Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Repurposing the Church in Two Easy Steps

The Problem with "Submit, and Resist Only Sin"

There is a thought-provoking post at St. Louis Catholic. Perhaps it is inevitable that two lawyers should disagree. (The Bear and his own second chair seldom agreed.) As the Bear understands the argument, it is submit to the Pope, and resist only actual sin. Now, this is probably a sound principle for good Catholics in normal times. But Bears don't do submission very well. In that respect, they without doubt make bad Catholics.

In fact, stop reading now, unless you want a very bad Catholic's point of view.

That's better. Now the Bear for once can say what he really thinks without being overheard.

You can destroy the institutional Catholic Church without committing even one, tiny, sin. At least not one involving provable formal heresy.

You can always maintain plausible deniability. Operate by a wink and a nod. Catholics who are coiled tightly, ready to spring at the first real, provable sin, will grow old and die before getting their big chance. They will grit their teeth and support every new initiative, every change in beliefs, because they would never quite have evidence the Pope was sacrificing babies to Satan in the catacombs, or whatever.

New Symbol for the Green Catholic Church
And while they were gritting their teeth and submitting, waiting for the Big Sin that will allow them to finally speak out in defense of the Church, the Church will be cheerfully dismantled in plain sight until there is nothing left of it in Rome. Then, immediately, new structures would be erected on the bare Vatican hill that will reflect the very latest trends in green architecture.

If the Bear were Satan, and wanted to destroy the Church, he would not topple St. Peters with an earthquake. He would not cause a new round of homosexual abuse of adolescent boys. (That served its purpose: get the Church focused on PR.) He would not cause a doctrinal rift and a new schism. He would not have a Turkish fleet sail for Rome. (So 16th century.)

He would simply repurpose it from a supernatural institution to a worldly one. Indeed, Satan did not need the Bear's advice for this. He's already nearly done with the job. It is not really that hard to change the institutional mission of any organization. Get some small men in big committees; a photo-op here, a hint there, and before you know it, some Catholic university is offering a Queer Studies degree. (See O'Sullivan's Law: "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.")

How to Destroy the Church in Two Simple Steps

Phase One: He would strip the Church of its supernatural character. Liturgy would have to be flipped from vertical to horizontal. (That was easy enough.) He would make the  Church non-essential by getting rid of Hell, and by emphasizing the truth to be found in every belief system. The Bear - if he were Satan - would be careful what he actually said; but, as we say in Hell, a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth a million.

In short, he would make the Church irrelevant to the question of salvation. Indeed, "salvation" itself would no longer even be part of the Church's vocabulary. Everybody worships the same God. Everybody goes to Heaven. And this sort of egalitarian vapor would be inhaled by a West that is already drunk on the very same fumes.

Of course, he would make sure there were plenty of mentions of "Jesus" and "the Devil" and the like to gull the masses. Bear chuckles evilly. This is so easy. (Whoa, what just happened? Was that creepy?)

Phase Two: He would repurpose the Church. After all, the Church has to have some reason to exist right? The leaders must have some prestige, correct? It's not as if you can just hang up a big "Out of Business" sign on St. Peters.

Once it was stripped of its supernatural mission, the Bear (if he were Satan) would lay out a rich buffet of worldly issues. It doesn't really matter what, as long as they resonate with the right crowd (meaning the left crowd), and have absolutely nothing to do with salvation. The Bear would keep everyone's eyes on the world, and laugh when they thought a Big Important Issue in a lightning flash universe (i.e. Global Warming) was the real story.

Seriously? Last the Bear heard a human soul was immortal, and dear old Mother Earth was due for a serious remodeling one day. So, why do we waste time blathering about some dubious "global warming" instead of salvation? Pope Francis knows that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has remained relevant, even surrounded by Turks, by preaching the Green Gospel. Green ticks all the right PR boxes today. Last Things? Nobody cares. It just blows your credibility to talk about such things. Keep it current. Keep it secular. Sing only hymns found in The Little Red Songbook.

Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Make it all about the PR. This is important. Fortunately, humans like to be seen as important and compassionate about all the right issues - especially the humble ones. Make it all about the informal presser; the photo-op; the 50th Anniversary of Whatever news release.

Repurposing the Church from a supernatural institution to a worldly one is essential. The world is hostile to Christianity. The leaders don't believe in the supernatural anymore, not really, at least as far as the Bear can tell. In order to remain relevant, the Church cannot preach pie in the sky when you die, It must preach Global Warming. Eliminating Private Ownership of Firearms. Eliminating Capital Punishment. Immigration. Etc., etc., etc.

And he would accomplish all of this without one, single, solitary sin or heresy that was certainly identifiable. It is all about what you talk about and what you don't.

And that is why the Bear does not limit himself to Amorous Laetitiae and communion. Oh, no. The Bear sees exactly what Satan is doing. AL might as well be a feint. Get everybody worrying about some long, unreadable text full of ambiguities, and they don't notice that the dome suddenly seems to be missing from St. Peters.

Like all the best plans it is simple. And it plays on the best qualities of humans: following the rules, loyalty and such. So, that single, solitary roar of defiance in the distance is the Bear. The Bear complains about everything, because it is all completing the puzzle of a repurposed Church.

He sometimes wonders if humans are blind, because the puzzle is 80% complete and they still can't tell what it's suppose to be. Which is:

The Church of the Prince of the World. You can't say your old pal the Bear didn't warn you.

An old analogy the Bear sometimes used in opening argument (yes, the Bear's openings were always arguments because he knew the Four Magic Words) is the Lid of the Puzzle Box Analogy. He would compare his optimistic recitation of the facts (he was on the defense, remember) to "the picture on the box of a jigsaw puzzle." The Bear would show the jurors the picture of what the evidence would have revealed by the end of the trial. (Assuming the Bear could eat a few pieces along the way without getting caught.)

Look. Can you really not see it? What has to happen before you do?


  1. Arguing at the ct of appeals today. Will try to comment tomorrow. Thanks.

    Short answer. Same side on this. I'm still working out details.

  2. Subsidiarity.

    I would suggest that subsidiarity, the bane of Social Justice Warriors, is part of the solution to this mess. The Church is a heretical institution and the Pope is not the direct "boss" of your average layman or clergy. Fallen humans really want a "boss" and some fallen humans really want to be "boss", but the Pope isn't "boss". Christ is the "boss" and the Pope is His vicar. But a lot of people want the Pope to be "boss" and that is part of the problem with Pope Francis because Pope Francis really wants to be "boss".

    Pope Benedict XVI once spoke of how the Church was going to become smaller (which I thought was odd because this was at the time of the talk of there being a "new springtime" of the Church). Perhaps the point is that we must become smaller in our understanding and experience of what the Church is. Are we so often looking to Rome and concentrating so much there that we forget our little own corner of the Woodlands and forget that here is Church, just as we forget that here is our neighbor -- not somewhere over there in some 3rd world country.

    Wherever we are, there is Church. The smallness of the local parish, which is more than just gathered around the Altar, is where we should focus. We cannot fix Rome and it is not even part of our salvation to fix that.

    But we can fix our families and we can fix our local parishes and the local parishes will fix the dioceses, and so on.

    Popes come and go, but we always have our local parish.

    1. I don't think anyone reads this ephemeris and doesn't know what to believe. I think they are pretty sure what to believe, and they're right. I think they are right themselves, and, to the extent they have authority or influence over their family, they keep their families right, too, Beyond that, our influence wanes, because we have no authority and very little influence on our parishes. Some of us blog, which mostly keeps people who are already right supported and in good morale. Realistically, probably few read what the Bear writes beyond those who already agree with him. But it is important to provide that background noise. We know that the high and the mighty are aware of it. The Bear does not like to ponder too much what he is actually accomplishing here. He does know, from comments and emails, that sometimes what he writes means something to people. Mainly, though, he sees what's going on and can't help but point it out. That's the way Bears are.

