Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jane Eyre and the Confessions of a Closet Universalist

Lest I scandalize anyone, let me make it clear from the start that I fully accept the Church's teaching on the awful possibility of Hell as the result of human freedom. The struggle for holiness would not be noble at all if we could be lax and presumptuous, the choice to love God would be nothing valuable if we could not also choose the opposite, and salvation would be meaningless if we weren't being saved from eternal damnation, from never-ending self-enclosure.

Nevertheless, I must say that regardless of all that, on which my position is entirely spite of that awful and very real possibility, in spite of the awesome power of free will we have been given that even God Himself cannot compel (without it ceasing to be free)...something deep down inside me is absolutely committed to the hope beyond hope...that Love is more powerful still. That somehow, in the inscrutible Providence and ineffable mercy of God, all will be saved, and saved without coercion even.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not really a "Universalist" inasmuch as, for me, this is a question of HOPE, not Faith. I do not believe that it is a revealed article of Faith that all will be saved. That would be heresy or its equivalent. Even if it is destined to be true, God would never reveal it, lest what would be an incredible triumph of Mercy become a "right" that people may simply be presumptuous about, or else a compulsion that would eliminate free will.

Even if it is to happen, I'd think it is supposed to be a "surprise". The question is supposed to keep us in suspense until the Last Judgment, for only in the face of the possibility of damnation are any of our struggles or love meaningful. We must work out our salvation without that certainty, in trembling and fear. That reminds me of a passage in the glorious last chapter of the glorious work by GK Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday, explaining the suffering in the world:

"I see everything," he cried, "everything that there is. Why does each thing on the earth war against each other thing? Why does each small thing in the world have to fight against the world itself? Why does a fly have to fight the whole universe? Why does a dandelion have to fight the whole universe? For the same reason that I had to be alone in the dreadful Council of the Days. So that each thing that obeys law may have the glory and isolation of the anarchist. So that each man fighting for order may be as brave and good a man as the dynamiter. So that the real lie of Satan may be flung back in the face of this blasphemer, so that by tears and torture we may earn the right to say to this man, 'You lie!' No agonies can be too great to buy the right to say to this accuser, 'We also have suffered.'"

Nevertheless, though I do not believe we have been told with any sort of certainty that all will be saved...I still hope it will be true, and believe that nothing that was revealed to us that definitively says that hope is in vain.

Even the case of Judas, though seemingly the least likely human not definitive. Pope John Paul II himself said in Crossing the Threshold of Hope:
"The silence of the Church is, therefore, the only appropriate position for Christian faith. Even when Jesus says of Judas, the traitor, "It would be better for that man if he had never been born" (Mt 26:24), His words do not allude for certain to eternal damnation."
Besides the fact that Jesus was known for His hyperbole, and besides the fact that sin is so bad that while we are in the state of mortal sin perhaps the same sentiment could be applied to any of us, I will also point out that not being born is not quite the same as never having been conceived. The Church does not consider it revealed or intrinsically connected to revelation that any person has been damned, in the same way that Saints are infallibly declared to be in Heaven by their canonizations.

Judas's betrayal of Christ was absolutely equivalent to all of ours, yet the self-righteous among trads are quick to condemn him with absolute certainty. Yet 20th century theologians have been rightly troubled by such a position. The Judas story in the Gospels is not a simple morality tale about a bad man getting his straightforward comeuppance, but rather a Tragedy. That the story of salvation of the world would depend upon the damnation of one man would seem unacceptable unless we admit hope for him too. It is a story of how Christ died for us, not of how Judas was damned for us, after all.

This site has numerous quotes by Pope John Paul II in a similar vein. It is a rad-trad site that is using the quotes to try to discredit the Venerable John Paul, but I think many of these quotes are extremely nuanced and profound.

This, of course, has all been discussed in a much more comprehensive way by Hans Urs von Balthasar in his now famous "Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?" A tract for which he is much maligned by many trads and even neocons, even while it is clear that the late pontiff was very sympathetic to his position.

Yet I myself was actually more inspired to my position by two passages in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, wherein the dying schoolmate of Jane's, Helen Burns, expresses her own "universalist" hope:
"We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world: but the time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain—the impalpable principle of life and thought, pure as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature: whence it came it will return; perhaps again to be communicated to some being higher than man—perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten to the seraph! Surely it will never, on the contrary, be suffered to degenerate from man to fiend. No; I cannot believe that: I hold another creed, which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and to which I cling; for it extends hope to all; it makes Eternity a rest—a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last; with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live in calm, looking to the end.”
There is another passage later, just before she is about to die, taking the form of a dialogue with Jane, beautiful for the absolutely child-like simplicity in which it is expressed:

"Where is God? What is God?"

