Sunday, August 03, 2003

Continuing from my last post. An Interesting response from a letter writer to the Times.

--Re "That Old-Time Religion: New Jersey Priest's Use of Latin in Mass Sparks Protest" (news article, July 28):
As I read about the group of parishioners who phoned the news media and then picketed against a traditionalist Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. John A. Perricone, I thought of the many conservative Catholics, inclined toward obedience, who have silently endured pop-psychologizing, "Kumbaya"-singing clergymen.
More than 35 years of revolution within the church have brought us scandals, doctrinal chaos and empty seminaries. I wish we had a thousand more Father Perricones.

I don't really care about doctrinal chaos because I have no interest in doctrine, and obedience as such is not a virture but a vice. On the other hand the problem with "Kumbaya singing clergymen" I understand, but that is not so much a problem of the faithful populace as for the elite which serves them (or which they serve.) Again it goes back to the notion of a 'lack of depth' in technocratic liberalism. Personally, I have no doubt that Father Perricone is both a hypocrite and a believer in his own hypocrisy, which in some cases is just fine. As many people admit, it's the ritual act itself that gives weight and purpose, not whatever meaning it's supposed to have. The condescending little smirk on Father Perricone's face betrays his knowledge of this and his pleasure in that little secret. But these days his arrogance is inappropriate. It is the conservative church that has to anwer for this not benign if banal liberalism.
The lack of an intellectual and philosophical rootedness in liberalism is an issue that has never been resolved except in the lives of those who have done so for themselves. A successful 'Modernity' depends on a sense of responsibility that most people are incapable of; it takes too much time and effort. The majority are unwilling to replace a sort of socially coercive obligation with one that is the result of their choosing. [Noam Chomsky, thinking otherwise, has his head up his ass] But at the same time, jobs that once had some sort of emotional fullfillment are having it stripped away from them -try taking pride in being a carpenter these days- and more and more the newer skills are based on nothing more than the ability to pull a good con. How do you get stability from that?

The lack of stability is not a result of creeping athiesm and it is not an excuse to return to the lies of the past; the lies people worship have changed. But with the exception of people like Mel Gibson and his father, they never took them very seriously to begin with. This is not a people's crisis it's a crisis for their leaders, like Father Perricone, and for intellectuals like Chomsky. With a little money and the possibility a some self respect, none of this would matter at all to the rest of the people. It's the adventures of our elites that get us into trouble.
The older I get, the more I think I'm with the peasants.

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