Monday, September 23, 2013

My Label Hates Your Label

John  B. Manos, one of those cigar-smoking beer-drinking orthodox Catholics of the ChesterBellocian mold who enjoy life, has the audacity to say ...

The tone of all these reactions [to the Pope] reveals the problem in the Church: we have become like roaming tribes, like the mongrels of old raiding villages and finding warriors to lead our survival cause!

Manos, you've thrown down the gauntlet there!  It's not only US VS. THEM it's ME VS. YOU!  How dare you begin to make sense of this mess.  Manos goes on to say ...

I’m not going to list all the labels used today, and there are many.  Not too long ago, I found a stray discussion forum on the internet wherein a discussion over an article on this site occurred and somebody dismissed the entire thing by calling us “neotrads.”   That is funny to me.  It should be to you, too.  First, I doubt that the utterer of that tribal dismissal even knows anything of the people who write here or what motivates us.  Secondly, it is hilarious because of the academic pomp with which it was uttered is like a magic spell cast onto its audience to convince them that we are from a foreign tribe and anything we say is subversive to their own.  Now that’s where the humor lies!  (careful, I really intended a triple pun there)

What Manos fails to consider here is that he's published these remarks on the internet.  And the internet is the place where you can be as irrational and bigoted as you want, as long as you accuse your opponent of being irrational and bigoted.

So this irrational bigot John B. Manos takes a stand against tribalism, does he?  Well no one of my tribe would ever do that!  He's clearly not one of us!  Neo-Trad indeed!  Neo-Bad is more like it.

Manos drones on ...

It just feels better to call someone a label and be done with them.  You don’t have to be confronted, you don’t have to be involved, and most importantly, you don’t have to change.  Let the tribes work it out.  They will battle and at the end of the day, we win.  Utopia comes when there’s one tribe left standing!  We can’t help ourselves, especially today where sports teams, politics, brands, and everything else around us serves to constantly reinforce this desire that the world would be just right if my tribe won.  And so it is in the Church today…
The Church would be just right if…
some answer, “we went back to the 1962 Missal.”
others answer, “we went back to the 1955 Missal.”
yet others answer, “everyone was charismatic.”
and still yet more, “the Church accepted gay marriage.”
or “ordained women.” ... on and on

Now, since Manos brings up sports, the only possible response to this is to accuse him of being a Cubs Fan - but that's something even I won't do, out of the profound depth of my Christian Charity.

But I've learned a thing or two about how to argue on the internet from the likes of Ben Yakov and a certain St. Louis deacon who has been banned from this blog and about a dozen others.  So let me do my best here.

My response:

So you're saying that Bill Donohue was minimizing the crimes of Fr. Ratigan when Donohue said that the photos weren't pornographic, when they obviously were?  You're making no sense here!  And I say that when Vatican II says that Gregorian Chant should be the norm at Mass "all other things being equal", this means we can play whatever music we want, and of course the Catechism can be ignored and I have mature purity but you don't so quit ruining the career of Christopher West.  You are making no sense, John B. Manos!  You are an irrational bigot!  I am embarrassed by you.  And you call yourself a Catholic?????

How did I do?

But the irrepressible Manos goes on ...

That’s the animus driving the characterizations of the Pope.  People want to either use him as their battering ram, or destroy him as their enemy.  They did that to Jesus, too.  (you can see me discuss this immediately upon Francis’s becoming Pope).  The problem with tribes is that they act as tribes, and eventually, if they can’t use you, they destroy you — as they did to Jesus.  In modern times it’s done with words.  Somehow people think that’s OK to destroy someone in words because they view words as virtual things, not for the real bullets and arrows that they are.

Well, bow season is past.  So let me fire a few bullet points at this enemy of my tribe.


  • Stop talking about Jesus.  This is about us vs. them.
  • You are simply an anti-tribalist.  We know what that label means.
  • I am of Paul!  I am of Apollos!  So there!  (1 Cor. 3:4)

But really, there's only one reply left ... one bullet point in my not-fully-loaded six-shooter.  Here we go ... 

