Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Hardly Prophecy Anymore

Not long ago James V. Schall SJ wrote a piece that began, "Catholics have little legal future in this country except as a narrow, strictly defined sect."  He went on to suggest that there would come a time in the U.S.A. where we will have an officially tolerated faux-church, and an actual, but underground and persecuted, church-of-the-catacombs, as in China. 

I said at the time, "The true Church will be persecuted and shuttered because of 'hate speech' - which means pointing out the sins of sodomy, fornication, contraception, abortion, the abuse of children, the abuse of the poor, de facto slavery to the state and to corporations, and all the things we're not only tolerating but celebrating in our culture today. The 'official church', the false church, will join in celebrating all these horrors and will make it all go down smoothly by offering services with gay guitar music and self-esteem workshops over coffee and donuts."

Today, in a stunning bit of writing that takes your breath away, Fr. George Rutler brings the prophecy closer to home, as he notes, "The national election in November, 2012 will either give Christians one last chance to rally, or it will be the last free election in our nation.  This can only sound like hyperbole to those who are unaware of what happened to the Slavic lands after World War I and to Western Europe in the 1930’s."

Mere rhetorical panic?  No, for Fr. Rutler explains himself ...

Unless there is a dramatic reversal in the present course of our nation, those who measured their Catholicism by the Catholic schools they attended, will soon find most of those institutions officially pinching incense to the ephemeral genius of their secular leaders, and universities once called Catholic will be no more Catholic than Brown is Baptist or Princeton is Presbyterian. The surrender will not come by a sudden loss of faith in Transubstantiation or doubts about Papal Infallibility. It will happen smoothly and quietly, as the raptures of the Netherworld always hum victims into somnolence, by the cost factor of buying out of government health insurance.

And this will produce, Fr. Rutler predicts, a shake out - or, in his words, "the majority of Catholics with tenuous commitments to the Faith will evaporate, as did the lapsed baptized in North Africa during the oppression of the emperor Diocletian."

He also hits two other home runs in this article - he brings the spirit of St. Paul to bear on the issue, and he deconstructs a phrase that has long irked me, "Post-Christian".

This new period is not “Post-Christian” because nothing comes after Christ.   We can, however, call it “Post-Comfortable Christian.”
Not all bad, you know, for Comfort has not been good for us.


Let us thank God for the prophets among us, like Fr. Schall and Fr. Rutler, who are preparing us for this era of Post-Comfortable Christianity - even though it's less prophecy than mere description.

Indeed, when Isaiah pointed out famously, "Behold a virgin shall conceive", his point at the time was not the coming Messiah; his point at the time was, "Before this kid, conceived now, is old enough to know right from wrong, all hell will break loose and we'll be in an era of Post-Comfortable Judaism, to say the least."

In other words, it's right around the corner.


Kevin O'Brien said...

My son Colin writes ...


Very interesting article.

I think the basic mistake being made here, though, is confusion towards what the HHS mandate really is. This article interprets the mandate has an offensive attack against Catholicism, which it may be in effect but it does not seem to be in purpose. I don't think the president or the congressmen behind this intend to see Catholic institutions shut down and the church destroyed in America, I think their motives are much more selfish than that.

This portion of the health care bill just seems like pandering to their voting bases and now that it's a front and center issue they can't back down without looking like fools.There isn't a plan in place to slowly start feeding Catholics to lions. I don't think many of the people behind this bill are capable of fighting for anything, good or bad, which might be bigger than the next election cycle. This mandate doesn't really look like the first shot in a war against Catholicism, it looks like pretty standard politics. Politicians who are under educated in law and religion and over educated in their party's talking points.

I think there is a little bit of paranoia in the devoted Catholic circles in this country. People are hearing fireworks outside and instead of thinking "Oh, fireworks" they're thinking "this must be a team of Navy Seals around my house just waiting for me to unlock my door."

Also, this election doesn't have very much importance in the HHS realm or in the will-freedom-for-Catholics-still-exist-in-2016 realm. Best case scenario you get a flip flopping Mormon who essentially wrote most of Obama's health care bill and has hardly been committed to a single party, let alone life issues. "Worst" case scenario you get Obama who will be a lame duck by the time I graduate college (2014) and has already clearly exhibited he's not capable of the Tyranny republicans thought he would be, or the change making the democrats thought he would be. The best bet for the HHS mandate to be struck down is the courts.

And I guess those are my two cents. Short version: Life will go on.

Kevin O'Brien said...

I will add that my friend Tom Leith, local Chestertonian and regular reader of this blog, has observed ...

1. The administration fears that if they make concessions on contraception, they'll be folding on everything, as everyone will demand various concessions.

2. Universal health care is not a Federal matter, if subsidiarity is to be taken into account. A random group of 10,000 people have health risks equal to the population as a whole. Thus, each individual diocese or city or county could provide health insurance, and this never would have become a Federal issue.

Tom Leith said...

"A totalitarian regime crushes all autonomous institutions in its drive to seize the human soul" (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.).

The HHS mandate is an exercise in Totalitarianism, and a Totalitarian's purpose is to be against everything other than himself.

But, Colin, you're right -- life will go on and the HHS Mandate is mainly an example of the creeping Totalitarianism that has been going on since The Civil War. Hamiltonianism is winning out over Jeffersonianism; Nationalism over Federalism; and Cosmopolitanism over Localism; Servility over Freedom.

What I sincerely hope is that you and your fellow students get hip to this and rather than repeating the mistake of fifty years ago by advocating some version of Anarchism because it is powerless to do ill and can't be corrupted because there's no institution to corrupt, come to see that a social order of distributed institutions is possible, desirable, and superior to even the most benevolent Totalitarianism.

Anonymous said...

What Colin says is probably what I would have said at "X" point in time. However, after a number of years (I am now in my 60's), I am able to see the many cues I missed that kept me from seeing what, quite frankly, I guess I really did not want to see anyway - at that point in time.

One thing that helped me to understand what was happening in/to our Church - and to Christianity in general - was something that helped me see how subtly so many of us had been accepting what, deep down, we knew was not kosher.

About ten years ago, I read a book that truly got my attention. It was "The Lord of the World" by Robert Hugh Benson. At the time, I think the foreward or intro was done by Ralph McInerny (one of my favorites). There are multiple versions with various forewards/intros).

This was a book written, I think, in 1907. It was prescient in a way that is beyond coincidence. It is a book that would appeal to people of all ages. I think I have bought 7 or 8 copies to give to friends who have all appreciated it.

One thing that reflects, for me, the importance of this book, is the number of people I respect who have recently commented on the book - as a book of substance.

If I were an accomplished technology expert, I would be able to insert "hot links" for the references I think are helpful. Instead, I will just list them, and anyone interested can "google" them and discover the interwoven threads.

The reviewers of this book that have been helpful to me are: Dale Ahlquist "The End of the World", Fr. Robert Barron's "The Apocalypse of Robert Hugh Benson", Joseph Pearce's "R.H. Benson: Unsung Genius", Fr. George Rutler's "The One We Were Waiting For", Rev. James Schall's "The Lord of the World", and Father John McCloskey's "2030 Revisited".

The book, and these reviews, are worth reading. My great frustration is that if we look upon what is happening with complacency, people who are really unprepared for defending their faith will succumb to the new "norm" and be sucked into something they never bargained for.