    2. which I thought was odd because this was at the time of the talk of there being a "new springtime" of the Church

      I've always considered JPII's statement prophetic, but misunderstood perhaps even by him (cf Caiaphas). The youth especially started thinking about a blooming and flowering of the Church.

      I've taken a different interpretation more compatible with Benedict. Spring is for planting, and the seeds of the Church are the martyrs. The harvest comes later.

    3. And we are thankful for Bears.

      Every word helps, for words get stuck in heads and come out of mouths or in actions later. Then those words and actions get stuck in another's head. As for myself, sometimes I don't know what to believe, and sometimes I get things wrong. Luckily, Owls can turn their heads 180 degrees pretty quickly.

      utubeo~ That is a good interpretation, but I have always seen JPII's statements in the context of growth, expansion, evangelization "casting out into the deep".

      In a sense, it is like the dream of Israel at the time of King Solomon, but the reality was decline, decay, fragmentation, schism, and apostasy.

    4. Solomon is a curious figure.

      God tests Moses in Exodus 32 when the people are sinning, offering to start over with Moses. There's a back and forth over whose people Israel are.

      When Solomon asks for wisdom and is granted it, God offers to give him also riches and honor above any other king. My speculation (and I'd be interested in finding out commentary from the Fathers) is that Solomon fails that test and reveals his heart in not refusing riches and honor.

      After Solomon sins by worshiping the gods of his foreign wives, God chose Jeroboam to be king of Israel when the kingdom was to be split. [one of the few times God authorizes a political rebellion]. Jeroboam proceeds to set up two golden calves to lead the people away from Jerusalem. The people did not have to worship them, but they did.

      There is a lesson there that even God's hand-picked men can go astray. God does not desire the false worship, but He permits it.

    5. There's an old expression I am sure you are familiar with. An argument sometimes "smells of the lamp." I have the utmost respect for you and your commentary.

      However, I think your efforts to try to use the OT to explain current events are misplaced. And unnecessary. In Isaiah, God says he creates light and darkness, good and evil. I don't think anyone is disputing that God is allowing, well, everything. Ultimately, God permits everything. Or not.

      However, just because God permits an evil does not mean we must remain silent before it. We do not do this in any secular area. We have an impulse to (a) expose, and (b) fight evil.

      I am willing to stipulate that God is permitting Francis to do everything he is doing. But that does not take one iota from what I also believe: that Francis is a left-wing humanitarian who is acting wrongly in the very same way I see every other left-wing humanitarian acting wrongly. Francis is not uncommon, at all. He is a garden variety left-wing humanitarian who, having become Pope, is apparently more interested in pushing his eccentric views rather than faithfully passing along the treasure of the Faith. Personally, I have zero doubt about this. When people are wrong in the same way, it is fair to group them together.

      Now, we can disagree on whether my assessment of Francis is correct. Perhaps you believe he is true to the Faith. (I don't think you do.)

      We can disagree on whether we should comment or not, for a number of reasons (it's not healthy for us; you can't criticize the Pope or you'll go to Hell; it is wrong to threaten the unity of the Church, etc.

      I guess I'm just not seeing the OT connection. Why should we see Francis in Solomon? Is the Church going to split in two, like Solomon's kingdom did? Francis himself is exhibit A. I get if someone does not want to play the tar baby game and get stuck obsessing on Francis. Or has too much respect for the Papacy. But I'm spinning the loops and still not triangulating your point. Please take this as an invitation to clarify, not a criticism.

    6. Our discussion is getting spread across different comment threads which is making it hard to stay coherent.

      The Solomon comment was more tangential and in response to Lurker's mention than our discussion. If I were to tie in Solomon and Jeroboam to Francis, it's more on the principle with how God respects authority (which ultimately comes from Him) even when it is detrimental to the subjects. I'll address that in a comment I was writing up last night before I had to go to bed, and now I really need to get some work done.

