Saturday, November 12, 2011

Taxonomy III

Part III

Alright let me get the category thing correct.

From your emails, I see five - is that correct? In descending order:

neo-conservatives (neo-Catholics)

And what of the term Rad-Trad (I know what it means) - who is defined by it? - SSPX and further along the scale, the Sede crowd?

The problem you are having is not that there are not enough subdivisions of "liberal" on your scale. Your problem is the scale itself. These terms are already defined and there IS NO SCALE.

We are not identifying a scale with extremely conservative Trads at one end and crazy "modernists" at the other. Forget about the scale. There is no scale. There is no "descending order" from Trad to Modernist. Trads are a distinctive group who are what we are according to a clear definition. Modernists are what they are because they adhere to one degree or another to a particular heresy (described by the popes are the "synthesis of all heresies") You are creating confusion for yourself with this scale business. Forget about the scale.

Modernism is a formally defined heresy that has created in the post-Conciliar Church what we now call "liberalism" because we have lacked a better, less politically derived term. Within the limitations of the extremely vague and slithery concept of "liberalism" (that is mostly undefined and undefinable) it could be said that there is a sort of a scale, from a certain point of view, and that in some respects, people who are usually regarded as "conservatives" are on it.

But please leave it there; the concept of a scale is no more use than that. If we are to use the scale idea, we might label the whole thing "Modernism", and on the "Modernism Scale" there is a gradation from people who consciously and willingly adhere to the heresy (whether they deny that Modernism is their source or not) and those who unknowingly and unwittingly have absorbed its tenets because they know no better. The former are generally referred to as "liberals" and the latter, as "conservatives".

(It is interesting to note that a few years ago, these "liberals" in the Church were more or less oblivious to the existence of Trads, while the "conservatives" hated us and in some cases did their best to eliminate and "absorb" us. Since then, the general knowledge of Trads has increased. Liberals still do not usually see us as any kind of threat and treat us with fascination as a sort of re-discovered long lost tribe, or like something legendary that they thought was long extinct. Conservatives for the most part continue to hate our collective guts, but have learned to be more polite about it, often attending the Old Mass out of attraction to its beauties and to demonstrate that they are not bigots. This is what we like to call the Ratzinger Effect.)

But from the point of view of the people on the scale, they are not on a scale at all. To them, there is no scale, but rather two camps implacably opposed to each other and locked in mortal combat. This is the point at which the scale analogy becomes useless. Conservatives do not understand that they are infected with this heresy; they do not consciously accept it.

There is no scale, there is just the heresy, Modernism, more or less consciously accepted. The scale thing is a total red herring. Because in reality, the model of two implacably opposed camps is much more realistic and useful. Though I can't stand S---, and he hates Traditionalists like me, we both know we are on the same side. I know that if S--- were ever to be presented with the fullness of the Faith, and there was some way to turn off his ego for five minutes, he would accept it. Subjectively, from his own point of view, he is not a liberal because he consciously rejects their heresy. He rejects Modernism.

That he has been unknowingly infected with it is something he cannot do anything about and isn't his fault. In this case, the subjective point of view is important. Objectively, S--- is a Modernist material heretic, but this is because the Church in the last 50 years has taught nothing but Modernist heresy and if you want to know the Faith, you first have to know you don't know it, and then go looking for it. But subjectively, S--- is a good Catholic who is striving to be as good a one as he can. His will and intentions are all correct.

The "liberals" of the Mahoney/Chittister/Gumbleton stripe would not accept the Faith if it were presented to them. They are modernist heretics, formally, and I believe that a formal declaration of this, and excommunication, is long past due. (I'm going out on a tiny, precarious limb here, because I am presuming to judge their souls, but I'm doing it for the sake of clarity in this discussion, not because I think I can see into their hearts. Who knows if Sr. Joan would convert if given the proper chance? Not me.)

The "conservatives" of the Shea/Akin/Scalia/Neuhaus stripe aren't Trads because they have never been adequately presented with the Faith in its fullness by the proper authorities. I like to think the best of them because I was a conservative myself once. I was a JPII-clapping neo-Catholic and I was angry at the liberals and wanted the Church to be restored. If you had told me at the time that I was a liberal, and a Modernist and a heretic, I would probably have punched you. My will and intention was to be a Catholic in the fullest sense. This made me a neo-Catholic conservative.

If these neo-Catholic conservatives were properly instructed by the correct authorities in the fullness of the Faith, I have great hope that they would accept it. But they won't be because of near-total acceptance of "soft" Modernism in the Church from top to bottom. In theology, we call this "material heresy" which means heresy accepted out of ignorance.

Traditionalism, therefore, is not "extremely conservative conservatism". "Traditionalist" is not a sliding term, it cannot be used as an adjective and it is certainly not part of a scale from Trad to Modernist. THERE IS NO SCALE.

Traditionalist can't be used as an adjective; it is only a noun. You can't be "more traditionalist" than someone else. You are, or you are not a Traditionalist. There could be such a thing as a conservative Traditionalist, I suppose, because "conservative" can be used as an adjective. And in theory there could be such a thing as a "liberal" Traditionalist, but the thing is what it is.

I am a Traditionalist. This totally precludes me from being "a conservative" (noun). I do indeed also happen to be quite a conservative Trad, but that is using the term "conservative" as an adjective to describe my personal style and attitudes. The issue here is the difference between substance and accident. I am not a conservative of any kind. I am a Traditionalist.

