Blog happenings

6 02 2010

The first is Rod Dreher’s assertion that Voudou in Haiti is the worship of demons (found in this post). I am all for the whole idea of “omnes dii gentium daemonia”, but why stop there? Indeed, I described once how Tommaso Campanella (no paragon of “orthodoxy” himself) thought that Calvinism was the result of demonic influences. So why is it that we are so disturbed at people being ridden by the loa and eating glass when, in reality, heretics and schismatics should be just as repulsive to us. Is your Presbyterian neighbor who mows his lawn every Saturday and pays his taxes on time every year on par with a Voudou priest? According to your Catholic Faith, he is. And so is Rod Dreher, who abandoned the bark of Peter for the Eastern schismatics. If we are going to speak of demonic influences, let us at least be even handed about it.

For me, there is no bourgeois uber-religion of decency that transcends what’s true and what isn’t true. That is a modern invention based on disordered sensibilities, and to say we “good Christians” all worship the same god is an insult to God. For it would mean that we worship a schizophrenic god with various personalities for various kinds of “decent” people. If that is the case, I would rather worship a god who could manifest himself in the Haitian loa as well. That seems a lot fairer.

The second thought comes in this post:

…A lot of them have to do with the Church and the first four kind of sum up my feelings about the Church that have really come into maturity since I have come to Rome:

1. Never trust anything Catholic that is less than 500 years old.

2. Abolish everything.

3. Never join anything.

4. Never found, start, organise or volunteer for anything.

They’re survival tips, really.

…But apart from the fact that any group of hippies and commies can get together and start calling themselves a New Movement in the Catholic Church and do any amount of harm, the whole concept is a giant capitulation. That we have New Movements at all is because of the failure of the Church.

In the old days, we had parishes and religious orders. There were a few other things, Confraternities, Sodalities, lay organisations like the Knights of Columbus and Legion of Mary and St. Vincent de Paul, but these were all parish-based. A Legion of Mary group was founded within a parish and operated from the parish. It worked within, and crucially, under the supervision of the local Church in the person of the parish priest. And if the Legion ladies started plumping for the local pro-abort politician (or whatever bad thing they had in the ’50s) or invited the local feminist nutbar to speak at a presidium meeting, the PP would nix the idea and institute reforms.

The idea that you could or should go off and join a parallel Church and eschew parish life altogether, opting for some weird screwy thing that made up their own liturgical “traditions,” was unknown. The Church was the parish and it was under scrutiny.

It is the failure of the parish as the centre of Catholic daily life, of parish devotions like Saturday night Rosary, weekly Benediction, Marian processions, saints days, and even bingo and pot luck suppers and sock-hops, that has allowed the canker of the New Movements to grow.

My only comment is the pithy summary that while the Catholicism of yesteryear was about life, contemporary Catholicism is often about ideology. And I’ll just leave it at that.

Reference credits go to the Conservative Blog for Peace and the Western Confucian.


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26 responses

14 02 2010
Sam Urfer

As a Catholic convert myself, I am in agreement with you.

13 02 2010
Lucian

And to answer “A.” there, concerning Uriel: it is precisely that kind of curiosity (coupled with the fact that I constantly remembered the usually-forgotten Heavenly Powers and OT Saints in my private prayers) that led me to write this article over here. (Can check out this one also, if you like…)

13 02 2010
Lucian

Catholicism is true, this I know, for the devil told me so… 🙂

Seriously, here’s the testimony to prove it! 🙂

10 02 2010
Robert Thomas Llizo

Yes, absolutely, first and foremost! As a convert myself I see my own hypocrisies, my cultural baggage, but I am assured the constant prayers of a Greek lady who was instrumental in my conversion, one who has charms warding off the evil eye. With such prayers, there is hope for my hypocritical, posing self.

I should make clear that many of the criticisms I make have me right up there in the list. Pray for me, a sinner!

10 02 2010
Alice C. Linsley

Robert,

“little faith in the NeoCath/Orthodox boomlet culture…”

You are speaking for yourself, of course.

