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Old 12-28-2018, 02:17 PM   #1366
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Originally Posted by ickythump1225 View Post
Like imagine if the Church Fathers were formulating the Creed in the manner of Jordan Peterson, they'd still be formulating it to this day.

"Credo in unum Deum"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa there guy. I mean first of all we have to determine what we mean by "I" like who am I? Who are you? Who are we? Then we have to think about what we mean by believe. And really, what does 'B-E-L-I-E-V-E' mean? I mean then we have to break down each letter. Where does 'b' come from? I mean these are complex issues. Wash your benis bucko."
The early Church did spend decades arguing over extremely minute philosophical details in formulating the creed, but to your point, they obviously they didn't have to argue over the meaning of "I" or "believe." Even "God" was quickly defined as the "Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth" (later "all things visible and invisible"), which is clearly sufficient as the basis of a conversation.

It would be perfectly fair to say, "Yes, I do, but to really make sure we are communicating, we need to further define our terms." That is just good philosophy and is exactly what Socrates and Plato and Aristotle did. But there is clearly a little sophistry and showing-off in JP's answer here. One of the obvious problems with guys like him that lean so heavily on the limitations of language is that they simultaneously rely on the listener's being able to fully understand the sophisticated nuances and subtleties of the language. "When someone asks me if I believe in God, I can't answer this question, because it is not clear what "I" means." really? OK. Well then how did we understand this proposition, which also relies on the term "I"?

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Originally Posted by ickythump1225 View Post
Does JP believe in the Trinitarian conception of God? Does he believe in the Immaculate Conception? The Virgin Birth? The death and resurrection of Christ? I strongly suspect the answers to that are really long form versions of "no." Thus his theological musings are just sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I don't follow this part. He might not be Catholic, and you might think this makes him wrong or whatever, but why would his musing be meaningless just because he doesn't come to the Catholic conclusion. Aquinas even came to the non-Catholic conclusion on the Immaculate Conception.

I probably agree with some other criticisms of JP, but I don't get this.

Last edited by Domina Nostra; 12-28-2018 at 02:21 PM..
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Old 12-28-2018, 05:37 PM   #1367
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domina Nostra View Post
I don't follow this part. He might not be Catholic, and you might think this makes him wrong or whatever, but why would his musing be meaningless just because he doesn't come to the Catholic conclusion. Aquinas even came to the non-Catholic conclusion on the Immaculate Conception.

I probably agree with some other criticisms of JP, but I don't get this.
St. Thomas's position on the Immaculate Conception evolved throughout his life:


Also, he simply believed that the Blessed Virgin may have for a few seconds incurred the stain of Original Sin before it was wiped away in her mother's womb, which was a somewhat popular alternate theory during the medieval period. It's a bit more nuanced (but still incorrect) position than say a Baptist who believes that Mary was born a sinner, sinned in her life, and had other children.

There's also a large gulf between someone like St. Thomas who held one incorrect theological opinion but still was faithful enough to the Truth to be named a Doctor of the Church and have it mandated that his all theology and philosophy classes in seminaries conform to St. Thomas's philosophy; and someone like Jordan Peterson who can't even give a straightforward answer on whether he believes in God or Christ was resurrected.

It's not just that Peterson is not a Christian, let alone a Catholic, it's that he doesn't appear to have any coherent spiritual or theological foundation and his normal eloquence turns to rambling when talk turns to religion.
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Old 12-28-2018, 05:52 PM   #1368
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PJ Smith just published an article titled "The direction of integralism in 2019":

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We are not living in an integralist moment. Rocked by new revelations in the ongoing abuse crisis, the Church’s public standing is not especially high in the United States and elsewhere. Indeed, it seems as though the liberties for the Church defended by St. Gregory VII against Emperor Henry IV are in jeopardy with numerous state and federal investigations into the Church ongoing. However, we are living in a moment when liberalism seems weaker than usual.