"Conservative" and "liberal" are malleable, slippery terms that can mean a great many things and are nearly entirely relativistic. You are a "conservative" or a "liberal" depending on who is standing next to you. Dolan is a conservative when he is standing next to Mahoney, but a liberal when he is standing next to, say, the late Cardinal O'Connor, who would be a screeching liberal if you could stand him next to Spellman.

(No one and nothing is "defined" by the term "Rad Trad". It's just an insult. It's an epithet thrown at anyone whom the thrower doesn't like. Normally, it's used by a neo-catholic or conservative to insult someone who he thinks is getting uppity over the Mass.)



Pastor Montanus said...

You're forgotten the term "neo-Trad," which refers to the insidious band of young traditionalists who knew nothing of the liturgical traditions of the Church prior to Summorum Pontificum, but came out in droves once it was "safe" to do so, and have been incessant since then in shoving the banality of the 1962 liturgical books down everyone's throats, even though only a very small margin of dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists use(d) them.

The neo-Trads, in an effort to show everyone that they're as trad as trad can be, have highjacked the entire movement, and as a result of their cavalier attitudes towards wearing cassocks with impunity and demanding the celebration of the older rites in a cavalier and brazen fashion, they have single-handedly done more to hurt the traditionalist cause than any liberal/progressive could ever hope to do.

Pastor Montanus said...

*You've, not "you're", obviously ;-)

BTW, you're in my prayers.

Tom Ryan said...

As in politics, the sliding scale is attractive to those who position themselves in the middle "between the extremes" of excess and defect but such a tactic is intellectually lazy and faulty because it is reductionistic. It recognizes only differences of degree and not kind. This is the ultimate inspiration for the dictator of relativism we are living in and neoCaths are the useful idiots in it. Don't let them define the terms.

Dr. Adam DeVille said...

For this to make any sense, we need a definition of Tradition. What is it? How, if at all, does it differ from Traditionalism?

Anonymous said...

I am truly wonder why the fuck I should care what kind of Catholic Miss Hilary White thinks I am.

The Holy Father doesn't seem to seek to separate me out from others. Can that not be good enough? Apparently not.

But wait...he must be a Neo Cath, too - from Hilary's standards. Ah - I see! And therefore, she is More Catholic than he is - by her own standards. She should just be open about it and say as much. The Holy Father is a NeoCath and not a True Catholic defined by Tradition!

Good Lord, what a waste of time and energy and such a pronounced and parody-worthy sense of self-importance.

Anonymous said...

You completely miss the point. Ultimately it is about the destruction of the faith that has been occurring at the hands of Modernists (unwitting or not, the end outcome is the same). Open your eyes and see the carnage around you. Learning to recognize modernism in its various guises is of crucial importance.

HJW said...


I'm leaving your post up as an example of the kind of comment that ticks all the boxes for getting deleted:

No name
bad language
asty tone
deliberately evading the point
while at the same time making one of my points for me with perfect precision.
assuming the entire blogpost (and likely the universe) revolves around you

If you think that some of this description applies to you (and how would I personally be applying it to you, since you have not had the courage to leave your name and own manfully up to your comment) then I'm terribly sorry, but you fit into that category. I believe I mentioned above that people don't like it. But the terms are merely words used to describe something that exists, has recognisable characterisitcs. Real things have quantifiable characteristics.

For example, I have a category of commenter that I call "asshole" who comes into my commbox, irrationally assuming that the post was aimed at him, even though we have never in our lives met, uses bad language and an abusive/snarky/sarcastic tone slings insults and opprobrium, and then claims to be morally superior to the rest of us, even though he hasn't had the guts to leave a real name.

I have a name for those who fit these criteria: "banned".

Please do not look upon my decision not to delete you as any form of clemency.

You are more like a trophy skin hung on the door of my barn as a warning to others.

Tom Ryan said...

The post seems so much like a caricature of Mark Shea (or someone in his clique of mutually adoring professional neo-Caths) that I can't believe it is real. It's almost like someone was trying to taunt you.

Glad to see you didn't rise for the bait.

Han said...

What do you mean "bigot?" Some of my best friends are trads!


Anonymous said...

Looks like this kind of talk really causes some people a lot of consternation.

Dr. Adam DeVille said...

It is a very interesting exercise to line up this post about Catholic Traditionalists/Traditionalism alongside this post from an Orthodox Christian arguing the same thing about Orthodoxy:

Elisabeth said...

Scalia whenever he would visit the International Theological Institute in Austria would attend the Tridentine Mass.Just a curious tidbit.

Christine said...

Blessed Cardinal Newman said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." In a similar vein, to be deep in our Catholic patrimony is to cease to be "neoCatholic."

I freely admit I was a neoCath in the early days of my conversion; I didn't know any better. Now I'm a traditionalist. The labels, though, don't mean that much to me. The point of our lives is to grow in love for Our Lord and to save souls. What's the most effective way to do that? I suppose I could go around calling others neocaths, but the label doesn't do much to attract others to the fullness of their patrimony as Catholics; better for me to present Catholic tradition to those who are sincere, in the hopes of drawing them more deeply to love of the true faith. There are lots of well-intentioned neoCaths who are not hostile to tradition and truly desire to learn more. Too many traditionalists act as if we belong to some clique, smugly looking down our noses at others, instead of humbly (and joyfully, I might add) trying to draw them to the fullness of the faith.

Tom Ryan said...


Looks like Mr. Shea is deleting any comments that make sense and managing the debate to make all traddies look like convert haters.

Gary said...

Mark Shea seems to have a lot of time on his hands. "Prolific" is hardly adequate to describe the frequency of his blog postings.