Monday, November 21, 2011

Liveblogging from the Council of Jerusalem

I know that during Thanksgiving Week some people don't have time to read blogs. Some of them are too busy helping major retailers try to turn Thanksgiving Day into yet another "Sale-A-Bration" as we've already done with Memorial Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, and half a dozen other American holidays which were once important occasions for Americans to gather their families and friends and pause for a moment of thanks and reflection and are now a chance to sell cars, mattresses, and consumer electronics. For which I am not thankful. But I digress; most of my readers are probably busy in normal ways, involving planning the Thanksgiving Menu or the Thanksgiving Road Trip to see relatives or picking out the Thanksgiving Fight Topic to engage in with said relatives--is there anything like the holidays?

But even if you're busy, take a moment to read this (hat tip: Deacon Kandra):
Again, to be expected. What does trouble me, however, are those serious, orthodox Catholics who simply cannot take yes for an answer. Nobody and nothing is Catholic enough, good enough or perhaps bitter and dark enough to satisfy them. You know the types. The love is really deep; so deep you could dig for days and never find it. Every politician should be excommunicated, anyone not completely against abortion is “pro-death” and I positively despise the people in the pews next to me.

They prefer the bunker to the banquet, the ghetto to the get-together. They are defined by how much pain they claim to have, believe that the remnant of the remnant is all that can save us, and the remnant of the remnant is them — or maybe on a good day the handful of people who are their equally strident Facebook friends. Odd as it may seen, they blog and use the Internet a lot, largely because they don’t trust the mainstream media, which for them means everyone in journalism apart from their favourite right-winger, who usually loses them when he inevitably doesn’t follow the line on something or other.

No archbishop, however devout and courageous, is ever quite conservative enough for them and always part of a cabal or a conspiracy, and no Catholic activist or author ever quite sufficiently pure. They claim to believe in Church authority, but constantly bash Catholic leaders; they claim to love Jesus, but they seldom turn the other cheek or love their friends, let alone their enemies; they see glasses, and chalices, half empty when they’re half full; and, extremely worrying this, they receive the body of Christ with numerous complaints and vendettas against their fellow worshippers.
Now, every time something like this gets posted, comments tend to take a "yes, but..." tone: yes, but orthodox believers really have suffered; yes, but this or that bishop really is a heretic, yes, but the very mention of Latin sends ordinary-seeming parishioners into a spittle-and-foam-flecked frenzy of anger; yes, but unveiled women and pantsuited nuns really are signs of the Apocalypse, and so on. (Side note: why does everybody always blame the nuns? One generation of Catholics blamed ruler-wielding habit wearers for ruining their faith, and then the next generation griped about the pantsuit brigade. Maybe the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our nuns but in ourselves...)

The problem with the "yes, but" attitude is that most people who say that sort of thing are actually quite reasonable traditional-leaning Catholics. They are not the people shouting "Get a spine!" to Bishop Olmstead--Bishop Olmstead!! They are not the people who think that Michael Voris is too liberal. They are not the people who opine that those Catholics who attend the Novus Ordo can be saved, but mainly because of their ignorance (though, alas, I didn't see a pixel fight break out over whether that ignorance is really invincible, given the availability of kindly trads who can set us Ordinary Form types straight about the problems). And they are not the people--I can't provide links this second, but these discussions exist--who say that women are risking Hell for wearing slacks or not 'veiling,' or who say that every child commits a mortal sin if he/she disobeys his/her parents even in small matters provided the child is at least seven years old, or who say that natural family planning is as evil as contraception, or who condone torture as being all but commanded by God, and so on.

In fact, if one of the various radtrad blogs or forums had existed in the first century, I think the posts might have gone something like this:

I'm liveblogging from the so-called Council of Jerusalem. You all already know how unhappy I am with the name; isn't a "council" something the pagans do? Anyway, so far Peter the Fisherman is all over the place, like he expects to run the whole show. Paul's not here, yet, though. We'll see what happens when he gets here.

Update: Paul's here! Woo! Now we can get this party started.

Update 2: I'm already getting nervous. The anti-Moses sentiment is much, much stronger than I would have thought from these guys. They can't all be pushovers, right? Right? Sigh.

Update 3: Brace yourselves, people: we've got some earthshaking news. I mean it--you're not going to believe this one: the Gentile converts are not allowed to...wait for meat that has been sacrificed to idols. Or blood. Or meat that's been strangled.

Really? Really??

One would have thought that even Gentiles drawn to Our Lord and Savior could have figured out that bit on their own. I mean, it's obvious (pardon the pun). But apparently we've gathered the Twelve (or should I say the Eleven? No, I know, not the time or place to get into the radical innovation of replacing the guy God kicked out--like this one will turn out any better, because mere mortals are better judges of character or something--but like I said, not the time) to sit around and discuss the blindingly obvious. Are they even going to get to the big one, the circumcision debate, or will they punt?

Update 4: Another earthshaking announcement: the Gentiles are to refrain from fornication and sexual immorality. Good grief, people, we needed a whole stinkin' council for this?