  3. Good luck. Didn't do much appellate work - had the Appellate Defender to accuse me of ineffective assistance of counsel. Didn't like it. It made me nervous.

  4. You forgot Phase Three and Phase Four.

    Phase Three:
    Discourage the faithful by encouraging endless speculation among the faithful about the status and validity of the pope. Encourage every layman to offer their definitive explanation and then disagreement, division and infighting over what it all means. Encourage bitterness, derision, and fragmentation. No effort by any priest, bishop, or cardinal is considered good enough. Distract the faithful from growth in virtue and elimination of vice by worrying about things beyond their control.

    Phase Four:
    Encourage loss of communion with the Church by theories of anti-popes leading ultimately to sede vacantism. Each man and woman a Church to themselves.
    For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders [and blog posts], insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.

    1. So.. you read this ephemeris... why?

    2. For starters, the comment was not aimed directly at the Bear, although certainly some posts would take a little shrapnel. Considering the source posts of this one, Hilary White is more of a target. It’s ironic that on the one hand she doesn’t have time for sedes, but writes posts that lead the doubtful right in that direction. She’s just one example.

      I’ve said before this is the last ephemeris before I head to the desert. The Bear, at least, tolerates dissent. (I’ve been banned by all the fashionable sites across the spectrum). I occasionally pop in to read other sites, but just out of morbid curiosity over the latest train wreck. The Bear is better read, more thoughtful, and professionally trained to handle wrangling over evidence.

      Across the board, the Bear and I agree in substance but disagree in accidents. It would take quite some time to lay out where those are (I probably have nearly two dozen half-finished comments on various posts of yours that maybe some day you’ll get emailed). If I had to boil it down to a common denominator, it would be your resistance to accepting that God is permitting the state of affairs via His passive will as a form of punishment on a wayward people. Your theory of a cabal of cardinals fits within that, but doesn’t stand on its own.

      While you do have a point that that can be over-used as a crutch, the current situation fits the historical pattern. There’s a real personal cost to accepting that, because the historical pattern shows a pretty devastating process. As a result, you’re resisting submission to the will of God and the cost we will likely have to pay. Thus you’re still mired in anger instead of developing Ignatian indifference. As an example, you are attached to your parish. But it’s not your parish, it’s God’s parish and as a result God can take it away.

      My suggestion is re-reading the book of Job and asking yourself what Job did to deserve to lose everything. God doesn’t even give a real answer, either. It boils down to: who are you to question Me?

      I am to going to add something truly challenging though. In posts about death penalty cases, two positions frequently come out. A) Seeing the face of Jesus in the defendant (e.g. Chris Coleman). B) Believing that no one should be defined by the worst thing that they do.

      If you can see the face of Jesus in a murderer, why don’t I ever see you write about seeing the face of Jesus in Francis or Cupich?

      Your loyal Fool.

    3. Just as seeing the face of Jesus occurs only when you truly know someone, I cannot discern it long-distance with Archbishop Cupich. And I very much doubt I am judging Cupich by the worst thing he has done. Merely irresponsible public statements that do harm. I don't really know the man well enough to judge by his real worst thing he has done.

    4. The cure to "phase three and four" to be recognizing that Pope Francis is just a pope and that is it. A pope isn't a superhero or a supervillian, just a pope. It takes the pressure off of the "what to do?" questions.

    5. Utubeo,

      Aren't you tired with the distractions? In the end what truly matters? Reality is what the Catholic Church teaches us to accept. The Catholic Church has the Truth, and the Truth doesn't change. We know this on our hearts, and it is frightening. We are bombarded with things that will not lead us to Heaven. We are bombarded with distractions and lies. We live as if we will live forever in this life. We are all going to die, and if we don't die to the things of this world, including are worldly selves, we are doomed. People are being led astray. We are called to be made perfect, through embracing with childlike faith the Life, Truth, and Light of Christ our Lord. He has taught His Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing else matters. No worldly fidelity matters.....sorry for the rant, but not really.

