Thoughts on the Church Abuse Scandal

I have been delayed in writing about this due to being on vacation, and from arranging my thoughts. Even so, this is going to be a very rough outline.

Despite taking so much time, I still find my thoughts in disarray, just because there is so much to talk about and so much of it (as with most contemporary issues) requires us to look in the opposite direction from where we’ve been taught to look.

Let me put it this way; the problem is not with the Church. The problem is that many in the clergy, laity, and hierarchy don’t want the Church. They want a kind of non-profit social program with the respect that the Church once held. They don’t want Christ or truth or salvation; they want ‘progress’ or ‘social justice’ or whatever other silly idol is popular with the smart set of today.

So, to be clear, when I say the problem is not with the Church, I mean that if the Church acted like the Church, and not even the ideal Church triumphant, but simply like the Church of past ages, this situation would never have happened, at least not to this extent.

Let me explain: in today’s Church, at least in the west, there is very little discipline, whether in the liturgy, doctrine, or morality. For instance, just a few weeks ago Fr. Thomas Rosica, an attache of the Holy See’s Press Office, called the Catholic devotion to Scripture and Sacred Tradition “and unhealthy attachment” which the Church is moving away from. As far as I know, nothing has happened to him. He hasn’t lost his job, been stripped of his office, or even been rebuked by his Bishop. In a sane age, a Catholic priest, even one not attached to the Holy See who said something like this would have his Bishop down on his head like a ton of bricks.

And this sort of thing is common: priests publicly denounce or oppose doctrine – and not obscure, fiddling dogmas, but basic truths of the faith – every day without any ramifications. The liturgy is regularly mocked and gutted by celebrants without any correction on the part of the Bishops, most of whom are no more concerned than the priests themselves. If anyone – priest or laity – complains, he’s more likely to receive a rebuke for being ‘intolerant’ or ‘rigid’ than to bring about any corrections. Again, Priests and Bishops shrug off or openly advocate for moral evils in the name of ‘tolerance’ and reserve their rebukes for those who call them on it. Morality and doctrine, for many in the contemporary Church, are determined by the latest fads in the secular world.

This is not how a Church that actually believes in the Gospel behaves: this is how a political organization that wants to attract members behaves.

I could go into the background of this, the various possible factors involved from Marxist infiltrations to Vatican II to just the absurd habit that most moderns have of treating their ancestors with dismissive contempt (see the recent move regarding the death penalty). Probably I will sometime, but the point is that all this amounts to a reluctance in the Church, as in the secular world, to call evil evil and falsehood false. Priests are all-but forbidden from calling each other out on liturgical or moral or doctrinal matters lest they be branded ‘intolerant’ or ‘judgmental.’ Even discounting tales of officially-imposed bullying and cover-ups, any warning signs or smaller infractions on the road to full-blown abuse were not acknowledged and not permitted to be sanctioned because to do so would be intolerant.

This is one principle we desperately need to relearn; that evil does not happen in a vacuum. A man does not one day become a pedophile or commit sexual assault or rape without first having gone down a long line of lesser sins. This is one reason for the Church’s former refusal to tolerate even small, venial sins or minor sexual infractions: because with the wisdom of ages, she knew that it never stops at these things. Now, however, along with the rest of the world we delude ourselves that these things don’t matter and then are shocked when they blow up in our faces.

Nor do I think the lack of doctrinal or liturgical discipline is unrelated. Even if we discount supernatural effects, there is simply the question “we don’t expect them to think like priests or pray like priests; why are we surprised they don’t act like priests?” We put up with heresy, sacrilege, and irreverence from them every single day without a word and then we are shocked to find them abusing their position. Once again, these things don’t happen in a vacuum.

All this is a way of saying that the Church is in this position because so many within her do not actually believe in Christ or want anything to do with Him. They believe in politics, in progress, and in all the other idols of modernity. I don’t say this as a judgment, but as an observation. If the Church is to have a renewal, I’m afraid she can no longer tolerate such members, at least not in the clergy. There needs to be a great cleansing within the Church, not just of those who are guilty of abuse or of aiding it, but of all those those who worship the gods of the marketplace rather than Christ. True, this would leave her a shrunk shell of her current self, but she could recover. She cannot recover as long as she continues to tolerate this kind of hypocrisy among her priests.

As so often happens, the answer is “Repent and Believe in the Gospel.”

A Thought on Aretha Franklin

More specifically, on some of the responses to her death.

