Monday, February 15, 2010

Just as Authoritarian as Ever

So, a comment on my recent post on Vatican II got me writing, and I thought I might as well turn it into a post. I was asked what I thought of the New Theology, and the question made me realize that, as harsh as I may seem towards Vatican II in my last couple posts, I actually obviously support many of its changes objectively.

I'm more sympathetic to the "new theology" than most traditionalists. I certainly recognize the pitfalls of a legalistic Scholasticism, and very much like Von Balthasar especially, and though some of the other "new theologians" definitely missed the mark, that's bound to happen when you are experimenting with a new philosophical framework.

I'm all for personalism and for replacing (or, rather, complementing) the justice/legal analogy with a more Eastern medicinal or "love analogy" for speaking of God.

But the whole idea of trying to institutionalize counter-intuitive. I mean...trying to legislate non-legalism into existence?? That's irony! Yet it's been the effort of much of the Vatican II agenda for the past 50 years.

Like with the celibacy question, these men in the hierarchy, deeply institutionalized themselves, cannot get past the idea of attempting to "enforce" good things as opposed to simply being tolerant and letting the better way spread by its own merits. They want to make their opinion (however much I may agree with it) into dogma, and so make the Better the enemy of the Good.

I also think law should still be phrased like law, clear and concise, even while spiritually/theology moves beyond law and into love. I was actually planning to write a "book-end" to my Closet Universalist post soon, describing how it is that I am both a Universalist sympathizer AND surprisingly a Feeneyite sympathizer. What it boils down to, though, is that justice is justice and mercy is mercy. That absolute abstract public objective principles are of a totally different nature than the world of the relative concrete private subjective situations of individuals. It's the the distinction between my ideals and my pragmatism. A distinction I think a lot of Catholics still can't make, hence all these attempts to enforce ideals into existence. This mixed up idea that just because something is good, it should thus be required.

Frankly, I'm all for tolerance as my previous posts may imply. I certainly sympathize more with the new, less hostile, less stern approach to say, ecumenism, other religions, free thought (ie, no more Index of Forbidden Books, Deo Gratias), concern with social justice and human rights, etc etc. I don't particularly like the wholesale alliance with and romanticization of American-style democracy (as I wrote about in my post on Globalism)...but, better than fascism.

What I don't like, however, is when people get ideological about these things, as that is to be paradoxically just as intolerant. Trying to "enforce" on the SSPX support of a more nuanced and tolerant view of other religions in our pluralistic ironically intolerant. People are free to disagree on such issues, yet there are people who will burn at the stake those who express sympathy for the old Inquisition!

So for me it's an "I may find distasteful what you say, but I'll fight to the death for your right to say it," sort of thing.

In a deeply troubling way, the Catholic "culture wars" after Vatican II proves that the Catholic Church, while it may have changed its prudential policies on the surface, may pay lip-service to rejection of, in its institutional mindset, still Authoritarian to the core. Still utterly entrenched in Feudal models of intra-organizational interaction.

It proves that authoritarianism is more about a certain psyche, not the accidental position or agenda in itself.

Liberalism can be just as ideological and authoritarian in trying to "enforce freedom" or do things "for peoples own good" (communism anyone?)...and, as I hope to demonstrate here, Traditionalism can be tolerant and liberal when it comes to promoting tradition and traditional values.

In other words, the Left does use right-wing methods to enforce left-wing positions. But, on the other hand, the right could use left-wing methods to promote right-wing positions. Yet for some reason, this latter isn't often done as much. For example, this post.

"Cracking down" on right-wingers (however fascist as they may be) hardly the way to promote freedom and tolerance! The fact that the cardinal doesn't understand that makes him look ridiculous. "These integrists, they don't support religious liberty! Therefore, we need to limit their religious liberty!" The more things change, the more they stay the same...

It's not that his wariness of "integrists" is wrong...I'd be wary too, especially in Europe which has a history of more extreme political spectrum. But trying to use force to impose a more moderate position on just as authoritarian as they are! And shows that a lot of these Vatican II questions are issues of politics (and therefore debatable) that both sides wrongly try to portray as issues of dogma (and therefore beyond debate).

It's like the French Revolution. Ending Absolutism and all the abuses of the peasants and excesses of the aristocracy was a good goal. But then they went crazy and were JUST as authoritarian and abusive in the Reign of Terror, and went to the childish extreme of iconoclastically destroying churches, relics, etc.

I'm not saying some of Vatican II's goals of having more freedom and tolerance in the Church weren't good. But to try to impose them in an institutional fashion...defeats the whole purpose.

And the Iconoclasm that followed (destroying the old liturgy, renouncing things like the papal tiara, practically condemning medieval Christendom rather than simply saying "times have changed")...was just unjustifiable. It shows that there was no change in methods or attitude of those in power, merely of which particular ideology was in power.

These people haven't learned to have civil debate and disagreement yet. I've read before that as people go through psychological and moral development, as they progress to each new "stage" or schema...they tend to vehemently reject the lower stages of integration (almost out of embarrassment at what they then realize is their past immaturity), and tend to be very harsh towards those who are still at a lower stage. This stark breaking off is perhaps necessary to be able to move on. But at the highest stage (call it "self-actualization" or whatever you want)...people come to be able to see the Whole process as from a mountain top, and appreciate each of the lower stages for their own value, for the tools acquired and lessons learned at those stages, and come to be a lot more tolerant and empathetic towards people who are still in the process of personal growth. As St. Paul says, Milk and Meat. I would tend to agree that a "love" based analogy of religion is a more mature stage compared to a "power" stage. But if the people at the love stage can't also still value the justice stage, and empathize with those who are still there, and instead express disdain or contempt and reject it wholesale, making the Better the enemy of the Good..then perhaps they haven't quite reached the heights of transcendent maturity after all. Though, who has?

There was a time that I might have imagined that, were I in charge, I would ban the Novus Ordo and re-impose the Old Rite on everyone. Now I think that, though I would still make the Old Rite the "Ordinary Form" (inasmuch as there would still be such a concept)...I'd tend to let people do their own thing if that's what they wanted, though I would work to give the Old Rite every advantage and try to level the playing field versus the Novus Ordo. non-essentials, Charity. You can't force people to see beauty, you can only help them see it for themselves. If guitars and clowns really make them happy, then I say let them be happy. Just not anywhere near me...

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