Monday, March 21, 2005

"Nobody Here But Us Non Anti-Catholics!"

In the midst of this post complaining that the Vatican is crying wolf when it complains about anti-Catholic bigotry in The Da Vinci Code, the following is stated on the left-leaning People's Republic Of Seabrook:

To be honest, I don't think anti-Catholic prejudice truly has ANYTHING to do with this issue. I do think that it has EVERYTHING to do with the collective paranoia of Vatican leadership. Let's face it; what we have here is a collection of old, out-of-touch, celibate men who have no clue about the realities of day to day life that all of us face. They feel threatened by anything new and different that can be perceived, even tangentially, as threatening their control of and dominion over millions of Catholics worldwide. In the end, it's about power, it's about control, and ultimately- repeat after me, kids- IT'S ABOUT MONEY.

Oh, I see. Evidently, the problem with The Da Vinci Code was that it was not anti-Catholic enough. Thanks for clarifying.


Jack said...

Methinks you have misconstrued my words and my meaning just a wee bit....

I will admit that I am no fan of Catholicism, nor of the Vatican hierarchy. I have no problems with Catholics, however- they are, after all, free to believe as they see fit.

My primary concern is with the teachings of Christ as interpreted by a collection of old men completely oblivious to the realities of the world around them. This is a Church that professes to minister to the poor and downtrodden, yet Church leadership live like Kings. They perpetuate poverty by forbidding birth control. They demand complete, total, unthinking fealty and devotion from Catholics. Clearly, the Vatican is not much on freedom of thought.

I do not condemn Catholicism. I just fail to understand why the Vatican demands that adherents march in lockstep.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

You make it sound as if there is some edict that Catholics are not allowed to read "The Da Vinci Code." That is simply untrue. What you had was a statement from a member of the church heirarchy that the book is an expression of anti-catholic bigotry (his opinion - and in my judgement a sound one), and that the book makes claims that are ananthema to Catholic theology (a simple statement of fact). Why is it wrong for the Catholc Church to respond to this sort of attack? If the book had gone after, say, Methodists, would it be wrong for Methodists to stand up and say "Hey, we think this book is wrong" and say to its members "Don't believe this garbage"?

The assumption that the Cardinal is working as some sort of Catholic thought police is EXACTLY the type of anti-Catholic bashing that goes on all the time. My God, you have people on your site claiming that Catholic restrictions on who can read/preach from the bible that date from medieval times are somehow a recent or continuing part of Catholic faith. Which will come to a big surprise to those Catholic families who have been handing down family bibles for generations.

And intellectually speaking, what does the fact that priests are celibate have to do with anything? If it isn't directly related (and I cannot think of how it could be) it becomes a simple ad hominem statement.

I'm glad you wrote something here. I don't think you are some kind of evil bastard. As long as the discourse stays at the level of ideas I've got no problem with people taking issue with this or that stance of the church. That's always healthy.

It is the cliches and the ignorance that get us all into trouble.

Anonymous said...

"Cliches and ignorance?"

You mean like attributing an anti-Catholic bias to the entire "left" ("The Left are Simply Anti-Catholic Bigots") based on a poor attempt at humor by a single writer?


P.S. No substance, but I just couldn't resist.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...


Find me a pro-Catholic statement by an American leftist (that is leftist, not Democrat) and I'll take it back.

Happy hunting.

Anonymous said...

A statement, or a list of progressive Catholics? Because God knows there a lot of them.

Does E.J. Dionne count as being on the "left?" (If he doesn't, then you need to be clear about your definition of the left.) Here's a nice article by him about liberal catholicism that is very complimentary of the efforts of the Catholic church, and Pope John Paul II, especially in regards to the issue of the dignity of human life.


A brief quote:
But how could one possibly believe that liberal Catholicism is triumphant? How could one believe that it lays the basis for John Paul’s achievements?

Consider that the fundamental change brought about in the church by Vatican II was, I think, in historical terms not in liturgy, but in the church’s relationship with the modern world, and in particular its stance toward the ideas of democracy and religious liberty. Peter Steinfels’s invocation of those words, "perfidious," "venomous," "pernicious," and "contaminating," as reflecting the church’s old attitude toward liberalism, tolerance, and democracy, reminds us of something that many of us Catholics don’t like to think about, that this transformation was hard-won and that it marked a very large break with the church’s preconciliar position, especially its position after the First Vatican Council.