Update 5: I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, the Twelve (Eleven!) finally stopped playing around and got to the burning question: whether or not the Gentile males have the obligation to follow the beautiful and immemorial sign of the covenant of God Himself and be circumcised, or whether they can essentially keep their pagan bodies while claiming to have faithful hearts.

The bad news is--they don't have to be circumcised.

I am stunned--STUNNED--by this.

Look, if they're not going to conform to all of God's Law, whole and entire, which Our Lord Himself said he wasn't going to abolish, why bother conforming to any of it? What's next--fertility rites in the places of worship (well, except for the no immorality rule, which would sort of turn most fertility rites into something pretty deadly dull. And no, I don't speak from experience)?

So much for expecting the leaders Christ chose for us to be guided by Him in these decisions. I think we can all see pretty clearly now that that was a fool's dream. Some of us already thought it was, frankly--because Paul really ought to be in charge; he's one of US. Or so we thought.

But Paul was only here as a sort of observer, apparently. I'm pretty sure he didn't get to vote, or whatever they did to decide this. The thing that's really disappointing me about Paul is that he's going along with it. Something about obedience and the Holy Spirit, or something. Well, all I can say is that there may have been a Spirit at this council, but it wasn't holy. They should have done an exorcism before they got started.

So the 'nuclear option' some of us have discussed--well, I'll be clear, I've been against it. But now it's looking more and more like something we might have to consider. Paul's out as our leader, though. I could try one of the Jameses, maybe or his brother John--but they're not as much 'sons of thunder' as they used to be. All this love and forgiveness crap, instead of calling down fire and brimstone on the unfaithful (heck yah!).

Comments are closed until I get back, which may take a while. I've got a wagon wheel to fix, and I'm out of time until after the Sabbath (which, yes, I still keep, and have kept ever since I converted to Jewish Christianity from my pagan roots--what is it about "immemorial" that's confusing you people?).


Turmarion said...


And all too true!

Anonymous said...

"Side note: why does everybody always blame the nuns?"

Because no matter what happens, some woman somewhere has to be to blame?



Anonymous said...

LOL : )

Ann Marie

MightyMighty said...

So true, so true! This is EXACTLY what they would have blogged!

Deirdre Mundy said...

OK-- this is one I'm going to have to share with my husband when he gets home.

On a side note: You are SUCH a Catholic nerd! :)

Garth said...

I dunno, I don't think they'd approve of Paul. He's got too many strikes against him - a convert, a former persecutor, and he hangs out with Gentiles.

Anonymous said...

I didn't sense a lot of "love and forgiveness" in the tone of this blog. More like the same pride filled snarkiness you see every day everywhere

Red Cardigan said...

Well, gee, Anonymous, I didn't sense a lot of "love and forgiveness" in the tone of your comment, either--just the same sort of drive-by judgmentalism you see every day everywhere.

Anonymous said...

You're probably right though I tried to avoid it. I suppose the "pride-filled snarkiness" HINTS at an attitude.

Nick from Detroit said...

Red Cadigan,

Umm, your parody only makes sense if Saint Paul was a Judaizer, doesn't it?

Why would your fictitious live-blogger count Paul as a leader, when Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles? Paul was the one who was fighting the claims of the Judaizers.

Also, Paul wasn't just an "observer." He and Barnabbas gave their testimony, after Saint Peter had spoken first, of course.

I know, "everyone's a critic," but, I think you failed to make your point.
God Bless!

Red Cardigan said...

Well, Nick, my point was to poke a little gentle fun at today's discussions. You know, where people decide based on little evidence at all that this or that Celebrity/Professional Catholic priest, or blogger, or leader is "One of Us," until it becomes painfully obvious that they hadn't really thought the "us" part through very well, or known all that much about the supposed leader, etc.

Surely you've seen something like that online? I thought it would be funny for my fictional convert (who was a pagan before his conversion) to latch onto Paul because, after all, Paul *was* Jewish, and (in my fictional character's eyes) not a weakling like some of the others--Paul was willing to lend moral support to stoning when he thought the Law demanded it, and even if he had that wrong, why, actions speak louder than words, etc.

Of course, humor that the writer must explain has clearly failed. :) Which is why I don't do this all that often.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

James Carroll, after much soul searching about his church's long history of persecuting Jews, offered this about Peter:

"Here is the real power of the Church's ancient association of itself, centrally, with Peter -- not that he was a rock of virtue, not that his authority was absolute, but that his failure of the Lord was so complete. Peter at its mythic center -- this is how the Church defines itself as a Church of of sinners and betrayers: the cowardly Church, which has used its old feud with the Jewish people to wall itself off from the fear that its faith in Jesus is misplaced."

That is the first statement of the centrality of Peter that I can take seriously. Carroll, for all his examination of this painful subject, continues to view himself as a Catholic. Since he is also a voice crying in the wilderness for a hypothetical "Vatican III", his fellow Catholics may or may not consider him one.

He hasn't said as much about Paul. On a good day, Paul wrote some good exposition. On other days, not so much.