For a brief moment, the electric uncertainty in the air in 2008 returned when the stock market took a precipitous pre-Christmas plunge and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took the unusual step of announcing that he had spoken with the heads of major U.S. banks and was sure that the banks were liquid and ready to lend. This had the same unhappy feeling as sitting on an airplane and hearing the pilot announce that he had checked with the flight crew and the plane had plenty of fuel and was ready to land safely. The pre-Christmas jolt was followed by a stupendous rally after the Christmas holiday and the crisis did not materialize.

However, the evident weakness of liberalism has led to wider acceptance of anti-liberal thought of all kinds—including Catholic anti-liberalism. As the year winds down, it is worth thinking about what 2019 holds for Catholic anti-liberalism, especially what Catholic anti-liberals ought to do to cement progress made. And there has been significant progress made. What was, not too long ago, a doctrine held by traditionalists and discussed in primarily traditionalist circles is getting wide press. Ross Douthat of the New York Times has addressed it in several columns, and high-profile conferences at Harvard and Notre Dame have gotten coverage at outlets like Public Discourse and Rod Dreher’s blog at The American Conservative. There has been all year a lively debate in Catholic circles about integralism. Joseph Trabbic’s defense of the doctrinal status of the Catholic confessional state at Public Discourse was a response to Robert T. Miller’s critique of the same concept.

On the other hand, anti-liberal Catholicism still encounters significant resistance, particularly in the American Catholic right. We have already said enough about the debacle at First Things over Fr. Romanus Cessario’s review of Fr. Pio Edgardo Mortara’s memoir. While that affair implicated more than mere anti-liberal Catholicism, it was certainly a significant component of the debate. First Things, the vanguard of the fusionist project, has been slow to welcome the return—a return ad fontes—to anti-liberal teaching. They are not alone: the reason why there has been a lively debate all year is because people disagree.

I.

Of course, the disagreements get narrower and narrower. Dr. John Joy’s argument that Quanta cura and Syllabus are infallible is basically unanswerable, and we have not seen anyone try very hard to answer it. The arguments, it seems to us, have fallen along predictable lines. On one hand, you have the argument that Vatican II changed the teaching of Pius IX and Leo XIII with Dignitatis humanae and Gaudium et spes. On the other hand, you have the argument that integralism is somehow impractical or poorly suited for the political problems of 2018. As to the first argument, this is broadly the debate over several issues associated with the Council, and the arguments on both sides are well known.

One would be excused for being of two minds about the progress of the debate into the well worn grooves of the debates over the Second Vatican Council. On one hand, it is always nice to know all the moves of the game before they are played. On the other hand, it seems unlikely to result in any real progress. Everyone knows the various narratives—hermeneutics of rupture and continuity—about the Council and how those narratives incorporate the prior teachings of the Church. Indeed, given how fixed everyone’s positions are, one would be excused for thinking of the descriptions of the tedium of the trenches punctuated with cataclysmic assaults in the great First World War authors like David Jones, Robert Graves, or Wilfred Owen.

It seems to us that the collapse of Catholic fusionism in recent years is necessarily tied up with the dispute over the Council, since most of the fusionists’ arguments are drawn from the Council’s purported outreach (or openness or whatever you want to call it) to non-Catholics. One might even trace the collapse of fusionism to Benedict XVI’s 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia, where the “hermeneutic of continuity” was given its most important presentation. Indeed, the erosion of the post-Conciliar consensus embodied by John Paul II seems to have included both the belief that the Council constituted a restart for the Church and the belief that fusionism represents a meaningful political strategy for the Church. Given the significant controversy over other parts of John Paul’s legacy today, it seems unlikely that anyone will pick up the banner and attempt to reconstruct John Paul’s consensus.

II.

