Sunday, February 03, 2013

The test of time

Immaculate Conception, Hawthorn
This morning I attended mass in the suburb of Hawthorn. The church is beautiful, though I was disappointed that a projector screen covered nearly all of the stained glass windows. The music was done relatively well (a very good singer) as were the readings. The priest (a temporary replacement) had an old school type of gruff personality.

But once again the main focus of the mass was a celebration of diversity and immigration. There was an almost comical moment when the priest sternly invited the congregation to examine themselves in case there was any lingering resistance to cultural diversity.

It's a suicidal theology. If Australia was once 95% Christian it can only become less so through a process of immigration, particularly since the main source countries are Asian and Middle-Eastern, rather than, say, Latin American.

In effect, the priest is insisting that the central thing in being a good Christian is to accept the decline of the Church; perhaps even to support a process in which his own historic church will one day be occupied by members of some other religious group.

Crowning of Mary
It's a contradiction. The priest is arguing "You must do X because our church is founded on fundamental truths, but I don't mind if X causes my own parish church to no longer exist in the future." If there is no fundamental truth held by the Church then why should I do X? But if there is a fundamental truth held by the Church then why should I do X if that causes the Church to be replaced by another, less truth-bearing religion?

The solution is for the clergy to carefully think through a theology that brings about its own rapid decline. Can such a theology really be right?

(I remember now that the priest said that the people being referenced in the Gospels as strangers to be welcomed were groups like the Somalis, Sudanese and Japanese  - which at the time I thought was a strange comment (the Japanese being a long way from the Holy Land), but perhaps it shows how much the priest wants Christians to be oriented to the non-Christian other, just as liberals want us to be oriented to whoever is regarded as the most other.

It's that liberal mindset of making the "test" how much you're willing to give way to the person most different to you - which for a Christian will be a Muslim or a Buddhist. But you can't expect to give way and to maintain the same place you once had. You will have a diminished place or perhaps none at all. So it's not exactly prudent to make that the "test".

And another thought: wouldn't the ultimate test of proving how open you are to Islam or Buddhism be to join one of those religions? Isn't that the logical end point of the kind of theology being preached in suburban Catholic parishes?)


  1. Well, in the USA at least the upper-class liberals practice "cafeteria religions". They taste Buddhism and taste liberal Islam, but go no further. It's just decoration for them. It's not practical, theological or even real commitment for them.

  2. The obvious meaning of the "stranger" verse is that a Christian should aid foreign travelers who have run into difficulty. The parable of the Good Samaritan illustrates the point. If Jesus had meant to advocate resettlement of large numbers of Samaritans in Judea, he would have said so. It is true that Paul states that we loose our ethnic identities in Christ, which I take to mean in the Church, but this does not cover our dealings with people outside the Church.

  3. I guess I should commend you on your strong faith but it almost seems like masochism that you persist. I recall the priests that ran the parish of my childhood. Missionaries. They had gone out and spread the word. I can't imagine that they'd tolerate the dissolution of strong church values. While not the fire and brimstone of my parents' generation I can still recall the inveighing against idolatry now. No, a weak shepherd holds no interest for the lapsed. I don't fear a strong church, just a corrupt one.

  4. The efforts of the Church to placate and conform to Leftist ideology are nauseating. This is the theology of the whipped dog, which is totally unworthy of a great and ancient religion.

  5. I took two semesters of Buddhism through the Institute for Buddhist Studies. It was facinating and actually made my faith stronger.

    The contrast with Western religions and culture allowed me to see my beliefs more clearly.

  6. it almost seems like masochism that you persist

    Well, I particularly don't want my son to grow up without an exposure to religion.

    I personally was never attracted to the Church on the basis of theology. I'm someone who was blessed as a young person to have a sense of God's presence - I felt it particularly through nature, through the beauty of women and femininity, through art, through a perception of nobility, honour and virtue, through mass and the sacraments, through something that might be called "ancestral memory", through a sense of people and place, and through a sense of the "collective soul" of my own nation.

    Western high culture was once oriented to these things, finding them "inspiring" ("in-spiriting") as I did. And there was no contradiction with Christianity - these were the things that inspired love and a sense of good ness in the world and that lifted men's minds to God and to the faith (it might even be said that they were forms of communion with God).

