Applying different standards

Sadly, last night, I read the very last word of the very last “Public Square” column by RJN in the January 2009 eition of First Things. A tear came to the eye…

Anyway, on with business. There is an odd story that Fr Neuhaus tells about Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News (and “Crunchy Con” blog on beliefnet.com). Here’s the guts of it:

Some years ago he was giving major attention to the sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and a priest warned him that “I was going to find places darker than I realized existed.” He did, and he left the Catholic Church. “After I converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity,” he writes, “I made a deliberate decision not to investigate the scandals in my own church. And there are scandals there. My family needs me to be spiritually healthy. My family needs to have a church. And there’s nowhere left to go. So I can stand on the sidelines and watch journalists commenting about scandals in the Orthodox Church, and I can cheer them on to see justice done, but I cannot be involved in that. If that makes me less of a journalist, then that’s something I have to live with, but at least now I know my weakness.”

Fr Neuhaus defends Dreher’s decision in this regard – comparing it to First Things refusal to promote a book that “among other things, went into salacious detail about what some bad priests did to young boys”. Yet he concludes – logically enough – that if Dreher “had made the same decision for the same reasons some years ago, I suppose he would still be a Catholic”. Quite. And as for “no where left to go” – well, “quite” to that too.

Dreher’s illogical position – whereby having judged it impossible to continue to belong to the Catholic Church because of the sins of some of her members he yet remains in the Orthodox Church despite sins of some of her members – is not unusual. I have found that there are others who apply different standards of judgement to the ecclesial bodies to which they have belonged.

Our own case in point is our friend Past Elder. He himself has used the phrase “no place else to go” – but he has gone somewhere. He has said that he no longer judges the Faith by the Church who teaches it, but judges the Church by the Faith it teaches. Yet while he accepts the new version of “the Faith” he has been taught by his Lutheran Church, yet he continues to judge his old ecclesial community by the standard of “the Faith” which he rejected – or (as he is wont to say) which “it rejected”.

By judging the Church by the standards of her own Faith, he wishes to “disillusion” us from the idea that the Catholic Church is the true Church. Dreher did much the same thing – by judging the Church according to the standards of her own morality. Both decided that the Catholic Church must be false because she failed to live up to her own standards.

Yet, just as Dreher is not prepared to judge his new ecclesial community by the same standard he used to judge the Catholic Church, PE is also unwilling to do this. PE does not judge the Lutheran Church by the same standards he uses to judge the Catholic Church.

The fact is that there is only one standard by which the Faith of any ecclesial community might be judged – the standard of Truth. And this standard is to be applied equally to all Christian communities: Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, whatever. The question PE should be asking himself (and indeed the question he should be asking us to ask ourselves – and which, I assure you, I do ask) is whether the teachings of the Catholic Church/Lutheran Church/Orthodox Church are TRUE.

If PE had asked himself this question instead of giving in to the disillusionment of the post-Vatican II liberal assault upon the Church, I suppose (as Fr Neuhaus supposed of Dreher) “he would still be a Catholic”.

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0 Responses to Applying different standards

  1. Past Elder says:

    Not to start doing Lutheran laundry in a Catholic washing machine, but to answer PW’s question:

    I don’t, now, have any problem with the “blessings” you mention, but a Catholic ought to have tons of pixels of reasons why those are a few of the things that are neither necessary nor even desirable, and obscure other things that are necessary, but they don’t anymore like they taught me, started doing them, I still believed what they taught me before, so I left thinking the whole thing must be screwed up before and after.

    That’s then, and that’s a lot of the “you think this is Catholic but it isn’t” re our Tiber swimmers.

    But it isn’t now. As I read the BOC, I would see in my mind the implementation of what is said there in contrast to the implementation that I saw before me during and after VII. WOW. Throw in Babylonian Captivity, and I’m on board!

    So here’s the deal — WE didn’t get those blessings you list from VII, THEY did! So what is that to us? We already had them — with the exception of the OT reading, which kind of jacks with Jerome’s model of Torah/Haftorah from the synagogue lectionary to Gospel/Epistle, but adds on without destroying it so no problem — four hundred and some years before they started playing catch-up! And they sure as hell didn’t produce the ESV.

    My problem is when what that is to us is when we DON’T use our version of the pre-V2, and pre-Trent for that matter, historic liturgy, and instead start to worship after their new ones, we DON’T add an OT reading to the historic lectionary going back to Jerome and use their new one which was a conscious intended break with that tradition and the preaching associated with it, and rehash their stuff no different than others of us rehash Rick Warren and Willow Creek or whoever, stuff like that.

    So let ’em play catch-up. Hell, Benedict keeps reading Luther and who knows? Good for them. For them, not us. We don’t need to start playing catch-up to their catch-up!

  2. Past Elder says:

    As to face to face conversation, old synod rules better apply — speak German, because sooner or later somebody’s going to go off in it!

  3. William Weedon says:

    Ja, wir sollen das tun!

  4. Past Elder says:

    David, was that last piece of Neuhaus you mentioned the “Catholic Moment” one?

    Good God I hope not.

    I have not read in some time anything so filled with utter disgust and rejection of the Catholic Church, all politely expressed and quite unrecognised by the author, for the sham fantasy illusion put in its place at Vatican II.