A more detailed response to the second point is in order, as it here that we think the central project for anti-liberal Catholicism in 2019 lies. There has been, we think, significant confusion as to what integralism is—or is not. Everyone works off the definition offered by Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., in his famous “Integralism in Three Sentences,” so we will too. At bottom, integralism concerns the right relationship between the temporal power (the state, let us say) and the Church. Integralism is not a general prescription for Catholic political action, and it definitely is not a plan for individual Catholics. (Except, perhaps, in the rare case when the individual is a monarch or something like that.) That people have latched on to “integralism” as a label for what would have been called Catholic Action once upon a time is hardly surprising. The American bishops have limited their political interventions to a narrow range of issues.

Certainly no one could complain that the American bishops have chosen to emphasize the Church’s teaching on abortion over any number of other questions. Not every moral issue is equivalently weighty. However, at a moment when liberalism is being questioned pretty vigorously, it is unfortunate that there is not really a satisfactory response from the bishops. This is doubly unfortunate when one considers that Pope Francis is an astute critic of modern liberalism and the spiritual sicknesses it cause. There are, of course, voices in the Church that have long upheld the Church’s condemnations of liberalism and supported integralism—here we are thinking most notably of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X. In a very real way, the resurgence of Catholic anti-liberal thought would not have been possible without Lefebvre and the SSPX. (Gabriel Sanchez, at Opus Publicum, has written several posts emphasizing the historical role of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X in keeping the anti-liberal flame alive, including a very recent note.)

However, the point is not to litigate the history of integralism since 1965. Instead, we mean to say only that it is understandable that people have transformed the concept of integralism into a broader Catholic anti-liberalism or a new sort of Catholic Action. However, while it is understandable, it leads to all sorts of unwelcome consequences. Notably, there is a tendency to draw integralism’s dogmatic mantle over various political proposals that have very little to do with the strict definition of integralism. A careful reading of Leo XIII’s encyclicals, notably Diuturnum illud and Immortale Dei, would show that the Church has generally refrained from insisting on this or that arrangement, much less the sorts of arrangements that are offered.

III.

On the other hand, what is modern-day integralism if not a part of broader attempt to recover the Church’s political thought? It would be strange to insist that the anti-liberalism of Quanta cura, Syllabus, and Leo’s encyclicals are infallible and irreformable, but then leave the matter at the fairly narrow question of the indirect subordination of the state to the Church. Indeed, the natural consequence of the recovery of integralism in its strict sense is to turn to the other treasures of the Church’s political teaching for guidance. However, it is counterproductive to reduce the entirety of the Church’s political teaching to the concept of integralism, even if only as a convenient shorthand. Integralism, one could say, is not the end of the Church’s perennial political teaching but the beginning.

Of course, turning to the Church’s perennial historical teaching for guidance does not necessarily mean a mere repetition of the content of the teaching documents. Some application of the Church’s teachings to modern problems ought to be done. This is why we say that, in 2019, anti-liberal Catholics ought to start thinking about specific policy proposals. One need not even consider policies specifically in terms of anti-liberal Catholicism. Laws against blasphemy and heresy are, of course, excellent and are well supported historically (after all, Justinian’s Codex begins with a condemnation of heresy). However, there are more political questions to be answered than free speech, blasphemy, and heresy, and it will be necessary to approach at least some of these questions.

It is necessary to emphasize that these questions are separate from the scholarly, technical questions addressed at The Josias. This is not to say that the work done at The Josias is not necessary. However, the philosophical, theological, and historical questions answered there are altogether different than, say, questions of concrete public policy. And it is precisely those questions that anti-liberal Catholics need to start addressing if they are going to continue to stake out a clear position in 2019.

One important contribution in this vein was Mehrsa Baradaran’s piece in support of postal banking at American Affairs. Baradaran, a law professor at the University of Georgia, makes the case that America’s banks prefer to serve the middle class and the wealthy, leaving America’s working poor in the hands of usurers. The response Baradaran offers is postal banking; that is, having the United States Postal Service make available retail financial services like savings accounts and small loans. Baradaran argues that, while America’s retail banks have deserted many communities, the Post Office has not. Additionally, as a public enterprise, the Postal Service could offer these services at a discount compared to the big banks and the usurers. Postal banking is widely used in western countries, and there is a history of it in the United States—that is to say: it is not a reckless, extreme idea.