"My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what he created. I rely implicitly on his power, and confide wholly in his goodness: I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to him, reveal him to me."

"You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven; and that our souls can get to it when we die?"

"I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part to him without any misgivings. God is my father; God is my friend: I love him; I believe he loves me."

Of course, this unrevealed private hope stands in contrast to the very publicly revealed truth of the possibility of Hell, and the long tradition of discussing it as if it is almost certain that some people are there. In some ways I think that contrast is the poetic point of the situation, as it is between the two, in that tension, where hope hangs suspended.

Nevertheless, it is clear that this spark of hope may indeed be maintained for all human beings, as revelation and the Church are silent on the question of whether or which humans will be damned, and that the late Venerable Pope and other theologians, personalists mainly, have been more bold recently about reminding Catholics that they may have this hope even while avoiding presumption. It is a much discussed topic since Vatican II.

The question of Satan and the fallen angels is much less discussed; it is revealed with certainty that they are currently in hell, and that in the ordinary course of things, their choice is irrevocable and hell is eternal. And yet, Catholic Encyclopedia, from 1917, even admits, in its article on Hell: "In itself, it is no rejection of Catholic dogma to suppose that God might at times, by way of exception, liberate a soul from hell."

Now, I don't know if it is incompatible with the nature of Personhood and Free Will to think that God might "re-set" a Will, allowing it to freely make a choice again that it had already fully made. I don't know if that would somehow destroy the continuity of the individual as defined by his choices*, or if it would simply be inevitable in such a case that the same outcome would occur. But if such an extraordinary "second chance" by the Omnipotence of God is possible, (and Catholic Encyclopedia seems to indicate that it is no contradiction of dogma, at least, to believe that God could and might make such exceptions) well, then perhaps even for the demons and Satan himself...I cling to a sliver of hope, more valuable than everything in the world, but so tiny, so rash, so improbable, and so secret that I'd better not discuss it...

*This idea of the possible nature of free will and personal individuality was first brought to my attention by a line in the movie AI where the future creatures explain to David that they can only resurrect a human consciousness from the past for one day before it fades because "once an individual space-time pathway had been used, it could not be re-used," a concept vaguely based on quantum theories regarding consciousness, whereby consciousness causes a wave-function to collapse and so "chooses" which of the several probable outcomes becomes reality, thus defining identity and continuity of consciousness by a self-directed entanglement of quantum outcomes. Analogously, on the spiritual plane, if consciousness were irrevocably entangled with its own past choices...could God ever allow a choice to be "re-chosen", or would that destroy the identity of the being? Personally, I tend to trust that Omnipotence could find a way nonetheless...

They should have kept Epiphany instead...

Just a reminder to everyone that Friday, January 1st, is a Holy Day of obligation.

Of course, it is usually on this of all Holy Days that such "reminders" make their appearance. Because this is, in some ways, the least logical of them all.

Catholics who go to Church on Sundays...generally do attend Assumption, All Saints, and Immaculate Conception...but this definitely the forgotten one.

It's always been a Holy Day, but originally it was just as "The Octave of Christmas". When the third council of Baltimore was choosing which Holy Days to make obligatory in the United States, they picked New Year's Day, but under the title "Circumcision of Our Lord."

It is only since Vatican II that it has been obligatory because it is the "Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God"...a concept always attached to the day, but was only the tertiary emphasis previously (though the existence of this "maternity" aspect to January 1...always made the "idea feast" instituted by Pius XI on October 11 for the "Maternity of Mary" a little redundant seeming to me.) Mary's main feasts were always Annunciation and Assumption, Ladymas and Marymas. Immaculate Conception later also became important, obviously.

But portraying this as the feast of Mary AS a in some ways just as counter-intuitive as having a "Feast of Jesus Christ", as the Blessed Virgin is more than a Saint, she is an eschatological figure who is really commemorated by events in her life in her own sort of Temporal cycle (Conception, Nativity, Presentation, Assumption, etc), not the Sanctoral.

Anyway, my point is, this has always struck me as an odd choice for a Holy Day, with a very muddled history.

