Are Illiberal Catholics Bad Catholics?

John Zmirak has written an interesting article on religious liberty at Aleteia (a site I’m not familiar with, but why isn’t it spelled with an “h” — aletheia?, ἀλήθεια) and what he calls “Illiberal Catholicism”. If I understand him correctly, he also describes Illiberal Catholicism as paternalism, and the object of his criticisms is a familiar one: tyranny in any form. Marxist, Nationalist, and to some extent, the shapeless democratic mob. What makes the article especially provocative is his take on the pedigree of this “paternalist tumor”:

We ought to be deeply thankful for the heritage of the Enlightenment — because the American anti-Catholics of the 19th and 20th century were dead right about one thing: Catholicism minus the Enlightenment equals the Inquisition. Do I exaggerate? Consider the fact that during the Spanish occupation of New Orleans, before the Louisiana Purchase, an officer of the Inquisition was interrogating heretics and collecting torture equipment — which he never got the chance to use, thank God. (The Inquisition did take root in Florida, and continued in Cuba until 1818.) Protestants in Spain were subject to legal restrictions as late as the 1970s. The great defender of Pius IX and Vatican I, Louis Veuillot, summed up what was for centuries the dominant Catholic view of religious liberty:

“When you are the stronger I ask you for my freedom, for that is your principle; when I am the stronger I take away your freedom, for that is my principle.”

What was the Inquisition like in Florida and Cuba? Did they torture people? I like this kind of global analysis of political problems and trying to see how a relatively local politics fits into the larger pattern, and Zmirak includes a number of contemporary anecdotes as well. While I don’t doubt that they’re true, I’m not sure how representative they really are of the these contemporary paternalists.

Some of this is a continuation of the argument about whether we should hold Voltaire responsible for the gulag.

It is, however, difficult for me to see “what nostalgic, Renaissance Faire Catholics have in common with neo-Marxists”, let alone an unwitting alliance between Cardinal Dolan and “the right-wing Catholics who downplayed the bishops’ plea for religious liberty in the face of the HHS mandate”. I appreciate any attempt to look at the contemporary scene in a way that doesn’t break down according the Republican/Democrat (or Conservative/Liberal) divide, but that distinction has become so pervasive that avoiding it can become a way of sidestepping the issues themselves. It seems to me that the way the terms “conservative” and ‘liberal” are thrown out by proponents and detractors alike indicates that they are still useful. The word “illiberal” strikes me as purely pejorative, and I’m not sure how much it really adds to the debate.

The day Peter became a rock star

pius xii bathroom pic

Something to offend everyone:

“From the time that the Church decided to embrace the world, she started to speak to the world in what she thought was the proper way. In the 1950s it was middle-class and the Right. Today it is middle-class and the Left, but in either case with an air of radical chic.”





Most groups of people who get tagged by history as a “generation” can be described in an easy, offhand way: as folks sort of the same age experiencing sort of the same things in sort of the same place, like the cast of “Cheers” or “Seinfeld” or “Friends.” I’m pretty sure—as a result of taking Modern Literature in college—that Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Ford Madox Ford, Henry Miller and Ezra Pound were roommates in a big apartment on the Left Bank in Paris in the 1920s. (If not, I give this idea for a sitcom away for free to the reader.)

Good Thing They Got Rid of Hitler…

Just think what these parents would have gotten away with then!

“The police shoved me into a chair and wouldn’t let me even make a phone call at first. It was chaotic as they told me they had an order to take the children. At my slightest movement the agents would grab me, as if I were a terrorist. You would never expect anything like this to happen in our calm, peaceful village. It was like a scene out of a science fiction movie. Our neighbors and children have been traumatized by this invasion.”

“Why Should We be Nice, We Have the Hamburgers”

Whittle on civility.

…and the moral obligation to be happy.


The Liverpooligans vs. The Bilderburg Bluebloods

In the US, however, spectator sports were organized from the top of society down, which has largely kept them from being a vehicle for mass populism. For example, American football evolved among rivalries between universities with national pretensions: Harvard v. Yale, Army v. Navy, and Notre Dame v. USC.