The argument in support of postal banking can be made without reference to the Church; however, it is not hard to imagine a Catholic twist on this proposal. To be sure, the usurious interest charged by payday lenders is bad for the economy. However, the Church condemns usury. One could argue—we would say that one must argue—that an integralist regime would not tolerate usury. Postal banking, therefore, could represent one important step toward the sorts of institutions one could find in an integralist regime. One could also turn to the arguments about work advanced by the popes, notably John Paul II in Laborem exercens, when he sketches a connection between work, wages, and the universal destination of goods. It is trivial—though it does need to be said—that you cannot share in the universal destination of goods as fully as you ought to if a significant portion of your wages are eaten up by usurious interest payments or excessive fees.One can imagine similar, similarly detailed arguments on any of a whole host of issues.

One can also engage in detailed strategic arguments like Adrian Vermeule’s “Integration from Within,” also published by American Affairs. Maybe you agree with Vermeule—maybe you don’t. However, it seems to us that strategic arguments like Vermeule’s are implicitly at least as strong an answer to the charge of irrelevance as policy proposals like Baradaran. If one disagrees with Vermeule, setting forth in detail the bases of the disagreement and an alternate strategy would be an excellent contribution to the discussion.

Perhaps another way of putting all of this is to say that Catholic anti-liberalism has made its doctrinal case. It is now time to start making a practical case. After all, politics is eminently the exercise of practical reason.
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:55 PM   #1369
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Old 01-05-2019, 08:20 PM   #1370
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Old 01-07-2019, 03:06 PM   #1371
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Andrew Willard Jones--Director of the St. Paul Center, Steubenville prof, and author of Before Church and State--just created a new integralist blog titled "The Postliberal Moment". Here's the first post:

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Something has changed. As the flurry of recent articles and books on liberalism and its discontents attests, the stability of the intellectual framework through which American Catholics have made sense of our place in modern society seems to have been lost. We find ourselves disoriented and looking for stable ground but discover on all sides simply more shifting sand. The tone and content of political discourse is no longer compatible with a Christian sensibility, our social doctrine is increasingly irreconcilable with the interpretations of economic reality on offer, and what is far worse, our ecclesiology of love and communion bears little resemblance to our widespread experiences of corruption, fragmentation, and loneliness. Little by little, the hoops that we’re asked to jump through in order to remain in the mainstream have been moved higher and farther away until we’re not so sure the leaps are worth the effort, or, in honesty, the humiliation. It is not an exaggeration, I think, to describe the situation as a crisis, and as is appropriate to such a moment, we are again asking fundamental questions surrounding the proper relationship between Church and State, between religious and secular pursuits, between morality and politics, and it seems that as far as potential answers go, just about everything is back on the table.

Nevertheless, the categories of liberal discourse have largely remained intact. We argue about the boundaries between Church and State, but rarely consider the possibility that these categories themselves are our problem. We talk a great deal about protecting religious liberty, but very little about the possibility that the modern concept of religion itself (not to mention that of liberty) is integral to Christianity’s diminution. We ask whether capitalism is the best economic system, but we don’t consider that perhaps the very idea of “economic systems” presupposes a liberal understanding of the social order. We are talking a great deal about liberalism, but very little about the possibility that by remaining within liberal discourse, we are unwittingly reinforcing our own marginalization. Can we offer a critique of liberalism that remains bound by liberal concepts? I think not. To remain within the liberal discourse of rights, laws, states, economics, freedom, private and public is not merely to render ourselves unable to articulate a coherent opposition to liberal modernity, it is far worse. We are in fact engaged in a massive, yet obscured, project of begging the question. Our criticism buttresses its object.

