Thursday, April 21, 2005


Catholicism is for Catholics

James Lileks and his Bleats are back online after a brief hiatus. Regular readers should know that I rate him among the best writers on the web. That, and his taste in arcane Anericana and cultural artifacts has a Coen Brothers sensibility that I can't resist.

Lileks wrote posted an excellent response to all the cultural carpers sniping on the edges of the recent elevation of the latest Roman Catholic Pope, Pope Benedict XVI. He makes the seemingly obvious point that Catholicism is after all, for Catholics, and one should not be surprised if The College of Cardinals elevates a gentlemen that wants the Roman Catholic Church to remain, well, the Roman Catholic Church, rather than some wishy washy, mealy mouthed, Vatican version of the Unitarian Universalists. (Nothing against UU, but if that's what people are searching for, its out there for them to find.)

Catholicism is for Catholics, duh!

So is the Pope. We of other persuasions, however, can applaud having a leading religious figure (even if from a denomination we don’t belong to or representing some dogmas to which we don’t subscribe) joining the fray in our cultural wars.

Lileks best:

Hence I am always amazed by people who want the church to accommodate their thoughts, their new beliefs, their precarious and ingenious rationales, instead of ripping themselves from the bosom and seeking a congregation that doesn't make them feel like a heretic banging their head on Filarete's doors. To those who want profound change, consider an outsider’s perspective: the Catholic Church is the National Review of religion. You may live long enough to see it become the Weekly Standard. In your dreams it might become the New Republic. But it’s never going to be the Nation. And if ever it does, it will have roughly the same subscriber base.

Habeum pap. Note: every era is the modern era to the people who inhabit it; a “modern” pope in 1937 would have announced that godless collectivism was the wave of the future, and ridden the trains to Auschwitz standing on top, holding gilded reins, whooping like Slim Pickens. The defining quality of 20th century modernity is impatience, I think – the nervous, irritated, aggravated impulse to get on with the new now, and be done with those old tiresome constraints. We’re still in that 20th century dynamic, I think, and we will be held to it until something shocks us to our core. Say what you will about Benedict v.16, but he wants there to be a core to which we can be shocked. And I prefer that to a tepid slurry of happy-clappy relativism that leads to animists consecrating geodes beneath the dome of St. Peter's. That will probably happen eventually, but if we can push it off for a century or two, good.
Read the whole thing. (If you have time, see if he has any of his "Good Cheer" or related memorabilia back online yet.)

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