I’m a Detroit native, and for that city the death of Aretha Franklin is as the death of a home-grown President or war hero. She was a major and beloved figure in the city’s history and culture, all the more so because, unlike many of her contemporaries, she continued to make her home there after she made it big. Personally, I don’t have much interest in her music, but that hardly matters; the woman left behind a staggering artistic legacy and brought joy and inspiration to millions, and that counts for a lot.

The trouble, and the reason I’m writing this, is that I keep hearing commenters who seem to think that isn’t enough. They keep trying to talk about how she ‘changed the world’ or ‘changed the complexion of American music and society.’ Meaning no disrespect to her (and I suspect she’d agree with me), but this is nonsense. Black female singers were not at all uncommon or unpopular before Miss Franklin. In terms of breaking down barriers, Marian Anderson, a generation before, was probably much more instrumental than Aretha Franklin.

This is a problem I notice a lot when a major entertainment star dies; people feel the need to insist that their work had a significant social or political impact. That it ‘changed the world’ somehow, rather than simply being an excellent example of the craft. I remember the same thing was done when Prince died: articles about how he ‘changed the world.’

The problem with this is not just that it’s faintly ridiculous, but that it is actually rather insulting to the field of entertainment. It seems to imply that the real purpose of entertainment, the thing that makes it worth celebrating, is the effect it has on the socio-political landscape. Not whether it brings joy or inspiration or comfort to people, but whether it moves the social needle in the preferred direction.

See, to my mind the fact that Aretha Franklin was a fantastically gifted performer whom millions of people loved to listen to is far, far more important than any supposed social impact her music had. The latter will always be dubious at best (how can you possibly say objectively what effect a certain brand of music had on people’s opinions or behavior? Individuals would be hard pressed to definitively say that of their own lives, let alone some armchair commentator speaking about thousands upon thousands of strangers), the former is undeniable. The latter is, when all is said and done, ephemeral: social issues come and go (despite the best efforts of some parties to keep them on life support for as long as possible), but art and music remains. It may not always be as popular, but if it touches hearts in one generation, it will do so for as long as it is remembered. Great entertainment and great art are immortal, or at least much longer lived than socio-political matters.

Moreover, being a singer was her profession; the celebrate the fact that someone did her life’s work so well seems far more to the point than celebrating third-party speculation about how her work may have affected some other issue.

Basically, what I am saying is that entertainment has value independent of and superior to any kind of socio-political effect it may have had. I think most people would agree with me on that, but one would hardly know it from the way we tend to honor the passing of great entertainers. This is part and parcel of our tendency to subordinate all other concerns to the political, causing us to devalue the actual virtues of a artist’s work in a desperate grasp to talk about the same tired issues once more.

In any case, Mrs. Franklin left behind a great body of work that will likely remain beloved for generations to come, which is an enviable legacy. May she rest in peace.

 

Privilege in Action

I’m a little late on this, but it’s too good not to share. This is a textbook example of why I despise the whole concept of ‘privilege’ (be it ‘white privilege,’ ‘male privilege,’ or what have you).

To sum up, the incomparable Larry Correia, sci-fi / fantasy author extraordinaire, had been invited to Origins Game Fair as a Guest of Honor, as he’s known as a huge gaming fan and amateur RPG creator, in addition to being a best selling novelist. Shortly after he was invited, someone took to social media to protest that he was racist, sexists, etc. chiefly because he’s an outspoken Libertarian. Origins then immediately caved and disinvited him because of his personal views. 

Now, there’s a lot to be said of that, but others have said it better. For here comes the juicy part (fyi, all this comes from Mr. Correia’s blog, but I’ve found him to be pretty honest and upfront in the past, so I feel comfortable citing this as facts. And most of it I’ve verified from other sources).

It turns out that the person who attacked him is the fiancee of a man whose article Mr. Correia fisked several years ago. Here’s the article. Apparently, she considered this as meaning Mr. Correia “personally hurt [her] loved ones” and even refused to link to the article because it was “too painful.”

The really funny thing? A.A. George, who wrote the article that was fisked four years ago and who took it so personally that his fiancee launched this attack, is apparently the son of a billionaire, who went to a high school with a $37,000 yearly tuition. Mr. Correia, meanwhile, grew up poor on a dairy farm in central California, where he went to school at what he describes as a “junior gladiatorial academy.” But Mr. George’s family is from India, while Mr. Correia is of Portuguese extraction, so guess which one is considered to have ‘privilege.’

But it gets better: in the article that was the source of the quarrel (again, from four years ago), this rich son of Indian immigrants was complaining that geek and gamer culture isn’t diverse enough and doesn’t have enough characters who ‘look like him.’ Four years later, he and his fiancee successfully expel the Portuguese author of an award-winning epic fantasy novel where all the characters are…Indian (okay, it’s actually a made-up fantasy culture, but set in a world and culture based off of India).