10 02 2010
Arturo Vasquez

If you’re ever in NOLA, compay…

10 02 2010
Robert Thomas Llizo

Well, reminds me of what some hard-line, anti-ecumenist Orthodox say about Orthodox faithful seeing Roman Catholic or Protestant clergy for confession or pastoral advise: it is tantamount to seeing a witch doctor, with the same penance imposed for seeing a fortune teller, so I guess the Feeneyite interpretation of “Salus extra ecclesiam nulla est” is a shared inheritance among both the Orthodox and the Latin schismatics. Perhaps it’s just as well. The Athonite monk waving the banner “Orthodoxy or death”, on the one hand, and the Feeneyite priest, on the other, may have more of a basis for a true ecumenical dialogue than the paltry JPII/Black Bart “dialogue of charity”. Maybe. I am saying this partly tongue-in-cheek. Partly, mind you. 😉

At the level of the Magisterium, the Feeneyite position lost, and lost big. While Fr. Leonard Feeney was not required to recant, the dominant position of the Magisterium since Pope Pius XII has been one of defining the Cyprianic dictum in a more elastic way. That is unlikely to change anytime soon, if ever at all.

I do agree that, for the most part, there is far, far too much ideology and very little faith in the NeoCath/Orthodox boomlet culture, and this is evidenced in the way that both deal with folk ways like the “evil eye,” voudou, etc.: When both speak of building a Catholic/Orthodox culture, I have no idea what they mean. There is no attempt to make any real connection with the existing Catholic/Orthodox cultures, so what I see emerging is a kind of middle-class Americanism with a Catholic/Orthodox veneer. Yawn!

Al I have to say is that if Arturo thinks I’m going to hell if I die an “Eastern schismatic”, then let’s have a true ecumenical dialogue over pint of ale, or a mojito!

7 02 2010
Alice C. Linsley

Anything outside Holy Tradition, which is entirely catholic and wholesome, is dangerous to the soul and to humanity as a whole.

7 02 2010
Joe

Wikipedia has too much info., but it sounds like Uriel is quite apocryphal.

On this statement, “Either you’re in the Catholic Church or you’re out,” how can one disagree? Just like either you are legally ‘In’ the family or you’re not. But who we choose to put on any extended guest list is quite another story, and sort of my point.

7 02 2010
A.

I wonder what Mr. Dreher thinks of St. Uriel or other angels from non-canonical sources. Or is Uriel in the Bible? I don’t really know my Bible.

7 02 2010
Arturo Vasquez

There are a lot more Drs. on the Internet than there are in real life, I am sure. Especially ones who like to comment on posts they don’t like.

7 02 2010
Joe

Peter Kreeft wrote that paganism is in some ways closer than Protestantism since it appreciates sacramental thinking. I’d agree. What Protestantism helpfully stresses is heart relationship in religion. Ritual is needed, but ritual alone does not save.

7 02 2010
Joe

Dr. P:

Nothing like being dismissed by a PhD in a manner only PhDs might understand.

Sheesh.

7 02 2010
random Orthodox chick

While I have never met a vodoun practitioner, I do finds parallels of belief with neo-pagans and Wiccans, or I should say those who aren’t your typical new agers. Since ideally they are starting from scratch, there is little contamination of neo-evangelical, kum-baya, prosperity gospel in their religion. As far as fasts and feasts, cults of the saints, cosmological ritual, and loyalty in serving the sometimes-benevolent-but-always-fearful divine, they seem to “get it”–that’s where the meat is, after all. I have to waste far less breath explaining my religion to them than with a group of people in which good faith is synonymous with being a good, successful citizen.

7 02 2010
Dr. S. Petersen

Stuff like this is merely provocative journalism or dorm-room what-ifs. If you truly believe there is a penumbra of serious inquiry here, you’re already out of communion–which, apparently, you are saying is up to you to say anyway. So, fine, you’ve said it (if, that is, you’re not being provocative or sophmoric in which case you can fall back on ignorance).

7 02 2010
+Wulfila

Just google up Barlaam and Josaphat on the old Catholic Encyclopedia. They’re not in the current Roman martyrology but they are in the Russian and Greek Orthodox calendars, the old martyrology (Nov. 27), and the calendars of some of the Eastern rite Catholics.

7 02 2010
Joe

Michael, Good words above. Thank you.

Vatican’s II “Separated Brethren” line sticks in peoples craws, even as God uses Evangelicals to keep the Church itself out of heresy. I don’t think the current CDF could do any better than statements put out from ECT! On a personal level, If the Holy Spirit is exploding down the road at Our Church of Holly Rollers, and my priest is a homosexual who thinks Obama is the Savior, and the tabernacle is empty, am I a pagan or a heretic for deciding these Calvinist sure seem like they know the Savior, whereas my parish/card-carrying PET members seem like they don’t? If I canlimp towards holiness with their help, versus being torn down by a RCIA director/knave, am I being prudent or a rebel? Likewise, Wiccan priestesses who invoke the name of Satan (if they do) sure do not seem on a par with separating Anglicans, questions of orders aside. There is doctrine, and there is common sense. I don’t know where or how they merge, but in war you’ve got to make quick calls.