Would that the US bishops have kept Epiphany, and dropped this one! Then maybe early January wouldn't be "the forgotten Holy Day". But no. Instead, we see a feast anciently considered more important than Christmas itself, on January 6th, moved to the nearest Sunday, and the "Twelve Days of Christmas" turned into anywhere from 8-14 days depending on when the Sunday falls.

Maybe they figured that New Year's Day was good to keep because it was a civic holiday anyway, and few people would be working. Whereas by January 6th, many Christmas breaks are over and people are back to work. That may have made sense in the 19th century when labor was treated extremely poorly, but nowadays many Catholics just seem annoyed by this feast exactly because they are up late on New Year's Eve and wish they could just use the civic day-off to sleep late and rest before starting the year.

And selecting it just because it is a civic holiday is a rather pathetic surrender to American capitalism, don't you think? The whole point of Holy Days is to sanctify days that aren't already a Sunday, to make Catholics get to Mass on a weekday to commemorate important feasts. Epiphany was always much more important than January 1st, one of the most major feasts of the liturgical year, commemorating not just the visit of the Magi, but also the Baptism of Our Lord, and the Wedding at Cana, which are then specifically commemorated and elaborated upon on their own days within the expanded Epiphany season. Epiphany was the day of a great Holy Water blessing, and the day that the date of Easter and all the movable feasts connected to it was announced.

So, in my humble opinion, the USCCB should drop the rather obscure January 1st obligation, and instead bring back Epiphany on January 6th as a Holy Day in the United States.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Litmus Test?

There are many markers by which we judge someone's personality as either compatible or incompatible with our own.

These shibboleths are not necessarily agreement on the big ideological issues that you might expect, for often times very different personality types share a common set of beliefs (just look at the diversity of the personalities of the Saints) and, on the other hand, often in our culture today people are personally compatible who have radically different personal beliefs. I know that I can't stand many Catholics, traditionalists especially, and yet some of my closest friends in real life are Protestant, or liberal, or openly homosexual, or feminist, etc...

This may say something about the compartmentalization of faith in our culture today, though there is certainly still a correlation between certain personality types and certain beliefs. In fact, such a correspondence between traditionalist orthodox conservative Catholicism and "conservative" authoritarian mean-spirited repressed one of the things we are trying to deconstruct as Renegade Trads, with "conservative heads, liberal hearts." An ideology or agenda can be abstracted from common psychological motives for holding to it, and someone holding a similar belief is very often not necessarily a good indicator of personal compatibility.

Instead, it is often a subtle little thing that will indicate to us whether we like someone or not, whether we find them personally compatible as a friend or else not find in them what we value in our intimates.

I have tried to avoid creating any such litmus test for Renegade Trads, as what one feature could be said to define us. Support of optional celibacy in the secular priesthood? Support of vernacular translations of the Old Rite? Anti-globalization? Opposition to sexual repression and rose-colored facades? An emphasis on more Eastern or personalist theologies over legalistic Scholastic methods? Suspicion of institutionalism among the clergy? Not being a conspiracy theorist, misogynist, homophobe, or antisemite? Being fine with women wearing pants? Being a "Medieval" rather than a "Baroque"?

But, really, no one position can be said to define the kinds of young people we're looking for. Renegade Traditionalism is defined more by an individualist, free-thinking mentality, a mature, integrated personality, and a realistic, practical, and tolerant attitude about the world and the Faith, rather than by any one position. It is certainly correlated with a constellation of renegade positions including those above, but I know young people I consider renegade trads who disagree with several of the above positions, while at the same time holding some unconventional ideas that I don't. One of the main features of the movement is avoiding the narrowness of agenda that many trads or rad-trad groups come to be suffocated in, getting into major fights over minor points. Here we respect and encourage civil disagreement and debate as enriching the discourse we are trying to have.

However, all that being said, I was struck by an interesting little indicator tonight that I couldn't resist sharing:

There is only one thing that will indicate my incompatibility with a trad more than condemning The Sound of Music...and that's actually
liking The Sound of Music. ;)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Traditionalism NOT merely an Alternate Globalism

Euro-centrism is a huge problem among traditionalists. For example, I was really offended by this (well-meaning, I guess) post on Rorate Caeli about the death of Europe.

