Saturday, July 5, 2014

Privatizing Religion

A Conservative Blog for Peace examines the appeal of schism for those traumatized by the culture war. To quote:
A wrongheaded reason I got involved in Byzantine Christianity over 20 years ago, apart from being acquainted about 10 years earlier with fine culturally conservative Ukrainian Catholic exiles from WWII, was the pose of being too cool for the culture wars including life issues such as abortion; have your traditional Catholicism and try to be accepted by the mainstream by dropping out and making your religion a purely private matter, an accessory as one blogger has put it. Just drop the hated Pope. Like the forced compromises in Communist countries: Russian Orthodoxy and the schismatic Chinese Catholics. (You can be as high-church as you want as long as the state calls the shots.) The best lies are mostly true: there's a point about seeing the culture wars objectively without falling into the mistakes of the mainstream right as well as the left; the church has a worldview different from both. Contra libertarians, liberty is a means, not an end. But, I still think, the church's doctrine is about the ends, of flourishing and justice, not the means; it's apolitical. (Monarchy? Republic? Dictatorship? We can work with all of them.) For all the good in it, is the pro-life movement a Novus Ordo substitute for Catholic culture that doesn't stop abortion?

In America (as in the rest of the Western world except Russia with its empire, nukes, and European natural-gas monopoly), Orthodoxy is small so it's non-threatening and considered cute, plus you have exoticism (Orientalism) - "diversity," liberal leapfrogging loyalties - arguably working for you: it goes along with the status quo and, like Westernized Buddhism the beatniks liked, you can market it as more mystalicious (as I think Modestinus once put it) than boring old Latin Catholicism. Mainstream liberal America, culturally Protestant: anything but Rome (still) and anything but pre-Sixties America. My guess is the few hipsterdox buy into that. Another half-truth. Byzantine liturgy, etc., has a unique mystical kick, but as the late Fr. Serge (Keleher), a born Roman Riter turned Russian Orthodox priest turned Russian Catholic priest, said, that is entirely Catholic. (Read more.)

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