From where I sit, the SPPX and FSPP are proclaiming a much more faithful-to-Tradition-and-Scripture message than much of the Official Church. Somewhere above someone said membership and salvation are very different matters. Seems like God agrees and is moving holiness ahead in some non-official quarters, while Rome plans World Youth Days hyping Green. While I cannot figure much out, I also think to lampoon our Republican-Party-at-Prayer brothers is to stand on very thin ice, especially if we are making love eyes at Voodo practitioners. Read “The Rite,” recently out. A scary counterpoint.

7 02 2010
Michael Liccione

Agostino:

You would be misunderstanding me if you didn’t think I find the Protestant principle to be a diabolical inversion. In essence, the principle is that it’s ultimately up to believers severally to determine whether something called “the Church” is orthodox, not vice-versa. Whether the criterion of orthodoxy is alleged to be sola scriptura or anything else is irrelevant. What’s important is not what’s thought to be the criterion[a], but who if anybody gets to apply them with God’s authority. Any answer to that question other than the Catholic is diabolical in origin.

That said, it doesn’t follow that Protestants in general or Calvinists in particular are creatures of the devil. Most haven’t thought these things through to their logical conclusions, and partly for that reason, most should not be presumed blameworthy for heresy. They’ve inherited a damnable error that they sincerely take to be the truth, and some of them are better Christians than some Catholics. The genuine difficulty you raise is, rather, about the interpretation of Catholic doctrine itself.

You hold to what I call the “binary theory” of membership in the Church: one is either all the way in or all the way out. With Vatican II and the present pope, I don’t believe that follows from what has been infallibly taught by either the extraordinary or ordinary magisterium. In fact, it wouldn’t even make sense to call non-Catholic Christians “heretics” unless, by virtue of their baptism, they were already incorporated into Christ and therefore, to some extent, into his Mystical Body the Church. So the notion of “imperfect communion” is a natural development, one that the condemnation of Feeney under Pius XII helped to facilitate. The principles underlying that condemnation had been clearly developing since the 16th century. So, the culmination of that development at Vatican II does not contradict the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. It merely refines consideration of what being intra ecclesiam entails.

7 02 2010
Sam Urfer

“the Eastern and Western Christian recognition of Shakyamuni Buddha as a Christian saint (St. Josaphat)”

Care to elaborate?

6 02 2010
Agostino

As to the Presbyterian/Vodoun comparison, I think it’s pretty straightforward. It doesn’t matter that one’s a heretic and one’s a syncretic. They’re still both the same because they’re both outside the Church, period. This is not necessarily a Feenyite statement (I’m only talking about membership; salvation is a different matter entirely), but the bottom line, which is what I think Arturo’s getting at, is that Church membership is not a matter of “degrees of separation,” and it doesn’t matter whether the average Calvinist believes in double predestination any more than the average Scientologist believes in Xenu. Either you’re in the Catholic Church or you’re out.

Btw, Campanella’s not the only one’s who’s ever said that Calvinism was the result of demonic influences. Jerome referred to heretics as children of the devil in his Dialogue with a Luciferian some 1200 years before Campanella, and 100 years after Campanella, St. Louis de Montfort says the exact same thing, also with particular reference to Calvinism.

6 02 2010
+Wulfila

One could always take the thrust of this post in what I think was its original and more deeply contrarian direction – not as an appeal that law-abiding Presbyterian lawn-nazis be accorded less respect (diminished to the level of Voudou practitioners) but that Voudou practitioners be accorded more respect (augmented to the respect given to one’s Presbyterian neighbor because after all the Voudou practitioner is probably much more Catholic). And some of us do feel more at home in Voudou or Spiritualist or Umbandista ceremonies than in insipid, desacralized mainline Protestant services (not to mention horrifying, alienating evangelical/charismatic services – but I digress).

Even more contrarian is the pre-Vatican II idea that the heretics, schismatics, and pagans out there may be equally inculpable for their ignorance and attain salvation (Singulari Quadam and Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, anyone? Remember that Leonard Feeney’s views were considered heretical a long time before Vatican II rolled along, even if he wasn’t condemned until the late 1940s).