Similarly, professional sports in the US always had a strongly corporate, upper-middle-class air. For instance, the most celebrated game in professional football history, Broadway Joe Namath’s New York Jets’ victory over the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl, was a victory for the national media’s home team.

In the 1890s, baseball’s sole major league, the National League, was being taken over by Irish brawlers such as the crafty John McGraw of the Baltimore Orioles. Thus, ballparks attracted a lower class of fan. In 1901 entrepreneur Ban Johnson founded the rival American League to provide a more honest and gentlemanly version of the game that would appeal to WASP and German-American families. Johnson’s league has remained dominant for most of the last eleven decades.

In contrast, European soccer clubs mostly emerged from their indigenous communities. European soccer teams sponsored local youth leagues that served as feeder systems for talent. American college basketball coaches, though, are lauded not for their training, but for scouring distant slums to recruit genetically gifted one-and-done stars.


Why the NRA reminds me of Planned Parenthood and Vice Versa

Kirsten Powers, writing for The Daily Beast, says it well:

“The abortion clinic of alleged killer Kermit Gosnell was not illegal. But any talk of more government regulation unleashes an NRA-style assault from the abortion rights contingent.”

More here: Abortion Rights Community Has Become the NRA of the Left

Ms. Powers’ double-edged approach here reminds me of our man Walker Percy’s NYT piece back in the day: “A View of Abortion with Something to Offend Everybody.”

Are you offended?

Up from comments: Churchill breaks radio silence


“Hello. Since I can’t post, I’ll put this short thing I wrote about heliocentrism under a comment; I had added it under the one below, but would prefer to repeat it here. I’d be grateful for your comments on it, although I realise it’s not directly related to the topic above:

If the earth rotates around its axis at one thousand miles an hour (and at a much faster speed around the sun), then: (i) if the air above it does not move, why wouldn’t this influence the distance/time travelled by aeroplanes – ie if the earth moves, why isn’t this taken into account; (ii) if the air above the earth also moves at the same speed, why don’t, for example, leaves blow in an air current of 1000 miles an hour, whereas they do at a speed of, say, 1020 miles an hour; (iii) if there is a distinction between a moving air above the earth and wind in terms of their effects on moving objects, how can this be explained, rather than asserted. And is not also then unlikely that the earth travels around the sun.

I had wondered if much of cosmology was invented for political reasons: to undermine religion and in order therefore to encourage technological advancement and a change in values, although I had wondered if certain developments, such as plane travel, might even have been held up until the view of the universe had consolidated.”

Of course, Churchill gives away too much in this concern – knowing full well that it is a hot topic among Catholic triddywackers.

Today in NJLNJ (Now Jesus Loves New Jersey): Rino Edition


Now that’s the Garden State I remember…

Because a long time ago, God loved the Republicans; now, if the 2012 election was any indicator, God loves the Democrats and so, naturally, Republicans must also love Democrats… So, I repeat, this is the diminutive mid-Atlantic state once inhabited by the Lenni Lenape which I knew so well in my youth.

Even nature groans to give birth to such an oversized pacakage as Mr. Chris Christie offers to midwife – as NJ now has a place to throw all the good money following this tom-foolery.

Which brings us to the slow browning out of America – and to that end a quick Browning out of Mr. Christopher Christie:

Christie Crashes

The pigs’re on the wing,
And Christie’s on the horn;
The presser’s at seven;
The surrender-flag unfurled;
The buzz has a sting;
The cynic yawns with scorn;
God’s lost in heaven—
All’s left in the world!

Located: The Selfish Gene


“It was a thrill to watch that boy grow inside her, but I must admit during that second trimester as we watched him move around on 3-D sonograms I saw how human they were and my life long belief in abortion rights was – let’s say – jostled. It was life colliding with belief system. I had to rethink my position, but in the end I remain committed to being pro-choice because I cannot imagine arguing against a woman’s right to control her body – and thus – her life.”

I think I prefer the glass of whisky, fire on the hearth, roses and sexy talk when I’m seduced into buying a bill of goods… But, oh well.

Film at eleven.