Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Self-Censure

Deborah Gyapong is one of the best people in Canada. You would know her from her many articles in Catholic papers like the Catholic Register and BC Catholic, etc. She is a member of the Ordinariate of St. Peter (the Anglican rite Catholics) in Ottawa and a bang-up human being. She wrote a lovely post re. the whole Fr. Rosica/Vox Cantoris thing. Please read it here.

Deborah's financial well-being is tied to the Catholic Church in Canada. If she is black-balled by the establishment she will be effectively out of work. That is why I admire her courage in getting involved in what cannot be billed as other than a no-win situation. There will be no winners in this controversy, for sure.

Yet this is not a post about Deborah. It is a post about what thoughts her action occasioned in me, regarding the lack of freedom Church institutional culture breeds among her 'employees.'

I know so many people who work for the Church in different degrees. So many. And yet see so little freedom in them. So little.



And it's not in the way that my non-Catholic family would think: it is not fear from doctrinal repressers or conservatives. Exactly the opposite. The hardliners are few and far between, people should realize - though they don't, because it doesn't fit with their liberal narrative. The fact is, liberals are in the vast majority everywhere and always. Thus, to be orthodox is to be in an unwelcome minority. Everywhere and always.

So, how do so-called liberals repress and over what?

Liberals identify insistence on traditional belief and morality as a sign of psychological and/or moral defect. They cannot understand how someone can get so worked-up about words, about doctrinal formulas, etc. (And yet, get worked up about their own kind of orthodoxy.) They see the Church as not much more than a feel-good charity, and whatever is in it that does not reinforce this charity work they have no use for. And yet are their motives not admirable in a certain sense? Admirable in a certain sense, insofar as you don't realize that there is no good act without right knowledge backing it up. We don't do good of ourselves. We won't continue to act charitably once we have cast-off Christian faith. Compare the spirit governing a Catholic hospital up until recent times and that which governs public hospitals today. The latter is the best that secularism can come up with: institutions, businesses, that also incorporate - and come to rely on more and more - death as a solution (i.e. abortion solves poverty, euthanasia solves expensive hospice care). What's the cost? Humanity is the cost.

Compare that to Padre Pio's hospital or Mother Theresa's.

Anyway, so that's how liberals look at the Church, with a short-sighted "Church as a charity" mentality, where supernatural belief is considered extraneous superstition. Nice Marxism, in other words. These people are in the majority because most people--even those who work for the Church--are embarrassed by the Church's traditional beliefs. They don't want to be embarrassed by the Church's beliefs and so don't want to have the traditionalists around to present them. They want to be part of a new, modern, sophisticated Church.

And so conservatives who work for the Church are very careful not to rouse these people's ire. They mutter in corners carefully by themselves, while the liberal majority shines gloriously and unCatholicly in the bright hallways of their institutions.

These people have a survival instinct I was not born with. But I am not really in admiration here. It's prudence to a fault.

And yet, though I fit in more with the bad bloggers (like Vox Cantoris, lol), I am retrained by two things:

1) Christian charity, and
2) my knowledge of the Faith. As a theologian I am much more deeply aware of what is still an open question and what is not. The problem with non-theologians conservative bloggers is that they think that things are more settled and questions are simpler than they really are. If we are talking about evolution, they cite the Syllabus of Errors and Humani Generis, but ignore St. John Paul and Benedict XVI, and, not to mention, Humani Generis (i.e. they don't really understand it).

But, despite these two things, I am probably quite un-hire-able. I am too cut-and-dry to be palatable to the Church world such as it is. If that is so, and if I am aware that this is the case, that seems to argue that I have definite opinions about the type of conduct God expects of people in situations like this, and that would seem to imply that I think hire-able people are not doing what God expects.

Of course, that would be too simplistic. You also have to factor in other things, like the humility required of people, which is of course dictated by an actual honest evaluation of their knowledge of the truth. In other words, an ignoramus is not wrong for not sharing his opinions. He is an ignoramus, therefore, it is right for him to keep his ignorant ideas to himself. But it is not right for people who know to keep silent, especially if teaching the Faith is a part of their job.

Don't try to be everyone's friend; don't blow sunshine, as one of my friends says. That's not honest, authentic living. That's the stuff worthy of politicians, which I mentioned in my previous post. The best people have a sort of stable personality. I don't mean they are uniformly cranky and negative. These are the types of people whom you know what they stand for. They have the courage to disagree with a superior, and yet keep peace. They have the courage to write about what they believe, and not keep silence on Facebook, blogs, etc. Keeping their beliefs secret is not what Christ called them to do.

That is the imprisonment of fear. We have to free up the Gospel from all restraints. One of those is professionalism over truth. There is no fine line between excessive prudence and the toleration of falsehood. There is a yawning chasm between the two. And you can adopt a million acceptable positions in between.

The fact is most of us lie most of the time. What!!! Remember the Sony hack by North Korea, or whomever? Remember the big wig whose emails got her fired? Those emails were the type of thing that we say on weekends to our friends. We all talk that way to our friends and loved ones. Why this idea that we don't? We all have those few people in our lives who never take a break: everything they say is about vegetarianism, global warming, or even the Latin Mass and the consecration of Russia. These people are bores and they rightly have few friends. Everyone else knows how to separate their public life from their private, and so what's the problem with this former Sony exec? Sure, she makes the brand look bad - or does she? (How are universities with their intolerances looking in the eyes of the public now?) Those were private emails. Are we moving into a world where we cannot have private thoughts and exchanges?

Most white people think black, I mean ghetto black, people are stupid.

Most men think the women they work with are oversensitive and annoying.

Most North Americans think Chinese and Japanese people are too pushy.

Most people think gay people are annoying, self-centred and immature.

Most people think feminists are screwed up and annoying.

Most people think aboriginals are lazy.

And yet dare say any of this in the work place. Far from that, you must positively praise all of these groups. I think it is sinful to be too critical, but it is also sinful to lie.

So, don't lie.

What is the proper Christian attitude? We have a number of virtues to bring in to this, not only prudence. Love is doing good for others. What is the good that can be done in any given situation? Often it lies in sharing a reflection on the situation in light of the Gospel. The fact is, most people don't know the Gospel and they have no real truth or wisdom to guide them. And this can be done very sensitively and rather interestingly.

Share the Faith and make it interesting. I mean you, you wimpy Church employees! Yes, I have been watching. And I am not impressed, you self-assured, can do no wrong, 'JP II Generation!'

Look at it this way. The Church does not pay you a competitive wage. So why are you working for it? Because you love it! Well, then love it actually!

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