Within the meta-narrative of emancipation that underwrites liberalism, Christians are cast as the losing side. No amount of maneuvering can change that. Indeed, such maneuvering is precisely our role in the drama. We are cast to fight a rear-guard action: we steadily lose ground, but nonetheless put up a stubborn resistance. In the liberal march to freedom, we are the ever-retreating but necessary tyrants; the enemies of human rights against whom the freedom fighters heroically contend; the defenders of dogma against whom the courageous scientists struggle; the stuffy prudes against whom the free-spirited youth must battle. We have all seen multiple versions of this movie – in fact, this is the plot of nearly all our cultural productions.

If this is indeed our role, new tactics won’t save us. By devising new ways to “turn back the clock” or putting forth new arguments about freedom and rights or religion and the state, we are just learning the new lines we need to continue to play the losing side in a liberal script, acted out on a set constructed of modern concepts. To view ourselves as the retreating good guys is simply our character.

Even when Catholics are at their most anti-liberal, even when we dare to venture arguments in favor of Confessional States, we stay in character. Indeed, the allure of the Confessional State is a part of the pathos of that character and we are never more recognizable within the storyline than when we find ourselves defending the alliance of crown and altar against individual liberty and freedom of conscience. As a part of the twisting plot of the drama, the liberals have, of course, suspected us of being secretly integralists all along. The script is written, the parts are cast, the set is built, the play is being performed. We’re trapped.

I think there is a way out. But it requires that we both deconstruct the modern drama and propose an alternative. We must rewrite history and so develop a new narrative that supports an alternate set of categories which do not cast Christianity as merely a religious actor, but rather positions Christianity as the stage on which history itself is performed. We must come to understand our world through a larger narrative within which the liberal epoch is a diverting sub-plot. If we do so, Christians can come to view ourselves not as an embattled minority on the losing side of history, but as protagonists in a missionary insurgency.

The time is ripe for the launching of such a postliberal insurgency because liberalism is failing. America’s language and categories, our habits of thought and action, our narratives and myths, our positive social structures have all been built by liberal modernity in order to live in liberal modernity; and they don’t work anymore. Everyone knows this. Even as we remain trapped in liberal language games, our discourse feels wrong, mistaken, inadequate, if not downright deceptive.

A true Christian reform must offer a meta-critique of liberalism. Most critiques of liberalism cede too much ground. They argue things like: a society built on atomized individuals cannot adequately pursue common goods. And in so doing, they concede that liberal society is in fact made up of self-sufficient individuals. This won’t work. If liberals are wrong, it is not because of their bad policy positions; our critique can’t be that a society of self-sufficient individuals is unhealthy. Instead, we should maintain that a society built on atomized individuals is a fantasy. It is impossible. The liberal language of autonomous individuals independently pursuing their rational interests is a rhetorical strategy masking an ugly reality; a deformed and self-destructive community. But a community nonetheless. Instead of talking about moral relativism, Christians ought to insist that every human interaction is governed by morality: not that every interaction ought to be so governed, but that every interaction is so governed, concretely, in society, now, always. We ought to show how liberalism constructs and enforces its own invasive code of conduct and that its selective pretenses toward relativism are integral to this disciplinary regime. Rather than arguing for a Confessional State, we ought to argue that liberalism is the Confessional State par excellence. We ought to argue that both the notion of religion as made up of distinct confessions and of politics as monopolized into States are products of liberalism’s self-construction. Confessional States are a liberal concept: they are liberalism’s evil twin, the dark side. We ought to want neither confessions nor States, and what is more we ought to deny that a discourse that relies upon such categories is capable of really understanding the social landscape. They may help us understand liberalism, indeed, but not reality.

In this way, a real critique of liberalism must be a deconstruction of its lexicon and the simultaneous construction of a new lexicon which is capable of getting the upper hand on liberal concepts. Because the meaning of language is always emerging from narratives, the construction of a postliberal lexicon and the telling of a postliberal story are intimately connected.