  • John B. Manos, I will pray for you.  You need to take this to confession.  

POW!  That's some dang fancy shootin', if I do say so myself.

Wait!  He's still moving.  And speaking ...


Archbishop Fulton Sheen, in the popular 50 talk retreat set that circulates about (I have an old copy of these tapes produced by Keep the Faith years and years ago), defines authoritarianism beginning with an observation of peck order among chickens (much like I’ve done with tribes above) whereby force and pecks on each other determines who has more authority.  He calls this a drive for authority.  But he points out that Our Lord got rid of the peck order (first should be last, and servant of all).  Thus, Our Lord sees authority for service, but the gentiles see it as “lording it over others” (as would a tribal leader).  Sheen points out that Our Lord asked Peter three times “Do you love me?”  That’s the beginning of Our Lord’s authority — Charity and Love.  Not by destruction.
Sheen’s points are borne out in the Apostles and the way in which Peter consulted the Apostles prior to making a decision.  Pope Francis refers to this as collegiality.  The problem with collegiality is that it isn’t certain and predictable along tribal lines.  It can’t destroy everything and be done as the tribal gentile lot pagan leader would do.  Our Lord’s authority is not tribal!  Our news media wants tribal leadership!

Now Manos reveals his true colors.  His true tribal colors.  LOVE?!  Christian authority rests on LOVE?!

Ahem.  Liberal.  Progressive.  Hippie.  Commie.  Faggot.

The Church, Mr. Manos, is a club that we use to beat people over the head with.  Didn't you know that?

Still, however, the less-than-human John B. Manos continues ...

Archbishop Sheen defines the authoritarian in his tape talk titled “Communism and the Church” as someone who starts with a party line and by force issues a decree that all followers must adhere themselves to this party line dogma.  Sheen contrasts the authoritarian to that of God.  God expects us to be in communion with Him Who can neither deceive nor be deceived.  The object of faith is therefore, communion with God, a person — rather, three persons to be precise.  Faith is not adhesion to an abstract party line (dogma).  We start with Our Lord, the Son of the Living God, Who said, “I am the Truth.”  That’s the heart of the spiritual exercises — the first week as it were.   Most importantly, contrast this point:  the object of the Catholic faith is Jesus Christ.  A person.  The Nicene Creed has therefore always been called a symbol.  It is not the object, but a symbol of the object.
The errors of Marxism among the Church reduce this all to party lines.  And party lines are construed as tribes.  And tribes war with each other and peck at each other.  There is one problem:  you can’t love a party line.  You can, however, love a person, especially a Divine Person.

Well, here Manos is alluding to my post The Christian Context, in which I point out that the Pope is merely saying what C. S. Lewis said, that the moral teachings of the Faith are actually a hindrance toward evangelization, if they are thrown at people out of context - and that the context is Christ, His love and sacrifice.  So my question - why didn't Manos cite me while plagiarizing me?  True, he wrote his piece several days before I wrote mine, but still, this is the internet and chronology is no more important than rational thought.  The problem is Manos is a Temporalist, while I am a Kairos-ian.  That sums it up - for me at least.  I will therefore dismiss him and everything he says.  With a glib and superior condescending grin on my face.  The poor guy.  But Temporalists are like this, you know.

Well, you can read his whole article, over at the Bellarmine Forum - but be forewarned.  It makes way too much sense.  It is an affront to the internet.

And ... it's really not that easy to label.

Me (right) and Manos (left).  Clearly, we are of different tribes.  Oh, and I'm the one who stuck the plate in his mouth - to shut him up.


2 comments:

The Normal Guy said...

Kevin, I believe you can consider me a post-modern, avaunt-garde traditional sentimentalist

Kevin O'Brien said...

Well, I'm a pre-postmodern, rear-guard, non-traditional rationalist. We're perfect for one another!