So, to sum up, Mr. George was so upset by Mr. Correia taking apart his article complaining of lack of ‘people who look like me’ that four years later he tried to sideline and discredit the man who wrote a bestselling book where everybody ‘looked like him,’ and justifies it in part by citing the “privilege” that the son of a dairy farmer had compared to the son of a billionaire.

Social Justice, ladies and gentlemen!

In Flanders Fields

Fitting words both for the day and in relation to my last post:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.
-Lt. Col. John McCrea, Canadian Army Medical Officer

A Reminder of What We Are Thanking Them For

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, where we honor the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives for our country. In the land that once was England, meanwhile, we are given an object lesson in what they laid down their lives to defend us from.

Activist Tommy Robinson, who is known to be a critic of Islam and British immigration policies and who the press describe as a “far-right activist,” was arrested on Friday for ‘disturbing the peace’ because he was filming outside of a courthouse where several Muslim men were being tried for child rape. He was covering the outcome of the trial. You can watch his arrest here and judge whether he’s disturbing the peace (they flat out say he’s being arrested of the content of his stream):

He was then tried, convicted, and sentenced within hours to thirteen months in jail. Not only that, but the judge who sentenced him ordered a complete media blackout (which should not even be an option in a civilian trial in a free nation). Again, because the guy was reporting on accused child rapists.

In England, a man was arrested, then secretly tried and sentenced within hourfor the crime of filming the outcome of a trial, apparently because it would be offensive to a certain minority group.

Nor is this the first time that’s happened: last year activist Kevin Crehan was arrested and imprisoned for leaving a bacon sandwich on the steps of a Mosque. For that he was sentenced to a year in prison along with thousands of Muslim extremists who knew about his prank and with no protective custody. Predictably, he was murdered.

In England. People are being arrested, imprisoned, and quietly murdered for their political stance in the country of Burke, Churchill, and Disraeli. The country that gave us the Magna Carta and English common law.

For perspective, Communist Poland, when it arrested Lech Walesa, did not arrest, try, and sentence him all in one day. Lech Walesa, in Soviet Poland received less of a sentence (eleven months) for his actions in the Solidarity movement than Robinson has received for reporting on a public trial in England.

If you want to know the difference between freedom and tyranny, this is it. This is what tyranny looks like. This is what those men laid down their lives to save us from. The land that once was England has descended into tyranny before our very eyes. Many in the United States are eager to follow suit. On this Memorial Day, as we recall the sacrifice of our soldiers, we should also take inspiration from their example and resolve to fight to the end against the tyranny that now threatens the west.

Anti-Gun is not Pro-Life

[Note: I wrote this piece for another site, but since it doesn’t seem to be being published there I’m putting it here. It’s intended as a bit of a companion piece to my most recent ‘Federalist’ article].

I’ve heard some people talking about the recent student march in Washington saying things like “it’s really a pro-life march” and “gun control is a pro-life position.”

Let’s put a stop to this nonsense right now, shall we? Whatever your ideas of gun control are, anti-gun is not pro-life; it is just anti-gun. To call it pro-life is a cheap rhetorical trick, akin to saying that those who opposed Obamacare opposed all healthcare reform, or that those who are against affirmative action just hate Black people. It’s what’s called the straw-man fallacy: purposefully misstating your opponent’s position in order to make it appear weaker than it is.

To be against abortion, or euthanasia, or other such things is to be against a clear, concrete practice. It amounts to a tautology: don’t kill people and those people won’t be killed. It is a matter of principle that it should not be legal to willingly take an innocent human life for any reason because it is wrong.

To be in favor of gun control, on the other hand, does not generally mean to be against weapons in principle (few people would advocate the overthrow of the military, police, and similar institutions). It means that we believe removing or limiting privately owned firearms would reduce violence. That is, it is the idea that enacting certain laws will result in certain effects.

Now, whether or not they actually will is not the present concern; the point is that we are talking about a means to achieve a goal, not about the goal itself. The end desired is less violence; the means being discussed is greater restrictions on firearms.

You see, having fewer guns available, or even outright banning private firearms (assuming such a thing could be done) is not the same thing as reducing violence. Again, don’t think I’m saying more than I am: for the purposes of the present discussion, it may have that effect, but my point is that it is not an obvious or indisputable connection. It is open for debate. If you make abortion illegal, then quite simply there are no legal abortions. There is an essential connection between what is enacted and what is achieved. That is objectively not the case with gun-control.

The key difference is that, when it comes to guns, the thing we desire to stop is already illegal and we are only discussing ways to further discourage it. When it comes to abortion, the thing itself is what we are trying to outlaw.