    So obviously I find it demoralising and perplexing when these things aren't valued: when women make themselves ugly, or when the mass lacks dignity or solemnity, or when the moral vocabulary of Westerners never moves beyond diversity or inclusion, or when the ethnic traditions of the West are attacked.

    The Church ought to be the main institution defending what ought to be defended. Very occasionally it does (e.g. some aspects of marriage), but more often it is either silent or even collaborates with those who destroy.

    As I admitted, theology is not yet, at least, my strong point. But I think one of the problems when it comes to communal identity is that the Church makes a distinction between natural and supernatural bonds.

    So the bonds of family and ethny are recognised to be natural ones, but even so are superseded by supernatural, universal ones.

    I don't think that quite gets it right. All three bonds, family, ethny, and human are part of both a natural and a supernatural order.

  7. Mr. Richardson says: "theology is not yet, at least, my strong point."

    I find that statement hard to believe. The very act of maintaining a blog like this one is a theological motivation. "All conflict", as the great Hilaire Belloc put it (and Cardinal Manning put it before Belloc did), "is ultimately theological."

    One simply cannot combat liberal cant without the weapon of theology being at one's disposal. Why is feminism a dogma of the most pitiable lunacy? What is the proper role of men in Western culture? Why is the phrase "conservative homosexual male" a contradiction in terms? These are all fundamentally theological questions.

  8. I particularly don't want my son to grow up without an exposure to religion.

    If this means he is exposed to the same multi-culti dogma that prevails everywhere else, what's the point?

    Or at least, you had best not expose him to organized religion. Take charge of his religious education yourself and avoid the Leftist propaganda mills masquerading as churches.

  9. Mark, you'll get no satisfaction in the mainstream church these days. Fortunately there are still traditionalist churches out there, and some less formal congregations exist. There are certainly priests out there who would feel exactly the same way you do about the pulpit being used as a political platform. You just need to know where to look for them.

  10. Mark - do you object? Do you say anything? I told off a minister immediately after the service, when she spewed Multi Culti crapola. The Congregation got cheesed as me - but I don't care at all. I consider the Altar to be defiled BY Paycheck whores, masquerading as Priests of the Church, whne they push that poisonous swill. So I tell 'em off. They are NO more "holy" than you and I are. Less so, in fact. Was the Christ meek with the Money Changers? NO. Is the Christ of Revelations a milquetoast? NO.

    DEFEND the Faith.

  11. Shameful that the priests play the tune of the tax master who deems them tax exempt. What of the Christians that contribute to the Churches prosperity?

  12. "The solution is for the clergy to carefully think through a theology that brings about its own rapid decline. Can such a theology really be right?"

    I find it immensely frustrating to talk with priests about the decline of the Church over the last fifty years. They express a peculiar passivity about the whole thing. The older ones shrug and say that that's just how the world goes sometimes. The younger ones may acknowledge the depth and seriousness of the crisis, but they are struck dumb when you ask them what they're going to do about it. What they all have in common is a tendency to attribute the decline to forces beyond anyone's control.

    The world is always going to be the world, but the Church's current decrepit state was caused by specific decisions made by specific bishops, priests, and religious.

  13. How can it be virtuous to preach genocide? There is something rotten in the state of the church ...

  14. Fascinating article and an interesting blog. I would venture a definition of meekness: meekness is power under control or willingly submitted to authority. It is not always expressed as gentleness. Jesus was still meek when He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple.

  15. Peter,

    Power under control is a great definition of meekness.

    I think too it's important to define the word carefully, because the English word "meekness" has taken on a meaning (being unassertive, spineless or lacking charisma) that the original word in the Bible (prautes) doesn't have.

  16. Cultural Freaking Diversity? What are you Papists up to? This is a church that has mulitple rites -- going back centuries -- and has not devolved into the nation churches the Protestants and the Orthodox did.

    If you really want cultural diversity, say the darn mass in Latin: this Calvinist can follow it (won't participate) and then most of you will not be able to understand it and we will have universality and diversity again.

    I see a liberal wedge.

    Yes I know we are neither female or male, Greek or Jew or slave or freedman in Christ: but that is a call to look beyond our skin colour and to the cross, where Jesus bled for us all. Not to obsessively count the variety and number of shades of pink and brown there are in the congregation.