Now, the secularization and decadence of Europe is a problem to be sure, but when they say something like, "And the great malaise one feels around the world today is not, as some suggest, the end of the 'Pax Americana' and the rise of the 'East'. No: it is rather the fact that the source of the European framework within which we all, from Pole to Pole, have existed for centuries is disintegrating before our very eyes" that just really angers me. Speaking of "the European framework within which we all, from Pole to Pole, have existed for centuries" just so wrong. Then again most trads were all opposed to the Aboriginal dancers at the Sydney World Youth Day, and love to see the ICRSS dressing-up Africans in Roman chasubles like good little culturally castrated subservients...

It's enough to make you sick to see them equate traditional Catholicism with "Western Civilization" like that. That's a big polemic it seems these days...attempting to show how "the Catholic Church created Western Civilization". That's a cliche you'll hear from a lot of the "apologetics" crowd these days.

For one, it's an oversimplification to be sure. Obviously, "Western Civilization" has it's roots in Greco-Roman culture before the time of Christ, and though Catholicism was certainly the defining feature of one stage of it (namely the Medieval) has strayed far from that since then, and I would be wary to equate the two or argue that all the "great" things that happened in Modernity were somehow related to medieval European Christendom.

I dont have a hard time believing, for example, that if Rome hadnt fallen...they would have reached the technological level of today, or the level of social organization, etc. They probably would have sooner. To turn all the alleged temporal material "benefits" of the secular civilizing (ie, urbanizing/specializing) process...into an argument for Christianity (by making Christianity and "civilization" into some sort of irrevocable allies)...strikes me as a trivialization and naturalization of the Faith.

What they are attempting is well-meaning: getting "Western Culture" to accept Catholicism again by reminding them how historically tied their society is to it, how it is an important part of their heritage. However, I worry it has the opposite effect, the other side of the coin, namely: legitimizing the expansionist, genocidal project of "Western Civilization" and effectively binding the Church to IT, instead of the other way around. The Church isnt bound to it. For all of Dante's rhetoric about God choosing the Roman Empire as much as ancient Israel...I think we can easily imagine the Apostles having all gone to Asia and having India have been the first and major Christendom. We have hints of what this would have been like in the St Thomas Christians perhaps.

The "choice" of Europe (at least during the middle ages) as the major locus of Christian power...must be trusted as Providential to be sure. But let's not turn that into some big nationalistic polemic. Providence works in mysterious ways to bring about the greatest possible good, and that It arranges for someone to be leader or for success to happen to a particular nation...does not necessarily constitute a moral endorsement or glorification of that.

Ironically, trads are often "against" liberal democracy and see the Vatican's recent cozying up to American-style Classical Liberalism as problematic. I also am very disturbed by that, though, unlike lots of them, not because I have some sort of fascist authoritarian psyche (I think lots of them have daddy-issues, frankly).

To me...that sort of political stance by the Vatican is problematic exactly because it is just another symptom of the binding of the Church with "the West" as anything. Because now that is what is mainstream in the West, and if you bind West and're bound to see that correspondence. It's a form of corruption or peer-pressure or political blackmail in the end. The West has this sort of secular-messianic narrative about the "glories" of "progress," and liberal democracy, and capitalism (though they have exploited more people in the periphery of the world, and the unborn, and their own sheepish masses than any other civilization)...and the hierarchy buys into it just because it is the "mainstream" thing to do, since only "crazy" people question it these days.

Personally, I see no argument justifying it anymore. When "Western Civilization" was still Christian...well, I guess it made sense for the Church, in the political sphere, to be allied with the Christians against non-Christian civilizations. But now...the religion of the West is secularism. So at this point, it would really be just as good to be allied with, say, Russia, or China, or even the Muslim world! The Vatican-Washington axis has got to end.

But, no. The Vatican's "international political agenda" still tied to America/Western Europe/Israel, it seems, merely for historical reasons, not because they are substantially Christian anymore. Of course, the best answer is just to stop "choosing the lesser of two evils" stop being an international political force throwing our weight behind this or that civilization. To stand on our own, not alligned with this or that civilization. I've often said that the Church is paying for the mistake of allying ourselves with American Capitalism and Democracy as the "lesser of two evils" against Soviet Communism in the Cold War...given that it seems to have severely compromised us institutionally (ie, the Americanization and Protestantization within the Church), and when in hindsight it seems that Communism may not have been the greater of the two evils, merely the less subtle.

