At least they don't believe in the Christian God, the God who became man to save us from sin and who died on a cross and rose again, calling us to participate in a life of sacrifice and love until He comes join us in his resurrection by raising us bodily from the dead at the Last Judgment, where some will find they've chosen eternal life, others eternal damnation.
Most Catholic instead believe (to quote H. Richard Niebuhr) that ...
“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
Today at Mass I walked out during the homily. I've only done that twice in 14 years as a Catholic, counting today. It wasn't especially bad, as homilies go, but I realized that it was pointless to stay any longer. I realized at one point that Whatever religion this man is preaching and these people are celebrating, I'm not in communion with it. In other words, I was at a putatively Catholic Mass at a so-called Catholic parish, but I was not at a service honoring anything resembling the Catholic God.
It was a parish that I was forced to go to because of time and travel constraints. It had (as most parishes do) a guitar player singing bad songs very badly and very loudly. He was quite obviously enthralled with the sound of his voice over the loud speakers. It was a form of bad performance art, or a kind of narcissism on parade. I imagine when this man enters into an intimate physical relationship with his wife, his favorite part is hearing himself moan at the moment of climax. Perhaps he records that moan and listens to it over and over again, admiring the tones and cadences of his marvelous voice. You know the type. At any rate, he made me moan at this Mass, that's for sure.
Speaking of sex, before Mass a teen aged girl with a Steubenville T-shirt on ran up to an attractive young man and gave him the Christian Side Hug. It didn't phase him in the least, but she went away quivering and giddy. She sang the bad songs out loud with the rock star very loudly, in a pew right up front, swaying and all abuzz.
The homily had one simple message: don't be afraid when Christ comes. Even if He comes like a thief in the night, even though Scripture warns us of "darkness" and "grinding of teeth", even though "our God is an awesome [fear inspiring] God", we Christians can be confident that "when Christ comes, it will be a good thing."
Not for this guy it won't, as Michelangelo imagines it ...
Not for that guy it won't. But he only finds that out on the day Christ comes, not at his Suburban Mass.
So what is this weird thing that is happening all over the country, and apparently all over the world? What is this weird religion that calls itself Catholic?
This is the religion of antichrist, of Christ without the cross.
Others have called it Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, but that phrase is not only awkward, it's a misnomer. For this heresy is neither Moralistic, Therapeutic, or Deist.
There is nothing Moralistic about the Suburban Parish Mass at all. Universal salvation is offered to everyone, regardless of your ethical beliefs or practices. There's nothing Therapeutic going on there, either. Any good therapist challenges his patient to get better, and not to continue wallowing in his addictions and bad choices; I've never heard any homily or modern hymn do anything like that; we are always affirmed right where we are. And this whole thing isn't exactly Deism, for there is a personal God in the mix and we do more or less pray to Him, or at least we try to if the music isn't too loud.
So what is this sick and bizarre heresy that we find in the vast majority of Catholic parishes, especially in the suburbs, that we find in Mainline Protestant churches and that the "Progressives" at the Synod on the Family are pushing? If it's not really Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, what is it?
Belloc called it Modernism, but even he acknowledged that it seemed to be a mixture of all heresies and that it was hard to pin down or define.
I think the best name for it is Inconsequentialism.
It is the belief that the Consequential does not exist. None of our choices or actions matters. Nothing we do will lead to heaven or hell. Our lives are works of fiction written entirely by our own selves. God stands back and applauds whatever choice we make, like an indulgent public school Kindergarten teacher.
And since nothing leads to anything (which is what "inconsequential" means), the culture of this heresy is a kind of parody of the Kingdom of heaven: it's hell on earth, a place that is above all else Unreal. It is a place where we can choose our own genders, our own doctrines, our own way, our own truth, our own life. It is a place lacking all judgment, for judgment is the Consequential - and by judgment I mean both the Last Judgment as well as personal judgment or discernment: both God's judgment of us and our own judgment-in-practice, our own decision making day in and day out, our own "tough choices", none of which (we are assured) matters in the least, all of which are Inconsequential.