    6. Keith,

      I can't tell if you're trying to dispute me, or if you agree with me.

      The truth is that the majority of the "distractions" are self-inflicted by the people. We don't have to check the internet every day to see what the latest emission from Francis is, nor any other prelate. Granted we are somewhat captive to what comes from the pulpit on Sunday, but even then most of us have some degree of choice about what pulpit depending on how inconvenienced we're willing to be.

    7. Get real, the most important man on earth is a heretic and we're supposed to just ignore it? Go smoke your pipe.

    8. pjm please help keep our discourse polite. I know these are subjects we all feel, well, Bearish about, but we're all fellow woodland creatures here, under the benevolent dictatorship of the Bear. The Flea is sometimes annoying, but is also pretty sharp (and not just his bite!)

    9. PJM,

      Everyone has an obligation to make an honest appraisal of one's own strength of faith and near occasions of sin. We have a duty to protect our gift of faith.

      If reading about the latest from Francis causes an individual to become doubtful on the level of faith, or it is a near occasion of sin to disordered anger, then that individual should be avoiding unnecessary exposure.

      Those that can endure it and maintain their faith and deal rationally on the subject without disordered anger or feeding the doubts of others are freer to engage the problems.

      Individuals also have different states in life with differing duties. We therefore have to avoid spending such an excess of time on hierarchical issues beyond our control that we neglect our daily duties in life according to our state in life.

      The Bear is retired and therefore at greater liberty to engage without neglecting daily duties. He is also adamant about remaining in the Church despite its many grave problems.

  5. I see the rotten trees, but still have trouble seeing the woodland.

  6. We're angry because we see what's going on around us, and it hurts. It hurts bad, but Christ hurts with us, and that is our cause for hope. God is Good, we aren't.

  7. You're right. Divine punishment smacks of a deus ex machina. It has too much explatory power, and, frankly, relies on private interpretations of private revelations. We have had on Jeremiah actually prediccting details and specifics.

    Job is about the Bear's favorite. But is personal. If you mean God could punish the Church for no reason that we know, sure. But mere evildoing suffices gere. Occam's razor.

    Cupich is a public figure in authority speaking as a prelate. That is different from some guy committing a murder. So, I am really criticizing what he says, not him, although ir may seem personal. I did not say "I don't like the way that guy looks" and just go off on him. Think and you will see thus, I'm sure.

    When I am convinced a a specific prophecy, and see things beyond the machinations of garden variety leftists and apparent infidels, I will I reconsider. Until then it looks like bad guys to me and I'll keep on pointing it out.

  8. You know these things that the church is going through, our Pope being very unclear, and clergy that seems to light the dangerous path sometimes frightens us.
    Our local Deacon reassured my concerns with the comment of the possibility of the true catholic church becoming very small and more communal.
    To which I had thought this may come to happen sooner than expected.
    He only replied confidentiality "we started out small that way"

    The Holy Spirit still is in control.
    More trust in the Holy Spirit, less trust in men.

  9. Really, what I can say is that I get email from people telling me that what I write helps them. Few people actually comment, but others will still reach out, even if it is through a donation. I think I am really saying that we have real problems that are caused by people. Here are the problems. Here are what the people are saying and doing that cause those problems. I try to provide perspective. I hope people read this ephemeris and say, "Yes, I get that. It looks pretty bad, but I understand things a little better now."

    I agree that the counsel of perfection would be to ignore the Pope and prelates, bury your nose in your parish (and not all of us have realistic choices - and, also, I think when I talk about "my parish," people understand I am not claiming ownership of it).

    I feel that if I watched, and understood, and kept silent, I would not be doing the right thing. Maybe I'm wrong. There are many blogs out there to provide a different perspective. Honestly, that's how I feel about the blog. As long as it seems to be helping people, I'll keep churning out more words per week than any other one-Bear blog ;-)

    And finishing Judging Angels, The Bear's Lent, and my new project: Adapt: "Adapt: the only drug you need when there's absolutely nothing wrong with you." A thriller on a molecular level.