    An entirely new church, containing nothing of anything before it, which it clearly despises. The violent caricature the piece offers of anything before the Council — borrowing from yet another who constructed, like Newman, his partly Protestant partly pagan “Catholic Church” to address his own needs, Maritain — is as much the church before the Council as the “spirit” of Vatican II is Vatican II, and utterly obscene in its gross falseness (again, unintended and unrecognised) and in its disconnect (and again, unintended and unrecognised) more radical than anything in the entire range of the “Reformation” from the Catholic Church.

    I have not read anything in a long time which so clearly demonstrates that I would have to urinate and defecate on the Catholic Church and nearly everything it taught me to hold true and dear to belong to this new church, which shows itself the most vile and vicious enemy the Catholic Church has faced in its entire, if it is to be believed, two thousand year history.

    I am sorry he fell for its lies, but Gott sei dank I am out of such a cesspool.

  5. Christine says:

    There were things that came from V2 that have been a blessing indeed: the first reading from the Old Testament (or Acts in Easter); the praying aloud of the Canon (you’ll grant, Christine, that as a Lutheran that weighs heavy) so that the Verba are heard; the use of vernacular; the restoration of the intercessions of the people. In each case, there was a “going back” to an older tradition than what was the immediate practice of the Pre-V2 Church, and each had about it a very pastoral concern.

    Herzlichen Dank, PW! You are absolutely right. That’s why my transition from Lutheran to Catholic didn’t shake the earth for me as PE’s departure from the preconciliar church did. I was taught as a Lutheran and have always been in agreement that the early centuries of the church were foundational for all Christians.

    Yes, some things could have been done better liturgically at the time of the Council and that is now being recognized. But the essence of what I need as a Catholic to worship is present at every Mass I attend. That has not changed.

    But PE’s views are not new to me. They were held in toto by my Catholic grandmother. It is telling that two of her daughters left the church entirely when they left home. The legalism of the preconciliar church could not hold them. Her son, my father, continued to attend Mass after the council. He is my model of Catholicism, not PE.

  6. Past Elder says:

    Do you not know that, as there is a “spirit” of Vatican II and Vatican II itself, there was a “spirit” of Trent and Trent itself too?

    Then, as now, this confusion of the two is seen in primarily two places, one being popular piety, where things are done thinking they are based in the real thing whereas they are based in the grossest of misundertood caricatures of it, the other being the actions of priests and bishops who do essentially the same thing but with far greater implications due to their position.

    How utterly ironic, as the post-conciliar RCC attempts to address the confusion of Vatican II with the “spirit” thereof, the real Vatican II itself is based on a confusion of Trent with the “spirit” thereof.

    That is, in a way addressed to Catholics, what I tried to address to Pastor above as Lutherans. The things which, as a Lutheran now thank God, I am happy to see seem to indicate the RCC is in the early stages of catching up with where the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church has been for some cernturies now, are largely the same things which, as a Catholic, indicate the RCC is in the final stages of becoming a Protestant church but with the pope at the top, as my dad, a 1941 RCC convert, used to put it.

    Newman, Bouyer, Maritain, on and on, Protestants all, constructed a “Catholic Church” intellectually that allowed them to remain essentially Protestant but with the external validity supplied by the institutional RCC church, which at Vatican II was crystallised and codified and made official by the institutional RCC church itself.

    That is precisely why the transition to the postconciliar RCC church seems to right and natural, not to mention not earth-shaking; it is a transition from one form of Protestant to a new one previously unavailable. And it is also why the transition as a development in the RCC is utterly and totally invalid, invalidating not only itself but the church before it it destroyed.

    So the babble about dispelling the “spirit” of Vatican II for the real thing becomes theatre of the absurd, the real thing of Vatican II being based on a thorough confusion of the “spirit” of Trent with Trent itself, in which the RCC slips under the waves regardless of which side in the current struggle wins.

    For dessert, some theology by anecdote, that favourite of pastors. (That was a joke.) I sometimes mention the experience I had some years ago well before I became Lutheran of being given a copy of the Lutheran Book of Worship, and on looking it through thinking what a knock-off of the novus ordo, if this is all they have might as well stick with the original. Now, being a Lutheran, I look at the novus ordo, documents of Vatican II, things such as expressed in the Neuhaus article (and I put it this way specifically that it not be taken negatively toward Neuhaus himself, who I am sure now enjoys the rest in his Saviour in which we all hope to join him) and think what a knock-off of the Lutheran Reformation, if this is all they have I’ll stick to the original.

    What thoroughly pisses me off to-day is not you guys (postconciliar Catholics) but 1) those who manufactured the bogus “Catholicism” that now holds the title belt, and even moreso 2) US guys (confessional Lutherans) when we to some extent buy into it ourselves are revise ourselves according to the Roman knock-off.

  7. Christine says:

    What thoroughly pisses me off to-day is not you guys (postconciliar Catholics) but 1) those who manufactured the bogus “Catholicism” that now holds the title belt, and even moreso 2) US guys (confessional Lutherans) when we to some extent buy into it ourselves are revise ourselves according to the Roman knock-off.

    Yep, let’s bring back that triple tiara. Surely St. Peter wore one :-)

    Maybe we could even come up with a Lutheran “knock-off” version!

    Sorry, sorry, I’m feeling very wicked today. I’ll assign myself some HEAVY Purgatory time!

  8. Past Elder says:

    Can’t be any more than seeing Kate Winslet at the Globes earned me!

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