Still more contrarian is the idea that doctrine develops over time and, like the Church’s appropriation of pagan Aristotelian learning under Thomas Aquinas or the Eastern and Western Christian recognition of Shakyamuni Buddha as a Christian saint (St. Josaphat) or the Christian adaptation of Hindu and Buddhist malas to Christian rosaries through intermediaries such as Islamic prayer ropes, there are ideas/devotions/practices in other religions which Christianity may yet appropriate to its benefit.

6 02 2010
Michael Liccione

Joe:

It’s important to note that one can be culpable for ignorance, and therefore for a malformed conscience, even when one is obeying one’s conscience. Think, e.g., of all the Nazis who serenely “obeyed orders,” and all the non-Nazi Germans who didn’t want to know what was really happening to the Jews. I also think of some Protestant ex-Catholics I know. Their difficulties with Catholicism strike me as ill-informed, factitious, or both; but rather than question their own understanding of the Faith, they take their difficulties as decisive against Catholicism, and dismiss all the smart Catholics who don’t see things that way as blind sheep. To me, that smacks of ignorance motivated by pride.

St. Paul thought that pagan sinners were like that (Romans 1:20 ff), even going so far as to explain homosexuality as one consequence of minds darkened by an idolatry that, in turn, was motivated by pride. But Jesus enjoined us not to judge individual cases. I think we can safely say that a substantial number of people are culpable for their ignorance of the truth, but we cannot say precisely which people. Which is why I would not venture to assess the “vertical relationship with God” had by anybody in particular. All I would say as a Catholic is that one can only have a fruitful relationship with God in virtue of the grace that either comes through or leads to the Church.

6 02 2010
Arturo Vasquez

I wonder, would a the average American Catholic be more comforable reciting the Our Father with am evangelical Protestant, or the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a Haitian hougan? Why?

Or better yet, how about praying with a rabbi? At least the Umbanda practitioner in Brazil considers Jesus to be God, or a Fidencista medium. How about practitioners of the New Orleans Spiritual Churches, who would could pray to the Holy Ghost, St. Lucy, and Black Hawk, all in the same ceremony?

And why is the Voudou practitioner more insincere than the evangelical Protestant, or better yet, the Catholic charismatic who falls on the floor and speaks in tongues?

There’s a lot of post-Vatican II splitting of hairs here, and principles that have everything to do with our sensibilities and little to do with faith. What makes us think that the Voudou practitioner (who might even go to Mass once in a while) is not seriously looking, or that they aren’t just “blocked by prejudice and ignorance from recognizing the fullness of truth”? Is it because such a principle would make it impossible for the Catholic Church to be the main bureau of the Republican Party in prayer?

Whatever.

6 02 2010
Joe

“Seriously blameworthy.” I have yet to understand the difference in a Blameworthy Sinner and a Everyman Sinner in terms analyzing our vertical relationship to God and Paul’s take in Romans. Any place this is explained without stretching credulity?

6 02 2010
Anthony

Is your Presbyterian neighbor who mows his lawn every Saturday and pays his taxes on time every year on par with a Voudou priest? According to your Catholic Faith, he is. And so is Rod Dreher, who abandoned the bark of Peter for the Eastern schismatics. If we are going to speak of demonic influences, let us at least be even handed about it.

Well, there is something to be said for taking the hard line with regard to schismatics. It has a certain curmudgeonly, contrarian flavor to it — almost the flip side of the modern’s cynicism. Where is the emoticon for a bemused grimace?

6 02 2010
Michael Liccione

Is your Presbyterian neighbor who mows his lawn every Saturday and pays his taxes on time every year on par with a Voudou priest? According to your Catholic Faith, he is.

The most charitable way I can describe that remark is ‘overgeneralized’. It could be true of those Presbyterians who actually believe and like the proposition that some people are predestined to hell no matter what they believe or do–an idea that turns my stomach. But I don’t think it can safely be presumed that such Presbyterians are common. And the Catholic faith certainly does not require us to make that presumption.

Much more common are Protestants who sincerely pray and strive to live by such elements of truth as they have learned, but are blocked by prejudice and ignorance from recognizing the fullness of truth. The Catholic faith allows that such people can be saved in spite of their being non-Catholic, if they are not seriously blameworthy for their ignorance. I’m inclined to believe that only the educated ex-Catholics are thus blameworthy, but only God can make that judgment. That is why it’s usually best to treat Protestants as separated brethren, not as traffickers with demons.

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