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 personalities...is 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. ;)


Ben said...

I'm basically down with a lot of the things you say here, two suggestions though:

1. Please make sure you're very clear on the origins and theology of a celibate priesthood before you decide that it's something that should be modified to fit the times. Yes, I know that in the East there are married priests, but is it possible that this is an area that the West understood more deeply than they? That said, I am sympathetic to what you are saying here, and I DO DEFINITELY think that the Eastern Catholic Churches should be free to have married clergy in whatever territory they find themselves without being impeded by fears of scandalizing the Latins.

2. I don't mean to poke fun but every time I see "Renegade Trads" capitalized like that it makes me roll my eyes involuntarily. Maybe instead you could just say "I". Then the reader's question would be, "Do I agree with this guy?" rather than, "Am I a Renegade Trad? And to what degree?"--which, I think is pretty obvious, generates just the same sort of shibboleths that you are hoping to avoid.

A Sinner said...

1. I personally am quite clear on the history of all this. I know it is something they tried to impose on the Western Church for a long time, never successfully. My most recent post addresses that question of how successful "mandatory" celibacy is or has ever been.

While I understand (and agree) with viewing celibacy as the theoretical "ideal"...I'm very much against making the Perfect the Enemy of the Good, especially on a matter like this that is not of the deposit of faith (though I've seen some trads try to argue that it is and that the Eastern churches have merely a "dispensation").

Too many conservative Catholics are too caught up in the "theory" of things to consider the practical problems and implications. Trying to engineer some theoretical ideal (which may be just a facade) at the expense of the needs of liturgy and ministry...makes a pragmatist cringe. Arguing about whether or how institutionalized celibacy works "on paper" has little to do with the practical administrative questions in the institutional church.

At the very least, I'd say it is quite suspicious, and indicates some bizarre things about the hierarchy's own motives and psyches...that they were willing to so blithely destroy the traditional Roman Rite...but have been so defensive when it comes to the issue of "mandatory" celibacy. To me the priorities would have been absolutely reversed.

2. Point taken, lol. It does look rather affected and pretentious reading back over some of those posts. Dont worry about poking fun, one has to be able to laugh at oneself.

I suppose I dont always want to say "I" because many of these positions arise from a series of discussions I have with a growing number of other individuals (who I would consider, yes, "Renegade Trads," though, of course, labels arent particularly useful) and I don't want to claim the ideas totally as my own. Nor sound like some lone ranting lunatic. "We" can come off as pretentious too. Hmm...I guess I'll just have to speak for the movement in the singular.

Thanks for your input :)

Carpe Diem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carpe Diem said...

"I don't want to claim the ideas totally as my own. Nor sound like some lone ranting lunatic. "We" can come off as pretentious too. Hmm...I guess I'll just have to speak for the movement in the singular."

Where did or does the whole "Medieval" fascination come from, anyway? Don't you consider the whole Romantic period to be a far better era, allowing for an endless variety of strong, emotional experiences of faith? Moving onto modern times, who Really cares about the internal functionality of "the Church" all that much, really? Everyone has their own personal journey.