In other words, one is a matter of principle, the other of strategy. One is a debate over whether to permit certain practices that by definition involve killing people. The other is a debate over whether or not certain new laws would reduce violent crime and to what extent they would infringe on legitimate individual rights. This is not a matter for discussion: that is objectively what is at stake in each case.

The distinction is further complicated by the fact that guns are often purchased and used to protect lives. The justification pro-gun advocates use is precisely that they need guns to defend themselves, their families, and their rights, and it is simply an objective fact that guns are often used in this capacity. You can debate how great a need this is and how it compares to the potential for abuse, but you cannot argue that it does not exist. Furthermore, if you intend to argue that without guns those killed by them would be alive, then you have to accept the counter argument that without guns those who have used them defensively would be dead or at the very least assaulted. I don’t think either argument is very good, but the point is that can’t accept one without accepting the other.

As this indicates, you cannot simply claim that gun-control is ‘pro-life’ because it is an open question whether it will actually lead to less violent crime. You could just as well say that being pro-gun is pro-life because guns are used to protect life and deter crime. Again, I am not currently arguing one or the other; I’m saying that they are rhetorically equivalent and thus calling either one ‘pro-life’ – equating it with opposing the legal killing of innocent people – is disingenuous. It is claiming a one-to-one progression where none exists.

More importantly, it is dishonest. To say that being pro-gun control is to be pro-life is equivalent to saying that someone against gun control is anti-life: that is, that they want more violent crime, or at least think that violent crime is a matter of indifference. You see, it’s a disguised straw-man attack, obliquely misstating the opposing position to make it appear weaker than it actually is. It is the sort of thing a con-man or snake-oil salesman does: if you doubt the efficacy of his patent blindness cure, that means you think blind people don’t deserve to see.

Do you see the point? The objection is not to the intended goal, but to the proposed method of reaching it. You cannot describe a means to an end as being either pro-life or otherwise, because ‘life’ (here meaning the reduction of violent crime) is the end goal and the debate is over how best to achieve that. Whatever your views on the issue, please have the honesty to acknowledge what is being discussed.

How Did This Happen?

With the ongoing flood of celebrities, politicians, and people in power being accused of sexual harassment, some people are wondering how this happened? Well, there are a few things that might have factored in:

You said that sex didn’t have to mean anything.

You said monogamy was outdated and unnatural.

You said pornography was harmless fun.

You said that one’s sexual habits were an entirely private and personal affair.

You said that sexual constancy was impossible.

You elevated sexual pleasure to the level of the highest good.

You said that one’s sexual preferences were the defining feature of his personality.

You encouraged children to ‘experiment’ with sex.

You encouraged people to base their relationships on how good the sex was.

You said that adultery was ‘just another kind of marriage.’

You held up sexual predators and deviants as heroes.

You praised depictions of sexual depravity as high art.

You mocked and derided anyone who called for morality in sex.

You hailed contraception as liberation and condemned anyone who opposed it.

You hailed abortion as freedom and condemned anyone who condemned it.

You hailed pornography as liberating and raised pornographers to the status of folk heroes.

You made ‘Pimp’ a compliment.

You made contraception a fundamental human right.

You made sodomy a fundamental human right.

You made not having you sexual habits questioned or criticized in any way a fundamental human right.

You mocked and derided courtesy and chivalry.

You condemned the teaching of virtue as ‘judgmental.’

You forbade religion from the public square.

You condemned any special treatment offered to women as an insult.

You condemned anyone who pointed out that men and women are different and ought to be treated differently.

You mocked anyone who said that women should take special precautions and have special protections simply because they are women.

You repeatedly mock the idea that men should protect women.

You denied that there is even any substantial difference between men and women.

You celebrated imprudence, self-indulgence, and the exploitation of others as ‘self-discovery.’

You encouraged men and women to abandon or never start families in the name of ‘independence.’

You teach children about the beauty of sexual perversions.

You advocate for men to be able to use the women’s bathroom.

You hold personal desire up as an unquestionable good.

You deride any safeguards, precautions, or prudential habits as ‘repressive.’

You accuse anyone who suggests ways a woman can minimize her risk of being assaulted of ‘blaming the victim.’

You sneer at the customs, laws, and teachings of ages that didn’t have this problem.

You spent four generations stripping away more and more boundaries, advocating greater and greater transgressions, and claiming that you were virtuous for doing so.

You spent four generations mocking and deriding morality and elevating a person’s animal desires as the truest part of himself.

You spent four generations telling people that only they could decide what was right or true for them.

 

What the hell did you think was going to happen?