However, if we must be allied to a civilization, if there is always to be a "secular arm" of the Church in some sense or another...then I think, if we should be allied with any culture at this point in history, it probably should be Latin American culture. That is the best thing we have (or had until just a few decades ago) in terms of a Catholic Civilization. And shouldnt the Church be standing with the Third World, politically, instead of whoring ourselves to the First?

And yet, though Latin America makes up half the population of the Church, it remains peripheral in the Church's international politics. We're still trying to remain cozy with the America/Israel axis of "Western Civilization" instead of just cutting loose and joining a better option like Latin America. Certainly, Latin America is not proportionally represented in the Curia or College of Cardinals or anything like that, and when they are, they are extremely Europeanized men, still sort of an ecclesiastical aristocracy (and then they wonder why liberation theology thrives there!)

And yet, the neocons, and many trads even...seem largely behind continuing the old alliance. As much as they may rail against "democracy" or "capitalism" or "American Imperialism" or "Zionist influence"...they ultimately dont actually seem to desire allying the Church with a
different civilization. They merely want the "Western Civilization" to return to some sort of late medieval or counter-reformation mindset...but they still want it to be Western Civilization. They're own civilizational pride wont let them imagine China becoming the next Christendom, or Africa, or Latin America, etc...not unless those places are thoroughly Europeanized first, not unless they become essentially colonies of Western Civilization.

It's really a sad situation. But the fact is, lot's of peoples have been the victim of colonially imposed cultural self-hatred and inferiority complexes. Neocolonial assimilationist mentalities are a huge problem, and represent the psychological castration of a people. Let's not romanticize the "culture cringe" colonial mentality.

I adore Ethiopian liturgical music (there is, after all, a whole Coptic Ge'ez Ethiopian Rite, and sub-Saharan Africa is really within the Canonical Territory of Alexandria, not Rome). But am I going to switch Rites or start requesting that Ethiopian liturgical music start being used in my Western Latin-rite parish? No, of course not. As a Westerner, that would be rightly be seen as incredibly affected and esotericist.

And yet when the "good little" acculturated Africans and Asians do it with "western civilization"...lots of trads think it's so great. It is scandalous to the entire movement, which is supposed to be about tradition, not about globalization (which is its opposite).

It really upsets me to see trads equate traditional Catholicism with "Western Civilization". Because then there is no basic attitudinal difference between us and the globalists. Then we are just fighting over WHICH culture should be hegemonic, when really we should be disagreeing with the whole idea of hegemony in general!!!

To me, traditionalism is a fundamental outlook that values tradition
as such. In this way, it is inherently local, rooted in individual and communal history and memories, and is absolutely opposed to globalization or any other attempt at hegemony.

Sadly, it seems, for many trads..."traditionalism" is not about valuing tradition at all, but simply about wishing that a different "culture" was hegemonic in the Church. But they dont disagree with hegemony. They just wish it was 1950's-Latin-Rite hegemony instead of Novus Ordo hegemony.

Likewise, the cheerleaders of "Western Civilization" among trads dont particularly disagree with globalization (however much they might critique it in certain conspiracy-theory type contexts). They ultimately love globalization, in theory, they just wish it was Counter-Reformation Western Culture that was being globalized instead of Modern Secular Western Culture...

So it becomes merely a clash-of-civilizations type thing, not a fundamental disagreement with the whole paradigm which makes people think a "clash" is inevitable in the first place. It's simply wanting a different team to win, not questioning the whole game.

Anyway, I think these three concepts are very interesting and important to a lot of what we discuss when it comes to this question:

Cultural Alienation is an inferiority complex that shouldnt be encouraged. I mean, as a white, I know it's a fine line to walk between right-wing eurocentric attitudes that would encourage it, and patronizing liberal attitudes that, essentially, tell the other culture how they are "supposed to be" and insist on a purism that has never existed anywhere, some exchange always does happen.

But I think I can call it when I see it pretty well, and the SSPX dressing little African boys up in suits and ties for their first communion, or the ICRSS turning Gabon into 18th-century Vienna...scream cultural cringe and neocolonialism masquerading as evangelization.

Africans can love Gregorian Chant all they want, just like I can love Ethiopian. That doesnt mean that is appropriate to either of our native local liturgies.

The role of the universal church is supposed to be for the building up of the local Churches. The Pope is not supposed to be the hegemon, but rather the protector of the local churches and traditions.

