Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Rise of the Catholic Layman

From Joseph Sciambra:
Camille Paglia once wrote: “Masculinity is risky and elusive…and is confirmed only by other men.” In an age of anxiety and uncertainty, a number of young men have gravitated towards several men who have become famous primarily due to their podcasts and YouTube channels, namely Jordan Peterson and political commentator Ben Shapiro. Neither of them I would regard as traditionally masculine. But despite their smaller, slender frames and high-pitched voice – both Peterson and Shapiro, without trying, have amassed a loyal following of young men who pack their lectures as if they were rock concerts. Both reached probably the height of their influence while appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcasts – often for interview sessions lasting well over 2 hours. These podcasts are accidentally a study on the contrasting image of masculinity – with the ruggedly manly, tattooed, and muscled mixed martial arts devotee Joe Rogan listening in almost spellbound admiration to the bookish Peterson. In addition, the confident assertiveness of Shapiro is expertly distilled in his well-known quote: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” These rather simple almost paternal-sounding axioms, epitomized by Jordan’s directions concerning “cleaning your room” and “telling the truth,” are sometimes easily ridiculed but reach the status of revelation to young men who never heard them from their dads. In another interview, Peterson remarked that 65% of the audience at his lectures are male. Another interviewer asked Peterson: “Are you a father figure?” He answered in a matter-of-fact voice: “Sometimes.” During his own podcast, Peterson answered various questions from viewers. One person asked: “How does it feel to be viewed as a father figure by many people who grew up without one?” He said: “It’s an unbelievable honor.” Peterson continued: “I am doing everything I absolutely can to be worthy of that.” He then spoke directly to his viewers:
I would like to say to all the people out there who grew up without a father – that’s really too bad. Because you need a father there to encourage you. That’s what fathers do. They encourage, they help make you courageous. And if I can help people develop that capacity to be courageous, and to learn to tell the truth, and to be responsible, then that’s great. I can’t imagine a better outcome for me.
In terms of YouTube viewership, boys are more likely than girls to identify YouTube as their primary platform (39% vs. 25%).

As Peterson and Shapiro gained a wider secular audience among young men looking for a father figure to guide them, a largely unaffiliated group of Catholic husbands and fathers began to boldly call for accountability and a return to more traditional values among a Catholic clergy embroiled in scandal. In doing so, they appealed to Catholic laymen who increasingly found the all-male hierarchy of the Church to be curiously bereft of strong masculine leadership. In the American Church, the most notable exception is the soft-spoken but fearless Cardinal Raymond Burke who unintentionally amassed a Catholic male fan-base.

Mirroring Peterson’s appeal for a reappreciation of traditional values, such Catholic men as Doug Barry, Taylor Marshall, and Jesse Romero and Terry Barber have successfully rallied the usually apathetic Catholic layman via their respective YouTube channels, television shows, and radio programs. Again, for the most part, these are somewhat unlikely heroes: a Catholic dad, a philosopher, and a pair of plain-talking, middle-aged Catholic evangelists. But, like Peterson and Shapiro, their willingness to speak the truth has created an oasis from which men have been able to drink – after years of wandering through a wasteland. For those men, for whatever reason, are not drawn to a Catholic fraternal organization, they have someplace to go. In particular, since the innovations instituted during the post-Vatican II era, Catholic men have been visibly absent from the Church. This missing sense of masculinity became wildly apparent to my generation in the 1970s and 80s when the new liturgy looked increasingly overcrowded by an ever-growing cadre of female Eucharist ministers, lectors, and altar girls. At the same time, homilies had about the same amount of depth and moral challenge as a Hallmark card. On Sunday, oftentimes, men stayed home.

After the American Psychological Association issued a report detailing how “traditional masculinity” is harmful to young men, Doug Barry posted the following to his Facebook page:
The attack against men is ramping up. Strategically it makes sense. Remove the one that God has designed to be the primary fighter and protector and the rest of society is left wide open to the assaults of the enemy. In every genocide this tactic has been used. There is a lot to cover on this topic. But for now let me say that the problem with men is not traditional masculinity as a whole, it is that God-given masculinity has been corrupted, misunderstood and rejected! And that many men, even good Christian men, have become comfortable with being soft and weak in body, mind and soul. Too many men have gone AWOL. Let me say this, NOT ON MY WATCH!
Speaking to Jesse Romero and Terry Barber, about the crisis in the Catholic Church, Taylor Marshall spoke in similar terms:
We men, we fathers, and grandfathers, patriarchs, we need to stand up for what’s true, and I say be the Maccabee. In the Book of Maccabees, a bunch of men followed their father Mattathias and they went into the wilderness and they formed a militia and they came back and they beat the Greeks and they took back the Temple of God and sanctified it…And that’s what we need to do. We got to be the Maccabees, we got to go into the wilderness, we need to organize, and we need to take back our temple and say this is true and this is right.
(Read more.)

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