  10. Bear you have again outdone yourself, if that were possible. You describe the game plan of Vatican II and now we have it's Superstar, Pope Francis I. The devils are dancing Bear but one of these days the music will stop they will have go back to where they came from and take Pope Francis with them.

  11. When thinking about Pope's JPII's 1981 Synod on the Family, I am reminded of the bishop's call to allow married couples who use artificial birth control to receive Holy Communion. Come to think of it their language and Pope Francis' language concerning Mercy, and Accompaniment were almost identical. Pope JP II intervened and put a quash on it before the Synod did real damage.

    It was interesting that except for Pope JPII, the entire Catholic episcopate decided to "move on". After 1981, collectively, the Church stopped teaching and preaching Humanae Vitaw. The Church's teaching (Doctrine and Dogma) concerning birth control didn't change. It was just made a dead letter.

    And so will its teaching on marriage and divorce. Yes, our parish's are being repurposed. And so are we.

  12. The Church of the Prince of the World.

    If the Bear believes that, the Bear must confess that Jesus is the greatest Liar living, worse than the devil ,for we know the devil seeks our destruction whereas Jesus is our Salvation and it is via His sacraments that we attain unto Sanctification and Jesus is the ahead of His Church and He has promised it will not fail but you, starkly, have judged that Jeus has turned it over to Satan.

    You are much smarter than the average Bear and the average So, Baptist but you are objectively on the side of the So. Baptist who thinks the Pope is Satan.

    1. so... Jesus telling you Pope Francis doing good then? I don't know what else to call a Church whose opinion on divorce and remarriage is muzzy, but crystal clear on global warming, a hoax invented by polar Bears.

    2. I have never, ever said the sacraments are invalid btw. The great adventure of our age is squaring the the official story with what we see right in front of us. Bear is addicted to evidence. There has to be an answer that respects both reality and piety. That is what the Bear is struggling with. Your argument is not very well cobstructed, but Bear figures you're doing your best.

  13. Late to the game, and sorry for that. But as I am finally able to comment, I would say you and I have no disagreement, but rather are addressing two different issues and/or audiences.

    When I say "it doesn't matter who the Pope is" of course this is in objective sense ludicrous. It matters a very, very great deal. I state that phrase in the context of "what am I to do, day in, day out, as a Catholic trying to get to heaven?".

    That answer is timeless, and I love to express it in Salesian terms: live out the duties of one's state in life perfectly and with perfect charity. As a father, a husband, these duties face me everyday: go to work, do well there, support my family, lead them by example, govern the home, love my wife and children, stand fast in the faith on all fronts.

    Note I didn't say "blog".

    Which is another way of saying that as a blogger, this fulfills the role of a type of apostolate, or (I hate the modern connotations that come with this word) ministry. Here is where the Bear and I are of like mind-- if we have any reach (maybe yes, maybe no) we must be the watchman. It is a duty to sound the alarm at first sighting of the enemy. It is a failure for a watchman to sound the alarm only after seeing the whites of his eyes. This I have tried to do, and will continue to do as long as I have my seven readers left with me.

    All the while sounding the alarm, God still wants me to live out the duties of my state of life. This I must do whether Benedict, Franicis, or no one is the pope. That is the context of my pope.

    That being said, yes, the Church is being ravaged and I will speak out. I desperately wish to know who the pope is-- with certainty-- and suffer an incredible tension until that mess is sorted out. And all the while the Church is bled out. You mentioned liturgy-- liturgy is the Whole Thing. I really mean it. You take back the liturgy and all else follows.

    Finally, I think, personally, that before Our Lord returns the TLM will be the only Mass for the Roman Rite. Because either it is allowed to flourish and dominate as it will inevitably do, or else the persecution of the Church will be so great that the few Catholics left will only have access to it. Rusty nail or no. It is the guarantor of the faith and its most perfect expression.

    Fight on. As Bob Dylan (the Bear's favorite poet) would say, "I'm glad I fought, I only wish we'd won."


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