at Faithful Answers discussing the differences between traditional and conservative (or what he calls “neoconservative”) Catholics. Here’s an excerpt:

Furthermore, neoconservatives’ very love for the Church and strong emotional attachment to the Magisterium cause them to find it unimaginable that the Church could ever falter, even with regard to matters of discipline. Like the father who loves his daughter and therefore has a hard time imagining her doing anything wrong, neoconservatives have a hard time conceiving that the Holy Ghost does not guarantee infallibility in matters of discipline or non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching. Traditionalists, confronted by a Church in crisis, know that something has gone wrong somewhere. As a result, they are, I believe, more sober in assessing whether or not the Church exercises infallibility in a given case. That, allied to their looking at the present through the eyes of the past, helps traditionalists to see that the onus is on the present, not the past, to justify itself.

The only quibble I have with Fr. Ripperger’s piece — and it is a minor one — is that it doesn’t account for the experiences of Eastern Catholics, most of whom do not fit neatly into either the traditionalist or conservative category. While there is what I would call a “natural conservatism” among the Eastern churches, centuries of living in a de facto ecclesiastical ghetto coupled with various influxes of “Latinization” have compelled contemporary Easterners to recover their respective traditions. This is all fine and good, but as most Latins know by now, the process of “recovery” is often fraught with difficulties and subject to being hijacked by renovationists.

My Sixth Shameless Professional Wrestling Blog Post in Years: WWE Talent Rankings

For those (few) who care, I present my wholly subjective, arguably ill-informed and poorly reasoned ranked list male workers (i.e., “insider”-speak for in-ring talent) currently employed by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and active on the main roster. First, however, a few qualifiers . . .

  • I have excluded “special attraction” performers such as The Undertaker, HHH, and Shane McMahon even though they are all under WWE contract.
  • I have included part-time talent such as Brock Lesnar and Chris Jericho.
  • I have included injured talent who are set to return shortly and have wrestled for at least four months since last year’s WrestleMania.
  • My assessments are based primarily on a performer’s body of work in the ring, though I have also tried to account for how poor booking or limited use may mask a wrestler’s potential.


A Little More on Trump and the Benedict Option

After yesterday’s minor scuffle over Peter Wolfgang’s dubious suggestion that the so-called “Benedict Option” dumped Donald Trump on our doorsteps, Andrew Haines — editor of Ethika Politika — is stepping into the mix with “The Benediction Option is No Match for Trump, And That’s the Point.” It’s not my business to defend the “Benedict Option”; that gig belongs primarily to Rod Dreher. As indicated in yesterday’s post, I have been critical of the “Benedict Option” in the past, though I believe Dreher’s instincts are in the right place when it comes to the gravity of our present situation and the need for Christians to have some meaningful response to it. As for Haines’s brief defense of the “Benedict Option,” which rests largely on the idea that it represents an intellectual, moral, and spiritual turn rather than a social movement with measurable effects, I am not entirely convinced. Yes, Haines is right to highlight that the “Benedict Option” is in no way, shape, or form intended to stop the political ascendancy of someone as noxious as Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for that matter), but if the thinking behind the “Benedict Option” is ever internalized by a sizable portion of American Christians, it most certainly will produce what Haines calls “real-world effects.” But will those effects be salutary? How one answers that question no doubt depends on how one understands being in the world but not of it (or, as is increasingly commonplace among contemporary Christians, being both in and of the world).

If You Want to Argue About Baptism…

. . .  then venture over to the Byzantine Texas web-log where folks of various ecclesiastical stripes are discussing Orthodox fundamentalist theologian Fr. Peter Alban Heers’s views on “heterodox” baptisms. (I briefly discussed Fr. Heers’s views on Opus Publicum here.) As several people have noted, the combox discussion surrounding the article is surprisingly civil. However, those who have a low tolerance for “unbroken Orthodox tradition” rhetoric and canons-speak may wish to steer clear.

Tuesday Tumblings

Without pretending to give the topic the full treatment it is due, permit me to make the off-the-cuff observation that “aesthetic Catholicism,” a semi-intellectual posture predicated upon making the Faith a lifestyle choice, is now in full swing among certain circles of young(ish) Christians who think posting selfies which look like they were lifted from a Terrence Malick film and quoting Chesterton sets them apart. Granted, this “brand” of contemporary Catholic posturing is exponentially less noxious than the “bourgeois Catholicism” which is normative in most parts of the Western Catholic world today. If there an ideological glue binding both camps together it is papalotry, or a certain type of papalotry where the “Pope is the Faith; the Faith is the Pope.” Make any mention that Christ had 12 Apostles rather than one and all of these well-intentioned, well-meaning Catholics will start murmuring about your “crypto-Protestantism” and “lack of obedience” to the Holy Father. (And what of God the Father? He’s secondary.)  What splits these two camps is how they internalize the magisterium, or a certain reading of the magisterium. The “bourgeois Catholic” believes that the Church provides a pathway to being both in the world and of it with nary a second thought. Liberalism can and will save us. The “aesthetic Catholic” thinks salvation comes from Bernie Sanders and microbreweries.

All of these nonsense abides above and beyond classic distinctions between conservative and traditional Catholics. As mind-boggling as it may be, many a “bourgeois Catholic” positively embraces the Tridentine Mass and may have even read an article or two from the Summa one time. The “aesthetic Catholic” likes the Tridentine Mass, too, because it is (superficially) counter-cultural, “beautiful,” and all that jazz. What both groups seem to be missing is an eschatological horizon, a sense that Christ came to lead all souls to Heaven not make the historical conditions ripe for alt-country music or golf courses. On a lower level, one might suspect there is a general lack of seriousness among both camps — the same lack of seriousness one finds among all liberals. (And do not get me wrong, dear reader: “aesthetic” and “bourgeois Catholics” are both thoroughly liberal in orientation.)

Thank You

Thank you to all of you who tossed a couple of nickels into the hat for Opus Publicum. The WordPress costs have been covered with money to spare for my parish. Your generosity is much appreciated.

One More Update: Francis and the St. George Ribbon

After posting last Friday that the news concerning Pope Francis receiving–and wearing–the controversial St. George Ribbon from a Russian government official may have been fabricated, it appears that is not the case. A piece by Oles Horodetskyy for Radio Svoboda confirms that the story, and accompanying photographs, are legitimate and raise many sorrowful questions for Ukrainian Greek Catholics who have long hoped that the Pope would do more to quell ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.

Announcement: The Scholasticum

Good Readers: I wanted to call your attention to an exciting new educational opportunity for those interested in medieval theology and philosophy: The Scholasticum. The institute is currently enrolling new students for the 2016-2017 academic year and offers a wide range of courses covering medieval philosophy, medieval Biblical studies, and Scholastic theology. More information on the institute is available at the link given above and in the flyer attached below. Resources like The Scholasticum are few and far between in this day and age. Those with a serious interest in how some of the most towering minds in Church history approached the most important and perennial questions of our existence would do well to seriously considering enrolling.

Further information can be found on this poster.