Monday, February 25, 2013

By George! I Don't Think He's Got It

OK, why does this smell funny to me ...

a robustly orthodox Catholicism impassioned about mission is the only Catholicism that has a future. Why? Because it’s the Catholicism that is answering Christ’s call to mission in the Great Commission, and it’s the only Catholicism that can meet the challenge of aggressive secularism, jihadism — and limp discipleship.

... George Weigel, again, promoting his new book Evangelical Catholicism.

I wrote last week about how the errors of the Protestant Evangelical movement need to be avoided if we're really serious about something called Evangelical Catholicism.

And blog readers Brad and Nick D. assure me in the comboxes that Weigel's book is very good, and that his program bears no resemblance to the typical use of the term "Evangelical" in the broader culture.

And since I have not read the book, I take them at their word.

But the quote above gets my spidey-sense tingling.

I would agree with the quote were some of the more jingoistic adjectives removed.  For instance, "... orthodox Catholicism ... is the only Catholicism that has a future."  I would agree with such a redacted description - though even that is troublesome, as it implies that there are brands of "Catholicism" (including "orthodox brand Catholicism") rather than One Body of Christ; that there are variations on the Catholic consumer options, rather than one mystical organ that defies description. And also "robustly" bothers me.  "Robustly orthodox"?  That sounds like "eagerly sane" or "extravagantly even-tempered".  And "impassioned about its mission" - well, we're "impassioned" because Christ suffered His "passion" for us.  The implication that we must be full of a kind of passionate intensity can only remind one of Yeats ...

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Likewise, "limp discipleship" might be akin to "the best" who "lack all conviction" - but Yeats saw that to go from lacking conviction to a kind of emphatic salesmanship is going from bad to worse.  And I can't help but suspect that Weigel is peddling a version of emphatic salesmanship.

I hope I'm wrong, but Weigel, in this quote at least, seems to see the Church as a kind of Superior Solution for combating the false ideologies of the age, such as "aggressive secularism and jihadism".  But the Church is certainly more than the Last Ideology Left Standing.  I'm sure Weigel knows this, but there's something about this whole, Hey, kids, the market is about to turn in our direction, so let's get this New Evangelization Thing going before we miss the boat on the Second Spring attitude that bothers me.  It smacks of Pelagianism and worse.

Again, Weigel's book might be very good, and I'm only going off what he himself has been saying about it (authority is in the author, after all); but the way he's pitching it in interviews makes me wary.  It's a tad bit oily.  Snake oily.

And spreading the Gospel is nothing like that.

The author in his days as snake oil salesman and riverboat gambler.





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