Voices from Russia

Saturday, 5 October 2013

5 October 2013. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… Orthodoxy as Belligerence?



Editor’s Foreword:

I can’t get over the obsession that some in the Catholic blogosphere have with Rod Dreher. Sir Roddie isn’t important… he has NO following in Orthodoxy, none at all (he IS part of that loud bootless bunch around Freddie M-G, Mattingly, and Reardon… but they’re known quantities and nudniks amongst real Orthodox). Roddie doesn’t reflect real Orthodox or real Orthodoxy at all. By the way, he’s established a “mission” that’s really a “personality parish”, but more on that later. Firstly, read this… do take a drink and hold your nose, but do read it all… it’s a key to how the zapadniki think of us due to the distortions spread by konvertsy like Dreher.



Rod Dreher is famously orthodox. He’s also enthusiastic about why that’s not going to change anytime soon, at least in the direction of Catholicism. Dreher’s latest for Time cites lots of good evidence against the church of “God is love”. From his catechesis at a university parish to the next 13 years of hanging on through “therapeutic” and “saccharine” homilies, Dreher’s experience of (what he terms) American Catholicism was par for the course. His analysis of what went wrong… that this was the church of “Christ without the Cross”… is also spot on. Therefore, in the wake of the major sex abuse crisis a decade ago, and feeling that “American Catholicism was not pushing back against the hostile age at all”, Dreher “finally broke”. It’s hard to point a finger. Orthodoxy is, after all, a beautiful tradition. It calls to mind very acutely the necessity of constant conversion… the fact that we must align our everyday lives with the sacred mysteries of the Incarnation. Orthodoxy is a paradigm of piety and, as far as I can tell from my trasteverian* post, the bane of platitudes. For a thoughtful person… especially, one seeking refuge… it’s an easy sell.

* “Beyond the Tiber”, “plebeian”… one can’t tell what the author means without further context. It sounds like a typical pseudo-intellectual trying to demonstrate their “superiority” over the great unwashed. If the author wanted to say “my post on banality”, that would be much clearer, but that would mean that the hoi polloi could grasp the meaning. Oh, the humanity!


Thus, its Dreher’s thumb-to-nose sign-off that makes me wonder just what part of Orthodoxy I’ve failed to appreciate. In professing to “admire” and “understand” Pope Francisco’s message of mercy, Dreher predicts that it may be the ultimate undoing of important doctrinal reform, which characterised the previous two papacies. However, far from shaking him, the author reminds us that his involvement with the church of “God is love”… with American Catholicism… is history: “[T]hat’s no longer my problem”. I’m a big fan of the Eastern (and especially Russian) tell-it-like-it-is mentality. Yet, I doubt that Dreher’s doing justice here in two regards… firstly, by failing to see (or at least to acknowledge) the profound interconnectedness of orthodox piety with universal ecclesial wellbeing; and secondly, by continuing to prop up as some sort of hypostasis the concept of “American Catholicism”… that’s to say, the small-C church of “God is love”. However, it isn’t best to offer a response to Dreher’s snub as a syllogism. Moreover, I don’t intend to give one now. The splendour of orthodoxy… in the broader sense… is that it’s most compelling when left unspoken. It should strike anyone who professes faith in Christ that a crisis of belief for all but a handful is incompatible with denying the “problem” of evangelisation. It should also be at least notionally distinct, to one as intellectually and culturally tuned as Dreher {now, that’s a whopper if I’ve heard one: editor}, that the church of “God is love” is not the Church of “God is love.” In a word, that “American Catholicism” is fundamentally different from Catholicism, insofar as the latter is de facto coextensive with the universe, and not with any particular nation or people.

I, like many other Catholics, esteem Orthodoxy for its beauty. At times, this includes a certain bellicose approach… not so much ad extra but ad intra, directed toward the conversion of heart that occurs through the mundane, the familiar; all the beautiful things Dreher loves, and for good reason. On the other hand, I’m left unimpressed when one uses Orthodoxy as a vehicle of belligerence… hostility… aimed at perpetuating a rift that, as Christians, none of us should wish to settle for. Dreher says, “There is, of course, no such thing as the perfect church”. On this point, I disagree with him profoundly. While individual Christians are, even collectively, imperfect and sinful, the community of believers united by the Spirit is, amongst other things, holy. If we limit ourselves to mean by “church” simply a local expression of faith, then Dreher’s claim holds water. Then, such a church is hardly the sort worth living and dying for. One can easily make it a means to an end… an instrument of war… rather than an end itself. If the true Church is the Body of Christ, how then could it turn out to be anything less than perfect? Moreover, how could it end up as anything more than the simple reality that “God is love”?

30 September 2013

Andrew Haines

Ethika Politika


Editor’s Afterword:

Typical ultramontane claptrap… using Dreher as a convenient straw man. I tried leaving a comment on this post, but it didn’t show. Then, I laughed and realised that the commboxes there are nothing but an echo-chamber where ultramontane Catholics get together to either congratulate each other or to dispute favourite hobby horses. I shouldn’t have wasted my time, but I did. They all kiss the pope’s arse at high noon; they all worship papal infallibility and papal supremacy. It’s why we won’t have union with the papists… they’d have to give up their distinctive heresies, and they won’t. The only course for decent people is to “send us letters of friendship only”… now, that’s what the “Church of Love” would do… and that Church ISN’T headquartered at the Vatican

Dreher? Why waste your time on inconsequential nonentities? He’s busy playing “church” with his make-believe “mission”, in any case. God willing, it’ll keep him busy so that he won’t write further shitty articles like the one in Time. After all, Dreher thought highly of Dmitri Royster… that gives you the measure of his judgement (we all know what Iriney Bekish thought of Mr Royster… ‘nuff said).


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