This great transformation was inspired by the church’s dialogue with modernity. One of the most significant aspects of John Paul’s papacy is that he did not reverse this historic change. On the contrary, he confirmed it. If any idea has dominated his pontificate, it is the idea of the dignity of every human person. This notion has undergirded his campaign for human rights around the world. It has given substance to his campaign for social justice and the rights of workers, and to his battle for religious liberty. It impelled him to visit that Roman synagogue and to denounce anti-Semitism, a curse and a sin that afflicted so many in our church and at times, the institution itself."


The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Dionne is a pretty mainstream liberal-Democratic voice, dont you think? When I say "left" I'm talking about the pseudo-socialistic leftism you see in the urban alternative press weeklies (and their online blog compatriots), or your average academic leftist.

You have to remember that I'm one of those that believe that the Democratic party isn't particularly "leftist." I dont think Republicans are particularly "rightist" either. I just view the political area to the left of the Democratic party now as being a haven for anti-catholic bigots, the same way the political area to the right of republicans has traditionally housed lots of anti-semites.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. But your original syllogism still doesn't hold:

A) Humor-impaired writer is anti-Catholic.

B) Humor-impaired writer is a leftist.

C) Therefore, the entire left is anti-Catholic.

But more importantly, your conception of the left, which you fairly clarify here, is not what many (if not most, but that's an empirical question) people think of when you say "the left." Most people don't think of the left to the far left of the Democratic Party- they think of the Democratic party and their compatriots (and I recognize you qualified your original blog statement about Democrats, but I don't think that captured the conception of the left you post here.) Part of my concern with how you labeled this post, and is one of my pet peeves, and something that I know I have harped on with you (to the point of nausea I imagine) is the simplistic use of political labels, and the willingness of too many people to paint broad brush strokes and ignore differences within ideological groups. It becomes a handy way to demonize opponents, and I think that you strive to call other people out when they do so unfairly to some groups (such as Catholics), so when I see you do it with the left and Democrats, I want to point out your inconsistency.

I would agree with your point that there is a fair degree of anti-Catholic bias on the left, though I would argue that it is not as universal as you would suggest. For instance, Michael Moore, by all accounts a prominent leftist, is a Catholic very committed to social justice causes, and while I have seen him criticize the Church, it has not been a criticism rooted in anti-Catholic bias. I believe, and you might legitimately disagree, that you can be strongly critical of the Church and the Church hierarchy, and even Church doctrine, and still not be anti-Catholic. For instance, I am fundamentally opposed to the Church and some Catholics and their doings on many grounds (the role of women, the treatment of homosexuality, the trappings of wealth in the Church, the silence of the Church on child abuse, the hypocrisy of some parishoners, etc.), but I have great respect for the teachings of the Church, the rites, the sense of community, the abiding faith of priests, nuns, parishoners, the charity, the commitment to social justice, the commitment to education, etc. And though I disagree with the Pope on political issues, I have profound respect for his leadership of the church and his adherence to doctrine- a doctrine I disagree with on many tenets. I like to joke that I am "Catholic by proxy," in that even though I don't practice the faith anymore (I've never been much for practice, hahahaha, sorry I couldn't resist), the lessons I learned partly from the Church growing up, but mostly from my parents, who are devout Catholics, about how to treat others, how to respect the beliefs of others, to help the less fortunate, etc., stick with me to this day and have made me a better person. Could I have grown up to be that way without religious parents? Absolutely. But being the child of devout Catholics certainly helped a good deal.

Unfortunately, many on the left who do attack the Church do so out of bias and bigotry, and they try to hide the bigotry by intellectualizing their attacks. But let's be clear here, the Catholic Church, both recently, and certainly historically, has long been a target of vitriol from the right. And bigotry has often been targeted at Catholics themselves, and not the church. My Dad has told me stories of the hatred towards Catholics in rural Illinois when he grew up in the 30's and 40's (and how it was more pronounced in my grandfather's generation).


P.S. When you wrote "Wwaaaalllttt," I instinctively said it aloud ala my old roommate and Finlay.