And I think he could have a very good effect in this way. If he used his position, his power, his tell the Africans or the Asians that their culture ISNT inferior. That they should be proud and sternly RESIST "westernization," globalization, or Europeanization. That "Western Culture" has been successful NOT because it is superior but, frankly, just because it has been willing to be exploitative and (for various geographical-historical reason) is at the core of the current world system. That the sort of cargo-cultism where, for example, the Japanese started wearing western suits and hats because they thought that would help make them superior...must be renounced.

I think John Paul was actually somewhat good at this, whatever else I might think about his papacy. Much better than the whole "Missa Luba" model of inculturation (beautiful music Latin?)...

First Nations Catholicism

I'd like to give a shout out for my friend's network "First Nations Catholicism." Though I'm just a white guy, I post there on issues I find relating to Native American Christianity, and think we have a really good start for being a platform for discussion of such issues. You may find that I re-post some of my thoughts from my posts there onto this blog as relevant.

My friend is something of a budding anthropologist, and has been interested in such issues because of his own First Nations heritage (Taino, specifically) for some time. However, it was initially inspired by our reading of the book I got for Christmas "The Roman Rite in the Algonquian and Iroquoian missions: from the colonial period to the Second Vatican Council" by Claudio R. Salvucci.

The question of the organic development of native liturgy in the Americas is one I have long been interested in. In the Old World there are generally ancient liturgies associated with Africa (the Coptic, the Ge'ez Ethiopian, etc) and Asia (the Syro-Malabar and Malankara in India, etc). And though the missionaries of the Roman Rite may have disregarded the traditional patriarchal boundaries when choosing which liturgy to introduce to various cultures (even Matteo Ricci assumed the inculturation would involve the Roman), and though a certain liturgical imperialism may have stunted the possibility of something like, say, a Chinese liturgy based on the Antiochene, these trends could be reversed today by a simple switch of the rites used in these areas (gradually, one would hope, to avoid too much disruption). After all, the Novus Ordo has basically wiped out any argument of keeping it anymore from the sheer inertia of tradition...

Also, the [Latin] Catholic population in many of these areas is small compared to the total population which could potentially convert. Yes, there are a few million Chinese Catholics with a tradition of the Latin Rite already in place, and I would not want to disrupt that for them...but, at the same time, there are hundreds of millions of potential Chinese converts who have no particular tradition of any Rite yet, and it might be advantageous to use this "blank slate" to correct a historical and geographical wrong.

The Americas are a much more interesting question, however, as they had no native liturgy associated with them. They are within the Latin Patriarchate, and so it would be assumed that Western Liturgies would be the "seed" for any native uses and eventually rites that could eventually have developed or still develop, though one might perhaps wish that a bit more local diversity had been used on the part of the "colonial" liturgy established (ie, the Spanish could have used the Mozarabic, the French a Gallican liturgy, the English the Sarum, the Portuguese the Bragan, etc.)

The "Indian Mass" texts nevertheless at least represent some of the latest examples we have, and some of the only post-Tridentine, of organic liturgical experimentation and development being allowed to occur. This gives us a peek into the process in progress, albeit at a nascent stage and one severely hindered by Tridentine ossification and legalism regarding strict limitations on alterations to the liturgical texts themselves. Still, it gives us some sources into how the process or organic development traditionally could work (in contrast with Vatican II artificial committee-made liturgy) and thus how it could be fomented once again.

This New Liturgical Movement post discusses the so-called "Indian Mass" uses as well and links to a very good source for this topic of which there is thus far scant research.

PS. This post is a good example of a "Renegade Trad" type of topic, as I know many non-renegade trads would plotz if they heard talk of "savage" liturgical inculturation, and scoff at native cultures the world over as "barbaric" and in need of "Civilization" (read: Europeanization), whereas Renegade Trads respect any traditional organic culture and believe that they can all be "baptized" just as the Greco-Roman was.

At the same time, we Renegade Trads are certainly against the Liberal inculturation whereby stereotyped symbols (like feather head-dresses and peace pipes and such) are slapped together into a rather patronizing "Disney's Pocahontas" Liturgy. And though we recognize that cultural exchange and evolution always happen, we generally support cultures co-existing on earth separately in their own homelands rather than being leveled and blended into one globalized Multiculture by pluralism.

Later today I'll post a rant I wrote a while back about the meaning of "traditionalism" as I espouse it in this sense, and how it contrasts with the Colonial mindset held by many trads (and many right-wing Christians in general).