Such a story can be told. Modernity was something that the Church did. It was the work of the baptized. Europe was not invaded by outsiders. It was not colonized by a foreign power that imported an alien world-view or strange social structures. Christendom built modernity. Christianity, therefore, has the resources to situate liberal modernity within a bigger story that eliminates its claims to be a definitive discourse. Such a re-articulation of modernity in terms of Christianity is indispensable if Christendom’s (mostly heretical) modern age is to be reformed into Christendom’s next, (mostly orthodox) postliberal age -- an age of reform and a new Christian civilization.

This re-articulation is imperative because, though the baptized may have built modernity, it is not clear that they will be the builders of what is constructed on its rubble.

Modernity is caught between a perversion of Christian rationality that manifests itself in “unaided reason”, and a revived paganism—a heroic and romantic valorization of power and glory. The first tendency was parasitic on Christian orthodoxy, and while it undermined the foundations of faith, it has itself weakened along with its host: without the faith that maintains its orientation and objects, reason, as we have seen in postmodernism, turns on itself. The second tendency toward paganism has gained ground. It is the more dangerous of the two because paganism is capable of independence, of a coherent (though horrible) civilization. It absorbs what’s left of reason, transforming it into mere technology, mere instrumental power. What comes next, if it is not Christian, will not be some sort of enlightened, secular, post-historical, technological utopia. It will likely be paganism without the trappings of Christian morality and without the pretenses of enlightened rationality.

Such a paganism finally broken free from the modern project would be no simple post-modern, rational appropriation of Nietzsche but something new. Modernity is now being “re-formed” as such a pagan regime, complete with a narrative that includes Christianity as a relative historical phenomenon: the postmodern can be connected to the ancient in a single plotline. This is happening. The components are being formed. The world-view is being developed. Right and left are racing toward this conclusion, feeding their constituents ever less Christian problems and ever less Christian solutions. If Christianity doesn’t act, the lexicon of liberalism is likely to be replaced with one of pagan power. A language and so a world of violence is being built, one greedy person at a time, one pornographic film at a time, one racist at a time, one abortion at a time, one intolerant partisan at a time. If it comes to fruition, this civilization will be powerful and it will have no place for Christianity.

This is what Christian postliberalism is up against: will human liberty be reconnected to the indwelling rationality of creation itself, or will it finally become eclipsed in the pure power of the will? One thing it will not be is the liberty of the French Revolution or of John Stuart Mill. That age is over. Nobody cares about that notion of freedom anymore. Most people, I think, don’t even know what it is.

Christianity must emerge out of the ruins of modernity with a new vision; a new proposal for a new civilization, rooted in and consistent with its deepest traditions. What such a vision might be is hard to say, but it cannot be a shoring up of modernity. Conventional conservative attempts to defend disinterested rationality, to buttress the integrity of private realms of conscience and religion, to preserve contemporary structures of property and power will fail.

Christianity has deep resources from which to draw. Christianity has the depths from which to offer a meta-critique and the solutions that can save all that was good and right in modernity. If modernity is indeed a Christian heresy, then orthodoxy contains its strengths and even its pathos, but without its exaggerated errors. Within a recasting of the liberal lexicon in terms of a Christian lexicon, liberalism itself, like the Christian heresies that have come before it, is capable of some measure of redemption.

We are launching Postliberal Thought in order to provide a place for this work. We understand the project to be the work of generations and we are fully aware that by breaking free from the dominant paradigm, we thrust ourselves into areas of intellectual instability and obscurity. Much of what we propose will often no doubt turn out to be mistaken; many of the roads we go down will no doubt turn out to be dead-ends. Postliberal Thought is therefore a place for open-minds and forgiving spirits. We hope to forge a community of Christian thinkers who are animated not by certainty concerning what to do or what to think, but by the hope that we, humbled in prayer before God, will find a way forward.
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:41 PM   #1372
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Fire. Very nice.
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