T. S. Eliot described the effects of what I call Inconsequentialism. "Hell is a place where nothing connects with nothing," he said. Inconsequentialism is isolating, fragmenting, and atomizing.
But Inconsequentialists gladly pay that price, for their entire goal is to deny the Cross and everything that the Cross implies: sacrifice, suffering, discipline, decision, death, shame, and sin. To have Christ without the Cross is their goal. This, according to Bishop Sheen, was the hallmark of the spirit of antichrist: the denial of the cross in all its forms.
But if your entire philosophy of life is devoted to denying the Consequential (and the Cross is the most emphatic expression of the Consequential), then everything you do - especially your religion - becomes Inconsequential - which is to say, unimportant, minor, meaningless, bland, and ultimately (like the loud guitar music) a form of public masturbation.
Why would any normal human being seek something like this out? Most of us aren't thrilled with Christian Side Hugs, even when we're teen agers. I can get better pop psychology watching an Oprah rerun than I'll ever get at a Suburban Mass. Dr. Phil is more challenging than just about any parish priest you'll come across. If I want loud pop music, I can pull up good (rather than bad) pop music on my computer and put on headphones. If I want sex, I don't need to swallow the pervy weirdness of a Christopher West or a Mark Driscoll. If I want a religious experience, I can sleep in on Sundays and take a walk in the woods and pray in peace and quiet. Of course, I need the Church for the Sacraments and for infallible teaching on morals and faith, but normal people don't see the value of either, as it's never pointed out to them.
The priest said today in his homily that when Christ comes, "all our desire will be fulfilled". But the Religion of Inconsequentialism is all about denying the purpose of desire, as well as the purpose of anything. Desire is just a kind of physical manifestation of sentiment to Inconsequentialists. Loving a woman, marrying her, forming a family that lasts your entire life, and having a bunch of babies is not the point of normal human desire for an Inconsequentialist. "Getting off" is. Sterility is the sole sacrament of the Inconsequential Faith. "Get off" however you will, but make sure nothing comes of it; make sure there are no Consequences.
And heaven? It's a big dessert buffet where you can eat all you want and not get fat, not suffer the Consequences. It's a place where no one ever judges anyone any more, where there is no Judgment built into the nature of Reality, where we are all happily Unreal forever more, where our desires are easily fulfilled because our desires are shallow to begin with.
Who would want a heaven like that, or a faith like that? Rod Dreher writes of the impending collapse of what I've called the Church of Inconsequentialism (my emphasis in bold and my comments in red ) ...
Sociologist Philip Rieff, in The Triumph of the Therapeutic, observed that institutions die when they can no longer communicate their core values to the next generation in a convincing way. He said this to support his contention (in 1966!) that Christianity was dying in the West, because we Westerners have become hostile to the ascetic spirit that is inextricable from authentic Christianity and has been from the beginning. [In other words, we have rejected the Cross] As you know, I believe Rieff was right, and that his being right is not something that traditional Christians should take comfort in, except in this one way: a Christianity that does demand something sacrificial from its followers is not only being true to the nature of the religion, but is far more likely to engender the kind of devotion that will endure through the therapeutic dark age. Aside from its radical theological innovations that are impossible to harmonize with Christianity as it was known for its first 1,900 years, Progressive Christianity has fully embraced the therapeutic mindset, in the sense that Rieff means. It is dying because it cannot convince young people to embrace its values within the institutional churches. It can’t be denied that many of the young do accept the social liberalism embraced by the progressive churches, but it also can’t be denied that most of them don’t see why they have to be part of a church to be socially progressive.
In that article, Rod points out that the Last Episcopalian has almost certainly been born. By the time a baby baptized today in an Episcopal church is 80 years old, the Episcopal church will have ceased to exist, at its present rate of decline. The churches that worship Christ without a Cross, the churches of the Inconsequential are reaping what they have sown.
They are finding that they are Inconsequential indeed.