Sunday, February 18, 2018

Deneen, Dreher, Longenecker...and Guns?

So anyhow, as we hinted in the last post, the death of 'liberal' Catholicism (like the death of its Prot counterpart) is not a matter of "if" but of "when."

That doesn't mean that "conservative" Catholicism is a happy family.  Not even close.

Deneen re-defines "conservative" Catholicism, using a finer filter, and shows that there are TWO 'conservative Catholic' schools.

...On the one side one finds an older American tradition of orthodox Catholicism as it has developed in the nation since the mid-twentieth century. It is closely aligned to the work of the Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray, and its most visible proponent today is George Weigel,...Its basic positions align closely to the arguments developed by John Courtney Murray and others. Essentially, there is no fundamental contradiction between liberal democracy and Catholicism....Proponents of this position argue that America was well-founded and took a wrong turn in the late-19th century with the embrace of Progressivism...The task, then, is restore the basic principles of the American founding—limited government in which the social and moral mores largely arising from the familial and social sphere orient people toward well-ordered and moral lives....

The above is--we think--a fair and balanced reduction of Deneen's far more extensive description.  Also, we happen to agree that Progressivism is poppycock.

Now for the Other Guys:

...On the other side is arrayed what might be characterized as a more radical Catholicism....Its intellectual home—not surprisingly—is the less-accessible journal Communio. An occasional popularizer (though not always in strictly theological terms) has been TAC author Rod Dreher [and Deneen himself.]...The “radical” school rejects the view that Catholicism and liberal democracy are fundamentally compatible.... liberalism is premised on a contrary view of human nature (and even a competing theology) to Catholicism. Liberalism holds that human beings are essentially separate, sovereign selves who will cooperate based upon grounds of utility[You can hear that every day on the Limbaugh and Levin shows.] According to this view, liberalism is not a “shell” philosophy that allows a thousand flowers to bloom. Rather, liberalism is constituted by a substantive set of philosophical commitments that are deeply contrary to the basic beliefs of Catholicism, among which (Catholics hold) are the belief that we are by nature relational, social and political creatures; that social units like the family, community and Church are “natural,” not merely the result of individuals contracting temporary arrangements; that liberty is not a condition in which we experience the absence of constraint, but the exercise of self-limitation; and that both the “social” realm and the economic realm must be governed by a thick set of moral norms, above all, self-limitation and virtue....

Read that again.  We'll wait. It's important to grasp what he's saying.  Those last few words are approximately what Fr Longenecker voiced in his post about "gun control."  Neumayr, by the way, said exactly those words:  "Self-control, not Gun control."  And that 'not absence of constraint but exercise of self-limitation' is another way of saying what St. John Paul II said:  liberty is the freedom to do what is right.  Not the freedom to do whatever.

There's more from Deneen:

...Because of these positions, the “radical” position—while similarly committed to the pro-life, pro-marriage teachings of the Church—is deeply critical of contemporary arrangements of market capitalism, is deeply suspicious of America’s imperial ambitions, and wary of the basic premises of liberal government. It is comfortable with neither party, and holds that the basic political division in America merely represents two iterations of liberalism—the pursuit of individual autonomy in either the social/personal sphere (liberalism) or the economic realm (“conservatism”—better designated as market liberalism).... It wavers between a defensive posture, encouraging the creation of small moral communities that exist apart from society—what Rod Dreher, following Alasdair MacIntyre, has dubbed “the Benedict Option”—and, occasionally, a more proactive posture that hopes for the conversion of the nation to a fundamentally different and truer philosophy and theology....

"Market liberalism" is a honey-trap for a lot of Catholics; there's a priest, currently in Madison, who shows his Lutheran upbringing with his loud-and-proud praise of same.

As to that "Benedict Option" thing:  Fr Longenecker mentioned it, too.  S'pose Fr L. is a paleo-Catholic? Paleo-Catholics believed in self-defense and used whatever modern armaments were available to them, ya'know.

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