Article on "No Organizations"

Here is an old post I found from a Protestant "emerging church" pastor that I think lays out some very good points that could well be applied to the current Institutional dynamics in the Catholic Church. I haven't looked over the rest of the blog, so I can't recommend or endorse anything else there, but here it is. The red comments in brackets are mine:

It occurs to me that one of the reasons that mainline denominations are in significant decline is that they are intrinsically “NO organizations.” They are not designed to be permission giving but, rather, to be permission denying. Rather than embracing a “whatever it takes” philosophy of ministry, the “never done it that way” mentality is prevalent. A friend of mine likes to say that often the most obvious solution to a problem escapes us because it is too easy and too obvious to be considered. NO organizations can’t see these answers for three basic truths prevail in their operational mindset: 1) NO organizations are reactive; 2) NO organizations use obstacles as excuses for their failure; and 3) NO organizations discourage creativity. It is time to break the cycle if we as a denomination are going to move beyond our NO organization mindset!

NO organizations are reactive not proactive. They wait for something to happen so that they can criticize it thoroughly and respond with knee jerk policy statements and self-righteous pronouncements. Reactivity is a dangerous state of existence because it means you live in constant stress.
[Lots of Trads are reactive and reactionary in their ideology and personalities.] Those who are acting are always waiting on criticism and weighing their decisions on their willingness and ability to stand further assaults, often of a personal nature. For those in authority, being reactive means they spend far too much time looking for problems rather than finding solutions. Problem identification is not a spiritual gift! Any fool can find a problem; it takes a leader to find a solution. [A good thing for us to remember here, too. Healthy critique is needed, but only makes sense in the context of having a clear vision of a better alternative. If you are proposing no practical solutions, don't whine about the problems. Exposure to the constant cynicism and bitter complaining among Trads can be absolutely spiritually poisonous bile when it is merely destructive instead of constructive.]

NO organizations use obstacles as excuses rather than conquer them.
They see every problem as a reason to justify their struggles not realizing they their worst enemy may, indeed, be themselves. My favorite pastor once said “problems are simply opportunities for God to bless.” NO organizations are managed by the philosophy of the path of least resistance. That path usually is characterized by mediocrity and “good enough.” There is no reward for going above and beyond the call of duty or striving for excellence. When some one tries to rise and attempt conquer problems constructively they are criticized for not following procedures or used for target practice since their heads are above the crowd. [The former is certainly true in the mainline institutional Church; the latter I've been the victim of on Trad discussion forums online when espousing Renegade Trad type positions] NO organizations are always looking for a target rather than team member. Any fool can criticize; it takes a leader to find a solution!

NO organizations discourage creativity. They are bound by paradigms that reward stagnation. Turf wars and entrenched methodologies discourage creative thinking.
More time is spent avoiding interpersonal difficulties than actually finding solutions [One often finds sympathetic parties, even priests, who are afraid to act for fear of rocking the boat, who say they must be "political" or act "diplomatically" so as to not upset anyone or compromise their delicate "position" within the institutional Church.] The obvious solutions are ignored because they would require a change in behaviors and an embracing of new levels of creativity. Any fool can discourage; it takes a leader to creatively find solutions.

So the real key seems to be leaders who are proactive, desire to conquer obstacles and embrace creativity. How do we raise up a generation of these leaders? How do we release them to create YES organizations? God help us to live and lead boldly. I remain:

Lost in Grace,

Marty Cauley, Pastor
That pretty much summed up the dynamics in the current mainline institutional Church AND the usual (ie, non-renegade) Trad critique of it in one fell swoop...and thoroughly dismembered them both. We need to think outside the box, people!

On a side note, I did find the name "NO Organization" rather ironic given that the Novus Ordo is often abbreviated N.O. in liturgical circles. I've often thought of making a little bumper sticker:

Not a Manifesto

But perhaps one will appear someday.

Rather than writing some big long introductory post, I think my views on various issues, and how they're different from those of regular trads, will become apparent quickly enough as I start to write blog posts on various issues.

The early posts will probably be rather long and rambly as I lay down my thoughts on the various issues. This isn't a "sound bite" sort of blog, so be prepared for some lengthy analysis. However, as time progresses, hopefully my positions will become apparent enough and hopefully I'll just be able to cite earlier posts when I find real world examples of Renegade Trad sorts of issues for the blog.